Sunday, January 31, 2010

Why Christianity is Despised & Hated

Pope Benedict XVI while leading a Vespers service in the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls commented on what he called a "growing aversion" to the Christian faith in the world.

"In a world marked by religious indifference and even by a growing aversion toward the Christian faith, a new, intense activity of evangelization is necessary," the Pope said.

He urged Christians to overcome their differences through dialogue so that they can unite their efforts to influence debates in society on ethical issues like abortion, euthanasia and the limits of science and technology. (courtesy of the Associated Press)

In an address Archbishop Charles Chaput delivered at the Fifth Symposium Rome: Priests and Laity on Mission, titled "The Prince of This World and Evangelization of Culture." Archbishop Chaput hits on some points that are dear to my heart: in my humble opinion because of the internet and the rapid speed of the communication of information we are producing ignorant and lazy human beings whose thoughts and opinions come pre-packaged, biased, even false and untrue, are not analyzed or discussed but rather spewed back as a tenet of one's beliefs. Archbishop Chaput said:

"Part of what blocks a serious awareness and rethinking of our current culture is the “knowledge economy” we have created. In its 1999 statement Towards a Pastoral Approach to Culture, the Pontifical Council for Culture saw that the constant flow of “information provided by [today's] mass media . . . affects the way things are perceived: What people come to know is not reality as such, but what they are shown. [The] constant repetition of selected items of information involves a decline in critical awareness, and this is a crucial factor in forming what is considered public opinion.” It also causes “a loss of intrinsic value [in the specific] items of information, an undifferentiated uniformity in messages which are reduced to pure information, a lack of responsible feedback, and a . . . discouragement of interpersonal relationships.” This is all true. Much of modern technology isolates people as often as it brings them together. It attacks community as easily as it builds it up. It also forms the human mind in habits of thought and expression that are very different from traditional culture based on the printed word. And that has implications both for the Word of God and for the Church."

Another point he makes is one that I have been preaching for years: Satan exists and he is having great success with this great technology we have. If we do not acknowledge that we have an enemy, then how can we possibly fight him. This is one reason why I love Ignatian Spirituality - Ignatius knew who the enemy was! Archbishop Chaput added:

"It is very odd that in the wake of the bloodiest century in history – a century when tens of millions of human beings were shot, starved, gassed and incinerated with superhuman ingenuity – even many religious leaders are embarrassed to talk about the devil. In fact, it is more than odd. It is revealing. Mass murder and exquisitely organized cruelty are not just really big “mental health” problems. They are sins that cry out to heaven for justice, and they carry the fingerprints of an Intelligence who is personal, gifted, calculating and powerful. The devil is only unbelievable if we imagine him as the black monster of medieval paintings, or think The Inferno is intended as a literal road map to hell. Satan was very real for Jesus. He was very real for Paul and the other great saints throughout history. And he is profoundly formidable."

Christians acknowledge a unique relationship with the Creator. Jesus is one of us, He pitched His tent among us. That fact drives Satan crazy and He is working overtime with all the tricks and tools of his trade to attack and cause harm to Christianity. He is very comfortable using technology to destroy us. His number 1 enemy is family, the very model of the Trinity. The greatest industry in terms of dollars on the internet is pornography - whose earnings exceed all of professional sports (NFL NBA MLB NHL etc) combined! We better wake up and call Satan out for who he is. Remember what Jesus said:

"Then they will hand you over to persecution, and they will kill you. You will be hated by all nations because of my name.

And then many will be led into sin; they will betray and hate one another.

Many false prophets will arise and deceive many;

and because of the increase of evildoing, the love of many will grow cold.

But the one who perseveres to the end will be saved."

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Sophia Iesou uiou Seirach

"The Wisdom of Jesus, son of Sirach"

Most people don't know that Jesus wrote one of the books in the Bible. In many Bibles the title of his book is Ecclesiastes, Ecclesiasticus, or the Wisdom of Sirach. St. Augustine attributed this book to Solomon, but later it has been understood that Jesus was the author, that is Jesus, son of Eleazar, son of Sirach, not Jesus, the only begotten Son of God. It is one of what we call the wisdom literature and is a wonderful book to read and study. Wisdom is Divine, for God is the source of all wisdom.

