Friday, September 24, 2010

On Children

Some people bring children into the world for their own benefit, to serve their own purposes, out of selfishness... They forget children are a wonderful gift from God for which they will have to render a very special account.

Do not be offended if I say that having offspring just to continue the species, is something that... animals can do too. Jose Maria Eschriva Furrow

Monday, September 6, 2010

Father Barron on Eat, Pray, Love

Perfect

In teaching Theology one constant theme that flows through every lesson, is the idea of perfection. Whether it is the universal call to holiness, in that we strive to become saints, or in moral theology, when we examine our conscience and strive to develop ourselves so that we do the good more often. It is Perfection that guides us. We see that Light of Perfection from afar and we seek to find it. St. Thomas Aquinas believed that reason would take one to the Good, that it was not opposed to knowing the Good. In a rousing speech the first few days of classes I reminded each student to seek excellence and never accept mediocrity. "It is easy to be mediocre, I told them, all you have to do is show up." That excellence must permeate every facet of their young lives, from in the classroom, to on the playing fields, to the most important of place, in their faith lives. I love God because of precisely that: He wants me to be perfect - He doesn't seek mediocrity in me. I don't want any wish-washy second rate faith, one that says just show up. I love Christ because He asks us to be perfect as His father is perfect. He has the marks in His hands and in His side to give testimony that He too strives for excellence, no matter what the price. I love God because He loves me so much that he would ask me to suffer so I could be like Him - perfect.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

On Beauty

I haven't shared much with those of you in the world of blogging, but that is because of two things. In the beginning of August I began teaching Theology at a Catholic High School. This experience has truly been a blessing to me. I pray each day that the Holy Spirit will work through me to guide me in bringing the love of Christ to each of my 120+ students. It is challenging and time consuming (I commute about 130 miles a day), but in each day I find moments of true beauty, in the minds and hearts of the children I teach. I see God's reflection and it is stunning to me how beautiful it is. My prayer is to always be a servant, letting the message of the love of Christ be in the forefront of all I do. The second thing is that for the past several weekends I have either moving people, attending weddings, or busy with planning for my own classes which start next month. I miss sharing my daily reflections but hope to resume to more regular basis.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Congratulations Anthony & Judy

The son of my very good neighbors, Howard & Ginger - Anthony (also called Charlie) was married today at St. Joseph's Cathedral. We used to drive and pick up Anthony when he attended Catholic High School in Baton Rouge. He later would drive with our older daughter when she got her license. She attended St. Joseph's Academy which is located near Catholic High. Anthony was fine outstanding young man, a good student, cross country runner, and faithfully devout. We were exited when he was accepted at the United States Naval Academy. Not much longer he met his now beautiful wife Shaoli, (known as Judy). She too was also a midshipman at the Academy. The rest is history...today was a beautiful ceremony, followed by a wonderful reception at the Camelot Club (23rd floor overlooking the Mississippi River). God Bless Anthony & Judy. May He bring joy, peace, and happiness to them and may their love be fruitful.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Queen United in Mystery With Her Son

The most glorious Mother of Christ our Savior and our God, the giver of life and immortality, she is given life by him and shares bodily incorruptibility for all eternity with him who raised her from the grave and drew her up to him in a way that only he can understand.


All that the holy fathers say refers ultimately to Scripture as a foundation, which gives us the vivid image of the great Mother of God as being closely attached to her divine Son and always sharing his lot.


It is important to remember that from the second century onwards the holy fathers have been talking of the Virgin Mary as the new Eve for the new Adam: not equal to him, of course, but closely joined with him in the battle against the enemy, which ended in the triumph over sin and death that had been promised even in Paradise. The glorious resurrection of Christ is essential to this victory and its final prize, but the blessed Virgin’s share in that fight must also have ended in the glorification of her body. For as the Apostle says: When this mortal nature has put on immortality, then the scripture will be fulfilled that says “Death is swallowed up in victory”.


So then, the great Mother of God, so mysteriously united to Jesus Christ from all eternity by the same decree of predestination, immaculately conceived, an intact virgin throughout her divine motherhood, a noble associate of our Redeemer as he defeated sin and its consequences, received, as it were, the final crowning privilege of being preserved from the corruption of the grave and, following her Son in his victory over death, was brought, body and soul, to the highest glory of heaven, to shine as Queen at the right hand of that same Son, the immortal King of Age

Excerpt from the Crossroad Initiative


Saturday, August 14, 2010

Reason to Believe

How Far Would You Go to Help Your Fellow Man?

There is no greater love than to lay down one's life for one's friends. John 15:13

Maximilian Kolbe in a moral decision that reached the furthest boundary, martyrdom, imitated Christ in the greatest act of love. He did so during a time when governments and ideologies under the guise of ordering and aiding humanity, suppressed, persecuted, and exterminated millions of people.

To all of us today he is what counters the self absorbed, self centered, narcissistic society. Self giving is the true essence of love, it is the "stuff" that God is made of. We should closely examine those who would be willing to cross that line, far enough to give their life for another. Can we give half as much?

Can we show compassion for those in need, those hurting, those who fail at every day living, those who disappoint us, those who hurt us, those who don't look like us, those who don't think like us, those who are hungry, those who are lonely, those who cry out in desperation, those who no one hears? If you look around those people are near you everyday in your life. How far are you willing to go to serve those in need?

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Prayer to Mary for the Grace of Love

For the Grace of Love
O Mary Dear Mother, how much I love thee! and yet in reality how little. Tho dost teach me what I ought to know, for thiou teachest me what Jesus is to me and what I ought to be for Jesus.

Dearly beloved Mother, how close to god thou art, and how utterly filled with Him! In the measure that we know God, we remind ourselves of thee.

