Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Distributivism and Catholic Social Teaching

Without going into a great deal of detail, I would like to point you to website called Distributivism and Catholic Social Teaching. Distributivism is an alternative to capitalism and socialism. It was proposed by my favorite Catholic: G.K. Chesterton and his good friend Hilaire Belloc. In a nutshell the goal of distributivism is that most people will become owners of productive property. One thing that disgusts me is the gluttony of our materialistic and consuming infatuated society. People now live to consume, that is the rational of their existence. Aristotle of whom St. Thomas Aquinas built and developed his philosophy wrote in 350BC the following:

"Also connected with justice is a“natural” limit on exchange. Aristotle recognizes that households need to have at least some wealth and property to survive (Politics, 1256b, 9). But wealth can be pursued in two ways: One way is to get the things we need to live, and the other is to get money itself. The former is a necessary part of household management (Politics, 1257b, 19-20), but the latter has no natural limit (Politics, 1258a, 1); in the former case, men trade for what they need and cease when they have enough; there is no point in acquiring more bread then you can use. But the latter case has no limit; money can be accumulated without end. This second type of exchange came about only after the use of money replaced barter."

"Hence some persons are led to believe that getting wealth is the object of household management, and the whole idea of their lives is that they ought… to increase their money without limit. The origin of this disposition in men is that they are intent upon living only, and not upon living well: and, as their desires are unlimited, they also desire that the means of gratifying them should be without limit" (Politics, 1257b, 39)

Belloc writes:

“It is obvious that whoever controls the means of production controls the supply of wealth. If, therefore, the means for the production of that wealth which a family needs are in the control of others than the family, the family will be dependent upon those others; it will not be economically free. The family is ideally free when it fully controls all the means necessary for the production of such wealth as it should consume for normal living”7.

Bishop Sheen on Philosophy

Theology from Hans Urs von Balthasar

Hans Urs von Balthasar was a great 20th century Swiss theologian. He studied under Cardinal Henri de Lubac SJ, a great theologian himself, and highly influential in shaping the 2nd Vatican Council. Although he was not invited to the council Von Balthasar has had a great influence on Pope Benedict XVI. Here is a link to his books.

The following is from Test Everything Hold Fast to What is Good. You can get a taste from this interview of his theology.

An excerpt from a 1986 interview with Fr. Hans Urs von Balthasar, by Angelo Scola:

Angela Scola
: Finally, then, the central issue is the missionary task of every Christian which cannot be evaded. But how is the essence of Christianity to be communicated to contemporary men and women?

Hans Urs von Balthasar: Primarily, by confronting them uncompromisingly with the whole Gospel. With the whole Christ, rather than with a charism chosen at random. There is but one answer to the fundamental questions of humanity, and that is the Christian one. We are constantly returning to the same starting point: people need to recognize the incomparable, the unique character of the Gospel, not comparable to anything else in the rest of the world. In the universal history of humanity there does not exist—and never will exist—anything analogous to Christ, a man who, without resumption, speaks and acts with the authority of God. "You have heard it said . .. I, however, am telling you." This "I" has the 'weight of the voice of Yahweh. And it is not only a matter of speaking. The entire existence of Jesus, his working life, his preaching, his death and Resurrection; everything in him is an exegesis of God. If one attempts to carve out a "historical Jesus" apart from his totality, one loses all understanding, just as the disciples understood nothing when confronted with his Passion and Transfiguration.

Angelo Scola: You equate, then, Christ the man with the Word of God?

Hans Urs von Balthasar: There exists no Christ figure in the New Testament which could be isolated from the sacraments, from the magisterial or pastoral Office or from Tradition. There is a great danger nowadays: to dissent Christ into several small parts, single logoi as it were, and then to mediate or that singular aspect, only to lose the vision of the whole. There are certain theologians who close their eyes to the overwhelming apostolic authority of Saint Paul, claiming that he possessed no such authority in the Christian communities; and such folly commands a wide audience. They also claim that in his day their was no hierarchy, no episcopacy, as if that had been necessary, as long as Saint Paul himself was bishop of his communities, together with Titus, Timothy and others, whom one would call auxiliary bishops today. When he sends one of them to Corinth, he impresses on the congregation: "Receive him the way you receive me, with the same reverence." Saint Paul was highly aware of his authority. And for his part, he acknowledges the authority of Saint Peter.
Angelo Scola: In speaking of Christ, you have used two words which struck me: "unique phenomenon". How can we deal with this uniqueness nowadays? After all, this is no private event, for which it would be sufficient to read the Bible by oneself or even with the aid of an experienced exegete.

Hans Urs von Balthasar: You are right. Holy Scripture is not preeminently "a" book, but a witness to the word of God, which was sent forth to us in Christ. This word has been written down, so that we may have something solid to support us. It is, however, not Christ's will that we read him like a book; he himself has written nothing: "My words are spirit and life." During the lifetime of the apostles and immediately afterwards, there existed no "New Testament". The apostles proclaimed the life of Christ, and they did this with their own lives. Saint Paul is not presumptuous when he says: "Observe me, Christ lives in me; imitate Christ the way I imitate him." And further: "You have accepted the word for what it really is: not my word, but the word of Christ." The word of God cannot be simply recited, but requires the testimony of a living Christian, because the Word had become flesh; and hence one has to demonstrate with one's flesh what the word is.

Angelo Scola: But this living model should really be the Church?