Here are a few of my favorite passages:

"All wisdom comes from the LORD and with him it remains forever.

The sand of the seashore, the drops of rain, the days of eternity: who can number these?

Heaven's height, earth's breadth, the depths of the abyss: who can explore these?

Before all things else wisdom was created; and prudent understanding, from eternity.

To whom has wisdom's root been revealed? Who knows her subtleties?

There is but one, wise and truly awe-inspiring, seated upon his throne:

It is the LORD; he created her, has seen her and taken note of her."
and: "The beginning of wisdom is fear of the LORD, which is formed with the faithful in the womb."

and: "My son, conduct your affairs with humility, and you will be loved more than a giver of gifts.
Humble yourself the more, the greater you are, and you will find favor with God.

For great is the power of God; by the humble he is glorified."

and:" Delay not your conversion to the LORD, put it not off from day to day"

"A faithful friend is a sturdy shelter; he who finds one finds a treasure.

A faithful friend is beyond price, no sum can balance his worth.

A faithful friend is a life-saving remedy, such as he who fears God finds;

For he who fears God behaves accordingly, and his friend will be like himself."
"With all your soul, fear God, revere his priests.

With all your strength, love your Creator, forsake not his ministers."
"The beginning of pride is man's stubbornness in withdrawing his heart from his Maker;

For pride is the reservoir of sin, a source which runs over with vice; Because of it God sends unheard-of afflictions and brings men to utter ruin.

The thrones of the arrogant God overturns and establishes the lowly in their stead.
The roots of the proud God plucks up, to plant the humble in their place:

He breaks down their stem to the level of the ground, then digs their roots from the earth."
There are much more profound instructions that the modern would could learn just from this book.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Ralph McInerny Requiem in Pacem

Ralph McInerny the distinguished professor of Notre Dame University passed away today. He was an intellectual giant, a prolific author, and philosopher who was a leader in Thomistic studies. It was fitting that he died one day after the Feast of St. Thomas Aquinas. Below is a lecture he gave on Newman and Kierkegaard.

Patient Trust

Patient Trust

Above all, trust in the slow work of God.We are quite naturally impatient in everything to reach the end without delay.We would like to skip the intermediate stages.We are impatient of being on the way to something unknown, something new.And yet, it is the law of all progress that it is made by passing through some stages of instability - and that it may take a very long time.

And so I think it is with you; your ideas mature gradually - let them grow, let them shape themselves, without undue haste.Don't try to force them on, as though you could be today what time, (that is to say, grace and circumstances acting on your own good will) will make of you tomorrow.
Only God could say what this new spirit gradually forming in you will be.

Give our Lord the benefit of believing that his hand is leading you,and accept the anxiety of feeling yourself in suspense and incomplete.

Pierre Tielhard de Chardinn SJ

Thursday, January 28, 2010

St. Thomas Aquinas

Today is the feast of St. Thomas Aquinas, "the Angelic Doctor"a giant in the Church's history with regards to theology. His writings were so profound that at the Council of Trent, the Fathers of Trent [1545-1563] made it part of the order of conclave to lay upon the altar, together with sacred Scripture and the decrees of the supreme Pontiffs, the Summa of Thomas Aquinas, whence to seek counsel, reason, and inspiration. I am not qualified nor would take the time to write a summary of his writings,which were quite extensive, his greatest work being the Summa Thelogica or Sum of Theology which is a compliation of all the theological teachings at that time and is brilliantly detailed in a philosophical treatise, step by step. St. Thomas Aquinas expanded on the work of Aristotle to demonstrate how Christ is the central truth of the cosmos. He is debated and discussed even to this day, with a school of philosophy based on his works known as Thomism. He brought Catholicism to its rightful place as the greatest science and paved the way to much great theological work.

Are You Seving the Right Kingdom?

"Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect." Matthew 5:48

"Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus."

