Sunday, May 31, 2009

How to Follow Jesus

O, God, all-powerful and all-knowing, without beginning and without end, you who are the source, the sustainer, and the rewarder of all virtues, grant that I may abide on the firm ground of faith, be sheltered by an impregnable shield of hope, and be adorned in the bridal garment of charity. Grant that I may through justice be subject to you, through prudence avoid the beguilements of the devil, through temperance exercise restraint, through fortitude endure adversity with patience. Grant that whatever good things I have, I may share generously with those who have not and whatever good things I do not have, I may request humbly from those who do. Grant that I may judge rightly the evil of the wrongs I have done and bear calmly the punishments I have brought upon myself, and that I may never envy my neighbor's possessions and ever give thanks for your good things. Grant that i may always observe modesty in the way I dress, the way I walk, and the gestures I use, restrain my tongue from frivolous talk, prevent my feet from leading me astray, keep my eyes from wandering glances, shelter my ears from rumors, lower my gaze in humility, lift my mind to thoughts of heaven, contemn all that will pass away, and love you only. Grant that I may subdue my flesh and cleanse my conscience, honor the saints and praise you worthily, advance in goodness, and end a life of good works with a holy death. Plant deep in me, Lord all the virtues, that I may be devout in divine manners, discerning in human affairs, and burdensome to no one in fufilling mu own bodily needs. Grant to me Lord, fervent contrition, pure confession, and complete reparation. Order me inwardly through a good life that I might do what is right and waht will be meritorious for me and a good example for others. Grant that I may never crave to do things impulsively, nor disdain to do what is burdensome, lest I begin things before I should or abandon them before finishing. Amen St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church

Friday, May 29, 2009

The Laity Must Progress From Simply Collaborating With The Clergy

Do You Love Me?

St. Peter is my favorite disciple. When we read of Peter's life in the Gospels and later in Acts and Peter I & II, we see a man who is a simple fisherman, passionate, impulsive, trusting, speakings before he thinks, always wanting to do what Jesus wants. Peter was born Simon, in Bethsaida, the son of Johannes, a town on Lake Genesareth. His brother Andrew introduced him to Jesus, who pronounced "thou shalt be called Cephas" (Peter Latin for rock). Jesus told him and the other disciples He would make them "fishers of men" In Matthew's Gospel Peter first acknowledges who Jesus is: "He said to them, But whom say you that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." Just a few passages later Peter draws the ire of Jesus: From that time forth began Jesus to show to his disciples, how that he must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day. And Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall never be unto thee. But Jesus turned and said to Peter, "Get behind me, Satan! You are an offense to me, because you are not thinking God's thoughts but human thoughts!" That's Peter who like myself would say the wrong thing at the wrong time. Peter represents all of us. He has a heart of gold, truly loves Jesus, but is stuck in his human ways. He takes the long way to get there...but he gets there. When the Risen Christ appears at the shore while they are fishing John immediately recognizes Him, but not Peter. When John tells Peter "it is the Lord" Peter, who had just a few days earlier betrayed Jesus, dives into the water and swims ashore, with complete trust in Christ's mercy and love. When Jesus presses him to answer the question "Do you love me?" Peter answers "Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you" For anyone who has truly gotten to know Jesus that is the same answer they would give. For all our misgivings, for all the times we failed to live up as Christians, for all the times we ignored God and walked away, Peter is there expressing our own thoughts " know that I love you" He is the perfect individual to head up the Church. He's a "been there done that guy". And after the Holy Spirit comes to him at the Pentecost, the simple fisherman, becomes the Shepherd, on fire with a passion and a love for Christ. Peter writes " For we did not follow cleverly devised tales when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty. For when He received honor and glory from God the Father, such an utterance as this was made to Him by the Majestic Glory, "This is My beloved Son with whom I am well-pleased " We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with him on the holy mountain. Therefore we regard the message of the prophets as confirmed beyond doubt, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a lamp that is shining in a gloomy place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts." What incredible words even for today!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Start With Prayer