Hans Urs von Balthasar: Of course. To the degree in which she realizes the fundamental intention of Jesus: to be a missionary Church

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul

When my brother and I were born (fraternal twins) I was named Peter and my bother Paul. The story goes as I was told that the nurse on duty kept getting our names mixed that my mother finally decided that I would be Paul and my brother Peter. I am grateful for either name as St. Peter and St. Paul are truly the bulwark that both rooted and grew Christianity, and as evidenced in God's plan they could not have been more different. I think in many ways they are the manifestations of faith and reason in human persona. Peter of course was a follower of Jesus right from the start:

"The next day John was there again with two of his disciples,and as he watched Jesus walk by, he said, "Behold, the Lamb of God."The two disciples heard what he said and followed Jesus. Jesus turned and saw them following him and said to them, "What are you looking for?" They said to him, "Rabbi" (which translated means Teacher), "where are you staying?" He said to them,"Come, and you will see." So they went and saw where he was staying, and they stayed with him that day. It was about four in the afternoon. Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, was one of the two who heard John and followed Jesus. He first found his own brother Simon and told him, "We have found the Messiah" (which is translated Anointed). Then he brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, "You are Simon the son of John; you will be called Cephas" (which is translated Peter). The next day he decided to go to Galilee, and he found Philip. And Jesus said to him, "Follow me."

Peter goes on to follow Jesus, exhibiting every aspect of faith possible; recognizing Jesus as the Christ, walking on water, often saying things impulsively and being rebuked by Jesus, denying Jesus at the Passion and finally being forgiven by Jesus and given the keys to the Church. Peter is described in Acts with great desire and passion, as the Holy Spirit burns with fire within him. Peter truly loves and trust Jesus.

Paul of course takes a different route:

"Now Saul, still breathing murderous threats against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, that, if he should find any men or women who belonged to the Way, he might bring them back to Jerusalem in chains. On his journey, as he was nearing Damascus, a light from the sky suddenly flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?"He said, "Who are you, sir?" The reply came, "I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. Now get up and go into the city and you will be told what you must do."
Paul like Peter takes on his new name, and goes on to carry Christianity to the Gentiles. Paul was a Pharisee and Roman citizen, well aware of the Law and the Gentiles. He goes to Jerusalem to confirm that the Gospel he preaches is in concordance with the Apostles:
"Now I want you to know, brothers, that the gospel preached by me is not of human origin.
For I did not receive it from a human being, nor was I taught it, but it came through a revelation of Jesus Christ. For you heard of my former way of life in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God beyond measure and tried to destroy it, and progressed in Judaism beyond many of my contemporaries among my race, since I was even more a zealot for my ancestral traditions."
Peter warns that Paul is writing things that might be difficult to understand:

"And consider the patience of our Lord as salvation, as our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, also wrote to you, speaking of these things as he does in all his letters. In them there are some things hard to understand that the ignorant and unstable distort to their own destruction, just as they do the other scriptures." (no chance of that occurring today)
Paul goes on to suffer greatly to bring the Gospel throughout the Roman Empire. He and Peter ultimately are martyred in Rome. They were God's chosen messengers and caretakers of the Faith and ours and the Church's greatest patrons. St. Peter and Paul pray for us.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Ask Jesus, Who is Your Neighbor ?

I was thinking that when I returned to teaching in the fall I would do a lesson on the parable of the Good Samaritan. This parable is so thought provoking because many of us think of the poor, the needy, and the dregs of society, as those we wish we could put out from our minds, because they make us feel uncomfortable, they shatter our worlds. We try to rationalize why they are who they are and we are who we are. That there is a reason why we are here and they are there. But Jesus cuts through all of that:
"There was a scholar of the law who stood up to test him and said, "Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?"

Jesus said to him, "What is written in the law? How do you read it?"

He said in reply, "You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your being, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself."

He replied to him, "You have answered correctly; do this and you will live."

But because he wished to justify himself, he said to Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?"

Jesus replied, "A man fell victim to robbers as he went down from Jerusalem to Jericho. They stripped and beat him and went off leaving him half-dead. A priest happened to be going down that road, but when he saw him, he passed by on the opposite side. Likewise a Levite came to the place, and when he saw him, he passed by on the opposite side. But a Samaritan traveler who came upon him was moved with compassion at the sight. He approached the victim, poured oil and wine over his wounds and bandaged them. Then he lifted him up on his own animal, took him to an inn and cared for him. The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper with the instruction, 'Take care of him. If you spend more than what I have given you, I shall repay you on my way back.'

Which of these three, in your opinion, was neighbor to the robbers' victim?"

He answered, "The one who treated him with mercy." Jesus said to him, "Go and do likewise." Luke 10:25-37

Father Barron on "Dumbed Down Catholicism"

Where is the Truth?

"The truth is to be found nowhere else but in the Catholic Church, the sole depository of apostolic doctrine. Heresies are of recent formation, and cannot trace their origin up to the apostles."
Adversus Haereses (Against the Heresies) St. Irenaeus circa 180 A.D.

St. Irenaeus was born somewhere between 115 and 125 AD. He was a disciple of St. Polycarp, St. Polycarp was a disciple of St. John, author of the 4th Gospel and disciple of Christ. So we have in Irenaeus teachings of the faith which are only one generation removed from the Apostles themselves. He became the Bishop of Lyon and is one of the Church Fathers.

St. Irenaeus writing a famous tract Against Heresies between 180 and 190 A.D. is the first to provide explicit mention of the change that takes place in the bread and wine when they become the Eucharist:
"The earthly creation (bread and wine) are raised to a heavenly dignity after they "receive the word of God" [at the epiclesis of the Mass or the invocation to the Holy Spirit] and become the food and drink of Christians. So how then can we doubt that, "Our bodies, receiving the Eucharist, are no longer corruptible but have the hope of resurrection to eternal life."