Since the Fall of Man we have both historically and individually been in rehabilitation. The work we must do is the work of restoring our intellect so it is in union with our will. Our will must be constantly perfected so that it is the Will of God. In simple terms we have to learn to do what God wants us to do. That requires two things: learning and discipline. There is nothing haphazard about following God. We know his to be true because of our many failures in the moral choices we are confronted with. It is far easier pleasing oneself than God and others. But this leads to another question we must ask ourselves: what are you doing to build the kingdom of God? Most people don't look at this as a kingdom, yet that is precisely what Jesus established in becoming man. We are servants in this kingdom and it is incumbent that we discover what our role is in building it. Think of it like an online dating service. We must match our gifts; skills, abilities, talents with the Kingdom's needs. This will put us in the right place at the right time to take advantage of those many opportunities that the Holy Spirit will bestow upon us. In the growth of your spiritual being - matching your talents to doing God's service is a mark or a sign that you are moving towards God. At that point it is "your move" to see that you are moving towards service to God.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Life's Journey

All & everything that is meaningful can be seen as the Way to the Cross. Since creation's journey began its first leg, man has been in a sense taking the small steps that lead us to the Heavenly Banquet, but along the Way we must suffer. There is a parallel journey of all of human history, with the journey that each one of us takes. Life is a slow walk towards the Cross. We feel the weight of the Cross every day, we thirst, we hurt, we stumble, we hear voices that fade in and out, we are inside Christ's head, and ache from the Crown of Thorns. Each day means that we will feel the pain of those who strike us, each slow and tiresome day we make it out of bed and give to the world our life as Christ gave His. Yet it is our choice to be married to history, our brethren and Christ united, but our movements are slow, sometimes unnoticeable. The saddest thing about humanity and the modern world we live in is that there are many who don't know of this journey and there are those who refuse to join Christ. They are those who are lost in darkness, without a reference point, no history where they came from, no map or road to where there going. They too move slowly but without The Way they give no glory to the Creator and there souls will be lost forever. All & everything in the universe finds its purpose in the Cross. We must convince each person that in dying like Christ, there is life.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Conversion is a Daily Event

I, Paul a slave to Christ. Conversion is a daily event in the life of a Christian.

Pope John Paul II wrote " All humans beings are thus confronted with their condition as sinners and with their need for for penitence and conversion. The Christian faith reminds us that this pressing call to reject evil and do good is a gift of God, from Whom comes all that is good in the life of man. Everything has its origin in the gratuitous initiative of God, Who created us for joy and orients all things towards true goodness"

Conversion is quite frankly not as dramatic as it was for Saul on the way to Damascus. It comes in increments with each day bringing forth faith opportunities that either we seize upon through the gifts of the Holy Spirit, or we fail to recognize it and so it goes. My goal in life is to be slave to Christ.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Congratulations New Orleans Saints!

Pinch me please!!! The New Orleans Saints are headed to the Super Bowl!!! They are Champions of the NFC. What an incredible game and season for the city of New Orleans. New Orleans 31-28 over Bret Favre and the Minnesota Vikings in overtime. Now it is on to Miami to beat the Indianapolis Colts and Peyton Manning ( New Orleans native himself!) God Bless the New Orleans Saints. WHO DAT SAY THEY GONNA BEAT THE SAINTS! WHO DAT

Eyewitnesses From the Beginning

"Since many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the events that have been fulfilled among us, just as those who were eyewitnesses from the beginning and ministers of the word have handed them down to us, I too have decided, after investigating everything accurately anew, to write it down in an orderly sequence for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may realize the certainty of the teachings you have received." Luke 1:1-5
We know form Acts that Luke was a Gentile and a physician, one used to recording things accurately, but let's dissect what he has written in the beginning of his Gospel. Many have tried to put together the accounts of Jesus, prior to he writing things down. Christianity in its infancy did not possess a collection of books known as the "bible." There was no "sola scriptura" but Luke tells us there were eyewitnesses from the beginning - from the beginning can only mean disciples of Jesus, and ministers of the word can only mean those "authorized" (by Jesus' disciples) to hand down what had happened ( Apostolic Tradition), therefore our Christian faith was determined not solely by what was written down ( by a Gentile like Luke), but also by the apostolic teachings of those who were eyewitnesses from the beginning. If our faith were to depend solely on the Bible, one of two things in my opinion would have occurred. First: Jesus would have written it down so there would be no misinterpretations of exactly what he meant, and he would have carefully guarded his words so that there would not be(like we see today) myriads of interpretations over the same scripture passage. Or Jesus would have dictated it to his disciples at the time He was with them and would have "authorized" their version to be followed. Matthew & John did live with Jesus but wrote sometime after his death 60-90A.D. They wrote to different audiences and in different styles and for different reasons. Mark, sometimes known as John Mark (Acts), of whom tradition says received his information from Peter, was not a disciple of Jesus and Luke was a Gentile. God in his unquestionable wisdom inspired these men to write about the incarnation of Jesus with similar narratives yet each expressing a different aspect of whom Christ was and what it meant to Jews and Gentiles. Yet there is more to Jesus than the accounts of these four men and a lot of it was handed down, as was the case in the Jewish culture, practices and beliefs that were taught and accepted by many without any discussion or written discourse about. This is not only quite logical but it is silly to think that this did not happen. Finally I will leave with John 20:30 Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of (his) disciples that are not written in this book, and John 21:25 There are also many other things that Jesus did, but if these were to be described individually, I do not think the whole world would contain the books that would be written. I guess none of the things Jesus did, or taught, or explained, or instructed that would have filled many, many books, I guess they weren't very important because they aren't contained in the Bible, the collection of books that the Church of whom Jesus founded, authorized and complied.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Christ Be With Me