Mother of God, obtain for me the grace of loving my Jesus, the grace of loving thee. Amen





Monday, August 9, 2010

Teresa Benedict of The Cross -Edith Stein

Edith Stein was born in Breslau on 12 October 1891, the youngest of 11, as her family were celebrating Yom Kippur, that most important Jewish festival, the Feast of Atonement. "More than anything else, this helped make the youngest child very precious to her mother." Being born on this day was like a foreshadowing to Edith, a future Carmelite nun. Before she reached her second birthday her father died suddenly, leaving Edith’s mother to raise the seven remaining children (four had died in childhood) and to manage the family business. Brought up on the Psalms and Proverbs, Stein considered her mother a living example of the strong woman of Proverbs 31, who rises early to care for her family and trade in the marketplace. By her teenage years, Stein no longer practiced her Jewish faith and considered herself an atheist, but she continued to admire her mother’s attitude of total openness toward God. Edith went on to teach philosophy for some years amid difficulties during she converted to Catholicism and received new life in Christ through baptism, and was pursued under the veil of a nun until, as an exile thrust into captivity under a nefarious regime hostile to the dignity both of men and of faith, she was killed by lethal gas at the death camp Oswiecim or Auschwitz near Cracow in Poland.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Father Barron on Anne Rice

Anne Rice's recent de-conversion in an announcement that she had opted out of Christianity. I don't really know Anne Rice, nor I must confess have I ever read any of her books. Never been much of a vampire fan.
Read Father Barron's take.

Faith of Our Fathers

Faith is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen. Because of it the ancients were well attested.

By faith Abraham, when put to the test, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was ready to offer his only son, of whom it was said,“Through Isaac descendants shall bear your name.” He reasoned that God was able to raise even from the dead, and he received Isaac back as a symbol."

Faith is never a blind leap. Faith is a trust and movement - always a response of the will to God's call. We trust in the certitude that God is always true. Those who choose to walk in faith, walk with God. His faithfulness has been ever present from Abraham to those who seek Him today. Seek the Faith of our Fathers.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Creating and Not Creating

Since on the seventh day God was finished with the work he had been doing, he rested on the seventh day from all the work he had undertaken. So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work he had done in creation." Genesis 2:2-3

If you read the above passage only in a strict literal sense you would do two things: 1) make God out to be less than He really is. The word "rested" is of course silly when applied to a Being who is beyond the realm of matter. 2) You would miss what is really being said here: the passage contrasts the difference between creating and not-creating. Creating is done strictly by God, He literally "created" the universe out of nothing. We humans do not have anything comparable to that since all our personal creating has to start with something - a painter; paint, a potter; clay, even a philosopher starts with an idea. Another point to remember is that God is outside the realm of time. The author who is divinely inspired by God, but a human being can only describe the events in a sequence because we humans live within the realm of time. Time is the measurement of change - thus the author writes creation takes place over a week - 6 days to be precise and on the 7th day, God is not creating.(when we are not working, we are resting).

So what is the point here? God contrasts creating and not creating by declaring that when He is not creating we are to consider that time Holy. Holy not because of anything man has done but Holy because everything that God did. Thus we humans, in our task of creating, (we are co-creators in human life)that is living our lives, describe this time as work (not just in the sense of Capitalistic work of producing). We are engaged in human things, things that are done for man by man. The word for that is "liturgy" (translates to people's work or public works). All things beyond (the non-creating by God) are Holy and thus man has a choice - continue the work of man or join God in His work, His liturgy, which is the ultimate reason God created us. We call this worship - and as Catholics there is the Mass. The Liturgy of the Word (Sacred Scripture -God's Word) and the Liturgy of the Eucharist - God's gift to humanity, His only begotten Son, The Word Incarnate, the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus. In my humble opinion our understanding of life can only be truly appreciated if we see ourselves in relationship with God the Creator. He is the Creator and we are the created.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Transfiguration and Personal Encounter

Today we reminded of God's glory as we celebrate the feast of the Transfiguration. In Luke's Gospel, we find that Jesus has taken his closest disciples to go "up the mountain to pray." That is an important insight into understanding what is taking place. In prayer one prepares oneself to encounter God. We can encounter God in all things in creation, but in prayer we encounter Him on a personal level.
For Jesus close circle this encounter was to include a brief display of His glory. Oh, to have been there and witnessed His radiance. Jesus demonstrates in a lesson in salvation history, that he was united to Old Law and fulfilled the Prophesies, yet He was something more, more brilliant, the true Light from true Light. We may never have an encounter here on earth like the Transfiguration, but in prayer God exposes His true beauty in small doses. These grace moments have been experienced by even the least of us. The veil between heaven and earth is lifted when we encounter God through the Eucharist. We can only witness this by being prayer and receptive to His grace and to desire an encounter with Him. Jesus took his disciples up the mountain to pray, He seeks that you make that journey too.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Father Barron on Anti-Catholicism

St. Josemaria Escriva' on Prayer

A Catholic, without prayer? It is the same as a soldier without arms.

True prayer which absorbs the whole individual benefits not so much from the solitude of the desert as from interior recollection.

Do not be discouraged. However unworthy the person is, however imperfect the prayer turns out to be, if it is offered with humility and perseverance, God always hears it.

Our Lord sent out his disciples to preach, and when they came back he gathered them together and invited them to go with him to a desert place where they could rest... What marvelous things Jesus would ask them and tell them! Well, the Gospel is always relevant to the present day.