"If the body be not saved, then in fact, neither did the Lord redeem us with His Blood; and neither is the cup of the Eucharist the partaking of His Blood nor is the Bread which we break the partaking of His Body . . . He has declared the cup, a part of creation, to be His own Blood, from which He causes our blood to flow; and the bread, a part of creation, He has established as His own Body, from which He gives increase to our bodies.

Again, giving counsel to His disciples to offer to God the first-fruits from among His creatures, not as if He needed them, but so that they themselves might be neither unfruitful nor ungrateful, He took from among creation that which is bread, and gave thanks, saying, ``This is My Body.'' The cup likewise, which is from among the creation to which we belong, He confessed to be His Blood.

He taught the the new sacrifice of the New Covenant, of which Malachi, one of the twelve prophets, had signified beforehand: ```You do not do my will,' says the Lord Almighty, `and I will not accept a sacrifice at your hands. For from the rising of the sun to its setting My name is glorified among the gentiles, and in every place incense is offer to My name, and a pure sacrifice; for great is My name among the gentiles,' says the Lord Almighty.'' (Mal 1:11). By these words He makes it plain that the former people will cease to make offerings to God; but that in every place sacrifice will be offered to Him, and indeed, a pure one; for His name is glorified among the gentiles"

If you are a Christian and you have never read the Early Church Fathers who were eye witnesses to the Church, what its beliefs were and how those beliefs came about from the Apostles themselves, do yourself a favor. The Catholic Church did not contrive these beliefs, many centuries later as some would want you to believe.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Must See - The Catholicism Project

Cheerfulness - S. Josemaria Escriva

The cheerfulness of a man of God, of a woman of God, has to overflow: it has to be calm, contagious, attractive...; in a few words, it has to be so supernatural, and natural, so infectious that it may bring others to follow Christian ways. 60

Happy?” —The question made me think.

—Words have not yet been invented to express all that we feel — in the heart and in the will — when we know ourselves to be children of God. 61

The scene of the parable is being repeated: it is the same as with those people who were invited to the wedding feast. Some are afraid, others have their own concerns, many... make up stories or give silly excuses.

They put up resistance. That is why they feel the way they do: fed up, all in a muddle, listless, bored, bitter. And yet how easy it is to accept the divine invitation at every moment, and live a happy life, full of joy! 67

St. Josemaria Escriva Furrow

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Preparing the Way

"The Bible gives us no figure more isolated than John the Baptist, who does not quite fit the Old Testament or the New. The fragmentary reports about him frustrate anyone who would assemble from them a full portrait." Hans Urs von Balthasar, You Have Words of Eternal Life, Scripture Meditations"

Today we celebrate the nativity of John the Baptist. God has granted his parents Zechariah and Elizabeth a child whose task was to prepare the way for the Christ:
In the days of Herod, King of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah of the priestly division of Abijah; his wife was from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. Both were righteous in the eyes of God, observing all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blamelessly.But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren and both were advanced in years.Once when he was serving as priest in his division's turn before God, according to the practice of the priestly service, he was chosen by lot to enter the sanctuary of the Lord to burn incense.

Then, when the whole assembly of the people was praying outside at the hour of the incense offering,the angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right of the altar of incense. Zechariah was troubled by what he saw, and fear came upon him.
But the angel said to him, "Do not be afraid, Zechariah, because your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall name him John.

And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great in the sight of (the) Lord. He will drink neither wine nor strong drink. He will be filled with the holy Spirit even from his mother's womb, and he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God.
John the Baptist born to elderly parents, a barren women is to announce to thw world the Coming. And even in the womb of Elizabeth he recognizes Jesus the Christ is soon to arrive:
During those days Mary set out and traveled to the hill country in haste to a town of Judah,
where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the holy Spirit, cried out in a loud voice and said, "Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy!
In a sense we are to be like John the Baptist to both ourselves spiritually preparing for the Christ to enter our lives and to prepare those we evangelize to encouter Him. John gave us the the advice to best do that. " I must decrease and He must increase."

The Sunday Obligation

There are those out there who have been telling people for years that Sunday worship - the Mass is optional. This has come from religious educators, Catholic schools, and dare I say even the pulpit. How I do I know this? My own children have told me, I have heard it from Confirmation students that I taught, I have heard it personally from a religious sister, and finally I have brought this up with my own students. What does the Catholic Church have to say about this?

Let's start with the Third Commandment -Remember the Sabbath to keep it holy.
The third commandment of the Decalogue recalls the holiness of the sabbath: "The seventh day is a sabbath of solemn rest, holy to the LORD
God entrusted the sabbath to Israel to keep as a sign of the irrevocable covenant. The sabbath is for the Lord, holy and set apart for the praise of God, his work of creation, and his saving actions on behalf of Israel.