Christ be with me, Christ within me,

Christ behind me, Christ before me,

Christ beside me, Christ to win me,

Christ to comfort and restore me,

Christ beneath me, Christ above me,

Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,

Christ in hearts of all that love me,

Christ in mouth of friend and stranger,

St. Patrick, C. 460

I have always loved this prayer since the first time that I had heard it. My prayer to all who I encounter today is that I can bring Christ to you through my actions. Although I fail quite frequently my desire is that in humble obedience the love of Christ will touch you when you encounter me. When we encounter each other let us encounter Christ.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Rejoice God is Always with Your

My soul rests in God alone, from whom comes my salvation.
God alone is my rock and salvation, my secure height; I shall never fall.
The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom do I fear? The LORD is my life's refuge; of whom am I afraid?

Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you (falsely) because of me.

Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven.
We urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, cheer the fainthearted, support the weak, be patient with all. See that no one returns evil for evil; rather, always seek what is good (both) for each other and for all. Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing.

In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Does God Need Man?

I posed a question to my eighth grade girls keyboarding class after explaining that liturgy means "the people's work" or "public works." Actually I did not pose it as I question, I said that worship is for man's sake not for God's sake and that God did not need man's worship and for that matter God does not need man. This led to a bevy of explanations on why He did indeed need man, and that if He didn't that in some way they (my students) would feel that there worship and virtuous life was a waste since God didn't care one way or another. I explained that they were getting wants and needs confused. God is very desirous of our love and in fact He, as the Old Testament proclaims, is a "jealous" God. His jealousy does not compel Him to force us to love Him. In that sense His desire of us is out complete and unconditional love. But in our discussions we may have stumbled upon something or perhaps we strolled about the edges in a philosophical sense. In our understanding of being human, we all posses the need to be wanted, and this need goes to the core of our being. In a utilitarian sense of what is purposeful and needful, it means that somehow we "serve" a purpose to another being. My contention that God does not need us is an affront to them, an attack on us being purposeful beings. It is like throwing a ball against a wall, in all cases it bounces back, but in God's case it is swallowed up. God is so mysterious and wonderful, His love so deep and immense, that perhaps we easily mistake His desire for our love as a need. God is complete and nothing can be added to Him, yet He yearns for us. Our love that we give Him is in a sense His love returned back to Him. He creating us says all we need to know about our purposefulness. I cannot begin to described the joy I felt listening to their discourse on God. He has truly blessed me!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

All Christians are to be United in Love

Consecrate them in the truth. Your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I sent them into the world.And I consecrate myself for them, so that they also may be consecrated in truth.

"I pray not only for them, 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.