On life's journey we often find ourselves in places that we wonder how we got there. Upon reflection we can see a point where either we were distracted or lost focus or just weren't paying attention. This happens in all areas of our lives. Another means by which we are pushed off track is from a sudden traumatic event, like the loss of a loved one or of employment, the times when people and things that are suppose to be there are not. It is in these times when are lives are derailed, that we begin the process of our "soul searching". In a real sense a "comfortable" life, by that I mean one in which our daily events are predictable and our philosophical mindset is relegated to our narrow world, does not insure we are living the life Christ would want us to. We need security of course, predictability not chaos to an extent but not to the exclusion of recognizing the compelling needs of those who are less fortunate or lonely, or have physical and health problems, or financial problems, or even do not know where their next meal is coming from. The real means to keeping an open heart and mind to others is first accomplished through a daily prayer life. If your life is in topsy turvy, or you feel empty, or the foundation that you rested and relied on has been shaken perhaps, just perhaps this is God's means of getting your attention. Even the prodigal son had to wish for the swine's meal to "come to his senses". Jesus prayed prior to every big event; from choosing His disciples to raising Lazarus to the Agony in the Garden. In John 17:20-36 lifting up His eyes to heaven Jesus prayed saying "I pray not only for these but also for those who will believe in me through their word, so that they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us, that the world may believe that you sent me.And I have given them the glory you gave me, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may be brought to perfection as one, that the world may know that you sent me, and that you loved them even as you loved me. Father, they are your gift to me. I wish that where I am they also may be with me, that they may see my glory that you gave me, because you loved me before the foundation of the world." We can abide in Christ through our prayer which will lead us to Him. In times of distress, uncertainty, loss, emptiness, and confusion, start with prayer and your path will be made known.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Word & Fire

In Matthew's Gospel chapter 13 we find Jesus telling us about the parable of the sower
On that day, Jesus went out of the house and sat down by the sea. Such large crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat down, and the whole crowd stood along the shore. And he spoke to them at length in parables, saying: "A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path, and birds came and ate it up.Some fell on rocky ground, where it had little soil. It sprang up at once because the soil was not deep,and when the sun rose it was scorched, and it withered for lack of roots. Some seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it.But some seed fell on rich soil, and produced fruit, a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold. Whoever has ears ought to hear."
Indeed we ought to hear the Word, but for many we turn a deaf ear. Christ teachings about morals and the beatitudes are really about what we already know, thus we ought to hear. Recently an insurance company has been running a commercial, in it a young boy describes these various life crisis scenarios , for instance Johnny is going off to college but his dad just lost his job what should he do. In it the boy basically announces that people want to do the right thing but are not sure what that is. The reality is that most people will not subject their life decisions to any moral scrutiny. The things Christ talked about we already those less fortunate....treat others fairly as you would want to be merciful...fight for righteousness...The Laws of God are not contrary to the Natural Law. I guarantee that in most situations that comprise the majority of moral decisions, we know what the right thing to do is. If it is a complex, ethical decision then we have to determine from some kind of order what is the right thing to do. Most people make a choice and the choice is based on how they will feel as a consequence of a certain behavior or decision. This is how the moral game is played. The secular mindset taught is that how you feel is what is really important. For those who do hear the Word and choose to develop their spiritual being, they are extending an invitation to the Holy Spirit to work with them. He will begin to teach them everything, an understanding beyond human capacity. Thus their lives become like fire consuming everything that leads them to the love of God. In that they feel not what they have inside themselves but rather they feel the love and the power of the Almighty. It starts with the Word.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

