Tuesday, October 21, 2014

One Man and One Woman

Though I know that Truth will win out in the end it is still a bit disconcerting  to me as a faithful Catholic, to hear the bits and pieces coming out of the Synod and the debates that have ensued by those in attendance. I know that battles have been fought in the Church before between those who seek to change Church teaching and those who defend doctrine, such as the battle against Arianism in the fourth century. I'm sure those were trying times for the faithful Catholics when they saw Church leaders debating and arguing amongst themselves about our Lord's divine nature. I know. Debates among bishops are nothing new but it is new to me. I wasn't there 1700 years ago to experience it. I am here in 2014 experiencing another chapter of the spiritual battle that is being fought on the battleground called Earth.

What I find disconcerting is that there are Bishops who feel they can voice opinions, and yes, I do mean opinions, contrary to Church doctrine and that doctrine can be and should be changed at will. Are these bishops truly ignorant of the truths set forth in doctrine? If doctrine can be dismissed or changed significantly, what does that say about the infallibility of the Catholic Church? If one iota of the truth of marriage is changed what of the other truths? Are we going to go back to debating our Lords divinity? Or the Trinity? If for instance the Church decides to debate whether or not a particular book in the Bible is divinely inspired and decides to extract that book from the Bible, what of the other books? How do we know they were inspired by God? The Lord told us "I am the way, the truth and the life".

The truth cannot change for our Lord God does not change.Those bishops who are pushing changing the truth of marriage between one man and one woman, wanting to allow communion to divorced couples who have either remarried or cohabiting with another are doing no one any favors. In fact they are being complicit in promoting sinful lifestyles upon those whom the bishops have vowed to shepherd in truth. Receiving the sacrament of the Eucharist in a state of mortal sin exacerbates the state of their souls. St. Paul said as much when he spoke of those who receive unworthily. The bishops know this, or a least SHOULD know this.

To even speak of changing doctrine or watering it down fills me with dread and I'm sure that others feel the same way. Our faith is being tested. Untested faith is a weak faith. I know that when this Synod is finally ended the truth will remain unchanged. Whether or not all accept this end is to be seen. I fear we will lose many if our Church does not "progress" forward as Cardinal Kasper and others desire. Schism? Very possible. As I said, I know truth will win but that does not mean that I am enjoying this spectacle. As a matter of fact, this infantile squabbling over what is already known to be the Truth leaves me with a major pit in my stomach.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

The Easy Life and Eternal Life

Life for a faithful Catholic would be so much easier if we didn't buck the system. Imagine just going with the flow of the world and keeping to ourselves when we see immoral acts being committed around us and keeping our thoughts locked in our brains. Traditional marriage, contraception, abortion, euthanasia? Meh, let them have it if they want we don't have to participate. Free country right? We can have our faith and live it as we see fit and let all others do what they desire. We can believe what we want, think what we want and just let others do the same. Oh the peace that would ensue. We could just be another face in the crowd. Sounds lovely and it does sound enticing doesn't it, if it were reality.

The reality is that we are Catholic and we are to be a light to the world. Our light cannot be hidden under a bushel basket no matter how much we want to get along. Even if we didn't open our mouths and voice our beliefs, our being a faithful Catholic exposes us to the world. It's gotten to the point that being known as a practicing Catholic puts you in a box labeled intolerant, hateful, homophobe, unjust, backward and an enemy to the common good.

I'm fortunate to have a tolerant group at work. The friends I have at work know I'm Catholic and other than a bit of poking fun here and there, it's never gone beyond that and it always allows me to explain the Catholic position on issues brought up. But what has happened in our society however is that no longer can we explain our beliefs without at least a fair amount of derision coming from those that oppose our faith. To those who oppose us there is no explaining or defense for what they believe is hateful. Being faithful Catholics is tantamount to being hateful for defending what the Church teaches that is contrary to what secular society is willing to accept.

Fear of ridicule or worse drives many Catholics to silence and even denial in some cases, of what they know in their hearts as the truth. One young man I knew a few years ago had a look of incredulity on his face when he found out through a discussion I had with him that I actually believed in God, in the miracles wrought in scripture and about my held beliefs on a real heaven and hell. He just could not believe anyone could still hold such stories as true. His face told me all I needed to know: I was an archeological fossil in the modern age. He was in his last year in college and he was taught all he needed to know; that belief in God was a vestige of age old superstition and science(his major) would eventually eradicate my belief in myths. What was left unsaid to me was this: be careful or the world will leave you behind and you'll suffer for it. hpThere was a comfort in that.

Unlike the ancient exile to Babylon forced on the Hebrews and faced with death in a fiery furnace for non-denial of their faith in God, today Babylon has come to us and is trying to force us out of its society. Catholics are no longer wanted in our societies and the faster we are made to shut up about our faith the better off our world will be.

The Church teaches of a better world and a better life and it is rejected. There are those who think our, or my warning of the present and coming persecutions is mere hyperbole but I submit it is they that are lukewarm in the faith, they that oppose the Church on abortion, gay unions, euthanasia etc., and still call themselves Catholic who see no persecution. Why would they be persecuted? If you are Catholic and accept world opinion rather than Church teachings then you are right. You are not persecuted. Open your mouth and preach the Gospel as given to us from the Church and watch what happens.Dare to oppose society's lies on the above issues and truly live life as a Catholic and see what happens.

We all want to live peacefully with each other but what are we willing to pay for that peace? Is there a price that we are unwilling to pay or are all options on the table? Make no mistake. We are at war and our weapons are faith and love. Not very intimidating we may say but it was enough to win our salvation if we want it. Souls are what is at stake here in this war, this battle fought in our world. We can keep silent and hide in our bunkers or we can take up our weapons and speak the truth no matter the consequences and consequences there are and will be. The war is won but it is how we conduct ourselves in the battles we face that will determine our standing in God's sight when the crowns of victory are handed out.

Paul and all the apostles dove headlong into a pagan society bent on their destruction in order to preach and teach the truth. They knew their end in this world but were still joyful that they were to suffer for Christ. Our time has come. The new evangelization  is our call to arms today in this neo-pagan world. We had better be ready to stand up for our faith and Church. This is the Catholic reality for the faithful among us. I once asked someone if there was anything they would be willing to give up their life and die for and the hesitation in their response told what I needed to know. Do we have anything for which we are ready to sacrifice our lives? The time is coming where we better have a ready answer.   

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Fast Tracking Two New Saints?

...and so goes one of the arguments against the two newest saints of the Catholic Church. We can ask ourselves all we want as to why the Church seemed to have circumvented the red tape of "time and process"  before proclaiming Popes JXXIII and JPII saints and depending on who you ask it will all be speculation. In the final analyses it is a done deal. It is an infallible declaration of sainthood to two fallible men and I say good.

Enough already. There has been a constant bashing or so-called analysis of everything that has come out of the Vatican since the elevation of Pope Francis. It seems that everything that comes out of the Vatican HAS to be viewed under a blogger-genious-theologian-I know better than the Church-I am Pope(almost) type scrutiny that really sickens me. There has been a very significant lack of humility in Catholic circles that identify themselves as the "GUARDIANS OF THE FAITH!" I am not at ALL surprised at  the lack of support for Catholic blogs by some bishops. I wouldn't support some of them either. Hell! I wouldn't even support mine when it comes down to brass tacks! Many of our bloggers have become nothing more than malodorous petards who seem to have a need to make an ecclesial crisis of every little nuance from the Vatican that does not seem proper.

We seem to have lost all sense of the Holy Spirit's role in our Church. He is the guardian of the faith. He is in charge but we've all become little popes because obviously the Holy Spirit can't handle it. Bloggers would have experienced major palpitations of the heart  if blogging had been around in the first three or four hundred years of the Church's history with all the heresies coming out of the woodwork, whole sections of the Church falling into heresy for years before being reined in again by, you guessed it, the Church in Rome.

We can nitpick all we want when it comes to the two newest saints that the Church has given us. It doesn't matter. There is a reason for everything including declaring JPII and JXXIII as saints. Why did their enrollment in sainthood seem fast tracked? I don't know! Ask the Holy Spirit! As I said, He's in charge.

I do know this. It isn't just our two new Saints that seem to have been on the fast track. Look around you. Look at society and the world. It seems that the whole world has been on a fast track for the last 10 or 20 years. Fast track to no-where. Things in this world are moving fast and not for the better. A la Ross Perot, there is a giant sucking sound in this world and it seems as if all morality and anything holy is being sucked out of the world and fast. Real fast. It may seem as if God has left us to our own evil devices today and that he flew the coop. Never fear. He didn't. He's just giving us a bit more free rein to discover that we cannot do this alone and if we don't see that yet we will. If we continue along this road then we will see a world that resembles hell itself. You can bank on that. Smell the sulfur yet?

Fast tracking saints? Good. Fast track two more very soon, for this world and our Church really could use an army of them right about now. 

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Red Sky In The Morning, Catholics Take Warning

It doesn't take much for  faithful Catholics and Christians in general to see storm clouds brewing on the horizon. The faith we took for granted mere decades ago is now giving way to a growing sense of unease. Though we in the West have not been subjected to the extreme persecution resulting in martyrdom, we have however been subjected to a persecution through legislation and coercion from society at large. Hobby Lobby, Brendan Eich of Mozilla and Dominican Sister Jane Dominic Laurel are just three cases where law and public opinion have had a dire effect on Christianity in our society. I don't have to go into detail about these cases and others, for those of us who do not have our heads in the sand are fully aware of what has happened and where it could possibly or will lead us.

Today, being a Christian in this country is risking ridicule, being mocked or called backward and or hateful. There has always been a certain amount of bias against us in the past though it was more or less benign, but today it seems to be reaching a fever pitch. I will agree however that probably most citizens in this country couldn't care less what our faith is as long as we don't force ourselves and our faith upon them. Live and let live as they say. Yet over the last few years there has been a faction of our society that regards any criticism of certain 'accepted'  issues such as gay unions, abortion, contraception and the like as hateful speech and they have sought to silence us and for the most part they have succeeded. Not only is our speech being censored but our thoughts as well as our conscious. So where do we go from here?

The persecution and ridicule will get worse for Catholics. I believe that with my whole heart. I feel it, see it and can almost taste it. The question for us is, will we be ready for the onslaught and will we be able to hold on to our faith? To be Catholic means to have a thick skin and not let all the criticisms bother us. If we already cower in the corner when conversations turn to criticizing the Church for the above aforementioned issues how will we defend our faith when conversations turn confrontational and in your face? If we are accused of hate speech for professing certain Catholic beliefs that are unpopular will we recant? Deny? Babble some defense that we were wrong and apologize for being offensive?

Standing up for our faith in the face of criticisms, even small ones, makes us stronger. If we are embarrassed and clam up because our faith is a contradiction to the world, what will we do when stronger and more serious persecutions become commonplace? As in temptations, the more we overcome temptations to sin, the stronger we become to fight off more powerful temptations that will come in the future.

Right now, those who are bent in the direction of evil are feeling confident considering the inroads they have made over the years against Christianity and the Catholic Church. They persecuted the early Church and we being members of the Communion of Saints will also be and are persecuted. We either follow the Master or we don't.

We really can't keep silent about our faith since we have been told to go and teach all nations. That leaves us right out in the open for ridicule and mocking or worse. Try talking about the Church's teaching against contraception, or even extramarital sex and see the reaction you get, even in the company of other Catholics. Sister Jane is well aware of the consequences.  Spitting and condoms thrown at us will be the least of our concerns in the coming years.

How would we handle an invasion of yelling dissenters entering our parish church during Mass? What if there are people protesting outside your church as you file in for Mass, with profanities and such? Imagine going to work and being confronted by another who knows you are a practicing Catholic, they yelling how hateful you are or a bigot? Are we ready for this and worse? I believe much worse is at hand. Am I ready? I pray to God I am. It will not be by our own strength that we resist, but by God's. We are now battling the demonic and their willing partners; people we deal with in everyday life and yes, even Catholics. It is a spiritual battle between good and evil that necessitates spiritual strength on our part and that strength only comes through prayer.

I believe that the Catholic Church will be seen as the root of all the evil and hate in the world as time unfolds. Those of us that are faithful to the Church will be seen as participants in this so-called evil and we will become a liability to anyone who associates with us.The companies that employ us will see faithful Christians as a detriment to doing business, as in the Eich case, and we may find ourselves out of a job with "Catholics need not apply" in a help wanted listing. Buying food and other necessities may be difficult as businesses will fear being boycotted for pandering to Catholic 'hate mongers'. And this will just be the beginning if we are reading the storm clouds correctly and I believe we are.

There are Catholics who feel relatively untouched by what is happening around us, however, they forget that what happens to one member of His body affects the whole body. I have read comments where there are those who pooh pooh the notion that we are being persecuted and that we have no idea what real persecution is. They are right. I don't know what extreme persecution for my faith is like, but we can open our eyes and recognize it when Christians are dying for holding on to their faith. There are many Catholics residing in cocoons with no idea what is happening on the outside. I feel pity for those that are not preparing themselves for what I believe is coming and they will be the ones that are the hardest hit when the boom falls.

It is difficult to see how our Freedom of Religion could be in the process of being decimated in a nation of Constitutional law and we would never have believed it a few decades ago yet things are moving fast in that direction. Let me very clear about one thing. I am not proclaiming the end of the world, but what I am proclaiming is the end of our life in the faith as we know it, at least in this nation and our northern neighbor, Canada.

Be prepared. How? Be holy and perfect as the heavenly Father is holy and perfect. Receive the sacraments frequently, especially the sacraments of Penance and the Eucharist. Read scripture and above all pray for the strength to be strong in your faith when we are confronted by those seeking our destruction. Above all, do not lose heart or despair. As our Lord said,
"Blessed are ye when they shall revile you, and persecute you, and speak all that is evil against you, untruly, for my sake: Be glad and rejoice, for your reward is very great in heaven. For so they persecuted the prophets that were before you".

If and when the time comes remember these words,

" But when they hand you over, do not worry about how or what you are to say; for it will be given you in that hour what you are to say. For it is not you who speak, but it is the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you.…"

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

What Did Satan Know and When Did He Know It?

I've always been a bit confused by Satan in his dealings with Christ. We know that Satan is familiar with scripture for the temptations with which he assaulted our Lord in the desert prove that. What I not sure of is if Satan knew of God's plan for man's salvation, specifically, how it was to be accomplished. Did Satan know that if Christ died in our stead that he would defeat death and Satan's hold over man? Was Satan's pride so great that he was at a loss as to see how to defeat Christ's mission in our world? In reading the Gospels it seems apparent that Satan was confused and wasn't sure what to do about Christ. Consider the following points that I present and see what you think.

At the very beginning of Jesus' life Satan tries to have Him killed by Herod in the massacre of the innocents of Bethlehem.

Afterwards instead of trying to have Jesus killed, Satan tries to destroy Jesus' plan of salvation while in the desert by tempting Him. Had he succeeded in tempting Jesus' human nature to sin, then it would have been all over. Satan hoped to use the Lord's weakened state from hunger and thirst from 40 days in the desert against him.

Jesus entered Nazareth and while in the synagogue he read to the people about the messianic prophesy in Isaiah and told them that the prophesy was being fulfilled in Him. That admission riled up the crowd. I believe that Satan at this point put it in their heads to kill him so they brought Him to the edge of a cliff to throw Him off. We are told He walked through their midst and left Nazareth unharmed.

 In John 8:31 we read that Jesus debated with Jews who had believed in Him and Jesus finally says to them “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.” This was blasphemy and both the unbelieving Jews and those that did believe in Him picked up stones to kill Him. Again, He escaped.

In John 10:22-23 He tells the Jews that "I and the Father are one." thus making Him equal to God which again is blasphemy. The Jews pick up stones to kill Him but we are told he escapes again.

When Jesus predicted His death in Jerusalem Peter took our Lord aside and said, "God forbid it, Lord. That shall never happen to you!" Here Jesus tells Peter, "Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God's interests, but man's." 

Why would Satan induce Peter to say such a thing? Did Satan finally realize that the death of Jesus is what would save man? Satan seemed to change tactics again. Instead of trying to have Jesus killed Satan seems to have tried to change Jesus' mind and used His friend Peter by appealing to His emotions and keep Him from going to His death thus saving man. Satan seemed very unsure of Himself regarding God's plan at this point. It wasn't until the very end that we see Satan trying his utmost to prevent Jesus' death for by then I believe Satan now understood God's plan of salvation came with the sacrifice of His Son and he tried to prevent it.

The very man that had power of life and death over Jesus was Pilate. I find it very unusual to see that Pilates wife was troubled by dreams of this holy man, Jesus. So much so that I believe Satan induced these dreams as a last ditch effort to keep Jesus from being sacrificed. Pilates wife did everything in her power to persuade her husband not to have anything to do with Jesus. To no avail. 

And finally, through all the pain and suffering that Jesus was going through while nailed to the cross, He was continually tempted to "come down from the cross and save yourself!" I cannot imagine the fortitude it took on our Lords part NOT to come down off His cross for he surely could have done it. Yet had he come down from the cross our Lord's mission would have been in vain and Satan knew it then. 

So did Satan actually know Christ had to die to save man or did he not know? The best answer I can give is that he didn't know for sure, that is why we see Satan trying to have Jesus killed and at other times trying to keep Jesus from going to His death.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Is Holy Week a Winding Down or a Beginning?

Having entered Holy Week we begin to anticipate the ending of the Lenten strictures that we have placed on ourselves since Ash Wednesday and to the culmination of our spiritual freedom gained for us by Christ on Easter Sunday and the Resurrection. Hopefully everything that we have practiced for the past several weeks (prayer, almsgiving and fasting) has helped us to prepare for the greatest feast of the Church year. But is Lent only a time to prepare for Easter or for the beginning of a new, more full, spiritual life as a Catholic as the year continues on past Easter?

Christ's 40 days in the desert prepared him for his mission of salvation for mankind. It was not a preparation for one particular day after the 40 days as Easter is for us, but a preparation  for living the rest of his life. For Christ, almsgiving, fasting and prayer were constants in his life even after having left his own lenten desert. We need to ask ourselves whether Easter Sunday will end our Lenten practices for spiritual renewal or will it continue  past our own time in the desert, past Easter, until we come face to face with our Father?

Happy Holy Week

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

His Mercy Endures Forever

This is the first time in memory where I can truly say I have found joy in Christ. To be honest, I never understood the concept of joy and even now I am not sure I can even convey exactly what it is, but I now know what it means to have it and to experience it.  If Lent is a time meant to reflect on our lives, our relationship with our Lord, our admission of imperfection and our repentance, then I have experienced it in a way that I have never have before. I have stared in the eyes of His enduring mercy this Lent and the joy is indescribable.

Since Ash Wednesday I have gone to confession twice with the goal of making a biweekly confession a habit beyond Lent. It is a practice I have fallen out of and I mean to rectify that. As much as I look forward to Easter every year, it is the Sunday of Divine Mercy that my eyes and soul are set upon. Imagine all temporal punishment due to sin wiped out in one fell swoop. That is what awaits those that seek His mercy on this Sunday. For more information visit Divine Mercy Sunday  website.

Have you ever gone to confession greatly troubled because of serious sins committed and in making your confession other grievous sins were not remembered because your mind goes blank? In Father Z's website WDTPRS , he discusses this at length, but the upshot is as written in his excerpt:

 "Keep in mind that when you make a good confession, to the best of your ability, even the sins that you have forgotten are forgiven.  If you remember them later, include them in your confession, by all means.  But don’t worry that you have to have a perfect, machine-like memory.  Just do your best and all your sins are forgiven."

Though I have known that truly forgotten sins are forgiven my memory sought to keep accusing me of these sins committed decades ago. I could not shake these memories even though I had no doubt that I had been forgiven for these sins, yet the accusing finger of my memories refused to relent. I felt alienated from God, His love and His mercy in particular and could not get past these 'accusations' and progress in my relationship to God was severely hampered.

I have always found confession difficult because of the shame, humiliation and the guilt associated with my sins. Now remembering these past, forgotten sins filled me with dread even though I had been previously absolved. Since I went to confession for the first time this Lent I have walked around everyday considering what to do about my memories. The thought of going back to confession and confessing the forgotten sins of long ago all but killed me with shame. I also knew however that if I didn't go back and talk to my confessor about them that I would not have any peace whatsoever. Last Saturday I finally got up the courage to face my fears and went back to confession.

I cannot describe to you  the terror I felt waiting for my turn in the confessional. I began by confessing the sins I had committed since my last confession two weeks ago and then told my confessor what I was about to do. After explaining to him of my memories I told him I wanted to tell him of  the forgotten sins that wracked me to no end. I broke down. Completely. The first thing I blurted out was "Please Father! Please do not judge me for what I am about to tell you!". He calmly answered that he was not here to pass judgement on me and prodded me to go on. That is all I needed. I emptied myself completely. Once I started there was no stopping me. While I had been waiting to enter the confessional I had fervently prayed to our Blessed Mother for strength to overcome my fear and I can tell you this without a doubt, that she was there with me while I poured my heart out with countless tears. I could hardly speak yet my guilt poured out. Then I listened quietly.

The first and the most beautiful thing I heard coming from this priest of God after confessing my horrid acts of the past was: "Have no doubt of God's love for you and His love for His children is beyond all comprehension and that His mercy is poured out on you. You are so loved my Him at this moment that God cannot refuse you His mercy." He then went on and explained that sometimes our memories bring temptations and that they are NOT from God but from Satan. These temptations are meant to bring us to despair and lose sight of God's love. As he said, there is no confessed sin that God's love and mercy cannot forgive and to be glad in this knowledge and have no doubt of it. I was glad but more than that, a joy settled on me and a peace I don't believe I have ever felt in my life. Such a weight has been lifted that I cannot understand how I could have borne it all this time without my soul and spirit being crushed.

It is true of what is said that only the greatest of sinners know the the extent of God's mercy. I know it is true for I have received it. Beyond all measure. The joy I feel today is such that no matter what happens in our world or in my little life I know I belong to God and nothing can take me from Him. Take my advice and do not ever allow fear, shame and humiliation keep you from His loving presence in the sacrament of Penance. You cannot live with your guilt no matter how strong you think you are. Perhaps Satan did try to make me despair by forcing these memories to come to the forefront but it didn't work out the way he wanted. I am free today. Truly free.  Go to confession and let Him remove your guilt so that you may truly live and have real joy in our Lord.