The Gospel reports many incidents when Jesus was accused of violating the sabbath law. But Jesus never fails to respect the holiness of this day He gives this law its authentic and authoritative interpretation: "The sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath."With compassion, Christ declares the sabbath for doing good rather than harm, for saving life rather than killing. The sabbath is the day of the Lord of mercies and a day to honor God "The Son of Man is lord even of the sabbath."
Sunday—fulfillment of the sabbath

Sunday is expressly distinguished from the sabbath which it follows chronologically every week; for Christians its ceremonial observance replaces that of the sabbath. In Christ's Passover, Sunday fulfills the spiritual truth of the Jewish sabbath and announces man's eternal rest in God. For worship under the Law prepared for the mystery of Christ, and what was done there prefigured some aspects of Christ:

Those who lived according to the old order of things have come to a new hope, no longer keeping the sabbath, but the Lord's Day, in which our life is blessed by him and by his death.
The celebration of Sunday observes the moral commandment inscribed by nature in the human heart to render to God an outward, visible, public, and regular worship "as a sign of his universal beneficence to all."Sunday worship fulfills the moral command of the Old Covenant, taking up its rhythm and spirit in the weekly celebration of the Creator and Redeemer of his people.
You cannot pray at home as at church, where there is a great multitude, where exclamations are cried out to God as from one great heart, and where there is something more: the union of minds, the accord of souls, the bond of charity, the prayers of the priests.

The precept of the Church specifies the law of the Lord more precisely: "On Sundays and other holy days of obligation the faithful are bound to participate in the Mass." "The precept of participating in the Mass is satisfied by assistance at a Mass which is celebrated anywhere in a Catholic rite either on the holy day or on the evening of the preceding day."

The Sunday Eucharist is the foundation and confirmation of all Christian practice. For this reason the faithful are obliged to participate in the Eucharist on days of obligation, unless excused for a serious reason (for example, illness, the care of infants) or dispensed by their own pastor. Those who deliberately fail in this obligation commit a grave sin.
For a sin to be mortal, three conditions must together be met: "Mortal sin is sin whose object is grave matter and which is also committed with full knowledge and deliberate consent."

Grave matter is specified by the Ten Commandments, corresponding to the answer of Jesus to the rich young man: "Do not kill, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and your mother." The gravity of sins is more or less great: murder is graver than theft. One must also take into account who is wronged: violence against parents is in itself graver than violence against a stranger.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Good Fruit of the Good Tree- St. Catherine of Siena

Take courage... for when God engrafted himself into us barren trees by joining his divine nature with our humanity, he so strengthened our reason and our love for him that we are drawn to love by the power of love. Sensuality has been so weakened that it can do nothing to us if we are willing to make use of reason. It is clear that our flesh in Christ's humanity, taken from Adam's stock, has been so whipped and tortured with anguish and derision and insult even to the shameful death of the cross, that it ought to make our own flesh so submissive that it would never resist or defy reason and God.
Oh boundless love, gentlest Jesus! How could anyone not he softened and
melted by you Oh welcome engrafting, incarnate Word, Son of God, you
drove out the worm of Adam's ancient sin. You got rid of its wild fruit— for
sin had made our garden so wild that it could produce no life-giving fruit of
virtue. Oh sweet fire of love, you so engrafted and hound God into humanity
and humanity into God that the sterile fruit that had dealt us death became
sound and productive. And so it will always give us life so long as we are
willing to make use of the power of reason.

Look! Look at the ineffable love God is offering you! Look at the
sweetness of the tender fruit, the spotless Lamb, the seed sown in Mary as
in a lovely field! Let this worker of ours be sleepy and indifferent no
longer; for this worker [our rational will] has the time; it is naturally
strong, and has been made even stronger by God's union with humanity.

I beg you in Christ gentle Jesus to lift your love, your affection, your
desire up high. Take hold of the tree of the most holy cross and let it be
planted in the garden of your soul, because this is a tree laden with fruits,
the true solid virtues. For you see very well that beyond God's union with
his creature he has joined himself to the most holy cross. And he wills,he
insists, that we too join ourselves to this sweet tree in love and desire.
Then our garden cannot help producing sweet and tender fruit.
THE LETTERS OF ST. CATHERINE OF SIENA - translated by Suzanne Noffke, O.P.

Seek & Save That Which Was Lost

"For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost." Luke 19:10

Luke's Gospel has references to a king returning (Luke 19:27) or sending his son (Luke 20:13) and of course the famous parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke15:11-32). In some cases he is speaking of what he will find upon his return (were they good stewards?) or if his property has been stolen or taken over (will they kill the messenger?) or in the case of the Prodigal Son (what happens after someone is lost?)

There are several layers to observe in Sacred Scripture readings, two specifically I will attempt to explain. In the literal sense there is a moral lesson to each of these parables. It is wise to manage your resources and those of whom are responsible to. It is also not a good idea to steal from those whom you are entrusted to. And it is not a good idea to squander all that was given to you. These are of course sound moral lessons that one could agree make a great deal of sense. Of course we recognize that there is another dimension to this and it is on a spiritual level.

First let's look at it from the perspective of salvation history: Adam & Eve failed to manage was was given to them, they took what was not theirs, and subsequently squandered everything.

Likewise Israel, God's chosen people failed to follow God's instructions, by worshiping false idols and marrying into families with pagan cults, they were in essence stealing what belong solely to God. They squandered all that was given, conquered and sent into exile, and in time they Temple was going be destroyed, never to built again.

Finally on a personal spiritual level: We possess gifts and talents that are to be used for the greater glory of God, we too are to give God what is rightfully His and not to steal from Him by worshiping the "false gods' of today - money, power, sexual lust. We should not squander this precious gift of Jesus, who avails Himself to us in the Sacramental life.