How lovable is the scene of the Annunciation. How often we have meditated on this! Mary is recollected in prayer. She is using all her senses and her faculties to speak to God. It is in prayer that she comes to know the divine Will. And with prayer she makes it the life of her life. Do not forget the example of the Virgin Mary.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The Simplicty of St. Francis

St. Jean Vianney - The Cure d'Ars

"All the good works in the world are not equal to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass because they are the works of men; but the Mass is the work of God. Martyrdom is nothing in comparison for it is but the sacrifice of man to God; but the Mass is the sacrifice of God for man."

"You cannot please both God and the world at the same time, They are utterly opposed to each other in their thoughts, their desires, and their actions."

"I throw myself at the foot of the Tabernacle like a dog at the foot of his Master."

"Prayer is to our soul what rain is to the soil. Fertilize the soil ever so richly, it will remain barren unless fed by frequent rains."

St. Jean Vianney pray for us.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Father Leo Clifford - The Three Things


Reflections by Fr. Leo Clifford, O.F.M.
Uploaded by Catholic. - Explore more family videos.

Sometimes God Asks Us to Walk on Water

"When the disciples saw him walking on the sea they were terrified.“It is a ghost,” they said, and they cried out in fear.At once Jesus spoke to them, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.”Peter said to him in reply,“Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.”He said, “Come.” Matthew 14:25-28

Faith is not a blind leap as some have suggested. Faith does not require you to believe something that is contrary to Natural Law or to logic. When Jesus tests Peter on the water, it is Peter who first asks Jesus "command me to come to you on the water" Peter is asking is this as reasonable thing, given that Jesus could do it. The point of this is not that we are going to be able to cross the oceans and the seas in our Nike sandals. What Jesus is asking is this: can you respond to my call? You may not be asked to walk on water but rather to be there for someone in need, or to be a mother or father, or teach, or to support a family, to be a missionary to the poor, or give your life entirely as a priest. It is reasonable to consider that we all have some vocation (the word means calling), and the one calling us is Jesus. Are you able to hear His call? Are you listening or is His voice drowned out by the noise of the material world. In my humble opinion, the most significant action one can take in one's life, after of course having faith, is to listen carefully for the call of Jesus, so that your gifts contribute to His Kingdom, the Body of Christ, and you fulfill your life's calling.

Monday, August 2, 2010

St. Eusebius of Vercelli

Born in Sardinia at the beginning of the 4th Century, he was born into the rapidly changing world of the late Roman Empire. As he grew up he saw Christianity go from being an illegal religion to one tolerated, and then the official religion of the empire. He became a priest of the Church of Rome and was chosen to be the first bishop of his home town of Vercelli. He evangelized Sardinia and was the first in the West to promote the common life for clergy: he combined the observation of a monastic way of life with the distinctively clerical tasks of care for souls and celebration of the sacred liturgy. Eusebius gave his priests the common life, which would later be called canons regular and spread throughout the Church. The Emperor Constantius persecuted him for his loyalty to the Catholic faith and drove him into exile where he greatly suffered. Returning to Sardinia, he worked tirelessly against the Arians for the restoration of the Catholic faith. He died in 371.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Beautiful Litany of the Saints

Vanity of Vanities

Today's first reading for the Sunday Liturgy of the Word is from Ecclesiastes, one the great "wisdom" books of the Bible. Ecclesiastes is the name given to the book of Holy Scripture which usually follows the Proverbs; the Hebrew Qoheleth probably has the same meaning. The word preacher, however, is not meant to suggest a congregation nor a public speech, but only the solemn announcement of sublime truths.

Vanity of vanities, says Qoheleth,
vanity of vanities! All things are vanity!

Here is one who has labored with wisdom and knowledge and skill, and yet to another who has not labored over it, he must leave property.
This also is vanity and a great misfortune.
For what profit comes to man from all the toil and anxiety of heart with which he has labored under the sun?
All his days sorrow and grief are his occupation;
even at night his mind is not at rest.
This also is vanity.

In the frantic pace of the modern society we labor for things that are of no value, to whom it really matters. You get older and you don't have the energy or time to play with all toys you've accumulated, or perhaps your health robs you of those things too. What about those people who have had their life savings lost by unscrupulous people like Bernard Madoff who stole billions of dollars, or Enron and the Stanford Group?

Jesus the Wise Teacher warns us today " Thus will it be for all who store up treasure for themselves but are not rich in what matters to God.”

The saints, whose lives are the examples by which we may learn, never put much emphasis on the material stuff of this world. Once you have tasted the sweetness of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the riches of this world pale by comparison. Work for the true treasure - God's Kingdom.


Friday, July 30, 2010

Immutable

I have written previously of how the modern thought has diminished God in every sense. One characteristic of God, missing from modern thought is His immutability. What does this mean? Every being, that is every thing we understand to exist, has a potentiality. It has within, the ability to change if acted on by some agent. An apple seed becomes an apple tree, an apple tree produces apples. God is pure act, He is perfect and does not posses any potentiality. YAWEH means I AM WHO AM, not I will be or I could be. The immutability of God means that He will never change, that all things dependent on Him need not fear, He is trustworthy, dependable, faithful. He is the long term investment. Everything that exists, exists in a temporal condition, except for one other thing - our souls. Our souls which are the very breath of God are eternal, made to be united with Eternity Himself. Our God is immutable, He will be there if we choose Him. He does care about each and everyone of us. Jesus said:
"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and decay destroy, and thieves break in and steal. But store up treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor decay destroys, nor thieves break in and steal.(God is immutable) For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be."
You are not living fully when you live in the temporary, and exclude the eternal.

From Father Barron's Catholicism - Virtual Pilgrimage: San Chapelle in Paris

Mark Shea " Can One Choose Belief"


Mark Shea has a very good post in the National Catholic Register The question is posed "Can one choose belief? This is a good question because in our secular world choosing is akin to a right. And equally important is to understand that Catholicism is not merely a choice, like choosing where to shop, or what diet to follow, or exercise program. Shea writes:

"Can one choose belief?"

"Yes. But it’s a particular kind of choosing. Not shutting your eyes and willing to yourself to believe what your intellect knows to be self-contradictory nonsense (that’s insane). But choosing to believe the possibility that the God who transcends (not contradicts) reason has spoken in Christ Jesus. It is, at the very least, worth checking out the possibility."

and also:

"A Christian is, in fact, free to suppose that even the oddest religion is partly right, and that there is a rather complex hierarchy of truth which can grant to other religious and philosophical traditions all sorts of real perceptions of truth (rather like the insightful Hindu tale of the blind men and the elephant). Christianity, for instance, made extensive use of Plato in trying to articulate the Faith to the Greco-Roman world, just as it honored the oracles of Judaism in making its appeal to Jews. You can see this happening already in the book of Acts. It also, of course, draws sharp distinctions between itself and other religious traditions. But the point is that the Church never has to pretend “We alone are solely right and everybody else is completely wrong.” Atheism paints itself into this corner with alarming frequency, which is why it tends to emit the constant rhetoric about how its adherents are, to use Sagan’s charming self-flattery, a “candle in the dark”. Only the One True Church of Rationalistic Science can save us all. "


Shea also compares Christianity to Islam and makes several good points. I advise you to read the post from the link above.

We must always be free to discuss why faith in Jesus Christ is a very reasonable thing to do. We must be prepared to make the case why it is a good choice to live as Christ taught us and to seek to be holy. "The Catholic Church" is, as G K Chesterton wrote: "It is the only thing that frees a man from the degrading slavery of being a child of his age."

The Kittie Smith Story

It's 1:30 in the morning. I haven't felt too great the past 4-5 days and after sleeping for a couple hours earlier yesterday afternoon, I find myself wide awake. I decided I would get up and read but first thought I should check out Stranger in Strange Land to see if there were any comments. Note to the public - bloggers love comments. Some comments can be very important like this one:

Anonymous said... please pray with us!

for the healing of Jordan R.'s cancer through the intercession of cardinal can thuan, pray for us!

I would ask anybody out there if you read this to stop and say a prayer for Jordan. Cardinal Thuan was a remarkable man who loved Jesus so much, so much that the Eucharist is what sustained him in a North Vietnamese prison for 13 years.

I would like to share a story I just came across on this website called "The Human Marvels Presenting Peculiar People" There are stories of curious people, many are side show people with unusual physical attributes. The author of this website sees the inspiration that lies behind these people. One such story is Kittie Smith. Kittie was an ordinary girl, living with her sister and two older brothers, when her mother died and her alcoholic father began to become abusive. In a horrible act of cruelty, the father literally burned her arms off, but please read to see the rest of the story (as the late Paul Harvey used to say) Kittie Smith -The Armless Dynamo

St. Peter Chrysologus - Doctor of the Church

Saint Peter Chrysologus (Greek for golden-worded) was born about the year 380 in Imola, Emilia (Italy) and there entered the preisthood. He was elected Bishop of Ravenna in 424 and instructed his flock by his learned sermoons and writings. Below are some some of his sermons.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

How Do You Abide?

Abide in Me and I in You.

How does one abide in Christ and Christ in him?

Anybody who can read Sacred Scriptures can know this revelation?

How does the Divine reside in you and you reside in the Divine?

This is necessary for eternal life, so it is an important question. In fact so important that Jesus said we could do nothing without Him. Nothing!

So how does one have the Omnipotent, the Almighty, the Everlasting King, the Prince of Peace, the Way, the Truth, and the Life, the Resurrection and the Life abide in him and he abide in Jesus the Lord?

St. John, the One Whom Jesus Loved, tells us very clearly?
"I am the true vine; and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me, that beareth not fruit, he will take away: and every one that beareth fruit, he will purge it, that it may bring forth more fruit. Now you are clean by reason of the word, which I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abide in the vine, so neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine: you the branches: he that abideth in me, and I in him, the same beareth much fruit: for without me you can do nothing. " John 15:1-5

"I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever; and the bread that I will give, is my flesh, for the life of the world. The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying: How can this man give us his flesh to eat? Then Jesus said to them: Amen, amen I say unto you: Except you eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, you shall not have life in you. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath everlasting life: and I will raise him up in the last day."

"For my flesh is meat indeed: and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, abideth in me, and I in him." John 6:51-56

Father Barron on Disorder in the Universe

Role Playing

One of the things that I think has changed in our culture among many things (most of them not for the good) is the significance of playing and imagination. It seems now that children at a very young age have tools such as toys and games that are suppose to facilitate one's imagination but in reality do the imagining for them. Another factor is that due to urbanization, crime, and two parent working families, and single parenting, children do not play outdoors. I grew up outside (my mother would have gone nuts otherwise), we played every imaginable "game" from soldiers to spacemen and anything available could be a weapon, a magic wand, or used to build a fantasy world from our imagination. I'm not saying that this does not go on today - children have imaginations, but what I am saying the structures are contrived. Books were also for me a way of "seeing" the world, and learning about different people, cultures, attitudes. The library was one of my favorite places, there just aren't many kids today who would make that claim.

In Ignatian contemplation, one places oneself in the middle of a story. God's story to be precise and uses their child like imagination to "see" what God is saying to them personally. Here are some thoughts on this process:

1. Try to find a quiet place, may be in your room, a chapel, or at perhaps work your office with its door closed.

2. Slowly relax and begin to a sense of inner peace and tranquility. Allow your cares and concerns of the moment slip away. Reciting a favorite prayer from memory or praying a decade of the Rosary will help to ease you into the prayer.

