Sunday, February 28, 2021

Be You

Today, through social media, there are so many Catholic lay persons who share their gift of talent with their gift of time by posting, blogging, and writing wonderful content on the spiritual life for other's edification. Sometimes I feel, "Why can't I do more of that?" I usually just re-post and share what other's write.

We have to remember that those who are prolific in their writing and sharing have been given the grace of time and talent, perhaps, in a larger dose and with their Fiat they respond and their work for God's Kingdom is noticed and often used by others with the help of  a docile mind and heart to the inner promptings of the Holy Spirit. 

If one wants to do more, one must ask for the graces to help build up the kingdom and you may be prompted to do work for God that is very different from the prominent works of Catholic bloggers and writers. Be you. 

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Receiving Graces

God gives people different amount of graces. This is evidenced by Mary, who "was full of grace", whereas, we are not. If people don't pray they won't get more grace to be virtuous, so they will continue in their sin and not grow spiritually. But, God knows why they continue on the wrong path or sin, and understands their psychological issues, so only He can judge their culpability for their sins. 

We need to say 'yes' to the grace when it is given to us. But without faith formation most people don't recognize it or see it when it "happens" or is given to them, so they can't grow from the offering of grace. I know I have gotten graces that I was not fully cognizant of. St. Faustina wrote in her Diary that God will give the grace to someone else if you don't take what He offers. So, we just have to pray that we and others accept the grace when it is given to them, especially in the case of the grace of conversion to love Christ and His Church.

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Perfection and Union with God

Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska: Divine Mercy in My Soul  -     By: Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska
Have you ever wondered about the call to "perfection, as your heavenly Father is perfect?" How can we answer that call, when we always hear, "nobody is perfect." That is true if "perfection" is defined in earthly terms as "not ever making mistakes."

But, those of us who are children of God, St. Therese of Lisieux instructs a Divine definition: "Perfection consists in doing His will, in being what He wills us to be...who resists His grace in nothing." Ralph Martin in his book, "The Fulfillment of all Desire" writes that St. Teresa of Avila explains that "holiness is a matter of bringing our wills into union with God's will" (p. 2).

I always find that St. Faustina echoes scripture in her Diary, the saints that came before her, and even current Magisterial documents that were published after her death. In paragraph 1107 of her Diary during meditation she writes:

"Neither graces, nor revelations, nor raptures, nor gifts granted to a soul make it perfect, but rather the intimate union of the soul with God. These gifts are merely ornaments of the soul, but constitute neither its essence nor its perfection. My sanctity and perfection consist in the close union of my will with the will of God. God never violates our free will. It is up to us whether we want to receive God's grace or not. It is up to us whether we will cooperate with it or waste it."

If you have not heard of this meaning for "perfection" before, we can celebrate that it is way beyond not making mistakes. Perfection relies on God's mercy. He makes us perfect. He gives us union with Him. Our part is to desire union. In the simplest terms, it is the desire "to be with God." For God, that is to be "through Him, with Him, and in Him." It is more than being His friend or leaning on Him, which we do through His Son Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd. When we are "through Him, with Him, and in Him" we have mystical union. It is "mystical" because it is a mystery that is beyond the ways of understanding something as we do as human beings living in the earthly kingdom. 

The saints are travel guides through the Kingdom of God. They use images and metaphors to depict what happens when we desire union with God. It is right and good that they do so because Jesus used symbols and parables to illustrate the Kingdom of God, too. For example, "the kingdom of God is like a mustard seed" (Mt. 13.31) and "my Father is like a Vine Dresser" (Jn 15:1).  St. Teresa of Avila speaks of desire to be with God through the imagery of the soul being "like a diamond castle." She is our travel guide through the castle, what we will find in the rooms of the castle and outside the castle which are things and events which will try and keep us from journeying into the diamond castle. 

St. Teresa of Avila teaches that it is knowing that Christ the King dwells in the innermost room of the castle that will help us to desire to have union with God. We can't journey towards something we do not know or believe exists. The saints are our travel guides for union with God. But how can we get people to pay attention to the saints who have achieved union with God?