Who is it then that Jesus seeks to save? First - the life that was lost by Adam & Eve, next the kingdom that was lost by Israel, and finally all of us lost through sinfulness. Jesus' power accomplishes all these things through the Blood of the Cross.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

St. Thomas More & St. John Fisher defenders of the Faith

Today is the feast day of two great men, Saints John Fisher & Thomas More. St. Thomas More was born in 1477 and educated at Oxford. He was married and had one son and three daughters. He was one of the greatest men of his age, lawyer, scholar, statesman and philosopher. St Thomas More refused to endorse King Henry VIII's plan to divorce .Catherine of Aragon and marry Ann Boleyn. While chancellor in the king's courtt, he wrote works on the govenance of the realm and in defense of the faith. He refused to acknowledge King Henry VII as the supreme head of the Church of England and was subsequently beheaded in 1535 along with John Fisher the only Bishop to refuse to take the oath of the Act of Succession. While in prison Bishop Fisher was named a Cardinal by Pope Paul III.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Abandonment to God's Will

Perfection consists in doing the will of God, not in understanding His designs. The designs of God, the good pleasure of God, the will of God, the operation of God and the gift of His grace are all one and the same thing in the spiritual life. It is God working in the soul to make it like unto Himself. Perfection is neither more nor less than the faithful co-operation of the soul with this work of God, and is begun, grows, and is consummated in the soul unperceived and in secret.

The order established by God and His divine will are the life of the soul no matter in what way they work, or are obeyed. Whatever connection the divine will has with the mind, it nourishes the soul, and continually enlarges it by giving it what is best for it at every moment. It is neither one thing nor another which produces these happy effects, but what God has willed for each moment. What was best for the moment that has passed is so no longer because it is no longer the will of God which, becoming apparent through other circumstances, brings to light the duty of the present moment. It is this duty under whatever guise it presents itself which is precisely that which is the most sanctifying for the soul.

Our moments are made fruitful by our fulfillment of the will of God. This is presented to us in countless different ways by the present duty which forms, increases, and consummates in us the new man until we attain the plenitude destined for us by the divine wisdom. This mysterious attainment of the age of Jesus Christ in our souls is the end ordained by God and the fruit of His grace and of His divine goodness.
Jean Pierre de Caussade Abandonment to Divine Providence

St. Aloysius Gonzaga

Today is the feast day of St. Aloysius, the Jesuit saint who died at the age of only 23 after coming to the aid of those suffering from the plague in Rome 1591. The Jesuits placed him in a hospital ward were they thought there weren't plague victims yet it turned out the entire ward was infected. Aloysius contracted it and eventually succumbed to it. His confessor was none other than a great saint St. Robert Bellarmine, who gave him last rites. St Aloysius is buried in the Church of St. Ignatius of Loyola in Rome. I had the privilege and honor of visiting his tomb in the spring of 2008. He was beatified October 19, 1605, Rome, Papal States by Poe Paul V and December 31, 1726, Rome, Papal States by Pope Benedict XIII

St. Aloysius is considered the patron saint of youth. His pure heart and dedication to serving those in need is an example for all, especially the young, for he had possessed this love for Christ at an early age and lived a short pious-filled life.

Prayer to Saint Aloysius Gonzaga, Patron of Youth

Dear Christian youth, you were a faithful follower of Christ in the Society of Jesus. You steadily strove for perfection while generously serving the plague-stricken. Help our youth today who are faced with a plague of false cults and false gods. Show them how to harness their energies and to use them for their own and others' fulfillment—which will redound to the greater glory of God. Amen.

Father Barron on St. Thomas Aquinas

On Cheerfulness

Sometimes you feel that you are beginning to lose heart and that everything is getting on top of you. This kills your good desires, and you can hardly manage to overcome this feeling even by making acts of hope... —Never mind: this is a good time to ask God for more grace. Then, go on! Renew your joy for the struggle, even though you might lose the odd skirmish. 77

You don’t feel like doing anything and there is nothing you look forward to. It is like a dark cloud. Showers of sadness fell, and you experienced a strong sensation of being hemmed in. And, to crown it all, a despondency set in, which grew out of a more or less objective fact: you have been struggling for so many years..., and you are still so far behind, so far.

All this is necessary, and God has things in hand. To attain gaudium cum pace — true peace and joy — we have to add to the conviction of our divine filiation, which fills us with optimism, the acknowledgment of our own personal weakness. 78
You have become younger! You notice, in fact, that getting to know God better has made you regain in a short time the uncomplicated and happy age of your youth, including the security and joy — without any childishness — of spiritual childhood... You look around, and you realise that the same thing has happened to others: the years since they met with the Lord have gone by and, having reached maturity, they are strengthened with a permanent youth and happiness. They don’t look young. They are young and cheerful!

This reality of the interior life, attracts, confirms and wins over souls. Give thanks for it daily ad Deum qui laetificat iuventutem — to God who fills your youth with joy. 79

Furrow - Josemaria Escriva

Reflections of God's Glory

Just a few ruminations from this past weekend...Saturday as I was driving into New Orleans, I began to contemplate about a friend who was complaining that another friend was indifferent towards her and she couldn't understand why. I can't say exactly how I came about this thought but it struck me that in human relations perhaps the problem is that we are turned or focused inwardly on the internal with concerns about how we feel or why something happens to us and that if we "turned" or "rotated" towards the external and placed our concerns towards the "other" we may begin to understand. Of course that is exactly how Jesus would like us to view things. Turning from the internal to the external paradoxically reveals us and yet frees us. St Paul wrote in his letter to the Philippians 2:3-4 :
"Do nothing out of selfishness or out of vainglory; rather, humbly regard others as more important than yourselves, each looking out not for his own interests, but (also) everyone for those of others."
How difficult it is to regard others more important than yourselves! And yet by "dying" to ourselves, we are not prisoners of our own feelings constrained by "how we feel" or "how much we are bothered" or "how important we are." Jesus was also a great teacher of human relations. In the field of psychology, of which I personally know a thing about, the focus of much therapy is about how "we feel" and in many cases the solutions is take something that alters how you feel.