3. Slowly and quietly enter into God's presence, When you encounter the Lord, ask Him to give you the grace to see what He desires for you.

4. Slowly read a passage from scripture. Envision where it is taking place follow the reading closely. Is there something that strikes you or speaks out to you?

5. Read it again. Is there something in particular that is touches your heart - perhaps moving you or even troubling you?

6. Allow yourself to be that imaginative child: put yourself in the scene. Are you a main character? Someone on the sidelines watching? Think about the following:

1. What is going on around you?
2. What are the sights? Smells? Textures? Sounds?
3. What are you wearing, how do you feel?
4. Who else is there? Do you recognize those around you?

7. Surrender to the story. Begin to interact with your surrounding, allow yourself to be guided by the Holy Spirit as you speak and engage with others.

8. Do not try to control the prayer. Surrender! Let the Spirit guide you.

9. How are you feeling? Is your "heart on fire?"

10. As you bring your prayer to a close, perhaps you might take a few minutes to speak to the Lord about your experience. Be candid - tell God what/how you have felt.

This can be a very useful means of touching and feeling something spiritual to your being and can open up to thoughts and memories about an area of your life that has been neglected or is seeking more. God's grace can move you, enlighten you, aid in desiring to know Him. It is good to practice this exercise from time to time.


Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Embraced by Divine Mercy - A Mothers Story

My wife and I were married on April 16th, the same date 30 years prior to the incredibly horrific tragedy that occurred at Virginia Tech in 2007. Each subsequent year on our anniversary, we can't help but think about it. In addition we have also visited Blacksburg, Virginia and spent a night in that beautiful town. I came across this story on Spirit Daily and I want to share it with you. Read it for yourself.

The God of All Grace

He was known before the foundation of the world but revealed in the final time for you, who through him believe in God who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.
But even if you should suffer because of righteousness, blessed are you. Do not be afraid or terrified with fear of them, but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts. Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope, but do it with gentleness and reverence, keeping your conscience clear, so that, when you are maligned, those who defame your good conduct in Christ may themselves be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that be the will of God, than for doing evil. Beloved, do not be surprised that a trial by fire is occurring among you, as if something strange were happening to you.
But rejoice to the extent that you share in the sufferings of Christ, so that when his glory is revealed you may also rejoice exultantly. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. But let no one among you be made to suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or as an intriguer.But whoever is made to suffer as a Christian should not be ashamed but glorify God because of the name.
Cast all your worries upon him because he cares for you. Be sober and vigilant. Your opponent the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion looking for (someone) to devour. Resist him, steadfast in faith, knowing that your fellow believers throughout the world undergo the same sufferings. The God of all grace who called you to his eternal glory through Christ (Jesus) will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you after you have suffered a little.

To him be dominion forever. Amen. (1Peter)

Handel's Water Music

Psalm 63

O God, you are my God;
I earnestly search for you.
My soul thirsts for you;
my whole body longs for you
in this parched and weary land
where there is no water.
So I gaze on you in the sanctuary
to see your strength and your glory.

For your love is better than life,
my lips will speak your praise.
So I will bless you all my life,
in your name I will lift up my hands.
My soul shall be filled as banquet,
my mouth shall praise you with joy.

On my bed I remember you.
On you I muse through the night
for you have been my help;
in the shadow of your wings I rejoice.
My soul clings to you;
your right hand holds me fast.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Peter Kreeft on Beauty Part II

The Pope is Cool!

If you know me at all you will know the order of priorities in my life:
1. Love of God
2. Love of Family (the universal family)
3. Love of Sox (as in the Boston Red Sox)

This is the cap I would rather see our Holy Father wearing.

On Foolishness

One of the most significant "light bulb" moments came when I was watching Father Robert Barron's DVD, " Untold Blessings : The Three Paths to Holiness"

Father Barron said "your life is not about you." Those few words are significant in understanding many things about our Catholic faith and in many ways unlock the door to spiritual awareness and lead to path directly to Jesus Christ. Let's look at the significance of those words.

1. We acknowledge that there exists something or someone beyond ourselves, who is far more significant and important. Proverbs 9:10 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is prudence.

2. The most natural reaction which one can reason is this: "then what is it about?" - it begs inquiry, it seeks philosophical understanding beyond the most obvious sensory object that we know - ourselves

3. We begin to be "other-centered," the cosmos is far more expansive than our own interior self. We are more open to the larger and less concerned with the smaller things. This is can only lead to a greater awareness and understanding of the world and others.

4. We begin to take a genuine interest in others, their importance increases. We can see clearly who are neighbor is. We are not distracted by are own wants, we are not blinded by our own ambitions. We can begin to live as Christ taught us in the Beatitudes.

5.When your life is about you - you are reactive, you seek things that benefit you, give you pleasure, give you power, increase your importance or significance. You conversely ignore what does not benefit you, give you pleasure, or empowers you. This is a narrow road, like a horse with "blinders" on

6.When Christ said to "die to your self: he was in essence saying "live to a world where My Father is king, a world of awe and wonder, a world of diversity, a world of others, of knowledge and understanding, of beauty and possibility, a world full of life."

This brings me to the topic of this post: foolishness - most people cannot recognize the beauty of self-sacrifice, of living for others, of self-denial. This is precisely why true Christianity looks so foolish to the world. This is why Christ looks foolish. Humility is the key to opening the heart to Jesus. Paul recognized how others saw him when he preached Christ's Gospel:

"For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe."

"For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God."

"For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God's sight. As it is written: "He catches the wise in their craftiness."

"We are fools for Christ's sake, but we are wise in Christ; we are weak, but you are strong; you are in honor, but we in disrepute."

Peter Kreeft on Beauty

Bible Study with Jesus

The study of Sacred Scripture can illuminate your mind and instill in oneself the certainty of our faith. The Holy Spirit working within us can, with our cooperation, reveal God's workings. The Church has always been careful in cautioning the believer not to take interpretation as individual revelation. While Jesus, the Good Teacher, never wrote anything down, He once did a Bible study of sorts - you know the story, the road to Emmaus:

"Now that very day two of them were going to a village seven miles from Jerusalem called Emmaus, and they were conversing about all the things that had occurred. And it happened that while they were conversing and debating, Jesus himself drew near and walked with them, but their eyes were prevented from recognizing him."

He asked them, "What are you discussing as you walk along?" They stopped, looking downcast. One of them, named Cleopas, said to him in reply, "Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know of the things that have taken place there in these days?"

And he replied to them, "What sort of things?" They said to him, "The things that happened to Jesus the Nazarene, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, how our chief priests and rulers both handed him over to a sentence of death and crucified him.

But we were hoping that he would be the one to redeem Israel; and besides all this, it is now the third day since this took place.

Some women from our group, however, have astounded us: they were at the tomb early in the morning and did not find his body; they came back and reported that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who announced that he was alive. Then some of those with us went to the tomb and found things just as the women had described, but him they did not see."

And he said to them, "Oh, how foolish you are! How slow of heart to believe all that the prophets spoke! Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and enter into his glory?"
The Bible Lesson begins:
Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them what referred to him in all the scriptures. As they approached the village to which they were going, he gave the impression that he was going on farther. But they urged him, "Stay with us, for it is nearly evening and the day is almost over." So he went in to stay with them.

And it happened that, while he was with them at table, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them. With that their eyes were opened and they recognized him, but he vanished from their sight.
Then they said to each other, "Were not our hearts burning (within us) while he spoke to us on the way and opened the scriptures to us?"

Monday, July 26, 2010

Prayers After Receiving Communion

Act of Faith

Jesus, I firmly believe that You are present within me as God and Man, to enrich my soul with graces and to fill my heart with the happiness of the blessed. I believe that You are Christ, the Son of the Living God!
Amen

Bad Science Exists

I posted yesterday a piece called How Do You Perceive Reality? In it I mentioned that buying into the secular dogma that science and only science yields rational knowledge is dangerous and foolish because it gives us a severely limited realm of knowledge. When you remove morals and ethics (which can only truly come from God) science becomes a religion and scientists become gods. Thus we will be left with research that will have no concern with human dignity, such as embryonic stem cells, where human being are harvested and discarded, or what will be a horror show, human cloning. Left unchecked it will certainly get into human engineering, and any venture where money can be had regardless of the consequences. Science can become whatever you want it to be for the right price. It is already been politicized and it will silence anyone who will not walk lock step in agreement with those in academia & scientific research. Here's another dirty little secret that you will have to dig deep to find since its been covered up. There is widespread bad science - fraudulent, biased research, paid to get the results that those who fund it want. It is extremely easy to fake scientific research results. Once it is published and hits the main stream media, it becomes the folklore of popular psychology, and with a massive population now who garners all their information from the internet and believe as gospel, it is quite easy to manipulate the public. Bad science exists and with no ethical and moral laws or precepts to follow, will become the propaganda machine of the government who has the money to fund as much as they would like to.

Sts. Joachim & Anne

Today we remember the parents of Our Blessed Virgin Mary. Most of what we know comes from apocryphal writings particularly from the Gospel of St. James. And though these apocryphal writings were not accepted in the canon as inspired writings, they nevertheless give us information along with the traditions and other documents that go a long way back in the belief that Mary's parents were Joachim (which means Yaweh prepares) and Anne. We find that devotion to St. Anne dates back to the sixth century in the Church of Constantinople and the eighth century in Rome. St. Joachim was honored very early by the Greeks, who celebrate his feast on the day following the Blessed Virgin's birthday. Here are some good sites to learn more: Catholic Encyclopedia, Catholic Culture

Sunday, July 25, 2010

How do You Perceive Reality?

Richard Dawkins the darling of the neo-atheists, who wrote "The God Delusion" and described the Catholic Church as "the greatest force for evil in the world." When Dawkins was asked by Ben Stein in the movie " No Intelligence Allowed" "Who created the universe?" he immediately retorted " Why do you say who?" That question is one of the reasons why people like Dawkins cannot comprehend God. The modern philosophers of the "Enlightenment Age" recognized being as a thing. This has left us in today's world, especially the wold of academia with the same dichotomy that the ancient Greeks had regarding God - Faith is left to the realm of personal knowledge and Reason is the left to the realm of objective fact. People like Dawkins babble when it comes to things like Creation (in the movie he mutters something about" molecules that can replicate themselves" - something that he's quite not sure of) and then admits he does not know. One thing I know about science is this: science assumes the existence of the world as a brute fact, but science cannot tell us why the world exists- only through metaphysics can we begin to answer that question. In the Catholic faith from the brilliance of St. Thomas Aquinas we understand being - not as a thing - but as an act. You can tell what something is by what it does. This is far a more intelligent insight into understanding reality. In positivism (the belief that the scientific method is the only way of knowing) we have a severely limited realm of knowledge. We know that in reality, things exist that we cannot comprehend from our senses - abstract thought for instance, or how about love for example. Can you measure it? Can you weigh it? Can you test it? Do not tell me that it does not exist. People like Dawkins see the Catholic Church with a very narrow vision. Do they see the incredible amount of good done by Catholic throughout the world? Catholic charities do more to feed, clothe and shelter people in the world than any other organization. That same small perception of reality makes the Dawkins of the world blind to Jesus Christ. How do you perceive reality?

