Blessed are You When . . .

By Fr. Charles Nwora Okeke:

Blessed are you when people exclude you for the love of Christ: “We should not give in to the fear, anger and frustration generated by the experience of everyone turning against us. We stay faithful to Christ and resist the temptation to compromise so as to regain the friendship of those that shun us.”

Blessed are you when peopleA young Catholic lady, who apparently is beginning to take her faith seriously, recently complained that people about her age always seem to lose interest in being her friend and quit talking to her for no reason. She confessed to being left confused, hurt and disappointed. This is nothing new, and every sincere disciple goes through a similar experience. We console ourselves with the words of our Divine Master, Christ Jesus: “Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil because of the Son of Man. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven (Luke 6:22-23). We should not give in to the fear, anger and frustration generated by the experience of everyone turning against us.

We stay faithful to Christ and resist the temptation to compromise so as to regain the friendship of those that shun us. In the time of our isolation, we meditate as frequently as possible on the passion of the Lord; we pray the Rosary, read the lives of the saints, study the Catechism, and receive the sacraments. With time and prayers, the Holy Spirit will fill us up and we will never feel lonely again. We gradually transit from loneliness to solitude, in which we begin to enjoy being alone with Christ. Meanwhile, our detractors are closely watching, and when they observe that being excluded is not producing the desired misery in us, they suddenly come back to us. But do not be flattered and fall for this trap. All they desire is to disrupt our relationship with Christ.

The truth is that there can never be a sincere relationship between one, who totally embraces Christ, and one who does not. A sheep is a sheep and a goat is a goat. Meanwhile we prayerfully seek out spiritually empowering friendships with fellow Christian pilgrims, as we continue to pray for the salvation of all people for that is the will of God.

#ReverenceMatters – Say the Black, Do the Red

 A Reverent Priest Equals a Reverent Congregation

By Fr. Charles Nwora Okeke:

Re-reading my lecture notes on Eucharistic Theology: “The way a priest offers the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass affects the way the congregation participates in the sacrifice; if the priest offers the Mass reverentially then the congregation participates reverentially too.”

Recently, I went through my seminary lecture notes on Eucharistic Theology, and these are some of the gems of liturgical propriety that refreshed my mind:

Say the Black, Do the Red

Say the Black, Do the Red

  • The way a priest offers the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass affects the way the congregation participates in the sacrifice; if the priest offers the Mass reverentially then the congregation participate reverentially too.
  • When offering the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, slow down and be deliberate in your action and words; every liturgical action is done and completed before the next. A successful celebrant never rushes; he does things reverentially and complete.
  • Do exactly what the red letters in the Roman Missal say, and say exactly what is in black; no more, and no less. Our actions define what we stand for and what we are committed to.
  • Any intentional deviation from these instructions, among many others, becomes an abuse of the liturgy and a personal act of disobedience rooted in pride and vanity…and carelessness.

 

The TV: A Perpetual Source of Mortal Sin . . .

And Teacher of Pernicious Liberal Attitudes

By Fr. Charles Nwora Okeke:

Home blessing/spiritual cleansing: A priest does a spiritual cleansing of the home, sprinkles holy water and blesses the home. It smells clean and fresh; the air is light. Then he leaves and we turn on the TV, that perpetual source of the mortal sin of lust and a teacher of pernicious liberal attitudes. Then the air once again feels heavy and is fouled; the anxiety and incessant anger return together with sleeplessness. If only we could set those multiple TV’s we have at home perpetually at EWTN channel, then our homes would be cleansed automatically, and we need not trouble the priest frequently for a home blessing.

“If only we could set those multiple TV’s we have at home perpetually at EWTN channel, then our homes would be cleansed automatically and we need not trouble the priest frequently for a home blessing.”

Slight editing.

On Receiving the Sacrament of Matrimony Unworthily

On the Need of Confession before Sacramental Marriage

By Fr. Charles Nwora Okeke:

On Receiving the Sacrament of Matrimony Unworthily: “We commit a mortal sin of sacrilege if we knowingly received the Sacrament of Matrimony unworthily in a state of mortal sin; just as is the case with a priest who offers the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in a state of mortal sin.”