Another paradox is of course that in our quest to know God we journey best by turning inwardly. That is, we are to relate to our Creator from our inner being, the who that we really are. In the two greatest commandments we give to God our whole heart, soul, and mind - that requires our all our internal being. Tied to that is to love our neighbor as we love ourselves - that requires our turning towards our neighbor the external. In my thoughts I see we take from God the beauty, the love, the mercy, (faith, hope and charity) and reflect the light of Christ towards our neighbor so that they see what we see- God in all His splendor. In doing that were truly doing all things for the greater glory of God.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Only in Love

Only in love can I find You, my God.

In love the gates of my soul spring open, allowing me to breath a new air of freedom and forget my own petty self.

In love my whole being streams forth out of the rigid confines of narrowness and anxious self-assertion, which make me a prisoner of my own poverty and emptiness.

In love all the powers of my soul flow out toward You, wanting never more to return, but to lose themselves completely in You, since by Your love You are the inmost center of my heart, closer to me than I am to myself.

Karl Rahner - Encounters with Silence

St. Josemaria Escriva on Lukewarmness

Fight against that weakness which makes you lazy and careless in your spiritual life. Remember that it might well be the beginning of lukewarmness... and, in the words of the Scripture, God will vomit the lukewarm out of his mouth.

You a drifter? You... one of the crowd? You, who were born to be a leader!

There is no room among us for the lukewarm. Humble yourself and Christ will set you aflame again with the fire of Love.

You drag along like a dead-weight, as if you had no part to play. No wonder you are beginning to feel the symptoms of lukewarmness. Wake up!

How little Love of God you have when you yield without a fight because it is not a grave sin!

Venial sins do great harm to the soul. — Therefore God says in the Song of Songs: 'Catch the little foxes that make havoc of the vineyards'.

You are lukewarm if you carry out lazily and reluctantly those things that have to do with our Lord; if deliberately or 'shrewdly' you look for some way of cutting down your duties; if you think only of yourself and of your comfort; if your conversations are idle and vain; if you do not abhor venial sin; if you act from human motives.

-The Way_

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Time to Get Away

Silence. To escape from the world, where the essence of your being is ignored, downplayed or rejected is to embrace the true freedom that God gives us. I believe that for me that place is the Jesuit Spirituality Center in Grand Coteau, Louisiana. I am so looking forward to my next retreat there. Ignatian spirituality consists of prayer exercises, examination of the consciousness, contemplating Sacred scriptures and placing yourself in the life of the Gospel,to aid the retreatant to experience a deeper conversion into the life of God in Christ. The one on one spiritual guidance with the spiritual director assists in making movements towards those areas of your life that sometimes stay in the shadows never explored during the bustle and noise of everyday life. Last year I dealt with an area of my life that had been wearing on me because it was uncharted waters and I was unsure just what it all meant to me. If you are in Louisiana or can travel to Louisiana I highly recommend The Jesuit Spirituality Center, in Grand Coteau. The place is so serene with tall pines and pastures, that alone is conducive to leaving the bonds of the material world alone. The stillness and silence will aid to awaken yourself and make slow sure steps toward God. The Jesuit Spirituality Center is housed within St. Charles College in Grand Coteau just north of Lafayette. It's about 21/2 hours northwest of New Orleans via Interstate 10 through Baton Rouge and Lafayette, then north on Interstate 49 to the Grand Coteau/Sunset exit. Call (337) 662-5251, or see them on the web at

Dr. Charles Rice on Natural Law

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Cardinal Francis Xavier Nguyen Van Thuan

Christ is the Hope for all in His gift of the Eucharist.

ardinal Francis Xavier Nguyen Van Thuan was a political prisoner of the Communist regime in Vietnam for thirteen years, nine of which he spent in solitary confinement. His remarkable faith sustained him during those long years when he would celebrate Mass in secret with three drops of wine in the palm of his hand and the host smuggled inside a flashlight by his faithful.

"I will never be able to express my immense joy: Every day with three drops of wine and one drop of water in the palm of my hand, I celebrated my Mass.

...We made little containers from the paper of cigarette boxes to reserve the Blessed Sacrament. Jesus in the Eucharist was always with me in my shirt pocket. .... They (Catholics in the camp) all knew that Jesus was among them, that He is the one who cures all their physical and mental suffering. At night, the prisoners would take turns keeping adoration; Jesus helped in a tremendous way with His silent presence. Many Christians regained the fervor of their faith during these days, and Buddhists and other non-Christians converted.

The strength of the love of Jesus is irresistible. The darkness of prison became light, the seed germinated underground during the storm."

Excerpt from: Five Loaves and Two Fish (A MUST READ!)
by Archbishop Francois-Xavier Nguyen van Thuan (+2002)

Jesus -"The Lord of the Sabbath"

In Luke's Gospel, the 6th Chapter we see Jesus teaching the Pharisees a lesson in Sacred scripture study. The Pharisees see Jesus disciple's picking grain and eating it, not permissible by the Torah on the Sabbath. They raise a complaint and Jesus gives them a teaching about who He is and the Sabbath. Read this carefully :
"While he was going through a field of grain on a sabbath, his disciples were picking the heads of grain, rubbing them in their hands, and eating them."

Some Pharisees said, "Why are you doing what is unlawful on the sabbath?"

Jesus said to them in reply, "Have you not read what David did when he and those (who were) with him were hungry?