Righteous Father, the world also does not know you, but I know you, and they know that you sent me. I made known to them your name and I will make it known, that the love with which you loved me may be in them and I in them." John 17:17-26
If you read this passage in John you see the love of Jesus for his disciples but also His prayer for unity among all believers. It is in knowing Christ and in loving and in serving others that we actualize our beings in the perfection that God has created us for. We become in essence like God, not as Satan suggested to Adam, but as Christ preached, lived and died. God is love. We become love, and in it we unite one another.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Why Jesus Should Be Relevant to Your Life

As someone who is a follower of Jesus Christ, I am compelled by the great commission.("the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had ordered them. When they saw him, they worshiped, but some doubted. Then Jesus approached and said to them, "All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age." Matthew 28:16-20) There are three important points to be made here: 1st - that faith grows with time, in uneven increments, and even, when it appears as though "you have it together,"doubt can arise even to the most ardent believer. This doubt can be the work of the Evil One who rejoices in placing the least bit of indecision in your heart, by means of his deception and lies. The second point is that we are all compelled as true believers to bring the Gospel message to all we encounter. This is an extremely difficult task particularly if you are not living the life that Christ wants you to live. You can be an instrument of Satan if you "don't practice what you preach." The third point is that Christ is with us, right now in 2010 and will continue to be with us as we do battle in the world. If I am compelled to bring Christ to others then I must be prepared to make my case for why Jesus matters in your life. The secular world in its rejection of Christ starts with a premise that is false.

Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger wrote in the Anthropological Structure of Faith: "Contrary to scientific knowledge or other types of certainty, the assent of faith comes from a personal encounter with God. He reveals himself to us, and we respond with the assent of faith. “Through being touched in this way, the will knows that even what is still not ‘clear’ to reason is true” and it assents to faith in God."

The premise that we cannot have faith because we do not have scientific evidence is a false premise. This revelation that comes from a" personal encounter with God" that comes from God's grace does not necessarily come to us in "flash" like Paul's conversion. So here is my point: you cannot get what God freely gives (divine revelation; faith) without willingly choosing. "Who cares" may be the next response. My answer to that is this, follow the logic: A. God exists ( if you don't believe this then I have another discourse but not right here)B. God cares about the world ( again if you believe otherwise, look for a discourse on that at another time) C. God cares about you personally D. God became man in the person of Jesus Christ. E. Jesus' life and teachings are detailed in the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke & John. F. Jesus died for our sins and for salvation - which means we can attain eternal life. G. In Jesus teachings, he gave his apostles and their successors the power through the sacraments (in particular the Eucharist which is the body and blood, soul and divinity of Christ himself) the ability for all to enter into the divine life by means of grace. H. Through grace, which comes from the sacraments, prayer, and,contemplation we can get to know God and in doing so be transformed to grow in faith and live as He wants to live. I. The ultimate end to a life of grace is eternal happiness with God. The opposite of eternal life is death, not death of our bodies but death of our souls which is a lifetime of separation from God. That is why Jesus should be relevant to your life.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

The Goal of Our Life

The Goal of our life is to live with God forever.God, who loves us, gave us life.
Our own response of love allows God's life
to flow into us without limit.
All the things in this world are gifts from God,
Presented to us so that we can know God more easily
and make a return of love more readily.

As a result, we appreciate and use all these gifts of God
Insofar as they help us to develop as loving persons.

But if any of these gifts become the center of our lives,
They displace God
And so hinder our growth toward our goal.

In everyday life, then, we must hold ourselves in balance
Before all of these created gifts insofar as we have a choice

And are not bound by some obligation.
We should not fix our desires on health or sickness,
Wealth or poverty, success or failure, a long life or a short one.
For everything has the potential of calling forth in us
A deeper response to our life in God.

Our only desire and our one choice should be this:
I want and I choose what better leads
To God's deepening his life in me.

Reflection prior to St. Ignatius Spiritual Exercises

Friday, January 15, 2010

The Lord of All Things

Belief in God for many people has become an external notion. By that I mean God is allotted the same value and significance as any any other thought, person, idea, or concept in the universe of man. Because God's place is not in its proper position, for many as a choice He's not very appealing, He's not visible, He's not relevant. Young people become disinterested the moment His name is brought up. This is the very heart of what action must be taken to evangelize this latest generation. In the battle versus the Evil One, (who surely has their attention) we must be convincing in first establishing God's prominence that He is Lord of all things. He has been greatly diminished in this world, sort of like changing the screen resolution on a computer monitor where at the point you the letters are too small to read. We must make God in the person of Christ, larger and more significant in peoples lives. This can be done by a) proclaiming God daily to those you encounter and reinforcing His Lordship and Dominion over the entire cosmos, b) encouraging prayer and establishing the need to make prayer a part of one's life, c) being Christ like in everything we do, diminishing oursselves and displaying the beauty and love of Jesus, who is hope for all.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Pray for the People of Haiti

A major earthquake struck southern Haiti on Tuesday, inflicting a catastrophe on the impoverished Caribbean nation. I know a sister who was previously at our church who left last year to work with the poor in Haiti. Please pray for the people of Haiti and Sister Jannel.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Teach Me Your Ways

Teach me your way of looking at people:

as you glanced at Peter after his denial,

as you penetrated the heart of the rich young man
and the hearts of your disciples.