I believe that the mandate from God through Saint Faustina to "proclaim His Mercy" is the key starting point when trying to evangelize the Good News. The Good News is ultimately that we can have union with God. We are taught, the Good News of what Christ did for us. My grandmother before she died expressed her wonderment about Redemption. She asked, "What good did it do?" I was small and could not express the answer. The second part to the Good News is "union with God." That is the good that it did. Before the Redemption we could not have union with God. It is more than how it is expressed which is "getting to Heaven." But, one does not have to wait to die to get to Heaven. The soul can have union with God, now, here in the earthly kingdom because their soul offers the means. 

In evangelization and catechesis, there should not be a disconnect between the announcement of the Good News and perfection.

When I was driving home from Mass today, I noticed the full parking lot of the new second location for the Methodist Church, of the Resurrection. I thought of all the people who have heard of the Good News and are going to Church at non-Catholic Christian communities. But, they are not hearing the Good News in its fullness. They are missing out on learning about having mystical union with God. They are taught that the Good News brings joy here on earth, and it does in a limited way. But they are disadvantaged because they are not hearing that God is so merciful that he wants union with them here on earth. The theology and spirituality of union with God by doing His Will when He presents it in grace moments is not present in the non-Catholic Christian communities and congregations. It has not been present in the formal catechesis of the Catholic Church either.

Grace has lead many saints to be our travel guides to union with God, therefore, we don't have any reason to not strive for perfection. It is God's will and if we want to be perfect, we will do this Will of God. He is waiting for us in center room of the castle.

Sunday, June 09, 2019

Helpful Catechesis on "Lead us not into temptation"

The text below can help clarify why the Church in the United States does not need to follow Italy and Germany in revising this line of the "Our Father."

See Chapter 9 of St. Augustine's Treatise on Matthew 6-7, "On the Sermon on the Mount", Book II:

30. The sixth petition is, And bring us not into temptation. Some manuscripts have the word lead, which is, I judge, equivalent in meaning: for both translations have arisen from the one Greek word which is used. But many parties in prayer express themselves thus, Suffer us not to be led into temptation; that is to say, explaining in what sense the word lead is used. For God does not Himself lead, but suffers that man to be led into temptation whom He has deprived of His assistance, in accordance with a most hidden arrangement, and with his deserts. Often, also, for manifest reasons, He judges him worthy of being so deprived, and allowed to be led into temptation. But it is one thing to be led into temptation, another to be tempted. For without temptation no one can be proved, whether to himself, as it is written, He that has not been tempted, what manner of things does he know? or to another, as the apostle says, And your temptation in my flesh you despised not: for from this circumstance he learned that they were steadfast, because they were not turned aside from charity by those tribulations which had happened to the apostle according to the flesh. For even before all temptations we are known to God, who knows all things before they happen.
31. When, therefore, it is said, The Lord your God tempts (proves) you, that He may know if you love Him, the words that He may know are employed for what is the real state of the case, that He may make you know: just as we speak of a joyful day, because it makes us joyful; of a sluggish frost, because it makes us sluggish; and of innumerable things of the same sort, which are found either in ordinary speech, or in the discourse of learned men, or in the Holy Scriptures. And the heretics who are opposed to the Old Testament, not understanding this, think that the brand of ignorance, as it were, is to be placed upon Him of whom it is said, The Lord your God tempts you: as if in the Gospel it were not written of the Lord, And this He said to tempt (prove) him, for He Himself knew what He would do. For if He knew the heart of him whom He was tempting, what is it that He wished to see by tempting him? But in reality, that was done in order that he who was tempted might become known to himself, and that he might condemn his own despair, on the multitudes being filled with the Lord's bread, while he had thought they had not enough to eat.
32. Here, therefore, the prayer is not, that we should not be tempted, but that we should not be brought into temptation: as if, were it necessary that any one should be examined by fire, he should pray, not that he should not be touched by the fire, but that he should not be consumed. For the furnace proves the potter's vessels, and the trial of tribulation righteous men. Joseph therefore was tempted with the allurement of debauchery, but he was not brought into temptation. Susanna was tempted, but she was not led or brought into temptation; and many others of both sexes: but Job most of all, in regard to whose admirable steadfastness in the Lord his God, those heretical enemies of the Old Testament, when they wish to mock it with sacrilegious mouth, brandish this above other weapons, that Satan begged that he should be tempted. For they put the question to unskilful men by no means able to understand such things, how Satan could speak with God: not understanding (for they cannot, inasmuch as they are blinded by superstition and controversy) that God does not occupy space by the mass of His corporeity; and thus exist in one place, and not in another, or at least have one part here, and another elsewhere: but that He is everywhere present in His majesty, not divided by parts, but everywhere complete. But if they take a fleshly view of what is said, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool, — to which passage our Lord also bears testimony, when He says, Swear not at all: neither by heaven, for it is God's throne; nor by the earth, for it is His footstool, — what wonder if the devil, being placed on earth, stood before the feet of God, and spoke something in His presence? For when will they be able to understand that there is no soul, however wicked, which can yet reason in any way, in whose conscience God does not speak? For who but God has written the law of nature in the hearts of men? — that law concerning which the apostle says: For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: which show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing them witness, and their thoughts the meanwhile accusing or else excusing one another, in the day when the Lord shall judge the secrets of men. And therefore, as in the case of every rational soul, which thinks and reasons, even though blinded by passion, we attribute whatever in its reasoning is true, not to itself but to the very light of truth by which, however faintly, it is according to its capacity illuminated, so as to perceive some measure of truth by its reasoning; what wonder if the depraved spirit of the devil, perverted though it be by lust, should be represented as having heard from the voice of God Himself, i.e. from the voice of the very Truth, whatever true thought it has entertained about a righteous man whom it was proposing to tempt? But whatever is false is to be attributed to that lust from which he has received the name of devil. Although it is also the case that God has often spoken by means of a corporeal and visible creature whether to good or bad, as being Lord and Governor of all, and Disposer according to the merits of every deed: as, for instance, by means of angels, who appeared also under the aspect of men; and by means of the prophets, saying, Thus says the Lord. What wonder then, if, though not in mere thought, at least by means of some creature fitted for such a work, God is said to have spoken with the devil?
33. And let them not imagine it unworthy of His dignity, and as it were of His righteousness, that God spoke with him: inasmuch as He spoke with an angelic spirit, although one foolish and lustful, just as if He were speaking with a foolish and lustful human spirit. Or let such parties themselves tell us how He spoke with that rich man, whose most foolish covetousness He wished to censure, saying: You fool, this night your soul shall be required of you: then whose shall those things be which you have provided? Certainly the Lord Himself says so in the Gospel, to which those heretics, whether they will or no, bend their necks. But if they are puzzled by this circumstance, that Satan asks from God that a righteous man should be tempted; I do not explain how it happened, but I compel them to explain why it is said in the Gospel by the Lord Himself to the disciplesBehold, Satan has desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat; and He says to Peter, But I have prayed for you, that your faith fail not. And when they explain this to me, they explain to themselves at the same time that which they question me about. But if they should not be able to explain this, let them not dare with rashness to blame in any book what they read in the Gospel without offense.
34. Temptations, therefore, take place by means of Satan not by his power, but by the Lord's permission, either for the purpose of punishing men for their sins, or of proving and exercising them in accordance with the Lord's compassion. And there is a very great difference in the natureof the temptations into which each one may fall. For Judas, who sold his Lord, did not fall into one of the same nature as Peter fell into, when, under the influence of terror, he denied his Lord. There are also temptations common to man, I believe, when every one, though well disposed, yet yielding to human frailty, falls into error in some plan, or is irritated against a brother, in the earnest endeavour to bring him round to what is right, yet a little more than Christian calmness demands: concerning which temptations the apostle says, There has no temptation taken you but such as is common to man; while he says at the same time, But God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that you are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that you may be able to bear it. And in that sentence he makes it sufficiently evident that we are not to pray that we may not be tempted, but that we may not be led into temptation. For we are led into temptation, if such temptations have happened to us as we are not able to bear. But when dangerous temptations, into which it is ruinous for us to be brought and led, arise either from prosperous or adverse temporal circumstances, no one is broken down by the irksomeness of adversity, who is not led captive by the delight of prosperity.

Sunday, September 02, 2018

Through Mary we ask Christ to take Action Immediately

9/2/18 – On the train home from Kirkwood.