(How) he went into the house of God, took the bread of offering, which only the priests could lawfully eat, ate of it, and shared it with his companions."

Then he said to them, "The Son of Man is lord of the sabbath."
The Pharisees who were strict followers of the Law and knew the Torah (the first Five Books of the Moses - Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy) They also knew what passage Jesus was referring to : 1 Samuel 21: 1-6 which reads:
Then David departed on his way, while Jonathan went back into the city.

David went to Ahimelech, the priest of Nob, who came trembling to meet him and asked, "Why are you alone? Is there no one with you?"

David answered the priest: "The king gave me a commission and told me to let no one know anything about the business on which he sent me or the commission he gave me. For that reason I have arranged a meeting place with my men.

Now what have you on hand? Give me five loaves, or whatever you can find."

But the priest replied to David, "I have no ordinary bread on hand, only holy bread; if the men have abstained from women, you may eat some of that."

David answered the priest: "We have indeed been segregated from women as on previous occasions. Whenever I go on a journey, all the young men are consecrated--even for a secular journey. All the more so today, when they are consecrated at arms!"

So the priest gave him holy bread, for no other bread was on hand except the showbread which had been removed from the LORD'S presence and replaced by fresh bread when it was taken away.
David is fleeing Saul. He has his followers with him and he's hungry. David and his men eat the bread which is only supposed to be consumed by the priests. But what also takes place is that there is a spy among them as David and his men are eating, remember David is a fugitive fleeing Saul who seeks to kill him.

One of Saul's servants was there that day, detained before the LORD; his name was Doeg the Edomite, and he was Saul's chief henchman.

David then asked Ahimelech: "Do you have a spear or a sword on hand? I brought along neither my sword nor my weapons, because the king's business was urgent."

The priest replied: "The sword of Goliath the Philistine, whom you killed in the Vale of the Terebinth, is here (wrapped in a mantle) behind an ephod. If you wish to take that, take it; there is no sword here except that one." David said: "There is none to match it. Give it to me!"
That same day David took to flight from Saul, going to Achish, king of Gath.
Then Doeg the Edomite, who was standing with the officers of Saul, spoke up: "I saw the son of Jesse come to Ahimelech, son of Ahitub, in Nob.

He consulted the LORD for him and gave him supplies, and the sword of Goliath the Philistine as well."

At this the king sent a summons to Ahimelech the priest, son of Ahitub, and to all his family who were priests in Nob; and they all came to the king.

Then Saul said, "Listen, son of Ahitub!" He replied, "Yes, my lord."

Saul asked him, "Why did you conspire against me with the son of Jesse by giving him food and a sword and by consulting God for him, that he might rebel against me and become my enemy, as is the case today?"

Ahimelech answered the king: "And who among all your servants is as loyal as David, the king's son-in-law, captain of your bodyguard, and honored in your own house?
The king therefore commanded Doeg, "You make the rounds and kill the priests!" So Doeg the Edomite went from one to the next and killed the priests himself, slaying on that day eighty-five who wore the linen ephod.

Saul also put the priestly city of Nob to the sword, including men and women, children and infants, and oxen, asses and sheep.
The spy kills the priests. Jesus is essentially saying three things to the Pharisees and they knew quite well what he meant: 1) I am like David: a King and a Priest 2) My disciples are priests and they can eat on the Sabbath as well 3) You are like that spy Doeg the Edomite who killed the priests. How powerful a lesson was that! But Jesus tops it off but letting the Pharisees know that the Sabbath was created for Him and His Father and the Holy Spirit for Jesus declares that "the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath!"

Awesome display of teaching by Jesus.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

A Stable Disposition of the Spirit

Faith in the Eternal Hope of Jesus Christ is not merely deciding that this is the way of life you will live. It is not adhering to some philosophical way of living or discipline like the practice of yoga or deciding to be a vegetarian. St. Thomas Aquinas wrote in the Summa: human virtue that human acts are rendered good; hence, any habit that is always the principle of a good act, may be called a human virtue. Such a habit is living faith. For since to believe is an act of the intellect assenting to the truth at the command of the will, two things are required that this act may be perfect: one of which is that the intellect should infallibly tend to its object, which is the true; while the other is that the will should be infallibly directed to the last end, on account of which it assents to the true: and both of these are to be found in the act of living living.

Faith is a virtue, meant to be practiced and perfected daily but it goes beyond that. In Pope Benedict XVI 's Encyclical Spe Salve, The Pope writes:
"In the eleventh chapter of the Letter to the Hebrews (v. 1) we find a kind of definition of faith which closely links this virtue with hope. Ever since the Reformation there has been a dispute among exegetes over the central word of this phrase, but today a way towards a common interpretation seems to be opening up once more. For the time being I shall leave this central word untranslated. The sentence therefore reads as follows: “Faith is the hypostasis of things hoped for; the proof of things not seen”. For the Fathers and for the theologians of the Middle Ages, it was clear that the Greek word hypostasis was to be rendered in Latin with the term substantia. The Latin translation of the text produced at the time of the early Church therefore reads: Est autem fides sperandarum substantia rerum, argumentum non apparentiumfaith is the “substance” of things hoped for; the proof of things not seen. Saint Thomas Aquinas, using the terminology of the philosophical tradition to which he belonged, explains it as follows: faith is a habitus, that is, a stable disposition of the spirit, through which eternal life takes root in us and reason is led to consent to what it does not see. The concept of “substance” is therefore modified in the sense that through faith, in a tentative way, or as we might say “in embryo”—and thus according to the “substance”—there are already present in us the things that are hoped for: the whole, true life. And precisely because the thing itself is already present, this presence of what is to come also creates certainty: this “thing” which must come is not yet visible in the external world (it does not “appear”), but because of the fact that, as an initial and dynamic reality, we carry it within us, a certain perception of it has even now come into existence."
In Faith we are bring forth to life what God has implanted in us. In John's Gospel story of the death of Lazarus, Jesus tells Martha "your brother will rise again" Martha replies "I know he will rise on the resurrection on the last day." Jesus replies "I am the resurrection and the life, whoever believes in me will live even if he dies and every one who lives and believes in me will never die." Do you believe this? Martha replies Yes Lord. The Eternal has taken Martha to the a new life, one rooted in faith. This will always come from a true encounter with Christ.