From St. John Chrysostom Homily on Natural law

Sufficiently indeed, then, our discourse of late evinced to you, that a natural law of good and evil is seated within us. But that our proof of it may be more abundantly evident, we will again to-day apply ourselves strenuously to the same subject of discourse. For that God from the beginning, when He formed man, made him capable of discriminating both these, all men make evident. Hence when we sin, we are all ashamed at the presence of our inferiors; and oftentimes a master, on his way to the house of a harlot, if he then perceives any one of his more respectable servants, turns back, reddening with shame, from this untoward path. Again, when others reproach us, fixing on us the names of particular vices, we call it an insult; and if we are aggrieved, we drag those who have done the wrong to the public tribunal. Thus we can understand what vice is and what virtue is. Wherefore Christ, for the purpose of declaring this, and shewing that He was not introducing a strange law, or one which surpassed our nature, but that which He had of old deposited beforehand in our conscience, after pronouncing those numerous Beatitudes, thus speaks; “All things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them.” “Many words,” saith He, “are not necessary, nor laws of great length, nor a diversity of instruction. Let thine own will be the law. Dost thou wish to receive kindness? Be kind to another. Dost thou wish to receive mercy? Show mercy to thy neighbour. Dost thou wish to be applauded? Applaud another. Dost thou wish to be beloved? Exercise love. Dost thou wish to enjoy the first rank? First concede that place to another. Become thyself the judge, thyself the lawgiver of thine own life. And again; “Do not to another what thou hatest.” By the latter precept, he would induce to a departure from iniquity; by the former, to the exercise of virtue. “Do not thou to another,” he saith, So say “what thou hatest.” Dost thou hate to be insulted? Do not insult another. Dost thou hate to be envied? Envy not another. Dost thou hate to be deceived? Do not deceive another. And, in a word, in all things, if we hold fast these two precepts, we shall not need any other instruction. For the knowledge of virtue He hath implanted in our nature; but the practice of it and the correction He hath entrusted to our moral choice “The light of reason does not, any more than that of Revelation, force men to submit to its authority.Perhaps what is thus said, is obscure; wherefore I will again endeavour to make it more plain. In order to know that it is a good thing to exercise temperance, we need no words, nor instruction; for we ourselves have the knowledge of it in our nature, and there is no necessity for labour or fatigue in going about and enquiring whether temperance is good and profitable; but we all acknowledge this with one consent, and no man is in doubt as to this virtue. So also we account adultery to be an evil thing, and neither is there here any need of trouble or learning, that the wickedness of this sin may be known; but we are all self-taught in such judgments; and we applaud virtue, though we do not follow it; as, on the other hand, we hate vice, though we practise it. And this hath been an exceeding good work of God; that He hath made our conscience, and our power of choice already, and before the action, claim kindred with virtue, and be at enmity with wickedness.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Stop Standing Around

They said, "Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up into heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come in the same way that you have seen Him going into heaven." Acts 1:11
If we juxtapose the angels' words to what Jesus had told his disciples in Matthew's Gospel in what we call "the Great Commission", we can conclude that what the angels were saying to the disciples; holds for us to this day. In essence "stop standing around and do something". Christianity is not a passive philosophy or live style. Jesus did not live up on a mountain parsing out philosophical concepts. Too often today we stand around looking at this immoral, decadent society that chooses evil over good and expect God to do something about it. We stand around, say nothing, side with evildoers and complain that world is not right. Standing around is not living as Christ lived. Standing around is not Christianity. By the power of the Holy Spirit and by the authority of the Church we have the moral obligation to do good and renounce evil. We have the moral obligation to change hearts and minds, not by being argumentative or by name calling, or by ignoring evil. We have the Truth in Christ Jesus, a truth that cannot be refuted, a Truth that brings Light to darkness. We have a moral obligation to lift the Light to the highest place and not hide it. This cannot be accomplished by standing around. Last Sunday I heard an excellent sermon. The priest was talking about Pope John XXIII, during the Second Vatican Council. The Pope was asked the question "what is the meaning to life?" That question could be discussed and debated by moral theologians and philosophers to the end of time. Pope John XXIII answered the question with the same response that I learned from the old Baltimore Catechism. "to know, love and serve God in this lifetime so that I may be happy and spend eternity with Him in the next." Pope John XXIII went further on to say and to "show others how to know, love and serve God..." This can't be accomplished if we just stand around. Pray today on the Feast of the Ascension that the Holy Spirit, the Counselor, The Advocate, bring to each of us the grace to live as Christ lived, to be passionate, active, faithful, and obedient servants of God the Father, so as to bring glory to His name.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Psalm 49

A psalm for Asaph. The God of gods, the Lord hath spoken: and he hath called the earth. From the rising of the sun, to the going down thereof: Out of Sion the loveliness of his beauty. God shall come manifestly: our God shall come, and shall not keep silence. A fire shall burn before him: and a mighty tempest shall be round about him. He shall call heaven from above, and the earth, to judge his people. Gather ye together his saints to him: who set his covenant before sacrifices.

And the heavens shall declare his justice: for God is judge. Hear, O my people, and I will speak: O Israel, and I will testify to thee: I am God, thy God. I will not reprove thee for thy sacrifices: and thy burnt offerings are always in my sight. I will not take calves out of thy house: nor he goats out of thy flocks. For all the beasts of the woods are mine: the cattle on the hills, and the oxen.

I know all the fowls of the air: and with me is the beauty of the field. If I should be hungry, I would not tell thee: for the world is mine, and the fullness thereof. Shall I eat the flesh of bullocks? or shall I drink the blood of goats? Offer to God the sacrifice of praise: and pay thy vows to the most High. And call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me.

But to the sinner God hath said: Why dost thou declare my justices, and take my covenant in thy mouth? Seeing thou hast hated discipline: and hast cast my words behind thee. If thou didst see a thief thou didst run with him: and with adulterers thou hast been a partaker. Thy mouth hath abounded with evil, and thy tongue framed deceits. Sitting thou didst speak against thy brother, and didst lay a scandal against thy mother's son:

These things hast thou done, and I was silent. Thou thoughtest unjustly that I should be like to thee: but I will reprove thee, and set before thy face. Understand these things, you that forget God; lest he snatch you away, and there be none to deliver you. The sacrifice of praise shall glorify me: and there is the way by which I will shew him the salvation of God.

Monday, May 18, 2009

When the Advocate Comes

But do you ask, dearly beloved, how a man may know whether he has the Spirit of God? If you truly know God , then you may be sure you have his Spirit. If, as the apostles say, no man knows the things of God save the Spirit of God, how can we know God unless we have his spirit? You may, however well wonder whether you know God... The spirit of the world which tempts men to scorn the divine commandments, to engage with pleasure in earthly affairs, to seek the heights of worldly domination, to submit to the shameful passions of fleshy delight, to increase their material possessions, and to strive after power over their fellows in their swollen pride. But the spirit which is of God urges all the souls he fills toward heavenly things, casts out the chill of negligence and of the flesh and kindles them to love of God, restrains the wanton desires of the body, and raises up the heart, having freed it from all earthly delights. By him men are made unyielding in their scorn of material prosperity and strong in overcoming obstacles; it makes the humbly subject to the good but cause them to oppose unbendingly, by right of their authority, those who do evil; this Spirit inebriates those whom it fills.
Saint Peter Damian, Doctor of the Church

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Deus es Caritas

In John's first letter he writes: "Whoever is without love does not know God, for God is love." Love that is true must be active and visible. In obeying the two interwoven commandments of loving God and neighbor we become imitators of Christ, whose ministry was marked by the acceptance of others who were not considered worthy to be in His presence. Jesus reminds us of this when He says " For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost." This love is no longer merely human love, for in loving as "Just as the Father as loved me so I love you" we are participating in the Divine love of Christ. This "agape" love of God seeks nothing in return but rather recognizes the true worthiness intrinsically existent in the dignity of all human beings. Paul reminds us that our faith is all about love when he says"If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames,b]"> but have not love, I gain nothing." Through our love to one another we give glory and honor to the Father and thus abide in Christ the source of perfect love.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The Prayer of Fatima is a Prayer for Today