I feel like Mary is getting lost among all the ecclesiastical issues and problems. Mary is our link to the representative head of all of the problems, yet her link is pure and unencumbered with or by problems. So, isn’t it she we should turn to fix the problems? As Queen, she always sits at the side of her Son, a pure link for our intercessory prayer. While her son works to clean the link and line of his image that is his successors on earth, while they are mired in gunk, there is no gunk in Mary’s line. So, it is through the woman, the Spouse of the Holy Spirit, that Christ can renew his Church. The exhortation by the bishops for prayer and fasting to make reparation for the sins of the priests and bishops have to include supplication to Mary our Queen to be purified. They can then be presented to her Son as suitable vessels of sacrifices, lamentations, and acts of obedience to the traditions of Holy Mother Church. Because if Jesus sees his Mother in our place our prayers are stronger. I will explain.

A few years ago I was at Adoration and in my contrition I spontaneously prayed that Jesus there in front of me would not see me, but would see His Mother or Mary instead because she is pure. Then I thought to myself, that doesn’t make sense. Where did that come from? Nowhere in my theological studies did I ever learn that Jesus can see Mary in front of him, in our place, when we pray. I did not think that could be theologically correct. So, I pulled the book out of the pocket of the kneeler in front of me and turned to such a page that proclaimed just that! That Jesus will see Mary rather than you if that is what is in your heart. I don’t remember the name of the book, nor did I take note of who wrote it other than that it was an old book. It is amazing how the Holy Spirit works to give us answers and consolations.

So, it is today that I am reminded to include Mary in my prayers of reparation. They run through her and they get purified and are made suitable to be presented to her Son for a call to be answered. Mary’s prayers are a call for her Son to take action to repair and renew the Church, and to do it immediately. Lord make haste to help us. We are a priestly and kingly people (1 Pet 2:9) by Baptism suitable to ask for an action from our Lord to renew the Church. Just as the Lords of kingdoms in olden days helped the Kings of the regions to be built up, our kingly role has a built-in right to have assistance from the Lord at all times and our Queen will facilitate our asking for this action.

We ask Christ to take action immediately to renew the Church! We implore him through the intercession of his Queen Mother, Hail Mary Full of Grace, remember O Most Blessed Virgin Mary that never was it known that anyone that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thy intercession was left unaided. Inspired by thy confidence, we fly unto you, O Virgin of virgins our Mother to thee do we come before thee we stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not our petitions, but in thy mercy hear and answer our call to action by your Son. Amen.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

A Fatima Centennial Reflection

When I was a child my parents had a little booklet about Our Lady of Fatima and her apparitions to Lucia, Jacinta and Francisco. What stuck out for me in Our Lady’s message to the children was the need for the soul to be a member of the Blue Army. This was important so Russia would not spread Communism throughout the world and the nation would be converted to Christianity. To me, the conversion to Christianity was the most important part, because if that happened then it would follow that the nation would not spread Communism.

When the Berlin wall fell, I knew this was part of an answer to the prayers of the Blue Army who had prayed for the conversion of Russia. You did not hear very many people talk about it, then. I did have a friend who was there when the wall came down, and got to experience it, but I did not share with her the message of Fatima. For myself, I knew for sure that it happened because Russia had been consecrated to the world as requested by Our Lady. I used to think about it a lot, that the wall came down because of the intercession of Our Lady of Fatima.

In 2010, Newt Gingrich produced a documentary, “Nine Days that Changed the World” that pointed to the relationship between Our Lady of Fatima’s prophecy concerning obtaining peace in the world, then Pope John Paul II, and President Ronald Reagan as instruments of God for this purpose of bringing Communist Russia to an end. In the 1990s we saw Russia allow Christian worship, again. Orthodox Cathedrals began opening up in the 1990s with new religious liberty. What else could have affected that except the prayers of the Blue Army? We have not seen the spread of Communism. Even in China, Communism has not spread and North Korea does not want to spread it to other nations, they just want to make us end what we have.

This goal of atheist leaders to “end what we have” which is our relationship with Christ, who is “the way, the truth, and the life”, has never been promised in any Marian apparition to come to an end if we pray for peace.  The atheist’s goal to destroy the peace we have achieved through faith in Jesus Christ will always be there. We can admit that in the flesh, we are fearful of their goal and we often times struggle in spirit to carry its cross. But, the thing about the spirit is that it multi-tasks for us. Through the Holy Spirit we are able to struggle and have peace at the same time. The scriptures talk about this as “knowing”. St. Thomas Aquinas equates knowing to “believing.” We believe that Our Lady’s Immaculate Heart will triumph, we believe when the last trumpet sounds that the Church will have endured and been readied like a bride to greet her groom when He comes again. We believe, so we know, so we act with faith and persevere while the Holy Spirit keeps our fear at bay.

Fifty years later, I am still not a full-fledged member of the Blue Army. The criteria are the same, to pray the rosary everyday for peace and to make five consecutive First Saturdays. I may have completed the Five First Saturdays, but my daily rosary is most often not for peace, but for some other supplication.  But, with the Centennial of the First Fatima Apparition, I hope to make reparation going forward to any lack of participation I have had in the Blue Army. The Blue Army is still marching and like a good Soldier Confirmed in Christ, I want to be a part of Our Lady’s peace plan. 

Monday, August 01, 2016

The Magisterium is Merciful to the Desires of Feminist Women - But not in the way they want

      I had a helpful insight while I was preparing my presentation on why only men can be priests. I discovered that apologetics on the the question of whether the priesthood should be open to women can be addressed from the reality of mercy rather than from theology. The Church approaches the question very mercifully, but not in the way some women would like.

      The Church has a beautiful way of expressing the immense mercy she has for women. Many women are anxious about their "roles" in the world. Many feel the Church sees them not equal to take up the office of the priesthood. But, in reading up Guadium et Spes, the Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, I found that the pastors seek to understand and empathize with the struggles of women. They are merciful, but, the truth about the institution of the priesthood for men only, is a truth that cannot change. Gaudium et Spes to speaks to the merciful voice of the Magisterium. Preface:

The joys and the hopes, the griefs and the anxieties of the men of this age, especially those who are poor or in any way afflicted, these are the joys and hopes, the griefs and anxieties of the followers of Christ. Indeed, nothing genuinely human fails to raise an echo in their hearts.

      They go on further with an empathetic voice:

Today, the human race is involved in a new stage of history. Profound and rapid changes are spreading by degrees around the whole world. Triggered by the intelligence and creative energies of man, these changes recoil upon him, upon his decisions and desires, both individual and collective, and upon his manner of thinking and acting with respect to things and to people. Hence we can already speak of a true cultural and social transformation, one which has repercussions on man's religious life as well.

      These changes have affected women profoundly. Women have desires they haven’t had before, because scientific developments and technological advancements have created new opportunities. Some, of these opportunities have been explored and found to be detrimental rather than helpful, like, putting a career before children and the use of artificial birth control. Woman was created by God with a nature which creates a desire and want to have children. But, as the Council Fathers state, the “cultural and social transformations” has had “repercussions on man’s religious life as well” and so women responded to the feminist voice that said, “forget what your religion teaches, forget family life, go for the money and career. It is your turn to have what men have had.” Women who bring the struggle for a female priesthood to the Church and the culture are basing it on the desires of an earthly kingdom. The feminist movement is a struggle that is regressive toward women rather than progressive because it removes religion from the discussion.

      Gaudium et Spes speaks of man trying to live life without religion:

On the other hand, growing numbers of people are abandoning religion in practice. Unlike former days, the denial of God or of religion, or the abandonment of them, are no longer unusual and individual occurrences. 

      The women’s liberation movement or feminism, which seeks happiness without religion and God has had a profound effect on Catholic women. A sense of a need for women to have “solidarity” against men who dominated the home and the workforce has infiltrated consecrated religious women and some lay women through its “goddess mentality” and false equality of “we can do anything man can do.”

      The pastors are aware of this and instead of being critical of their new mindset, they show understanding because they know that “it is only through the mystery of the Incarnate Word does the mystery of man take on light” (GS, 22). When expounding Christological truths, pastors can never criticize or berate. They always understand it is where the person is, coercion won’t win the women over to full assent to Church teaching regarding that the priesthood is reserved for men only. Only mercy shown through the pastoral insight found in Gaudium et Spes and other Magisterial documents.

      My prayer is that feminists do not continue to unjustly judge our pastors as unmerciful to their cause. It is my prayer that feminists realize the pastors do see the stresses of the world, but they articulate well, but that it is the transformation of society to a non-religious one that predates and initiated some women's rallying cry for a female priesthood. A sense of struggle is often brought on people by participating too closely in the culture. A more objective approach to the role of women in the Church and mercy on their side towards the Magisterium would alleviate much of their perceived "struggles."

Be You

Today, through social media, there are so many Catholic lay persons who share their gift of talent with their gift of time by posting, blogg...