It is necessary that we receive the sacrament of Matrimony worthily, and this means that we have to be in a state of grace (free of mortal sin). This is so that the Sacrament may effect an increase of sanctifying grace in us; and also that we may receive the special help of God to love each other faithfully, to bear with each other’s faults, and to bring up our children properly. We commit a mortal sin of sacrilege if we knowingly received the Sacrament of Matrimony unworthily in a state of mortal sin; just as is the case with a priest who offers the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in a state of mortal sin. However, the marriage remains valid but the sin and the sacrilege must later be confessed in the Sacrament of Penance and an absolution obtained.

The Catholic Church is the forgiving, loving and perfect Mother.

Euthanasia and the Last Rites

Bishop Prendergast, “It is a Sad Day for Canada.”

By Kevin J. Jones, EWTN News:

Legal assisted suicide will soon arrive in Canada, prompting a Catholic archbishop to reflect on what the last rites mean for those who want to kill themselves.

Archbishop Terrence Prendergast

Priests should work to dissuade people who request assisted suicide, Archbishop Terrence Prendergast of Ottawa said. Priests should pray with these people and their families. However, someone who requests assisted suicide doesn’t have the right disposition to receive anointing of the sick.

“Asking to be killed is gravely disordered and is a rejection of the hope that the rite calls for and tries to bring into the situation,” the archbishop said, according to Canadian Catholic News.

Last rites – which is the sacrament given to the elderly or gravely ill – includes the forgiveness of sins.

“But we cannot be forgiven pre-emptively for something we are going to do – like ask for assisted suicide when suicide is a grave sin,” said Archbishop Prendergast.

Canadian lawmakers are preparing new assisted suicide laws. The law had previously criminalized assisted suicide. Those who counseled, aided or abetted a suicide faced up to 14 years in prison.

Then in February 2015 the Supreme Court of Canada unanimously ruled that doctors may help patients who have severe and incurable suffering to kill themselves. The national parliament was tasked with crafting a legal response to the decision.

The government’s final report on the topic was published Feb. 25. It said all publicly funded health care institutions must provide euthanasia and assisted suicide. This includes Church-run hospitals, hospices and nursing homes. The report has no protections for doctors who have religious or moral objections to referring a patient to a doctor who will help him or her commit suicide.

If the recommendations are accepted, the new law could have a major impact on Catholic institutions, the U.K. newspaper The Catholic Herald reports.

A full response from parliament is expected by June 2016.

Many other Catholic bishops have spoken out against assisted suicide.

“Caring for the dying does not include killing them or helping them kill themselves,” Bishop Douglas Crosby of Hamilton, the president of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, told the Canadian Parliament in a Jan. 20 intervention.

The bishop said the Canadian government should prioritize palliative care, fund further research and education in pain relief and advance suicide prevention programs. He said the government must guarantee conscience rights in law.

Bishop Hamilton also wrote against assisted suicide in the Canadian bishops’ Lenten message to laity. In the Feb. 8 message he urged Catholics to be in communion with the Pope and the bishops and oppose assisted suicide.

The Catholic bishops of Alberta reflected on assisted suicide in a Feb. 11 message for the Catholic Church’s World Day of the Sick.

“The decision of the Supreme Court of Canada makes legally permissible in some circumstances what is morally wrong in every circumstance: the taking of innocent human life. This is unacceptable in a truly just and ethical society,” they wrote.

They said “no Catholic may advocate for, or participate in any way, whether by act or omission, in the intentional killing of another human being either by assisted suicide or euthanasia.”

“When any life can be taken at will, the dignity of all lives is seriously eroded and respect for human life in our society as a whole is diminished.”

They warned that the law will place some people at serious risk, including the disabled and the mentally ill. Purported safeguards are not effective, they said.

The Alberta bishops warned that some jurisdictions in Canada undermine the conscience rights of doctors and other healthcare workers opposed to suicide. To force a physician to assist in a suicide or euthanasia would “fundamentally redefine what it means to be a doctor,” they said. “Killing is not medicine.”

In October 2015, the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada issued a joint declaration against euthanasia and assisted suicide. They were joined more than 30 other Christian denominations as well as 20 Jewish and Muslim leaders.

2 Reasons Why We Are Members of the Church?

The Major Problem of Disobedience and Disrespect for Church Authority

Fr. Charles Nwora Okeke

A Reflection on a major problem in the contemporary Church: “Because each person presumes that he or she knows what best, disobedience and disrespect for Church authority prevails. We should all step back and remind ourselves the reason we are members of the Church; it is to save our souls through prayers and reception of the sacraments.”

A major problem in the Church today is the profusion of people who, with neither study nor formation, presume expertise in theological, liturgical, and miscellaneous Church matters. We read one or two blogs on the internet and we presume on having a better understanding of the Church and spiritual matters than the Pope. Everybody has an opinion on how best to govern the Church; on what the liturgy should be or not. At a recent committee meeting someone even suggested that we should include catechumens and first communicants among those whose feet are to be washed on Holy Thursday. But in the Roman Missal it is clearly stated that “MEN” should be invited. (Note: This was written before Pope Francis’ feet washing declaration.)

Do the RED, Say the BLACK

In celebrating the liturgy, we priests are bound to do what is typed in red in the Roman Missal and say what is in black; the laity is expected to participate actively, reverentially and prayerfully. Any other thing becomes an innovation or distraction. Today, many Catholics seem to forget that the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church is not utilitarian; it is not a Church of opinion polls. Because each person presumes that he or she knows what best, disobedience and disrespect for Church authority prevails.

We should all step back and remind ourselves the reason we are members of the Church; it is to save our souls through prayers and reception of the sacraments. If we fail to attain this purpose then we have truly failed in life, and it would be better that we were never born. And the Lord in His perfect wisdom, and knowing the brokenness of man, has made is such that the efficacy of the sacraments is not affected by the sinfulness of the minister. So we have no reason to fail.

Protestant Clergyman Showing Signs of Oppression Walks Into a Catholic Church

Fr. Charles Nwora Okeke

A Story Revealing the Power of the Holy Eucharist

By Fr. Charles Nwora Okeke: Christ delivers: “To our Protestant brothers and sisters I would give this counsel…and challenge: Stand before the exposed Blessed Sacrament and say, “Lord, if You are truly present in this Sacrament, then enlighten me and I will serve You with all heart and soul.” If you are sincere, you will soon become Catholic.”

Protestant Clergyman Shows Signs of Oppression

About a week ago, I had a visit from a Baptist clergy. He was very much agitated as he keeps seeing things at his home; people walking through the living room and then vanishing into the wall. He had moved into a hotel room but then he began to experience something moving through his body; he could even follow the movement by the raising of the skin.  And whatever it was would sometimes fall on him like a dead weight and he would be paralyzed for a while, especially while trying to get to sleep. Now he is afraid to go to bed.

He Walks Into a Catholic Church

Immediately we walked into the Church, whatever it was that was moving inside of him ran amok, and left him. The deacon was amazed and wondered what happened. I told him that whatever it was could not stand the presence of Christ in the Tabernacle. Then I asked if he believed in the Real Presence, and he said yes. Why don’t you then become Catholic? He became evasive; much hemming and hawing. Anyway, we did the Stations of the Cross together; gave him a plastic gallon jug of exorcised holy water and St Benedict crucifix. He left a happy deacon, but then I had to remind him that the relief was temporary; if he had no Catholic prayers and sacraments to back him up, it would be back to square one after a short while.

A Heartfelt Challenge

To our Protestant brothers and sisters I would give this counsel…and challenge: Stand before the exposed Blessed Sacrament and say, “Lord, if You are truly present in this Sacrament, then enlighten me and I will serve You with all heart and soul.” If you are sincere, you will soon become Catholic.

Slight editing.