On this day 102 years ago Luicia Santos and her two cousins Jacinta and Francisco Marto first encountered the Blessed Virgin Mary. In the official position of the Catholic Church private revelations do not form part of the deposit of faith and its members are not bound to believe in any of them. Yet for many the story of three shepherd children and there visions of Mary is both inspirational and comforting that in God's mysterious ways we are able to witness the wonders of Heaven and earth. It is also instructional, for Mary warns the world of our sinfulness, our pride, greed, the evils of war, abortion and the lack of respect for human life. Living the life as her Son, Jesus would have us do is as pertinent today as ever as the world strays from Him and His commandments. We have become so wise in 2009 that we don't consider God necessary and that things like miracles and apparitions are only for those with foolish minds. The message of our faith is and always will be a message of hope, for Christ is hope eternal. If the things of this world look bleak and disheartening, we know that for those who believe awaits eternal life. Oh God, I do believe, I do adore, I do trust, and I do love You. And I beg pardon, for all those, who do not believe, who do not adore, who do not trust and who do not love You. Amen.

Monday, May 11, 2009

United With The One Who is Holy

This Redemption, the actual Redemption...How are we redeemed? We are redeemed thus: we are incorporated in one who is infinitely holy, in one who is infinitely pure, and whose holiness, whose justice, whose purity becomes ours, because we are his. Dom Anscar Vonier, O.S.B.
We are saved because of Jesus, and we live as heirs to the Father if and only if we abide in Him. Thus the idea that we could have a singular isolated relationship with the Father, detached from Christ, is of course untrue. A vine weaves its way attaching itself to all that strengthens it and aids in its growth, dead branches are of no use and must be pruned. Jesus said "He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him." It is through the sacraments and in particular the Eucharist in which we are sanctified to participate in becoming incorporated into Christ, the Vine. During this Easter time as we we experience the beauty and splendor of Spring, reminded of the the Risen Lord let us do all to prune off those things that are a part of our life that do not produce fruit and be renewed in the fact that in abiding with Christ we are redeemed, unity with holiness and mercy.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Pope expresses respect for Islam in Jordan

Pope Benedict XVI expressed deep respect for Islam Friday and said he hopes the Catholic Church can play a role in Mideast peace as he began his first trip to the region, where he hopes to improve frayed ties with Muslims.

The pope was met at the airport by Jordan's King Abdullah and praised the moderate Arab country as a leader in efforts to promote peace in the region and dialogue between Christians and Muslims.

The pope rankled many in the Muslim world with a 2006 speech in which he quoted a Medieval text that characterized some of the Prophet Muhammad's teachings as "evil and inhuman," particularly "his command to spread by the sword the faith."

The pope has already said he was "deeply sorry" over the reaction to his speech and that the passage he quoted did not reflect his own opinion.

"My visit to Jordan gives me a welcome opportunity to speak of my deep respect for the Muslim community, and to pay tribute to the leadership shown by his majesty the king in promoting a better understanding of the virtues proclaimed by Islam," Benedict said shortly after landing in Amman.

But his past comments continue to fuel criticism by some Muslims.

Jordan's hard-line Muslim Brotherhood said Friday before the pope arrived that its members would boycott his visit because he did not issue a public apology ahead of time as they demanded.

Brotherhood spokesman Jamil Abu-Bakr said the absence of a public apology meant "obstacles and boundaries will remain and will overshadow any possible understanding between the pope and the Muslim world."

The Brotherhood is Jordan's largest opposition group. Although it commands a small bloc in parliament, it wields considerable sway, especially among poor Jordanians.

Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi said the Vatican has made all possible clarifications, telling Associated Press Television News that "we cannot continue until the end of the world to repeat the same clarifications."

Despite the controversy, Benedict expressed hope his visit and the power of the Catholic church could help further peace efforts between Israelis and Palestinians.

"We are not a political power but a spiritual power that can contribute," Benedict told reporters on the plane before he landed in Amman.

The pope will also visit Israel and the Palestinian territories during his weeklong tour.

Jordan's king praised the pope and said the world must reject "ambitious ideologies of division."

"We welcome your commitment to dispel the misconceptions and divisions that have harmed relations between Christians and Muslims," said Abdullah.

Christians make up 3 percent of Jordan's 5.8 million people.

The pope was also met at the airport by diplomats and Muslim and Christian leaders. A Jordanian army band equipped with bagpipes and drums played the Vatican and Jordanian national anthems before the pope and the king inspected the honor guard.

Benedict's three-day stay in Jordan is his first visit to an Arab country as pope. During his time in the country, Benedict is scheduled to meet with Muslim religious leaders at Amman's largest mosque — his second visit to a Muslim place of worship since becoming pope in 2005. He prayed in Istanbul's famed Blue Mosque, a gesture that helped calm the outcry over his remarks.

The pope is also expected to meet Iraqi Christians driven from their homeland by violence. About 40 young Iraqi refugees crowded into a tiny Catholic church in Amman on Friday, nervously practicing their last lesson before Benedict administers their first communion on Sunday.

"I really want to meet the pope," said Cecile Adam, an 11-year-old whose family fled Baghdad. "I think he can do something to help Iraq because Jesus gave him a good position and Jesus wants us to be happy."

Associated Press Writers Jamal Halaby and Dale Gavlak contributed to this report.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Stand in the Gap

"If it feels good do it" This was the slogan of the first new age philosophers, otherwise known as the hippies, back in the 1960's. (The fact that they are currently running our country is another topic) This rally cry like most slogans exposes one aspect of the truth and hides the rest. It is centered around the very moral & ethical word "good" and presupposes that our feelings are what really matter. In my discussion today I will propose that the slogan of the 60's is still the slogan of today and that the majority of citizens in our country live by it. Alasdair MacIntyre, philosopher, writes in How Can We Learn What Veritas Splendor Has to Teach in his comments on Pope John Paul II's great encyclical. "There is in the dominant moral culture of our particular time and place a widespread and influential conception of human beings as individual who initially confront a range of possible objects of rational desire, a range of goods, among which each of them has to make his or her own choices, and which each individual has to order for himself or herself, in accordance with his or her set of preferences. It is in accordance with those choices and that rank ordering that individuals formulate their principals, attempting in so doing to arrive at agreement with other rational persons, so that each in affirming and implementing his or her own preferences and choices may do so in a way consonant with others. Hence it is on the basis of individual preferences that values an norms, including those of morality come into being and from those preferences and choices that they derive their authority." This is just another way of saying "if it feels good and I can get somebody to agree with me, then it is good." How often have you heard that morality is a personal thing left to the individual or that morals have to change with the times. As The Stranger in the Strange Land will tell you most people think this way. The root causes of this can be debated; the rejection of the Natural Law (a great read on this subject is "What You Can't Not Know" by J. Budziszewski) the rise of individualism, the rise of secularism, liberal Protestantism, all which lead to situational ethics and moral relativism. In our culture it has lead to a deep polarization, especially in the political realm. When teaching authority (The Catholic Church) is rejected, ridiculed, and eventually outlawed, the void is filled by "if it feels good, do it". Morality, because of free will is always a choice. Watch any movie or television show and I guarantee you will see that at some point the antagonist, the main character if you will, reaches a point where a moral or ethical dilemma confronts them. That of course is an integral ingredient of tension in a dramatic situation. It evolves around either killing somebody, infidelity (cheating on spouse), stealing, or a host of other immoral actions. Rarely will you see someone make the correct moral choice (as you used to in movies in the 40's and 50's). Sometimes there is a price to pay and other times the intention of the film is to say "it's ok to be immoral at times, maybe even noble". "If it feels good, do it." Premarital sex, drinking, drugs, excessive consumerism, (many young people are addicted to shopping, buying something makes them feel good, so it must be good) are all things that one can intellectually comprehend (natural law) as not good, and self-destructive. Yet, the underlying truth is that our culture, by accepting the "if it feels good, do it" philosophy condones it and young people know that. It is our moral obligation to "stand in the gap" and voice the truth. Sometimes the right thing to do doesn't feel good, that doesn't mean it isn't good. Jesus taught us that "we must die to ourselves" and "pick up our crosses" and sometimes that just doesn't feel good.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

An Ignatian Prayer

That I May Be Received Under the Standard of Our Divine King

O Lord, behold me a suppliant praying before Thee.

I come to implore of Thee a grace which is repugnant to my nature and which I dread to obtain.

Alas, my heart is not indifferent: on the contrary,

it rebels at the thought of voluntary poverty,
and the contempt of men.

It is to master my natural inclinations,

to vanquish self, and to conquer my heart,

to extinguish in it every spark of that self-love which

is not in accordance with the rule these exercises place before me,

that I entreat Thee to receive me under Thy standard.

May Thy Divine Majesty deign to shelter me beneath the folds of this Thy holy standard,

to give me the spirit of poverty and detachment,

and to call me even to the practice of actual and perfect poverty,

if such is Thy good pleasure.

Lord Jesus, in order that I may resemble Thee more closely,

grant me a share, I beseech Thee, in Thy humiliations,

and in the injustices that Thou didst meet with,

provided that I can bear them without committing any sin,

without ever displeasing, in any way,

Thy Divine Majesty.

O Blessed Virgin, Mother of my God, obtain for me from

Thy Divine Son the grace to be received and to march under His standard.

Hail Mary...

O Eternal Word, for the love Thou bearest our Lady,

Thy Blessed Mother, obtain for me from the Father the grace to be received

and to march under Thy standard.

Anima Christi…

O Father, for the love Thou bearest the most holy Virgin Mary,

for the sake of Thy Son, our Lord,

I beseech Thee to grant me the grace to be received

and to march under the standard of Jesus Christ.

Our Father...

With Gratitude to Good Jesuit, Bad Jesuit (

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Psalm 42

As a deer longs for flowing streams, so my soul longs for you, O God.

My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and behold the face of God?

My tears have been my food day and night, while people say to me continually, “Where is your God?”

These things I remember, as I pour out my soul: how I went with the throng, and led them in procession to the house of God, with glad shouts and songs of thanksgiving, a multitude keeping festival.

Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my help and my God. My soul is cast down within me; therefore I remember you from the land of Jordan and of Hermon, from Mount Mizar.

Deep calls to deep at the thunder of your cataracts; all your waves and your billows have gone over me.

By day the Lord commands his steadfast love, and at night his song is with me, a prayer to the God of my life.

I say to God, my rock, “Why have you forgotten me? Why must I walk about mournfully because the enemy oppresses me?”

As with a deadly wound in my body, my adversaries taunt me, while they say to me continually, “Where is your God?”

Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my help and my God.

Monday, May 4, 2009

What is Not Seen

St. Paul wrote “we fix our eyes, not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (2 Cor 4:18) There is a paradox regarding what I may call "modern secular thinking" The line of thinking of which many believe and are taught today goes something like this " if it cannot be proved scientifically, then it is not true." This axiom of the scientific test of validity interestingly enough was addressed by the Risen Christ when he appeared to Thomas. In fact we read that Jesus ate with his disciples, showed them His wounds, walked with them discussing Scripture and did countless things which apparently were never recorded in the Gospels. Tangible and touchable are hallmarks of God's design for our salvation. Yet that is only half the story and the paradox of believing only that which can be proven is in itself a matter of faith, which by the way cannot be scientifically proven. That is to say you cannot prove that every thing that occurs is understandable and predictable under the rules of the scientific method. It also is intellectually narrow minded to think that we can know and understand all that goes on in this vast universe of time and space. That would be turning your back on a sizable portion of it. G.K. Chesterton wrote "A holiday, like Liberalism, only means the liberty of man. A miracle only means the liberty of God. You may conscientiously deny either of them, but you cannot call your denial a triumph of the liberal idea. The Catholic Church believed that man and God both had a sort of spiritual freedom. Calvinism took away the freedom from man, but left it to God. Scientific materialism binds the Creator Himself; it chains up God as the Apocalypse chained the devil. It leaves nothing free in the universe. And those who assist this process are called the "liberal theologians." I believe that like many of the paradoxes of Christianity; "the first shall be last...dying to oneself to find eternal your enemy...perhaps the greatest paradox is this: God is a mystery and we are not capable of knowing Him completely. In the mystery we discover Him, if we reject the mystery and hold to a scientific absolute then we cannot find Him. By giving up we receive, by holding on we don't.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Athanasius Contra Mundum

Today we honor St. Athanasius. "Athanasius Contra Mundum" literally means Athanasius against the world. Athanasius was born in Alexandria, in Egypt, the city in which was found one of the earliest seminaries of the early church, but also a city which was a seething cauldron of competing philosophies. Because of its strategic geographical position, it was a bustling center of trade and commerce where East and West met. Greek philosophy, Oriental mysticism, the Christian religion -- all clashed and fought for supremacy in this port city of Egypt on the Nile Delta. Not a lot is known of Athanasius' early life. He was born in 296 of parents of high rank and great wealth. In keeping with the social status of his family, he received a classical and liberal education and became well-versed in Greek philosophy. But also at an early time in his life he had come to know and love the Christian faith. The story, perhaps apocryphal, is told of a number of bishops of the Alexandrian church who, while meeting in the house of their chief bishop, saw through the window a group of boys on the street imitating certain rites of the church -- as children are wont to do. Watching, while one of the boys was going through the rite of the baptism of his playmates, they decided that the game had gone too far. After calling the boys into the house and quizzing them, they learned that the "baptizing bishop" was the young Athanasius. The chief bishop of Alexandria, named Alexander after the name of the city, took Athanasius under his wing and instructed him more carefully in the Christian faith. This was the beginning of a long period of close friendship between Alexander and Athanasius, the latter soon becoming the spiritual and theological superior of his mentor. Athanasius was soon made the private secretary of Alexander and deacon in the church of Alexandria. The story of Athanasius is woven into the of one of the greatest controversies that has ever troubled the Christian church, a controversy concerning the doctrine of Christ's divinity. Arius, a dynamic and popular speaker began preaching that the Son, just because He was the Son, could not be God. Though perhaps He was eternal, He nevertheless had to be created. And if He was created, there was a time when He was not. Thus He taught that our Lord Jesus Christ was not God, but a creature. Because of Arius' influence in the church, his views were widely accepted and many began to defend what he taught. The result was that the whole church was torn by confusion, controversy, schism, and bitterness. The unrest reached also into the city of Alexandria. Here Alexander and his bishops saw the evil of the views of Arius and resolved to do all in their power to combat them. Alexander's deacon and secretary was God's man to help in this noble cause. In 325 the Council of Nicea met, the decisions of which are incorporated into the Nicene Creed which we recite at Mass. The Church's position was loudly proclaimed, that Christ is "very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father." In the formulation of this creed, Athanasius played a leading role and emerged from the council as the most able defender of the truth of the divinity of Christ. He was recognized as a man of outstanding "zeal, intellect, and eloquence." In 328, after the death of Alexander, he became bishop of the church in Alexandria. While almost the whole world went chasing after the Arian heresy, Athanasius stood like a rock for the truth of Scripture and Nicene orthodoxy. For his troubles he was banished no less than five times. Of the 46 years of his ministry as bishop of Alexandria, he spent 20 years in exile. He is an example for us today on combating the heresies and immorality of the world today.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Mary, The Perfect Mother

Any good Catholic knows that May is the Month of Mary. Mary represents all that is good in motherhood and it is naturally fitting that Mothers Day comes this month. I can only speak from what I have observed as a child growing up in a family of seven and as a father of four children, mothers have a capacity beyond the boundaries of human imagination. Mary's Magnificat enabled the Divine to join the human race and thus fulfill the salvific plan. A good mother says yes every day. From the yes of enduring her pregnancy, to yes of childbirth. Mothers say yes while holding, feeding, and gently rocking their child to sleep. Mothers say yes when they console a crying child, watch them go off for the first day of school, share they disappointments and successes. Mothers say yes to the pain of rejection so often in the misunderstood adolescent years. Mothers love like Mary did, with a perfect undying love, right up to the pain of the cross. That is why we exalt them. We could not do it without them. We hold in our heart the love and respect that they so much deserve. Mary embodied all of that, she was the perfect imitator of Christ, never seeking her will, but rather the will of the Father. God came down to earth and by doing so elevated motherhood and family.