Psalm 8

O LORD, our Lord, how awesome is your name through all the earth! You have set your majesty above the heavens!
Out of the mouths of babes and infants you have drawn a defense against your foes, to silence enemy and avenger.

When I see your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and stars that you set in place--
What are humans that you are mindful of them, mere mortals that you care for them?
Yet you have made them little less than a god, crowned them with glory and honor.

You have given them rule over the works of your hands, put all things at their feet:

All sheep and oxen, even the beasts of the field,

The birds of the air, the fish of the sea, and whatever swims the paths of the seas.

O LORD, our Lord, how awesome is your name through all the earth!
Psalm 8

Monday, June 14, 2010

The Narrow Door

There are those who practice a lukewarm type of Christianity, they may go to church, they may pray the rosary, the may demonstrate all the outward signs of being a Christian, but inwardly they are vested in the things of the world, and those things are their true love. I am not here trying to condemn people, but rather I am trying to say that Christ taught us to die to the world not make it mesh with Christianity. Here is what he wrote in Luke 13:23-29

"He passed through towns and villages, teaching as he went and making his way to Jerusalem.

Someone asked him, "Lord, will only a few people be saved?" He answered them,

"Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I tell you, will attempt to enter but will not be strong enough.

After the master of the house has arisen and locked the door, then will you stand outside knocking and saying, 'Lord, open the door for us.' He will say to you in reply, 'I do not know where you are from.'

And you will say, 'We ate and drank in your company and you taught in our streets.'

Then he will say to you, 'I do not know where (you) are from. Depart from me, all you evildoers!'

And there will be wailing and grinding of teeth when you see Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God and you yourselves cast out.

And people will come from the east and the west and from the north and the south and will recline at table in the kingdom of God.

Father Robert Barron: Why do we believe in God?

Friday, June 11, 2010

The Most Excellent and Beautiful Sacred Heart!

The heart is the organ that keeps us living. It is the icon of what love is. Even in the lexicon of today people say "I heart you." Valentines Day - when lovers get together to talk about and remind each other about love: hearts abound. When I woke up this morning I was praying to God my Eternal Father and reflecting on this beautiful world he gifted to me and you and I thought to say the most beautiful of all that ever graced it was your Son Jesus. His beauty surpasses everything and it can best be described in reflecting on His Sacred Heart. A heart that loves like no other love, a heart of mercy, tenderness, compassion, able to peer into others hearts to truly known us. A heart that beat on the cross; bigger and louder than any other heart, flowing from Him the Blood of Eternal life. Who cannot fall head over heals for a lover like Jesus!

Hail! O Sacred Heart of Jesus, living and quickening source of eternal life, infinite treasure of the Divinity, and burning furnace of divine love. Thou art my refuge and my sanctuary, O my amiable Savior. Consume my heart with that burning fire with which Thine is ever inflamed. Pour down on my soul those graces which flow from Thy love, and let my heart be so united with Thine, that our wills may be one, and mine in all things, be conformed to Thine. May Thy divine will be equally the standard and rule of all my desires and of all my actions. Amen.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Prayer - The Vital and Personal Relationship

Great is the mystery of the faith!" The Church professes this mystery in the Apostles' Creed (Part One) and celebrates it in the sacramental liturgy (Part Two), so that the life of the faithful may be conformed to Christ in the Holy Spirit to the glory of God the Father (Part Three). This mystery, then, requires that the faithful believe in it, that they celebrate it, and that they live from it in a vital and personal relationship with the living and true God. This relationship is prayer. (CCC2558)

Prayer is absolutely necessary to have a relationship with God. Not just a good thing to do but an absolute necessity! Think of any relationship and tell me how long it would last if you never talked to the other party. There are many wonderful prayers that we Catholics have been given to us. Jesus himself gave us the Lord's Prayer - the Our Father. If one would just meditate on this prayer each morning upon arising it would do wonders. We can enter prayer with an open and contrite heart. There are of course many types of prayer. St Ignatius of Loyola said to always begin with Thanksgiving and Gratitude to the Creator. We can give Praise and Adoration to the Our Lord, Who is the Almighty and Lord of Lords, praising Him with the angels in heaven. We can pray to God as a lover, with joy and happiness and delight in being His creation and in His presence. We can acknowledge that we are sinners not worthy of His goodness but grateful that He is so loving and so merciful. A simple prayer is "O Lord Your mercy is boundless!" We can of course give prayers of supplication, petitions - that God would come to the aid of others in need. We can pray for our family members, friends, neighbors, our parish priests, Our Holy Father Pope Benedict. Lastly we can pray for our own needs - not necessarily physical and material wants and needs but spiritual needs and for God's grace that converts us each and every day. As Paul says in 1 Thessalonians 5:17-18 "Pray without ceasing. In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus."