Thursday, April 29, 2010

John Donne - For Whom the Bell Tolls

"Perchance for whom this bell tolls may be so ill, as that he knows not it tolls for him..". I went to an all boys Catholic high school and fortunately learned about all the great metaphysical poets like Chapman, Donne , Vaughn and Sir John Suckling. I thought that John Donne was brilliant. He wrote a series of meditations and one of the most famous is Meditation XVII. Hemingway wrote the book called For Whom the Bell Tolls the title coming from the first sentence and Simon and Garfunkel's idea of the song I am a Rock could have been lifted from Donne's line "no man is an island"

Here is Meditation XVI:
PERCHANCE he for whom this bell tolls may be so ill, as that he knows not it tolls for him; and perchance I may think myself so much better than I am, as that they who are about me, and see my state, may have caused it to toll for me, and I know not that. The bell tools for a sick parishioner or perhaps for him (Donne was deathly ill)
The church is Catholic, universal, so are all her actions; all that she does belongs to all. When she baptizes a child, that action concerns me; for that child is thereby connected to that body which is my head too, and ingrafted into that body whereof I am a member. ( The Mystical Body of Christ) And when she buries a man, that action concerns me: all mankind is of one author, and is one volume; when one man dies, one chapter is not torn out of the book, but translated into a better language; and every chapter must be so translated; God employs several translators; some pieces are translated by age, some by sickness, some by war, some by justice; but God's hand is in every translation, and his hand shall bind up all our scattered leaves again for that library where every book shall lie open to one another. (Donne is referring to our judgement)

As therefore the bell that rings to a sermon calls not upon the preacher only, but upon the congregation to come, so this bell calls us all; but how much more me, who am brought so near the door by this sickness. There was a contention as far as a suit (in which both piety and dignity, religion and estimation, were mingled), which of the religious orders should ring to prayers first in the morning; and it was determined, that they should ring first that rose earliest. If we understand aright the dignity of this bell that tolls for our evening prayer, we would be glad to make it ours by rising early, in that application, that it might be ours as well as his, whose indeed it is. The bell doth toll for him that thinks it doth; and though it intermit again, yet from that minute that that occasion wrought upon him, he is united to God. Who casts not up his eye to the sun when it rises? but who takes off his eye from a comet when that breaks out? Who bends not his ear to any bell which upon any occasion rings? but who can remove it from that bell which is passing a piece of himself out of this world?

No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. (we are all interconnected) If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend's or of thine own were: any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee. Neither can we call this a begging of misery, or a borrowing of misery,(
Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own - Matthew 6:34). as though we were not miserable enough of ourselves, but must fetch in more from the next house, in taking upon us the misery of our neighbours. Truly it were an excusable covetousness if we did, for affliction is a treasure, and scarce any man hath enough of it. No man hath affliction enough that is not matured and ripened by and made fit for God by that affliction. If a man carry treasure in bullion, or in a wedge of gold, and have none coined into current money, his treasure will not defray him as he travels. Tribulation is treasure in the nature of it, but it is not current money in the use of it, except we get nearer and nearer our home, heaven, by it. Another man may be sick too, and sick to death, and this affliction may lie in his bowels, as gold in a mine, and be of no use to him; but this bell, that tells me of his affliction, digs out and applies that gold to me: if by this consideration of another's danger I take mine own into contemplation, and so secure myself, by making my recourse to my God, who is our only security.

Catherine of Siena and Jesus the Bridegroom.

Catherine of Siena is perhaps one of the greatest examples of infused divine knowledge. She is one of only 33 "Doctors of the Church" A lay person with no formal education, she has given us some of the most profound and theological writings of any saint. There are many great biographies on the internet. Here is one from EWTN. I would like to focus here on one aspect of her faith: that of being a bride to Christ. In the Gospel of Mark Chapter 2 we read:

" The disciples of John and of the Pharisees were accustomed to fast.People came to Jesus and objected, “Why do the disciples of John and the disciples of the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?”Jesus answered them, “Can the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them?" Here Jesus refers himself as the bridegroom.

John the Baptist also writes when people are asking if he (John the Baptist) is the Christ:" You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, ‘I am not the Christ, but I have been sent before him.’ The one who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom's voice. Therefore this joy of mine is now complete. He must increase, but I must decrease.”

Jesus is that bridegroom. This is important to grasp: what is a bride and a bridegroom? In our over sexually stimulated modern culture, we focus strictly on the sexual nature of a man and a woman. This is a narrow and limited view of what a nuptial union is. A true bridegroom is one who chooses to give everything to his wife. He is surrendering his very self to be united with his bride. She the bride, is doing likewise. In this self giving a new creation is made a marriage of two becomes one. Christ is here to marry each and everyone of us. He wants to be united with us. His total self giving came at the cross and he wants us to be wed to Him, so that we may be one. "Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me."