I would like to meet you as you really are,
since your image changes those with whom you
come into contact.

Remember John the Baptist’s first meeting with you?
And the centurion’s feeling of unworthiness?
And the amazement of all those who saw miracles
and other wonders?

How you impressed your disciples,
the rabble in the Garden of Olives,
Pilate and his wife
and the centurion at the foot of the cross. . . .

I would like to hear and be impressed
by your manner of speaking,
listening, for example, to your discourse in the
synagogue in Capharnaum
or the Sermon on the Mount where your audience
felt you “taught as one who has authority.”

Pedro Arupe, SJ

Saint Bernard of Corleone

Saint Bernard of Corleone was born on the island of Sicily in the year 1605. His father was a shoemaker, and Bernard learned this trade. Upon the death of his father, he took up fencing, becoming skilled in the art. While not particularly devout in his youth, he would defend old people and other helpless and defenseless persons against violence. He frequently made visits to a local crucifix, and provided that a lamp be kept burning before it. He was a devotee of Saint Frances of Assisi. Bernard was challenged to a duel, in which he killed his opponent. To escape from the man's avengers, he sought refuge amongst the Capuchin Franciscans. Here he had a chance to think over his past life. God rewarded his prayer by letting him have a real sorrow for his past life and a desire to do penance. The brotherhood in the Capuchins attracted him and he was received as a novice. True to his ideal, Bernard put aside his former life and moved by the Holy Spirit set about the Novitiate to make himself as meek as a lamb among his brothers. God showed him the value of penance. To reform himself the brother began by taking only a little water and food. He drank only water that was bitter or hot and his scant rest was taken on a board. His habit and cell were the poorest in the house. He worked long hours and the sick were his special care. He kept regular fasts and it is said that it is doubtful if he ever ate a full meal in his 37 years that he was in religious life. He frequently ate only bread and water. Never would he wear a new habit or allow new furnishings in his cell. As a consequence he suffered greatly from rheumatism. In time Bernard became gentle and sweet with all at home and out. He had the highest regard for his brothers and his superiors, he only spoke to them on bended knee. Prayer and fasting were his consolation and the Lord rewarded him abundantly. This holy brother became the pride and joy of all the friars. His virtue was a lesson to all. Poverty, simplicity, chastity, silence and love of recollection are lessons that Bernard gives us together with the value of penance. Bernard was beatified in 1768 and his feast is celebrated on January 19th.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Prayer For Courage

Dear God, give me courage,
for perhaps I lack it more than anything else.

I need courage before men against their threats
and against their seductions.

I need courage to bear unkindness,
mockery, contradiction.

I need courage to fight against the devil,
against terrors and troubles, temptations,
attractions, darkness and false lights,
against tears, depression, and above all fear.

I need Your help, dear God.

Strengthen me with Your love and Your grace.

Console me with Your blessed Presence
and grant me the courage to persevere
until I am with You forever in heaven. Amen
(courtesy of Catholic Online)

Sunday, January 10, 2010

The Science of the Divine

After all the people had been baptized and Jesus also had been baptized and was praying,heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven,“You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” Luke 3:21-22

It is my belief that either we don't comprehend or we don't consider what it means to have access to the Divine. Baptism is the entry point; we enter into the Mystical Body of Christ and thus have the opportunity for grace in the sacramental life. As Paul says "it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me." The possibilities have become endless, the opportunities unmeasurable, the horizon far beyond what we could imagine. The ironic thing about our times is this: that in the belief that through self determination and free choice we will find a vast landscape, a freedom like no other, the clear message is that God is not one of those choices, thus we deny the Divine and now am left with only human possibilities. Jesus himself said "with God all things are possible" There is a science of the human body, a science of the physical world, a science of the universe beyond yet the most important science is that of the supernatural, divine life, available to all. We have in Jesus, a comrade, who reveals to us this that is something far beyond ourselves. Tertullian wrote in the third century on being baptized:

"Well, but how great is the force of perversity for
so shaking the faith or entirely preventing its reception, that it impugns it on the very principles of which the faith consists! There is absolutely nothing which makes men's minds more obdurate than the simplicity of the divine works which are visible in the act, when compared with the grandeur which is promised thereto in the effect; so that from the very fact, that with so great simplicity, without pomp, without any considerable novelty of preparation, finally, without expense, a man is dipped in water, and amid the utterance of some few words, is sprinkled, and then rises again, not much (or not at all) the cleaner, the consequent attainment of eternity is esteemed the more incredible."

Saturday, January 9, 2010

I Have Found My Home

In studying theology and in particular Pope Benedict XVI's writings and understanding what it means, there is a significant importance to the historical. I would like to demonstrate a parallel to how we develop both spiritually and as human beings. One of the beliefs that I hold is that to fully understand Catholicism and what it means to live as a Catholic, one must be philosophical. Our Catholic faith is so rich, and has developed since its inception, that to view it without a sense of history or knowledge of how dogma and doctrine came to be, is to view it in a narrowed dimension. I have written previously that, that is precisely what is the problem with Protestantism, it is narrow in scope and thus "crops" Christianity omitting some very important details. The story of salvation (economy of salvation) is an historical story. If we first come to comprehend that there is a God and in fact this God had something to do with our being here, then it is logical to think a He had some kind of plan in mind for us and that from history we should be able to detect or interpret it. Sacred Scripture gives us a pretty good picture of that. There is the Creation, the Fall, God's relationship to His Chosen People and their relationship to Him. This is from an historical and philosophical perspective, the first half of the story, broke up into three parts. If this were a movie or a tv mini-series, we would sense that the ending is missing. We can discern that God just didn't go back to wherever He came from, or got disinterested. In modern day Judaism, there is no temple and in a sense there are many things that appear to be unfinished, like a picture that an artist stop painting. Of course I believe that there is more to the story, and again we can look to Sacred Scripture and the writings of many people. The story appears very plausible to me, as a logical and thoughtful person, God did not leave us hanging there, He sent His Only Son to get things straight once and for all. The secular world seems to believe that this story is a fairy tale or not practical or useful in living in the world today. Jesus did exist, He was written about both from the Evangelists in the Gospels and from historians (Pliny, Josephus) of the time period. Through the Gospels I see Jesus as a consistently intelligent and compassionate, human being. I see Him as mysterious and supernatural doing His best to explain why He was here and what He intended to do. At times this went completely over His disciples' heads (as it still does today), yet he kept them close to His heart and demonstrated His love for them. Jesus also uses history to explain His purpose, quoting from Sacred scripture and announcing His fulfillment of the prophesies. He didn't just drop from the sky and was a puzzle that had to be figured out. This is precisely why many Jews converted and why St. Paul explicitly understood who Jesus was and how He came to believe He was the Messiah ( his conversion not withstanding). Now here is where the parallel comes in: I have begun a new career as a teacher, and in doing so I am now discoursing with young people whose historical perspective is very limited ( I am still in a sense shocked by the fact that some of the students were born in 1996, which was not at all that long ago to me). I have an historical perspective now that exceeds 50 years. I have witnessed the latter half of the twentieth century and entered into a new millennium. I have tried on different philosophical clothing in those years, because understanding what life is about has always been important to me. I did dumb things, read useless books, sought a path that was to lead to wealth and material acquisition. I bought into many different lifestyles and beliefs, but nothing made any sense to me, that is until in very recent time with God's grace I came upon knowing and loving Jesus Christ. God's grace does more than granting you some kind of intellectual insight into the cosmos, God's grace transforms your entire being. That is why I cannot contain it! It is illogical and immoral to not want more and not to share this incredible joy with others. Nothing in life touches me emotionally like the love of God in our friend and kin Jesus Christ! I will find myself crying at Mass or when reading Scripture or when I am elevated by His grace. The search is over, I have found my home. Although it took a good lifetime of doing so and I can empathize with those who aren't there yet, I am on fire to bring God to everyone I encounter, I just cannot contain it!