Practical Faith

Allow me, if you will, a few words here to discuss myself and my faith. What I am about to write is not extraordinary yet perhaps it can shed some insight into why one should place Jesus Christ into the center of their being(love God with you whole heart, whole soul, whole mind and whole strength Mark 12:30). I don't want to bore you with an autobiography, but rather look at points along the road. Here is a quick background: was raised Catholic, went to Catholic schools, in early years was very fond of the Church, my faith, and the priests and nuns whose exemplary life and teaching had a profound effect on me. Fast forward - did all the things that were the discretion of youth predominately found in the culture of our times, including lapsing my faith - fast forward joined the Air Force where I met my wife, who was a good Catholic and a wonderful human being. Raising four children meant going to church on a regular basis and seeing to it that they were be catechized into the faith. Fast forward met up with a devout Christian, not a Catholic, who help rekindle my spiritual life. In the past dozen years I have been on the "fast track" of spiritual growth. God has been very good to me along the way even though I am truly not worthy of his kindness and grace. I'll fill in some of the blanks at another time but here is where I am getting at: God is good to those who are faithful to Him and live a righteous life. If you read Proverbs you will get a myriad of practical advice as to how to live and by golly its all true. Living a virtuous life, praying and developing a relationship with your Creator, seeking the graces available from the Sacraments, making Jesus a priority, sharing in relationships the love of God, and spreading the "Good News" has done nothing but bring joy into my life. I had all the material successes and all the things that are considered the "markers - milestones" for a what the secular world deems a successful life. Yet and this is reality, not some mystical experience, but practical reality: I have never known joy like I know now. If you are living a life and not experiencing joy, true joy, then you can change it. How? By connecting it to God, by co-mingling with the Divine. We were created by God, for God, so that we can be a part of God, returning to His bosom of love. Start the journey right now. God is waiting.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Don't Dialogue with Temptation

As soon as you willfully allow a dialogue with temptation to begin, the soul is robbed of its peace, just as consent to impurity destroys grace.
St. Josemaria Escriva "Furrow"

Friday, July 23, 2010

Dogma: TraditionalCatholicTV.com

Walking with Jesus

In Maureen Conroy's Book titled: The Discerning Heart: Discovering a Personal God, she writes "Growth in relationship with God occurs through mutual self-revelation." The Greek philosophers were only half right in their quest to know truth. Know thyself is indeed an important component to the spiritual life. Modern man spends little time in that pursuit, in the quest of self-examination. The rare exception occurs when one slips off the the road of life or crashes into something. When failure, a personal disaster, accidentally or intentionally, or life threatening illness befalls a person, then they begin to ask themselves who am I. How did I get here? Our life here, our existence in truth, is relational, and it is best understood in terms of our relationship with our Creator and His relationship to us.

I like to use the image of doors. If we look at a door in a philosophical sense, the idea of a door, we develop some concepts: a door opens, a door opens into one space and out to another, it is both an entrance and an exit, there are two sides of a door.When a door is closed, only one side is knowable, the side that you are on. In translating that image to our lives, and to our Faith, we can see that it is necessary to explore some important areas of understanding:

1. How do I discover God's revelation, His hidden mysteries?

2. How does it take place? How does He reveal Himself?


3. What are the means to knowing it? What do I have to do?

4. Will I even understand it when it happens?

Conversely, the other side of the door:

1. How much of myself have I shown God?

2. How do I fully and openly reveal myself to Him?

3. What obstacles are in place that hinders me from revealing my true self?

4. Do I consider how I react or growth as a result of His Divine revelation to me?

Now this is getting complex. Without going into a great deal of explanation, I would say we need a means of tracking the daily occurrences in which we encounter God and ourselves and we also need a neutral but skilled party who can guide us.

The first means was developed by St. Ignatius of Loyola and is known as the Examen - for a good explanation click here: The Examen Prayer. The second means would be to go on a retreat, and with good spiritual direction explore how you can better equip yourself in your quest to walk with Jesus.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Prayer Before Receiving the Eucharist

Act of Faith

Lord Jesus Christ, I firmly believe that You are present in the Blessed Sacrament as true God and true Man, with Your Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity. My Redeemer, and my Judge, I adore Your Divine Majesty together with the Angels and Saints. I believe, O Lord; increase my faith.
Amen

1380 AM Baton Rouge Catholic Radio Please Send a Buck or Two !

The Joy of Being a Dad (been meaning to post this)


Mary Magdalene - A Model of Faith

Christian writers and saints have viewed Mary Magdalene throughout Church history. St. Anselm says in a prayer to St. Mary Magdalene that she "came with springing tears to the spring of mercy, Christ; from him [her] burning thirst was abundantly refreshed; through him [her] sins were forgiven; by him [her] bitter sorrow was consoled." Anselm also calls her a "dear friend of God, to whom were many sins forgiven, because she loved much." Anselm highlights the connection between Mary Magdalene, present at the tomb, with the sinner who anoints Christ's feet. Likewise, St. Bonaventure wrote a homily beautifully describing the great love Mary Magdalene, the repentant sinner, had for Jesus. Another tradition holds that Mary was also the woman caught in adultery (cf. Jn. 8:2-11), but this is not as well supported in the writings of the Church Fathers. They did however present her as a model disciple and important witness to Our Risen Lord. You can find her also in the writings of Tertullian, Hippolitus, Origen, Dionysius, Ambros, Augustine and Gregory the Great, who wrote " The soul is inflamed as if it were gold, because gold loses its beauty through use but fire restores its brightness. So Mary loved, who turned a second time to the sepulcher (tomb)she had already looked into...Her search had been redoubled by the power of love."

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

More Prayers Before Receiving the Holy Eucharist

Act of Love
Jesus, my God, I love you with my whole heart and above all things, because You are the one supreme Good and infinitely perfect Being.
You have given Your life for me, a poor sinner, and in Your mercy You have even offered Yourself as food for my soul. My God, I love You. Inflame my heart so that I may love You more.
Amen

St. Lawrence of Brindisi

Today is the feast day of St. Lawrence Brindisi, a Capuchin Franciscan priest. He was beatified in 1783 by Pope Pius VI, canonized in 1881 by Pope Leo XII, and declared a Doctor of the Church by Pope John XXII in 1959(Both he and Pope John XXIII came from the same hometown, Brindisi, Italy) An excellent biography can be found here at catholicculture.com

He was born with the interesting name of Julius Caesar, when he was just 16 he entered the Capuchin Franciscan Order in Venice and received the name of Lawrence. He completed his studies of philosophy and theology at the University of Padua and was ordained a priest at 23.

He traveled throughout Europe wrote a commentary on the Book of Genesis, and argued against Martin Luther in the several treatises he wrote
. St. Lawrence also wrote some eight hundred sermons in Latin, which fill eleven of his fifteen huge Opera Omnia volumes, published in a critical edition from 1928 to 1956. He died on the same day of his birth, July 22 at the age of 60 years old in Lisbon, Portugal.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Prayers Before Receiving Communion

Over the next few days I will be posting some prayers that can be said prior to receiving the Holy Eucharist and prayers after receiving. It is my humble opinion that we tend to forget what an incredible event that occurs when we partake of the body and blood, soul and divinity of Jesus Christ, the Word made Flesh. These are some "old timey" prayers to help focus one to the awe of being united with Christ.

Act of Desire
Jesus my God and my all, my soul longs for You. My heart yearns to receive You in Holy Communion. Come, Bread of Heaven and Food of Angels, to nourish my soul and rejoice my heart. Come, most lovable Friend of my soul, to inflame me with such love that I may never again be separated from you.
Amen

Noli Me Tangere ( Don't Touch Me)

Mary Magdalene was a most prominent person in the Gospels - an excellent "biography" can be found in the Catholic Encyclopedia Website- click here

The Greek Fathers, as a whole, distinguish the three persons: the "sinner" of Luke 7:36-50; the sister of Martha and Lazarus, Luke 10:38-42 and John 11; and Mary Magdalen.

Mary Magdalene is for the Church the archetype of the pentinent - a person who goes astray, fallen, in sin, that turns to the Lord for forgiveness and as a result she becomes a close friend. That is a beautiful picture of God's mercy.

"But Mary stayed outside the tomb weeping. And as she wept, she bent over into the tomb and saw two angels in white sitting there, one at the head and one at the feet where the body of Jesus had been. And they said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping?" She said to them, "They have taken my Lord, and I don't know where they laid him."
When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus there, but did not know it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?" She thought it was the gardener and said to him, "Sir, if you carried him away, tell me where you laid him, and I will take him." Jesus said to her, "Mary!" She turned and said to him in Hebrew, "Rabbouni," which means Teacher. Jesus said to her, "Stop holding on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and tell them, 'I am going to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'" John 20:11-17
"On the first day of the week, Mary of Magdala came to the tomb early in the morning, while it was still dark, and saw the stone removed from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and told them, "They have taken the Lord from the tomb, and we don't know where they put him." John 20:1-2
"Then they returned from the tomb and announced all these things to the eleven and to all the others. The women were Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Mary the mother of James; the others who accompanied them also told this to the apostles,but their story seemed like nonsense and they did not believe them." Luke 24:9-12
When he had risen, early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had driven seven demons. She went and told his companions who were mourning and weeping. When they heard that he was alive and had been seen by her, they did not believe. Mark 16:10-12

"After the sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb. And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, approached, rolled back the stone, and sat upon it.
His appearance was like lightning and his clothing was white as snow." Matthew 28:1-3

Monday, July 19, 2010

Additional Thoughts on the Things I've Learned

As I was driving home after spending an hour before the Blessed Sacrament, I started to consider some things that I may have left off my list of things that I have learned in my faith journey. So I've decide to add the following:

The Word of God is powerful. It is important to hear the word of God, in a sense the Word of God is always a call. The questions becomes what do we do when we hear the word of God.

Jesus tells us in the parable of the sower:

Hear then the parable of the sower.
The seed sown on the path is the one who hears the word of the kingdom without understanding it, and the evil one comes and steals away what was sown in his heart.

The seed sown on rocky ground is the one who hears the word and receives it at once with joy. But he has no root and lasts only for a time. When some tribulation or persecution comes because of the word, he immediately falls away.

The seed sown among thorns is the one who hears the word, but then worldly anxiety and the lure of riches choke the word and it bears no fruit.

But the seed sown on rich soil is the one who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and yields a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold.

Our Faith must be viewed in terms of Salvation History. Our faith is the greatest love story ever told. It started in a most perfect garden with the original children of God. The name Adam literally means son of God. Throughout the history God showed his love and mercy to those who were given a Covenant. Man though, chose not to follow His ways and finally God made a Covenant with David promising that his kingdom would be everlasting. He sent from the seed of Jesse, His Only Beloved Son, the Word Incarnate to be the most perfect sacrifice and establish a new and everlasting covenant.

Suffering is an essential part of salvation. We are all part of the Mystical Body of Christ. St. Paul understands that the suffering he endures serves as a way to be like Christ, as well as it being for Christ’s sake. Paul says: “Indeed I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as refuse, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own, based on law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God depends on faith; that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his suffering, becoming like him in his death, that if possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead” (Philippians 3:8-11)

Our suffering can serve to advance the salvation of our fellow brethren. Our suffering is never in vain. We are never alone in our suffering if we join Christ in His.