Catherine of Siena recognized Christ as her bride at an early age. This enabled her to do great things, not without suffering of course. Our spiritual training and growth are preparing us to be wedded with the Eternal Love, so that we may be united with the Holy Trinity and celebrate the joy as one does on their wedding day.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

St. Louis De Montfort

Mary is the fruitful Virgin, and in all the souls in which she comes to dwell she causes to flourish purity of heart and body, rightness of intention and abundance of good works. Do not imagine that Mary, the most fruitful of creatures who gave birth to a God, remains barren in a faithful soul. It will be she who makes the soul live incessantly for Jesus Christ, and will make Jesus live in the soul” (True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin).

If you as a Catholic do not know who St. Louis Marie De Montfort is, it would be a wonderful idea to get to know him. He was much like St. Francis in that he gave away everything he had. His life is one of love, obedience, perseverance and devotion.

Here courtesy of Louis's life is inseparable from his efforts to promote genuine devotion to Mary, the mother of Jesus and mother of the Church.Totus tuus(completely yours) was Louis's personal motto; Karol Wojtyla chose it as his episcopal motto.

Born in the Breton village of Montfort, close to Rennes (France), as an adult Louis identified himself by the place of his Baptism instead of his family name, Grignion. After being educated by the Jesuits and the Sulpicians, he was ordained as a diocesan priest in 1700.

Soon he began preaching parish missions throughout western France. His years of ministering to the poor prompted him to travel and live very simply, sometimes getting him into trouble with Church authorities. In his preaching, which attracted thousands of people back to the faith, Father Louis recommended frequent, even daily, Holy Communion (not the custom then!) and imitation of the Virgin Mary's ongoing acceptance of God's will for her life.

Louis founded the Missionaries of the Company of Mary (for priests and brothers) and the Daughters of Wisdom, who cared especially for the sick. His book, True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin, has become a classic explanation of Marian devotion.

Louis died in Saint-Laurent-sur-Sèvre, where a basilica has been erected in his honor. He was canonized in 1947.

St. Louis de Montfort Pray for US

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Prayer for Holiness

Breathe in me, O Holy Spirit, that my thoughts may all be holy.

Act in me, O Holy Spirit, that my work, too, may be holy.

Draw my heart, O Holy Spirit, that I love only what is holy.

Strengthen me, O Holy Spirit, to defend all that is holy.

Guard me so, O Holy Spirit, that I may always be holy.


Monday, April 26, 2010

DeCaussade Abandonment to the Divine Providence

You do well to give yourself up entirely and almost solely to the excellent practice of an absolute abandonment to the will of God. In this lies for you all perfection, this is the straight path leading most quickly and surely to a profound and unchangeable peace; it is also a secure safeguard to preserve this peace in the depths of the soul even in the midst of the most violent storms. Far from doing it harm, these storms will serve infallibly, not only to increase its merits, but also to strengthen more and more this union of the created will, with the divine will, and it is this which renders the peace of the soul unchangeable. Oh, what happiness! what grace! what a certainty as to the life to come, and what unalterable peace does she possess who belongs to God alone, who has no being out of God; who has no other support, no other help, no other hope but God alone. Jean-Pierre de Caussade, SJ

The great Saints depicted in Fra Angelico's Coronation of the Virgin (St. Thomas, St Benedict, St. Dominic, St. Francis, St. Peter Martyr and St. Mark) all lived united to God's will. What a joy, what peace! The road there does not come without a price, just as Christ's gift of love does not come with a cross. The grace that converts us all makes us desire the Father's will. Jesus will not let go of us once we are in His hand. Mary Queen of Peace Pray for Us that we may be united to your Son. Amen

Sunday, April 25, 2010

San Marco

When It think of St. Mark (San Marco) I think of Venice. St. Mark is the patron saint of Venice and the Basilica of San Marco is truly one of the most beautiful churches in the world. I was fortunate to travel there a little more than two years ago. We celebrated Mass downstairs in a small chapel, after it was over when we walked out someone remarked "wow that was like being in another world" and I thought to myself, isn't that what it is suppose to be.

St. Mark is of course the author of the Gospel of Mark, and he was a rather interesting person. He was known by both his Greek name Joannes and his Latin name Marcus, John Mark or simply Mark. He is the son of Mary of Jerusalem (Acts 12:12, 25). The woman whose home Peter flees to after escaping prison. He was a cousin of Barnabas and companion of Paul (Col 4:10; Acts 13:5, 13; 14:36-41). He was a disciple of both Peter in Rome (1 Peter 5:13) and with Paul also in Rome (Col 4:10; Philem 24; 2Tim 4:11). Many theologians attribute him to be the naked young man in his own Gospel account (Mark 14:51-52). Mark wrote his gospel somewhere between 40 and 70 A.D. His audience was to the Gentile Christians living in Rome. Mark's Gospel has no real outline to it. It appears as though he was taking Peter's accounts and weaving them together. He devotes three chapters (Mark 14-16) to the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of Jesus.

Mark's themes are:
The Good News (Mark 1:1) He uses the phrase good news more frequently than any other evangelist, Jesus the Messiah and Son of God Who is Jesus? Jesus is (Mark 2:7;4:41;8:29;41:61-62) Messianic Secret Jesus silences identification of him as the Messiah (Mark 1:25,34; 3:12; 5:43; 7:26; 8:26, 30;9:9) Jesus the Son of Man the suffering Messiah, three passion predictions (Mark 8:31; 9:31; 10:33), Cost of Discipleship Take up Cross (Mark 8:34-38) Mark's is the shortest Gospel yet it is "action packed" he uses the word euthus Greek for immediately 40 times. He emphasizes Jesus battle with the "kingdom of Satan. If you want to read an excellent commentary on Mark get a copy of "The Gospel of Mark" by Mary Healy. Mark's symbol portrayed in art is that of the lion. St. Mark pray for us.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Witnesses to His Glory

"That which was from the beginning, what we have heard, which we have seen with our own eyes, which we have looked upon and touched with our hands, the life was made manifest and we saw it, and testify to it, and proclaim to you the eternal life which was with the Father and was made manifest to us, that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you may fellowship with us; and our fellowship is with the Father and with his son Jesus Christ. And we are writing this that our joy may be complete." 1 John1:1-4.

John in both his Gospel and his two letters, (Peter also) makes it a point to testify to the fact that they saw Jesus with their own two eyes and that they acknowledge that he is God Incarnate. The primary aspect of Christianity, that is missed by modern man is that we Christians do not follow, what Peter described as " cleverly devised myths," we are not subscribing to a set of principles or to an order of philosophical precepts that we developed as a way of life. Jesus Christ was a real person, who lived in human history. The revelation of the Gospels by those who lived with him, who ate, slept, walked, and witnessed him is clear: Jesus was God. God who became a man. The life we live as followers of Christ is to become like Him. We abide in Him and He abides in us. This is a process by which we are converted from the worldy person to the Godly person. Paul wrote: "Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect." (we subscribed to be perfect, not that we are perfect)

And also: "I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me; and the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me."

This transformation requires our participation in God's grace. It is freely given to us and we are free to accept or reject it. It is an open invitation to the divine life. Modern thinkers cannot or will not understand that this is not on par with anything else man can can ponder or philosophize about. That is precisely why John, and Peter testify to the man Jesus. They were transformed by His love and grace. They witnessed something beyond this world. They witnessed His glory. I personally have witnessed Him in my own conversion, not with my human eyes but with my soul. This is beyond anything I could realize without His grace, and I have spent a great deal of my life seeking and searching, I have pondered much. I will testify that to taste what is the Glory of Jesus Christ, the Living God, is to be changed permanently, and nothing is more beautiful and perfect than Christ working through a fool like me.

The Madness of Humiliation

Dear Jesus: if I have to be an apostle, you will need to make me very humble.

Everything the sun touches is bathed in light. Lord, fill me with your clarity, make me share in your divinity so that I may identify my will with your adorable Will and become the instrument you wish me to be. Give me the madness of the humiliation you underwent, which led you to be born poor, to work in obscurity, to the shame of dying sewn with nails to a piece of wood, to your self-effacement in the Blessed Sacrament.

—May I know myself: may I know myself and know you. I will then never lose sight of my nothingness.

Furrow - Josemaria Escriva

Much of what the world's desires is designed to prop up one's ego. We are not even satisfied with how we appear to each other. We have to have the latest fashions and whiter teeth. We spend so much time on useless worldly things that say and reinforce one of two things "I am important" or" I need to be more important," instead of focusing on the eternal, we focus on the expedient. If you believe in Jesus Christ but yet invest most of your time in the trappings and allurements of the secular world, things that are designed to give glory to you or to someone other than God, you are cheating God, you are worse than a non-believer. The only way to Jesus Christ is through the Cross. The only way to the Cross is through humility. When you carry all the things that glitter and fill your pockets with the material life, you have nothing left, no strength to carry the Cross.

Friday, April 23, 2010

The Lord Knows His Own

In Psalm 23 we see the image of God as one who is leading us:

"The LORD is my shepherd; there is nothing I lack.In green pastures you let me graze; to safe waters you lead me; you restore my strength. You guide me along the right path for the sake of your name."

The passage does not start out with the words "the Lord is our shepherd" but rather "the Lord is my shepherd." This implies God is to lead you in your life personally. God knows you better than you know yourself and in seeking His guidance and wisdom, you are making the better choice in how to walk in the path of righteousness and to grow in holiness. The Lord is your spiritual "personal trainer," and in our surrender to His wisdom, we do not put ourselves on "autopilot" and think that all we have to do is show up. A personal trainer is going to demand that you commit to the tasks he asks of you, you will trust him in the instructions and training. In our journey as faithful followers of Jesus Christ we defer to what His calling is for each one of us individually. God is not a one size fits all solution. If you don't believe that just read the Bible. God is a personal God. What He may ask of me may be entirely different than what He may ask of you. I'm speaking of course beyond our obedience to the Commandments, that is the prerequisite to knowing and loving God in any relationship. The paradox of course is that we follow a leader, whom we cannot see or hear as we typically comprehend, but through our faith we will be led by the true Light of our lives whose path is clear and uninhibited.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Complete and Utter Fools

The struggle continues but so must my work. I have been reading Furrow by Josemarie Escriva.
It speaks to so many of the things that I feel. Catholicism is treasure and something worth fighting for. We are engaged in a battle with the secular world. Many Catholics have bought into that world and rejected their faith. Others are lukewarm about their faith. Jesus had something to say about being lukewarm.

Here is a passage from Furrow that reflects on how we discard that which has been given to us, our beautiful faith:

"When one thinks clearly about the poor things of this world, and compares them with the riches of life with Christ there is only one plain word, I can’t help thinking, for the road that people choose: stupidity, stupidity, stupidity."

"It is not just that most of us men make mistakes. There is something much worse about us: we are complete and utter fools."

The road of the secular life is the road to foolishness. It is shallow and expedient. It is self serving and self gratifying. It is a life without God, that truly is foolish.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Holding Onto What is Dear

There are times for all of us when we spiral deeply into our own negative feelings. I liken it a child who when they don't see their mommy or daddy, in that momentarily lost moment begin to panic. We look in at our life in all four directions and only see a wall. We come up empty, we cast doubts. These doubts begin to spread to despair. This happens to all of us. it has happened to many saints. People were surprised to hear that Mother Theresa had her dark nights. In one sense uncertainty is good. Recall Simon Peter when he answered Christ after many disciples left when Jesus had told them that unless they eat his flesh and drink his blood they would not have eternal life. "Master, to whom shall we go? The things of the world that are so frustrating for me have left me with no alternative. I have nowhere to go but my Lord and Master. There are times that I feel like giving up. I'm tired and worn out, my energy has been drained. There has been so much transition in my life, I can't say I know where I'm headed. In these times I am most comforted by reflecting on the love of Christ. I'm holding onto what is dear to me in these hours of darkness.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Happy Birthday Pope Benedict!!!

Today is the 83rd birthday of our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI.

Prayer for Pope Benedict XVI

Lord, source of eternal life and truth, give to Your shepherd, the Pope, a spirit of courage and right judgement, a spirit of knowledge and love.

By governing with fidelity those entrusted to his care may he, as successor to the apostle Peter and vicar of Christ, build Your church into a sacrament of unity, love, and peace for all the world.

We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, Who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.

My Wife, My Love & My Joy

On a beautiful Spring day in 1977, two people with much hope and many dreams walked down the aisle of this church, St, Raphaels in Raleigh, N.C. (pictured to your left) That was the beginning of our journey, the day Kathy and I were married. She has brought to me more joy and happiness than I could have ever imagined. I on the other hand, throughout the years could be compared to a movie in which the plot takes a long time to develop. I took an awful long time to grow up and thank God she had the patience to bear with me. Marriage is a sharing of each day, of each month, of each year. We sojourned through the birth of our four beautiful children, through good economic times and struggles, through joy and pain. In this relationship which has reached 33 years, my wife is truly the "better half."' She is a most beautiful human being in so many ways, and I love her more with each passing day. God choose to take a fool like me and to bring to me my sweet love. I am eternally grateful for that. Happy Anniversary Kathy. I love you.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Father Barron on the Prosperity Gospel

Your Word is a Lamp to My Feet

Who is trustworthy? That is the question that ultimately you have to ask yourself. God has been asking it for some time. In the Fall it was presented to Adam & Eve by the serpent. Faith asks the question each and every day. Will you follow my precepts and trust me or will you put your faith in the world?

Your word is a lamp to my feet
and a light to my path.
I have sworn an oath and confirmed it,
to keep your righteous rules.
I am severely afflicted;
give me life, O Lord, according to your word!
Accept my freewill offerings of praise, O Lord,
and teach me your rules.
I hold my life in my hand continually,
but I do not forget your law.
The wicked have laid a snare for me,
but I do not stray from your precepts.
Your testimonies are my heritage forever,
for they are the joy of my heart.
I incline my heart to perform your statutes
forever, to the end. Psalm 119 105-112

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Wanted: the Weak, the Not So Bright and the not So Pretty

If the world doesn't quite fit your size. if you are out of touch, out of place, on the outside. If everything doesn't come up roses, if you are not in the "in crowd" If you feel left out, lonely, sad, afraid that you are worthless and unloved, I have great news for you. Take some time to gaze, I mean really gaze at Jesus Christ hanging on his cross. He was battered, bruised, bloodied, with nails driven into him. He was not accepted, rejected, ridiculed. He was weak, a lowly carpenter, who shouldn't have amounted to much. Please hear the words of St. Paul:

First from His Letter to the Philipians:
Who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped. Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross. Because of this, God greatly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Do not worry about your inadequacies. Humble yourself and God will exalt you. Don't worry yourself over where you stand in the pecking order of human things. Humble yourself and God will place you first. No matter what others think of you. No matter what cruel and mean things they may do or say to you. God knows you and God loves you and you will be exalted if you follow Him.
Next from Paul's Letter to the Corinthians:
Consider your own calling, brothers. Not many of you were wise by human standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. Rather, God chose the foolish of the world to shame the wise, and God chose the weak of the world to shame the strong, and God chose the lowly and despised of the world, those who count for nothing, to reduce to nothing those who are something, so that no human being might boast before God. It is due to him that you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God, as well as righteousness, sanctification, and redemption, so that, as it is written, "Whoever boasts, should boast in the Lord."
This is the good news. You do not have to be special, chosen, pretty, smart, in with society's beautiful people to belong to Christ. In fact those attributes lead to boasting about ourselves. Instead use who you are to be humble and give all glory to God and God will use you. In the end humble and obedient service to God will lead to eternity with Him and you will be exalted.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Psalm 93

The LORD reigns, he is robed in majesty;
the LORD is robed in majesty
and is armed with strength.
The world is firmly established;
it cannot be moved.

Your throne was established long ago;
you are from all eternity.

The seas have lifted up, O LORD,
the seas have lifted up their voice;
the seas have lifted up their pounding waves.

Mightier than the thunder of the great waters,
mightier than the breakers of the sea—
the LORD on high is mighty.

Your statutes stand firm;
holiness adorns your house
for endless days, O LORD.

Monday, April 12, 2010

St. Louis de Montfort - The Love of Eternal Wisdom

One my very favorite saints is St. Louis de Montfort. His feast day is later this month on the 28th of April. I will write more about him on that day. He wrote two excellent books: True Devotion to Mary and Secret of the Rosary. I love his writing on Eternal Wisdom. I truly believe that all human knowledge and understanding comes from God. When we learn of a new scientific discovery something that was previously unknown or come to new philosophical insight about something, that is God revealing Himself to man.

On that basis I believe as Montfort did: " that all Wisdom comes from the Cross."
Jesus death is spring by which the waters of wisdom flow.

Here is a portion of his writing on wisdom.:

Wisdom is the teacher of the knowledge of God and director of all his works." Eternal Wisdom alone enlightens every man that comes into this world (Jn. 1:9). He alone came from heaven to teach the secrets of God (Cf. Jn. 1:18; Mt. 11:27; 1 Cor. 2:10). We have no real teacher (Mt. 23:8,10) except the incarnate Wisdom, whose name is Jesus Christ. He alone brings all the works of God to perfection, especially the saints, for he shows them what they must do and teaches them to appreciate and put into practice all he has taught them.

If anyone desires knowledge, eternal Wisdom knows the past and can forecast the future. He understands the subtleties of speech and the lessons of parables. He recognizes signs and wonders and knows all that is going to happen as seasons and ages pass by." If anyone desires to possess a deep, holy and special knowledge of the treasures of grace and nature, and not merely dry, common and superficial knowledge, he must make every effort to acquire Wisdom. Without him, man is nothing in the sight of God, no matter how learned he may appear in the eyes of men. "He will count for nothing" (Wisd. 3:17).

Eternal Wisdom is so rich and generous; how can anyone who possesses him be poor? He is so gentle, attractive and tender; how can anyone who possesses him be unhappy? But among all those who seek eternal Wisdom how many can honestly say with Solomon, "I have resolved to possess him"? The majority of men do not make such a resolution with real sincerity. Their decisions are mere wishful thinking or at best weak and wavering resolves. That is why they never find eternal Wisdom.

St. Gregory has this comment to make on Solomon's self-praise, " Those whom God has chosen to write his sacred words are filled with the Holy Spirit. In a way, they seem to rise above themselves and enter into the very one who possesses them. Thus they become mouthpieces of God himself, for they are concerned with God alone in everything they say, and they speak of themselves as though speaking of someone else."

Sunday, April 11, 2010

What Does Trust Mean?

Divine Mercy. Have you ever really thought about those words? Divine Mercy. Mercy implies compassion or mitigating punishment. This is a theological precept - God loves us so much that he is ready to dispense with judgment on our foolishness and sinfulness if we will just trust him. One has to be humble to recognize that the universe and all that is in it does not evolve around one's life. We are to take the rightful position and pay homage to the One who occupies the Throne. Proverbs tells us "the fear of the Lord is beginning of wisdom." Trust is what God has been seeking from us since we lived in the lush Garden of Eden. Throughout salvation history He has asked us the question that is the ultimate question,"Who will you trust, me or the world?" The Patriarchs and the Prophets of old posed that question as the story of man unfolded. Are we willing to cross that chasm? Faith is the prerequisite to attaining this Divine Mercy. Today is unlike times of the past, uncertainty, fear, and the temptations of the world bind people to a life unfulfilled. Jesus has reached His pierced hand out to us and asks us to place our trust not on what will perish but on the everlasting Truth and Mercy of Our Loving God.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

THE HEART OF PRAYER April 12, 1615

St. Frances de Sales Sermon on April 12, 1615 - 395 years ago.

We still have to point out the distinction that exists in prayer, whether mental or vocal prayer. In prayer we go to God in two ways, both of which have been recommended to us by Our Lord and commanded by our Holy Mother the Church--namely, sometimes we pray directly to God, and at other times indirectly, as when we say the anthems of Our Lady, the Salve Regina and
others. When we pray directly we exercise the filial confidence which is founded upon faith, hope and charity; when we pray indirectly and through the intercession of another, we practice the holy humility which springs from self-knowledge. When we go directly to God we proclaim His goodness and mercy, in which we place all our confidence; but when we pray indirectly, that is, when we implore the assistance of Our Lady, of the saints and of the blessed, it is so that we might better be received by the Divine Majesty, and then we proclaim His greatness and omnipotence, and the reverence which we owe Him.

In our souls there is the first level, which is a certain knowledge that we have through our senses, as by our eyes we know that such an object is green, red or yellow. But after this there is a degree or level which is still a little higher, namely, a knowledge that we have by means of consideration. For example, a man who has been ill-treated in a certain place will consider what he will be able to do in order not to return there. The third level is the knowledge we have through faith. The fourth, the Sancta Sanctorum, is the highest point of our soul, which we call spirit, and so long as this highest point is always fixed on God, we need not be troubled in the least.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Breakfast With Christ

Jesus said to them, “Children, have you caught anything to eat?”

They answered him, “No.”

So he said to them, “Cast the net over the right side of the boat

and you will find something.”

So they cast it, and were not able to pull it in

because of the number of fish.

So the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord.”

When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord,

he tucked in his garment, for he was lightly clad,

and jumped into the sea.

The other disciples came in the boat,

for they were not far from shore, only about a hundred yards,

dragging the net with the fish.

When they climbed out on shore,

they saw a charcoal fire with fish on it and bread.

Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish you just caught.”

So Simon Peter went over and dragged the net ashore

full of one hundred fifty-three large fish.

Even though there were so many, the net was not torn.

Jesus said to them, “Come, have breakfast.”

I absolutely love this passage. First off, lets face it, the disciples weren't very good fishermen! John recognizes Jesus but Peter dives in. That is Peter, his love for Jesus cannot be held back. I also love that Jesus is on the shore eating breakfast. Sharing a meal with his friends. Christ calls us to His table and shares a meal with us at every Mass. Its a beautiful thing.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Beauty All Around

God' Beauty is reflected in all of His Creation. These are some shots of the vegetables growing and of the beauty of Spring around me. All Glory and Honor To You Eternal King!

Tilling Our Spiritual Soil - Josemaria Escriva`

Nowadays it is not enough for men and women to be good. Moreover, it is not good enough to be satisfied with being nearly… good. It is necessary to be ‘revolutionary’.

Faced by hedonism, faced by the pagan and materialistic wares that we are being offered, Christ wants objectors! — rebels of Love (128)

After the initial enthusiasm, there began the doubts, hesitations and fears. You are worried about your studies, your family, your financial situation, and, above all, the thought that you are not up to it, that perhaps you are of no use, that you lack experience in life.

I will give you a sure means of overcoming such fears — temptations coming from the devil or from your lack of generosity! Despise them: remove those recollections from your memory. The Master already preached this unequivocally twenty centuries ago: “Don’t look back...” (133)

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The Center and Core of Our Being

G.K. Chesterton once noted that "Certain new theologians dispute original sin, which is the only part of Christian theology which can really be proved." When you pick up your daily newspaper(if you still read it) or scan the news of the day on the web, you will see the most hideous of evil actions.This past week alone there were stories on a high school teacher who was letting students come to his home for sex, and videotaping them, a man who was selling sex with his wife on Craiglist, a 15 year old who prostituted her 7 year old sister, and somewhere (I can't remember) where people were killing their children for human sacrifices. Where does this evil come from? How is it possible that in the "enlightened age" this insanity takes place? Man's nature and it's relationship to evil has run the gamut throughout history. You must guard yourself into false beliefs about it. Pelagius was a 4th century monk who set forth the notion that moral evil came from bad teaching, or a bad setting, or poor example . When you believe that ,you set up the proposition that people can be divided into the "good and the "bad." This viewpoint of which St. Augustine so brilliantly opposed, overlooks the most important understanding - that man is flawed to begin with. The opposite side of seeing fallen man is to view strictly man's depravity. Luther took this and developed the idea that we as man, were totally corrupt, and are "dung heap" that could only be covered and made to look pure as white snow before God. Calvin then propose that there are those whom are chosen and those whom are not. Catholic teaching rightfully understands that man suffers from the results of Adam and Eve's decision to disobey God and that we as their heirs - have inherited this propensity towards the "low road" in the desire to satisfy the soul (known as concupiscence). We seek what is good but our fallen nature allows us to believe that what is really not good,(in some cases even evil) appears to be good. This concupiscence is present not to take man to the depths of immorality but to make us "struggle for the victory" with the aid of God's grace. Which brings me to what I want to write about as we continue this Easter season. In reading the Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 28, the last chapter. I came across this, verses 16 and 17 -"The eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had ordered them. When they saw him, they worshiped, but they doubted." Yes they doubted! Wait a minute after Christ had Risen and appeared to them some of his disciples doubted. How could this be? The parallel to this in the development of the spiritual life is this: there is a point in our life when we can acknowledge Christ and His Goodness, His Love, His gift of Salvation, but it is only viewed as external to our life and not lived in an interior way. This is typical of most Christians - their faith is seen as an external object, comparable to their work, their recreation, their finances, their relationships, it is another aspect of their being, fully present, but not different from other aspects. The disciples did not get there - the point of interior spiritual reality until the Holy Spirit fell upon them at the Pentecost. At that point (if you have never read the Book of Acts - please do so) they begin to be fully transformed and to evangelize. Our faith has to become central to everything. Paul put it succinctly when he said "It is no longer I who live but Christ lives within me."

Monday, April 5, 2010

Domine Quo Vadis?

Domine Quo Vadis? -According to the legend, Peter met Christ when he fled from Rome to escape martyrdom. He asked: "Domine, quo vadis?", "Lord, where are you going?", and Christ answered: "To Rome, to be crucified again." This helped Peter overcome his fear of martyrdom, and he returned to face his persecutors.

Lent moves slowly for weeks then leads up to a week of phenomenal events culminating in the Passion, Death and Resurrection. If you had never even heard of Jesus Christ and were told of the events that took place you would most certainly conclude that this an incredible story of one man. I know for myself Easter Monday can be sort of a let down. Last year I recall that I was spiritually dry and feeling somewhat empty. I pour myself into Holy Week and it drains me. I think God has really blessed me this year because I have been feeling pretty lousy since Good Friday, with a sinus and chest infection. I joined my sufferings with the drama His Passion.

There are two things that have crossed my mind this morning: first that we must acknowledge and believe that fact that Jesus rose from the dead in a physical state in his human body. There have been heretics throughout the ages who have proposed to the contrary. In modern times it is widespread and common to believe that there are no such things as the spiritual and metaphysical realms - all things must meet the test of materialism and empiricism. It must been seen and tested or it is not true or just a fairy tale. In John's Gospel when Mary Magdalen discovers that the man she was speaking to was not the gardener but rather the Risen Christ, Jesus tells her "stop holding on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father." Right from the first minutes of His resurrection Jesus is in this curious state of a physical body, where he has to be freed from Mary's grasp in order go. Later in John we read of Thomas' need to touch the side and and nail marks of Christ. Jesus acquiesces and Thomas says his famous words "My Lord and My God" And still later when Jesus is found onshore with the charcoal fire and he eats breakfast of fish and bread. I believe that one of the most convincing pieces of evidence for the skeptics is this. Not only did the disciples of Jesus suffer persecution and death for this belief of the Resurrection, not a single solitary one recanted the story, but also the Resurrection was instrumental in converting Jews and pagans throughout the first two centuries and many were converted even with the threat of death. The disciples of Christ emphatically testified to the truth of Jesus' resurrection, so much that people were willing to suffer and die just for believing. That is powerful evidence that cannot be ignored.

The second point that I want to finish up here is that it is good to rest a bit, if you had a good Lent and made progress in your journey, then give thanksgiving to God. Jesus would do it all over again if He felt it necessary.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Handel - Hallelujah

He is Risen!

May the Joy & the Peace & the Love of the Risen Christ bless all. I know my Redeemer lives! HAPPY EASTER

Saturday, April 3, 2010

The Promise of Christ

At the beginning of creation God in the Blessed Trinity promised to our first ancestors a life united in the Divine. Satan promised them that they would be like God. They fell for his act and lost what was suppose to be for us for all eternity. But no sooner had that happened when God promised that the seed of the woman would crush Satan one day. All creation is the result of the love of God. Nothing exists without Him. Nothing. The paradox is that Satan offers to the world all the pleasures in it, if in return we turn away from God. God brought all the pleasures in the world. Satan brought nothing. Nothing. Satan gave the world nothing except for two things: sin and death, a pair which has its roots in pride. Pride that we are more important than Our Creator. That we are to satiate our physical bodies and give nothing to Him who created us. That we are to collect things and gain power and give nothing to the One who is responsible for it. God promised us His Only Begotten, that even as we sinned He would die for us. Jesus in His complete obedience to the will of the Father demonstrated it when interrogated by Pilate. He acknowledged Pilate's power- even the power to kill Him - that this power that had been given to Pilate by His father. When the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us full of grace and truth we hung him on a tree . Satan offers the world nothing because he cannot offer it anything, he brings nothing to it. He is all smoke and mirrors. Christ offers the world eternal life. Unfortunately many people worship Satan and all the earthly pleasures he pretends to offer, while Jesus is left in the tomb.

Lamentations on the Absent Christ

The anointed one of the LORD, our breath of life, was caught in their snares,

He in whose shadow we thought we could live on among the nations.

The joy of our hearts has ceased, our dance has turned into mourning

The garlands have fallen from our heads: woe to us, for we have sinned!

Over this our hearts are sick, at this our eyes grow dim:

They struck me down alive in the pit, and sealed me in with a stone.

The waters flowed over my head, and I said, "I am lost!"

I called upon your name, O LORD, from the bottom of the pit;

You heard me call, "Let not your ear be deaf to my cry for help!"

Lamentations 3:53-56, 4:20, 5: 15-17

Sabbatum Sanctum

Holy Saturday calls us to a silent world; a world without Jesus. We must experience his death and absence before we can fully appreciate His rising. Meditate on how his disciples felt alone and afraid, their world totally crushed. This is the darkness before the dawn, a darkness that we may reach in our spiritual life, when God asks us to totally detach from all things, even in a sense to detach from God Himself as did Christ. Powerless and abandoned by God place yourself in the presence of the disciples and Mary. Her heart so wounded, her Love gone. Let the sense of the "emptiness" fill the very core spiritual being. We are sitting on this side of the Resurrection, afraid, alone, in darkness, not certain of what is to come. Silence is the mark of this day. Why did Christ rise on the third day? If not that he wanted us to experience the second day - a day without Him, shrouded in darkness.

Five Years Since John Paul the Great's Death

It has also been five years since Our Holy Father John Paul II died. His funeral was the most awe inspiring event I ever witnessed and on that day I made a vow that I would with God's grace do all I could to bring the Gospel of Jesus Christ to as a many as possible. For over 25 years a generation of Catholics enjoyed the spiritual company, teachings, and direction of John Paul II. Here is a link to the Encyclicals and writings of Pope John Paul II.

Friday, April 2, 2010

It's Been Five Years Now March 31st

On March 31st 2005 a human being died. The government of the United States of America with its failure to stop it; sanctioned the starvation of a human being - Terri Schiavo (pictured at 2 years old courtesy of ). It marked for me one of the signs that Western Civilization was over. In the five years since, the world still does not realized what it did. I will never forget, nor should anyone Christian or Non-Christian ever forget what took place as her story unfolded and no one in power would or could stop it. I was disgraced to be an American. God Bless You Terry.

Donum Veitas (The Gift of Truth)

So Pilate said to him, "Then you are a king?" Jesus answered, "You say I am a king. For this I was born and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice."

Paul's Letter to the Corinthians 1:17-25
For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with the wisdom of human eloquence, so that the cross of Christ might not be emptied of its meaning. 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 it is written: "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the learning of the learned I will set aside. "Where is the wise one? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made the wisdom of the world foolish? For since in the wisdom of God the world did not come to know God through wisdom, it was the will of God through the foolishness of the proclamation to save those who have faith. For Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those who are called, Jews and Greeks alike, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.
In his book: Spiritual Passages - The Psychology of Spiritual Development, Father Benedict Groeschel writes that the spiritual life is hearing God's call it can be described as hearing the "Four Voices of God." God as One, God as Good, God as Beautiful, and God as True. While I would certainly acknowledge the voice of God as the One, Supreme Unity, and God as the Beloved Affection of the human race and as Divine Beauty, Perfect in All Things. More than anything else I see God as Truth. I don't see Jesus Christ as a reason for living - I see Him as the reason for living. I believe that for people living in the 21st century the question that is so often asked, but not out loud is this: How is Jesus Christ, someone I can't see, who lived thousands of years ago, who does not bring me any pleasure, who appears to make no difference in my life, how is He relevant to me? The answer the world gives, and many times it is their parents who first echo it is: Jesus Christ is not relevant.

If God is not relevant, how does one come about seeing the Goodness of God and His Beauty? I speak with junior high students daily and honestly many of them see God as being irrelevant. I do not have all the answers, but I do believe that catechesis must involve asking the questions. Asking them questions at a very young age. Catechesis must involve the family, it must be able to penetrate all aspects of a young person's life. By the time they are teenagers it is too late. The teaching of the faith has become mechanical, in my opinion. I do not think the Church and most Catholics quite understand the crisis we are in. Many adult Catholics expend their energy on political issues; abortion, health care and fighting against the creeping secularism that is swallowing our society. This is reflected in the popular Catholic blogs that really deal with politics - that is what people want to hear about and they get them in huge numbers. It shows me that most people are not concerned with true Christianity - Jesus never railed against the injustice of the heathen Romans, His truths transcend all that non-sense. We better wake up and soon.

It is Finished

When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. ...

O Sacred Head Surrounded

Tenebrae (The Passion of the Christ)

Thursday, April 1, 2010

The New and Everlasting Covenant

On the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread,when they sacrificed the Passover lamb,Jesus' disciples said to him,"Where do you want us to goand prepare for you to eat the Passover?"He sent two of his disciples and said to them,"Go into the city and a man will meet you,carrying a jar of water.Follow him.Wherever he enters, say to the master of the house,'The Teacher says, "Where is my guest roomwhere I may eat the Passover with my disciples?"'Then he will show you a large upper room furnished and ready.Make the preparations for us there."The disciples then went off, entered the city,and found it just as he had told them;and they prepared the Passover.
While they were eating,he took bread, said the blessing,broke it, gave it to them, and said,"Take it; this is my body."Then he took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them,and they all drank from it.He said to them,"This is my blood of the covenant,which will be shed for many. Amen, I say to you,I shall not drink again the fruit of the vineuntil the day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God."Then, after singing a hymn,they went out to the Mount of Olives.