God’s Great Gift to You: The Priesthood

Unveiled: The Vital Role of the Priesthood

By Fr. Daniel E. Doctor:

Holy Thursday we celebrate the institution of two of the most important sacraments; the Holy Eucharist and the ministerial priesthood.  For without the Holy Eucharist we would have no priesthood and without the priesthood we would have no Holy Eucharist.

“Jesus Christ is the great High Priest who has passed through the heavens.  Let us hold fast to our profession of faith. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weakness. But one who was tempted in every way that we are, yet never sinned. So let us confidently approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and favor and to find help in the time of need.” These are the words of the Letter to the Hebrews – these are the wo

Priesthood: God’s Gift to You

rds of faith and hope that were preached to these first followers of Christ by their priests.

This Great High Priest Jesus Christ has not left us and His Church alone but has provided for our spiritual well-being with His very self.  Let us hold tightly to this teaching of the Apostles.  Let us profess it with great devotion and love.

St. Paul tells us, “what I received from the Lord I also handed on to you … proclaim the death of the Lord until He comes.”

Our Lord was not a priest because He was begotten eternally of the Father … the Second Person of the Trinity. He was a priest because of the human nature He assumed and then offers on the Cross, as a priestly sacrifice with Himself as both the victim and as the One who offers the sacrifice.  He does this out of love for us and our salvation.

Every priest is an alter Christus  “another Christ” because he has a vertical relationship to Christ in heaven and a horizontal relationship to every person on earth. This then forms the cross of Christ in every priest.  The priest is called by the Holy Spirit and has the responsibility, according to Church Teachings, to teach the Catholic faith.  Not his own beliefs does he teach, but that of Christ, the High Priest as revealed and passed on to us in both Sacred Scripture and Tradition.

The priest is called to govern, to regulate, and to celebrate the sacraments with the same love that Christ instituted them. The priest is called to sanctify not only his own life but the lives of sinners and saints, to make holy all who come to him in their need of the Church’s Sacraments and God’s sanctifying graces.  It is a very true statement that, to the point that others see Christ in His priests, depends on whether His priests act like Christ their Master ….  The reason the priesthood has lost its influence in the world is because in many circumstances we, priests, don’t appear to the world as different from anyone else.  It is in direct proportion in which the priest seeks what the world can give that the priest will become unable to give the world what it really needs most and that is Jesus Christ Himself.

Christ came to serve not to be served.  And, through His priests He has assured that He will be able to do this here on earth until the end of time sanctifying us, teaching us, and governing us as though He had never left.

Just as the Eucharist Lord is pure gift of Himself so too is His priesthood by which the Eucharist remains with us. And what has been true is always true.  God gives holy priests to holy people. So we all play our part in the kind of priests that we will have.

Through our prayers, devotions, penance, reverence, and worship of the Eucharist, by following the teachings of the faith we inspire young men to live their faith and in this way we truly ask God for good holy priests.

The Great Archbishop, Fulton Sheen said, “The search for priestly vocations begins on our knees in adoration in front of the Blessed Sacrament.”

We your priests need your prayers.  We need your kind words of support, too.  Three out of every four seminarians indicated that their mothers were a major inspiration in the development of their vocation, a major inspiration!  We need to be good Catholic mothers and fathers who influence their children with more than just material successes.

Every priest realizes some time in his priesthood the words of Jesus, “You have not chosen me; but I have chosen you.”  And, He has chosen His priests to go out and bear much fruit to offer the
Church’s Sacraments and to offer Her sacrifices for the salvation of souls; to absolve sinners from sin and to cast out evil; to lead sinners to Christ and in Him find salvation and peace for their souls; to preach and teach a Gospel that is firm, truthful and counter cultural that “comforts the afflicted and afflicts the comfortable.”

Priests are meant to be instruments in the hands of Jesus Christ for the education, sanctification, and salvation of souls.  For it is in the Consecration and Elevation of the Body and Blood of Christ at every Mass that the priest exercises fully the power of his priesthood.

Bishop Fulton Sheen continued, “Every woe, every wound in the world is ours as priests … every soul is either a potential convert or a potential saint. No priest is his own he belongs to Christ, to the Church, to his people.” There is a dangerous tendency among many of us in these modern times to divorce Christ from His priests.

But we must remember it is the priest’s unity with Christ’s death, His sacrifice on the cross, that gives all the sacraments their power.  It is from the very side of our Savior that the Church and all her sacraments were born, including the priests who serve you.

St. Catherine of Siena taught that contained in the Sacred Heart of Jesus before His death was the Church, all of us, and His Sacraments.  When His side was pierced so was His Sacred Heart, and flowing out from His wounded Heart came His bride, the Church, and all of us as her children. In one instant, “all we need was provided for us by so great a redeemer.”

But Christ’s lifeless body was dead on the cross Who would now bring these sacraments that He borne for us by His suffering and death? Who would go out in loving service to bring these sacramental graces to the world? to those in need of His grace, His healing?? Who would go out to all the world and provide these sacraments of Christ for His Bride?

“Do this in memory of me” has echoed through the centuries.  Do these mystical things that Christ did that bring us life. Jesus says in the Holy Thursday’s Gospel, “I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do.”  With these words the apostles were ordained His first priests, given the task of completing the work He started.  A life of administering the sacraments, a life of preaching His Gospel, a life of being the new ministers of this new covenant.  His Bishop’s/His Priest’s chosen to lead, to govern, to ordain to make holy all those who will come to them through the sacraments, He gave us, to give us this  holy and abundant Life.

This is the vocation of every priest who is ordained by a bishop who follows in the apostolic linage back to Christ Jesus Himself that on this night, Christ being “fully aware” as the gospel tells us. He instituted the sacraments of the priesthood and the Holy Eucharist so that His sacramental graces would continue to flow from His side through His Church, first and foremost, for our for sanctification and resulting in the final act of our salvation.

This is what we celebrate on this holy of nights this is our faith as Catholics. That the night before He died; He left us two of His greatest gifts; Himself in the Blessed Sacrament and His sacred and royal priesthood to continue this unbloody sacrifice of the Mass in remembrance of Him for the remission of sins until He comes again in glory.

How Wonderful a Thing it is to be a Catholic

Remember “My Brothers and Sisters in
Christ,  Heaven Comes with a Price.”

by Fr. Daniel E. Doctor:
Starting with Palm Sunday is the beginning of Holy Week, the beginning of Christ’s Paschal mystery – His death and Resurrection. This should be a day of great mystery and deep reflection as we contemplate the great things Christ did for us and our salvation.

Jesus humbly enters Jerusalem riding on a donkey. He knows that many of the same people who welcome Him with great joy will in a few days being crying our for His crucifixion and death – but He also knows that He is doing His Father’s will and nothing will impede His faithful fulfilling of it.

It was not easy for Jesus to enter the place of His death but He did it with courage and confidence – with His head held high – because He knows His Father will ultimately save Him from evil men.

He bravely moves forward facing whatever lies ahead and we are no different from Jesus in this respect – we don’t know for sure what lies ahead in this life for us; it maybe illness, or major health or family problems, financial difficulties, uncertainties of all kinds. But Jesus is an example to us on how to move ahead and to bravely face whatever comes – knowing and trusting the Father is with us too.

 

Taking the Easy Road

Sure it is difficult to be strong and courageous in a world that is telling us to take the easy road and indulge our disordered appetites, immoral passions and self centered feelings….Sure it is difficult to be a good example of Christian values; to stand and defend life, liberty and marriage and then to be made fun of – or completely ignored – or considered irrelevant, irrational, and unreasonable because of them . . . .  Sure it is difficult to stand against the culture of death that surrounds us and to stand for life unconditionally like the Church asks of us . . . .  Sure if is difficult to have a moral conscience in a world that has lost its ability to know right from wrong or the courage to stand firm in its own moral convictions.

Sure it would be much easier if the Church would stop preaching against the tide of evil that is overwhelming us and our culture and just give in and give up and embrace sin and vice.

 

Betraying Christ

These are all excellent arguments, why the Church should compromise with the world and its evil; why the Church should give up and give in, go with the tide.  But, the fact remains that, when it does – when the Church or . . . you or I . . . as its members chooses the world over what is right, good, or true – Christ is sadly betrayed again!!!  Take a deep look at our 2000 year history as a Church – the Christians of the first through the fifth century – could not refuse to worship the Roman Emperor as a god.  If they did – they were punished with death and martyrdom and even if their life was spared by some miracle – they would be ruined financially. Since this time – it has been the case century after century – that Christians had to made a real choice between material success and loyalty to Jesus Christ. But chose Christ anyway!!!

Remember the words of Jesus and let them sink into your hearts and give you hope – “If they did it to me – they will do it to you also.”

What a great gift this is that Christ’s gives to us – to allow us to suffer like Him – to imitate Him – to be abused by the world like our Savior was. How excellent a thing to be treated like the thousands of saints and martyrs that have gone before us – our mothers and fathers, our brothers and sisters in the faith – whose blood and example are the seeds for the future, fruitful, lasting growth of the Church.  How wonderful a thing it is to be a Catholic – always be proud of it and learn it, live it, love it – it’s your salvation and the greatest joy in this life.

 

Heaven Comes with a Price

If we get right down to the heart of the matter, wouldn’t we rather stand for something – to become something real – to be holy? than to fall for everything that lacks any real lasting value? Don’t we want to gain a crown of glory and have eternal life with God? Well, my brothers and sisters in Christ – heaven comes with a price. It cost Christ everything to save us . . . . the reading of the Passion of Christ today – should show us just how important our salvation is to Jesus Christ and exactly what He did to obtain it.

Now, it is our turn to show Christ by our actions, prayers, and example to others – that His passion and death- does mean something to us.

 

The Ascension: Why Are You Looking Up To Heaven?

Ascension

Ascension of Jesus

Ascension of Jesus, Ascension Thursday

Fr. Daniel E. Doctor: We come to the liturgical celebration of the Solemnity of the Ascension of Jesus Christ into heaven.  This is the second glorious mystery of the Holy Rosary and signifies not only Christ’s Ascension into Heaven,  but also the triumphal ascent of our Lord to the right hand of the Father.

Of course, we affirm this every Sunday, in the Nicene Creed when we say – that Jesus Christ “ascended into Heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father,”  just like billions of Catholics have done for some 2000 years. But just because we affirm this week after week, year after year, it still remains a mystery of faith which we find hard to understand or even to explain.

So, how are we to make sense of this core mystery of our Catholic Faith? Most especially in the early 21st century? How are we even to understand what it means to be”at the right hand of God?” These are tough questions. But most of the time we ignore these spiritual realities or we are to busy to think of them or even to rectify them with the material world we daily live in.

Even some Catholics, accept this Dogma because they are not willing to reject something simple.  Because they cannot explain it, they still tend to downplay it or ignore it, as a kind of embarrassment, in our post-modern Age as something more magical than real.

So what is so reasonable about this event? Why do we celebrate it? And what should it mean to you and me?

First of all we have to get back to our Jewish roots  in terms of how we are to understand Heaven and Earth.

Whether we realize it or not,  most of us, especially Americans, are heavily influenced by Greek philosophy. By this I mean we set up as Plato, the great Greek philosopher once taught, a sharp dichotomy between the material and the spiritual, between the realm of appearance and the realm of true reality, between subjective truth and objective reality, between this fleeting earth and the infinite heavens.  To Plato and all of the hundreds of generations of thinkers he influenced, life  here on earth is nothing but an illusion and that we have to try and escape from the prison of our bodily experiences our senses which keeps us prisoners to these illusions, trapped in our senses, never perceiving true reality – never knowing the Truth.

 

Many, many people have been influence by Plato’s philosophy in fact -everyone who thinks that spirituality is nothing more than a means to escape from this world – are Platonic in their thinking. People who think that when they die  they will be forever free of their bodies in Heaven where they will become angels  are Platonic in their thought. They are also wrong too to think that a human becomes an angel when they die,  is the same as thinking that a frog becomes a human when they die. The point here is that this kind of dualistic thinking has more to do with Platonic thought, than it has to do with the revealed truth in the Bible. When we think about anthropology and cosmology from a biblical perspective we find a unity between the spiritual and material,  that the spiritual flows into the material and the material responds and is elevated.

From a biblical perspective, Heaven or the spiritual realm is where God and Angels dwell. Earth, or the material realm, is where humanity and animals dwell. The two touched each other, they penetrated and influenced one another, and they are never separated.

This makes more sense when we think about the prayer taught to us by Christ the Our Father “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done; on earth as it is in Heaven.” You see, there is not a hint of Platonic thought here at all.  If there were, we would say, “bring me to Thy kingdom; free me from this earth and bring me to heaven.”
The “Our Father” is rooted in Jewish thought  that acknowledges the connection of the material and spiritual and that the spiritual must permeate the material and lift it up so that the two are more perfectly united. And of course this unity takes place in the Will of God and when we execute His Will here on Earth by living our Catholic Faith. But, this unity of the spiritual and material began with the Incarnation and Resurrection of Christ. After Jesus died, He did not come back as a pure spirit.  He rose embodied (in the flesh,)  Incarnated perfect in the Spirit. Jesus died and united Heaven and Earth through His Divine Spiritual Nature and His Human Material Nature.  What becomes the vehicle, the instrument for this unity is the very Body of Christ because Christ taught us nothing can separates us from Him.  How does this instrument of our salvation work in and through us? this is described in the Acts of the Apostle when the Lord says, “you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you.”

With the Spirit of Christ in the flesh of the Apostles, and in the Church – and in our flesh too – through Baptism, Confirmation and Ordination  we are empowered to bring Heaven to Earth and Earth to Heaven – because the God of Heaven and Earth is within us!  But how could any of this be called real or even possible? or even truth? When we read in scriptures on this Solemnity, “as they (the apostles) were looking on, He (Christ) was lifted up, and a cloud took Him from their sight,” In this, we realize  that a real exchange did take place, that a little bit of Earth went into Heaven and during Pentecost, as the Holy Spirit descends, a little bit of Heaven will come down and remain on the Earth…in His mystical body in His Bride, in the Church in us!

Believing that this exchange really happened, beginning with the Ascension of the Lord, is not the belief of myth or being unreasonable.  But it is the belief  that there is a greater reality just beyond my limited perceptions. That I can come to understand, not to contradict, my conception of reality or of the material world, but to fill myself with ultimate happiness in the concept of a boundless realm of possibilities in the presence of God in and through me!  We call this Heaven. And it is Heaven that we are made for!

This wonderful exchange between God and humanity began with Christ, in His Incarnation, through His Resurrection, by His Ascension to the Father UNTIL it finds its fulfillment in you when you proclaim the Good News, when you make beautiful, sacred music and art, when you carry out the spiritual and corporal acts of mercy, when you pray, and fast, and do penance for the conversion of sinners  when you choose to fight instead of running away or remaining indifferent.

And of course when you accept the commission of the Angels to stop looking up to Heaven and get to work here on earth by bringing a little bit of Heaven -everywhere you go and to everyone you meet…

Beware of Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing

“Be Careful with the Precious Gift of Your Faith . . .
Believe in the Truth of the Gospel”

Beware of wolves in sheep's clothing.

Beware of wolves in sheep’s clothing.

Fr. Daniel E. Doctor, December 1st – St. Paul takes up this theme that God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ will encourage and strengthen our hearts to perform every good work, even if that means we have to endure the slow martyrdom of our daily lives or the quick martyrdom of death.

Christ “will deliver us from perverse and wicked people,” and why do we need to be delivered? Because as St. Paul reminds us; “not all have faith.” This may shock you or it may not, but there are some who claim to be Christian that are nothing more that wolves in sheep’s clothing. Some who claim to be Catholic and are faithless, lazy, lukewarm – good for nothing but burning to paraphrase Jesus and these people want nothing more than the demolition of the Christian community and destruction of the male sacramental priesthood of Jesus Christ.

This evil has become so widespread into today’s culture that it has even infused itself onto the Church. Even we priests, have to be on guard against our brother priests who have lost the faith and who have become so inculturated with society’s evils to the point that it is questionable if they Catholic anymore.

I remember being at a retreat for young women, and the Mother Superior of the Convent, pleading with these young ladies to be careful when they go home.

She said, “you will need to find a good, holy, prayerful priest – who has the faith – to talk too.”
She continued, “Don’t trust any priest, and any priest will not do because all priests aren’t good or holy or prayerful
or even have the faith anymore – search for a good one when you get home.”

What great advice!! Advice we all need to start taking to heart!!

Times have changed and the Church has been infested by a whole host of sinful, corrupt, and evil clerics – be careful with the precious gift of your faith that God has given you – protect it, cherish it, and nourish it and don’t expose it to the evils of this world.

St. Paul instructed us that if we want to increase our faith, then we must “continue to love God and our neighbor and believe in the truth of the Gospel – then we need not fear anything – not even death because with Christ we can endure and overcome all things.” In the scriptures it says 365 times; “Do not be afraid.” Once for each day of the year – shouldn’t that give us courage to face each and every day regardless of the outcome.

With God’s grace – we can endure those people who hate us, we can endure those who want to kill us, even endure the painful search for what is real and true or endure the search for a good priest who still has the faith to leads us and can act like a fearless man of God.

Because God is the God of the living – He will watch over us, protect us, and leads us home to Himself as long as we are willing to remain faithful to Him even in the midst of persecution, suffering and even martyrdom.

We hear part of the story of seven wise, brave, young [Maccabes] brothers – who gave up their earthly lives to obtain a heavenly ones. May we too have the courage to be faithful – and in that courage – to truly live holy lives and to endure whatever God may send us for it is always for our greater good.

 

Edited

 

 

We Need Not Worry . . .

Father Daniel E. Doctor

Fr. Daniel E. Doctor

By Fr. Daniel E. Doctor:  Today is Respect Life Sunday. That means as Catholics we are to called to mind our Catholic Faith which teaches that all human life, from conception to natural death, is to be protected, cherished and loved as a wonderful, precious gift of God, the Lord of Life. We are also coming to the end of the Year of Faith, only about another two more months before the start of Advent and the new liturgical year.  Also we are in the start of another 40 days for life campaign by the American Bishops to pray and fast for the protection and defense of all human life and the striking down of the HHS Mandate.

With all these attacks on Life, Liberty and Marriage; with our Catholic morality mocked, made fun of, and even ignored; with the destruction of individual decent moral conscience through the relativistic and materialistic world; with the culture of death we live in; with the government becoming more of a totalitarian state instead of a government of the people, by the people, for the people; and with all the many scandals and confusion over doctrine and liturgy within the Church, it can feel like a really bad time to be faithful, moral Catholic in the good old US of A.

At the very beginning of His new encyclical, The Light of Faith, Pope Francis reminds us of the Easter Candle blessed at the Easter Vigil celebrated each year – “those who believe, see: they see with a light that illumines their entire journey, for it comes from the risen Christ, the morning star which never sets.”

We can see in scriptures that when this light was not present – the world was full of darkness and sin. Humanity wandered in this absence of light, driven by blind emotion, unable to please God in any of its actions. Humanity’s future remained in the shadows and riddled with fear of the unknown.

The Holy Father explained, that in “the absence of light everything becomes confused.  It is impossible to tell good from evil, or the road to our destruction from other roads which take us in endless circles, going nowhere.” The Holy Father clearly asks us to recover this light of Christ in our lives because, as he warns; “there is an urgent need to see once again that faith is a light, for once the flame of faith dies out, all other lights begin to dim. The light of faith is unique, since it is capable of illuminating every aspect of human existence.”

A light this powerful, a light capable of such guidance for the human intellect and will cannot come from any other source than from God.  And so faith is born when we encounter this light, Who is Jesus Christ, alone.

Pope Francis clarifies that “all faith is born of an encounter of the living God who calls us and reveals His love, a love which precedes us and upon which we can lean for security and for building our lives.” He continues that once we are “transformed by this love, we gain fresh vision, new eyes to see; we realize that it contains a great promise of fulfillment, and that a vision of the future opens before us. Faith, received from God as a supernatural gift, becomes a light for our way, guiding our journey through time.”

We need to call this to mind and reflect on this wonderful gift of faith that God has given to us, because it can and will open before us “vast horizons” which guide us beyond personal isolation and societal fragmentation. Faith is a light in darkness and at this time in our human history Pope Francis clearly declares that, “mankind is in particular need of light.”

With God’s light, with this gift of faith, The Holy Father assures, “we realize that a great love has been offered to us, a good word has been spoken to us, and that when we welcome that word, Jesus Christ the Word made flesh,” the Holy Spirit who is the Lord and giver of life, “transforms us, lights up our way to the future and enables us joyfully to advance along the way on wings of hope.”

You see, we need not be worried about our salvation, we need not worry about the weak economy or our failing investments for the future.  We need not worry about our sick violent world and how will our children develop into good people amidst this confusion and violence.  But what our Holy Mother, the Church, is asking of us, Her Children – and it is all we need to do – all we have to do is have faith. Faith that is born from our many encounters with God in our prayer life, our virtuous life, and most especially in the Sacraments we celebrate.

What is God saying to you? What is He showing you? Because strong faith is born from hearing and seeing. It is in this interplay of faith, hope and love within the soul, mind and heart of a person that, as our Holy Father teaches, becomes the “driving force of a good Christian life as it advances us towards” our ultimate goal in life – total and “full communion with the God” we love.

There are some of the pitfalls we Catholics fall into and need to be on the look out for as we journey to union with God, Pope Francis warns us, comes from “our culture” which “has lost its sense of God’s tangible presence and activity in our world. We think that God is found in the beyond, on another level of reality, far removed for our everyday relationships.”

So our Holy Father calls for all Catholics, to “profess their faith in God’s tangible and powerful love which really does act in history and determines it final destiny; a love that can be encountered, a love fully revealed in Christ’s passion, death and resurrection.” “Faith” Pope Francis explains, “does not merely gaze at Jesus, but sees things as Jesus Himself sees them, with His own eyes; it is participation in His way of seeing.” As even St. Paul reminds us in his letter to the Ephesians chapter 2, verse 8; “By grace you have been saved through faith and this is not your doing; it is the gift of God.”

So as we begin to see like Christ, we see how necessary it is to avoid the evils of this world, by keeping our eyes open to see this culture of death which has such a hold on it. This vision of the way things really are is meant to open us to this transforming love of God that calls out of this world of darkness into His own wonderful world of light.

The Holy Father presses us onward in our understanding of faith by saying, “faith is not a private matter, a completely individualistic notion or a personal opinion; it comes from hearing and seeing, and it is meant to find expression in words and to be proclaimed by our actions.” this is why the Holy Father proclaims; “for those who have been transformed in this way, a new way of seeing opens up, faith becomes light for their eyes.”

So if our Catholic faith is weak and we are not sure why the Church teaches respect for life from conception to natural death, and you find it hard to follow Her teaching on contraception, abortion, or euthanasia and the death penalty. If you have allowed the culture, the society and its constant push of “political correctness” and the acceptance of anything and anyone no matter how immoral, deprived, evil or sick and then calling that normal, tolerable, bearable and decent, then we should be able to see how blind we have become and far from God’s ways we have fallen.

Faith relies on the virtues of knowledge, truth and justice to uphold its principles.  If our culture has moved to a point that knowledge is subjective, truth is relative, and justice is optional, it is no mystery why our faith, as Catholics, has surely been weakened and for many even destroyed.

Because our culture has moved in this direction, we can see its effects on us.  As Catholics we have become lukewarm and mediocre in the practice of our faith. As Pope Francis appraises the current situation of our world, “when faith is weakened, the foundations of humanity also risk being weakened” and all we have to do is look around and see how right he is.

“If we remove faith in God for our cities,” Our Holy Father warns, “mutual trust would be weakened, we would remain united only by fear and our stability would be threatened.” Making himself clear, Pope Francis adds, only true faith in Jesus Christ, “illumines life and society.”

Faith “possesses a creative light for each new moment of history. It is because it sets every event in relationship to the origin and destiny of all things in God our Father.” The Holy Father continued, “the movement of love between the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit runs through our human history, and Christ draws us to Himself in order to save us.” He does that through our ability to hear and see so that He can inspire faith in us to see as He sees and act as He acts.

This is why we celebrate life and respect it, this is why we Catholics do and believe a whole lot of things that no one else does.  Because in a real spiritual sense, we have had an eye transplant and we no longer see with our eyes but with His eyes of faith and that becomes the cause of all our joys in the midst of this world’s sorrows and the bright light – that morning star that never sets – but always leads us home.

 

Only 10% Of Catholics Will Be Saved?

Catholics!  Get Off The Road That Leads To Destruction!

By Father Daniel Doctor – If anyone comes after Christ, anyone who wants to follow Him, become His disciple – let them be warned that if they are not willing to denounce family and friends, the world and its enticements; all its power, prestige and greed, and does not renounce all their possessions, desires, and pleasures. Whoever does not pick up their cross; with all its suffering and pain; with all the persecutions and rejections; even hatred – murder – betrayal and follow after Christ to Calvary and to the empty tomb on Easter morning – cannot be His disciples. 

To be a disciple of Christ means we must first sit down – quiet ourselves – go into our inner room of our soul – be alone in God’s presence and calculate – with our intellect and reason and see what we must prudently do to obtain everlasting life. We must ignore “the crowd” with its insults and negativity. We must ignore those who would try to get us off track. We must ignore those who laugh at us. So that when we meet our Maker we can rejoice with Him for having overcome these obstacles – that were set up along the way to prove our love for Him – by overcoming our selfishness, as well as overcoming others who stand in our way. We reject everything so we can have Him alone. We empty ourselves so that we can be full of Him. We give so that we can better receive. We pardon so that we too can be forgiven. Being a disciple of Christ is so easy – if we would let it. A gentle path that leads to life were all our burden’s are light – where sadness becomes joy – because all things are made easy when we do them for love. Look at your own life, the easy things you do were made that way because you did them because you love. Love makes the hardest things easy.

This is what is meant in the 1st reading – “by counsel of the Holy Spirit the path ways are made straight.” By following God and His will for our lives – things get straighten out. Haven’t you ever hear someone say, “O he is so lucky he married her – she straighten him right out.” What is meant is that – his new wife gave him a clear direction in the way things would be going for now on. Well, the same is true with God. He wants to show us the straightest way of heaven. The road with the least amount of obstacles and dangers. But…it is not just about being on the right path. It is about a relationship that should be developing as you walk the path with Jesus throughout your life. As St Teresa of Avila reminds us, “it is about the journey as much as the destination.” Christ is calling us to a relationship that becomes like family. The Lord will welcome us as brothers and sisters, as member of His family. Not as servants or slaves, not as worthless human beings. But as beloved, chosen, privileged, adored, preferred, honored, sacred, sanctified, and consecrated to the Lord and set apart by God for God – in a word, His Friends. This is what the disciples of Christ are – they are people God has set apart to be His very own friends. This select group of people live their Catholic Faith – not with lip service and laziness, not with deception and half-truths, but with hard work, perseverance, determination. Christ’s friends overcome themselves, they overcome the world and have freely chosen Christ as their Lord and God – as their all.  What a wonderful and beautiful thing this is to see when someone lives and loves their Catholic faith. It puts a lump in our throats, a slight impulse in our soul, that maybe we too – could live our Catholic faith, that maybe we too – could be a disciple of Christ, not only in word, but in fact, because of our prayers and virtuous actions.

 But we have to face facts, the only thing stopping you is you! As friends of Christ we need to get to work to build a better world, endeavor to change hearts and minds, search for new solutions and create a world in which everyone’s dignity is respected – and love is given to all freely and with cost. We need to accomplish the work started by someone else, for someone else. We need to continue to care about our church, our parish, our school that existed before us and will continue to exist long after we are gone. We do these things for God and we do them because we are Catholics and for our brothers and sister Catholics coming after us. God is pleading with us to become what we were made to be – calling to us to be and in a truly religious sense – we so desperately need to grow up – to become mature Catholics and that means we need to stop acting childish and infantile in our faith. We need to stop gossiping and backbiting. We need to stop causing disunity. And get up and stand for something far better than our sinfulness and laziness. We need to start living holy lives because we are not. We need to take the moral way of life because most of us live immoral selfish lives. We need to take the road less traveled because the one we are on is travelled to hell far to often. In the recent 2013 poll from “pewsitter.com” a national polling organization, only 27% of Catholics consider themselves a “good” Catholic and of them – only 54% attend Mass weekly. By definition, you can’t be a good Catholic if you don’t go to Mass weekly – so truthfully – there is only 13.5% of those who truly are “good” Catholics. This is the lowest number in the history of the Catholic Church in this country and are now as low as those in most of Europe. But don’t let these numbers shock you – the numbers that should shock you is that it is no differences here – we have over 1200 registered members in both parishes but under 400 go to mass on Sunday. That is under 30%, now if we ask those parishioners if they go weekly – we would see the number is no different – that only about 13% to 14% of Catholics really are practicing their Catholic faith and that means – when it comes to the issue of Mass attendance which is the third commandment only about 10% of us are going to make it to heaven because you can’t go to heaven if you don’t attend Mass regularly.

Isn’t this the saddest thing you have ever heard – that the truth of the matter is that only 10% of you are going to make it to Heaven – truly sad and terribly scary!! But I am sure if we started a poll on the other nine commandments and the four precepts of the Church – Catholics are required to practice under pain of mortal sin and hell, we would see that 10% disappear to the point that only a hand full of us are going to heaven – because only a hand full of us are truly Catholic and actively practicing it. But one thing is for sure – for those of us, who have the faith, for those of us who practice the faith, for those of us who attend Mass weekly without excuses, and realizes that Father does know how to save our souls – we must remember, although it is hard surround by such apathy and mediocrity among our fellow Catholics – Life is worth living and it is worth living well – so take up your cross daily – even if you feel you are the only one – because a life well lived is one of the greatest treasure in this life and the cause of the greatest of joys in the next…

Does Satan Really Exist?

It’s time to fight for your Church and your country!

by Fr. Daniel E. Doctor:  Jesus said, “I have observed Satan fall like lighting from the sky.”  Most modern progressive Catholic thinkers would say, that Jesus was using some very colorful language to make His point about evil and its existence but – He did not mean this literally.

So the question remains, does personal evil really exist?

I mean the modern Catholic, who is uneducated in their faith, would say; that isn’t the devil just some story or tool invented by the Church to control people?  You know to make us afraid so we will follow blindly whatever the Church says – so the popes, bishops and priests could control us?

Can’t all those stories in the Bible about Jesus casting out demons be explained away by modern psychology and its understanding of psychological disorders – or religious fanatical behavior?  Aren’t Hell and the devil just childhood stories told around the campfire, to entertain us with a little bit of fear?  Or maybe just the reoccurring plot – of too many horror movies?

Didn’t the Second Vatican Council with its new modern liberal mindset bring us out of a backward medieval belief system to make us modern progressive thinkers capable of realizing that hell and Satan are just the products of ignorance, superstition, or an over active imagination?

Well, lets think about this for a moment.  Here is what Gaudium et Spes, one of the Second Vatican Council documents has said; “The whole of man’s history has been the story of our combat with the powers of evil, stretching, so our Lord tells us, from the very dawn of history until the last day. Finding himself in the midst of the battlefield, man has struggle to do what is right, and it is at great cost to himself, and aided by God’s grace, that he succeeds in achieving his own inner integrity” (Gaudium et Spes, 37).

Some Catholics maybe surprised in this day and age, that the existence of evil, the devil as well as hell, are all truths of our Catholic Faith. All one has to do is pick up a copy of the Catechism and look it up and you will find that the Church officially teaches – from paragraph #1033 through paragraph #1037 – that evil does exist, that there is a person, a fallen Angel to be exact, who wants nothing more than to destroy humanity and if that is not possible then at least to get as many people away from God, away from salvation to spend eternity in hell with him.

Pope Paul IV, taught that “evil is not merely a lack of something, but an effective agent, a living spiritual being, perverted and perverting.   A terrible reality – mysterious and frightening – who goes about acting in a way contrary to the teaching of the Bible and the Church.”

Of course there is the New Testament, which alone refers to the devil and his wickedness nearly 300 times as a warning to us of his presence and activity in our world.

This leads us to the Gospels, where Jesus talks more about the devil and evil then anything else except His divinity.  We also heard in today’s Gospel, that the disciples were overjoyed because – demons were subject to them through the Holy Name of Jesus.  This power of the name of Jesus was given not only to the disciples but to the whole Church to fight against and overcome any and every evil in this world.   This power is the authority of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, built on the authority of Jesus Christ Himself, which causes the gates of hell to tremble.

What we learn from the New Testament, is that the main purpose of Jesus’ ministry was to destroy the works of the devil and to bring about the Kingdom of God, which will destroy the Kingdom of Satan. Christ came to cast out, bind up and deliver humanity from its slavery to sin and death as well as from the chief works of the devil – called vices.  According to the Old Testament, the devil gets his foot hold in this world and in our lives through things like fortune-tellers, soothsayers, charms, diviners, and spells as well as when we consult with ghosts and spirits or seek oracles and revelations from the dead.  In our day and age, He still uses these things including horoscopes, the new age movement, Gnosticism, moral relativism, or even more explicitly through Satanism and the worship of the devil.

Everyday we see his evil played out right in front of our eyes and then we ignore what we see and the underlying cause.  We fail to recognize that there is a very real enemy, who likes to remain hidden, while he plots our destruction and doom.  This evil is increased with the destruction of Fatherhood, marriage and traditional family life. In the increase in war, murder, and suicide.  The devastation of our youth through drugs and sexual addiction.  The massive diffusion by the media of corrupting errors and sinful practices.  And most especially in our day, with the ruinations of our religious freedoms and those individuals who bravely speak up for them.

Satan’s progressive and the new modern family

Nowadays, objective evil is displayed out in the open – all of which are meant to destroy us – caused by a malicious Angel who wants nothing more than to eradicate us from the face of the earth.   Satan has gone so far as to attack humanity at its source with the sin of abortion, birth control, embryonic stem cell research, and cloning – as well as using the cumulative forces of this world’s sinfulness to redefine life and marriage as we know it and calling it – progress and the new modern family.  Nothing can escape from the rebellious forces of hedonism and secularism in their violent march throughout the world trying to force us to believe that sinfulness and evil rebellion against our Creator and His definition of morality is normal and warranted.

We have come so far that not to follow this march of evil to our own destruction is to be portrayed as crazy, abnormal or ignorant. We have come so far that good is bad and evil is really good. Good people are boring and evil people are fun. We defend the criminal and imprison the lawful. Our daily poor example to our children teaches them that magic and fairy tales are real and that God, His angels and Saints, do not exist – but somehow all humans and dogs go to heaven. No wonder our world is so confused and ignorant of what God really says and teaches.

So it goes without saying, with all certainty, that those of us who want to be truly holy and virtuous, who want to wholeheartedly embrace the Catholic Church’s authentic teaching and mission to save souls, will live a very difficult life.  One full of challenges and at times real sorrows, but at the same time, a life of immense blessings and graces, which all those who follow Christ enjoy for all eternity.

If we really want to be God’s saints and His holy people, we need not fear what is coming or what is already here, we need not fear the other sheep or those wolves among us dressed up like them – for God will not be mocked or made a fool of – in the end all will be revealed and He does not deal lightly with the devil or his unrepentant companions,  be they angelic or human.  That is why He created hell, just for them.

We are in the midst of a war – a war between good and evil – and the worst thing you can do in any combat situation is to believe that you’re not in one and that this fight has nothing to do with us. This, sadly, has been the mindset of us humans, us Christians, and us Catholics, for far too long.

Pope Leo XIII stated it boldly, “Catholics are born for combat!”  So, we the people must become we the Saints. We must once again become the Church Militant – soldiers and warriors of Jesus Christ. The devil certainly knows that his time is short and that it would be even shorter should the One, Holy, Catholic, Apostolic Church ever take the call to spiritual warfare and authentic holiness seriously.

The Liturgy of the Hours for the Martyrs states; “We are warriors now, fighting in the battlefield of faith, and God sees all we do; the Angles watch and so does Christ. What honor and glory and joy, to do battle in the presence of God, and have Christ approve our victory.”  Let us arm ourselves in full strength – with Rosary in hand; and prepare ourselves – through Eucharistic Adoration for the ultimate struggle with blameless hearts, true faith, and unyielding courage.

The venerable Bishop Fulton Sheen taught, “Christ demands fire – he demands zeal for His followers.”  In the scriptures, Christ commands us to go out and preach the gospel, to live virtuous holy lives, to convert the nations – and to cast out evil.  When we pray the “Our Father,” we ask God to deliver us from evil – this is the normal daily petition said in the Church’s greatest prayer.

Don’t we think that maybe it is time for us to make this petition part of our daily actions and not just part of our prayers?

Praying for the deliverance from evil,working for its destruction, is at the very center of our Catholic faith because when we act this way we recognize that only God can truly save us from the power of the devil, who enslaves us with sin and evil. So be at peace, be unafraid, as St. Paul tells us, “we bear the marks of Christ on our bodies” through baptism and the Holy Eucharist, as we are being“sent out into the world as lambs among wolves” where “the harvest is rich and the laborers are few”  where “the world is crucified to me and I to the world.”  So rejoice because “your names are written in Heaven” and “as a mother comforts her child – so God will comfort you.”

It is time, my brothers and sisters, to get up and fight for your Church and your country before both are gone!!

 

Superficial Catholics: Jumping Ship to Live with Sinners

Don’t Jump Ship: Love Christ and the Church with Your Whole Heart

By Fr. Daniel E. Doctor:

Father Daniel E. Doctor

Fr. Daniel E. Doctor

When I knew for sure that I was going to Rome in March, I drafted a letter to the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, in November requesting his apostolic blessing for our parish, it was granted to us in January of this year.  The certificate and acknowledgement of this Apostolic Blessing is now hanging in our vestibule/basement.  I requested this blessing with the firm hope that Pope Benedict’s prayers for us would strengthen our parish to be truly and authentically Catholic.

In St. John’s Gospel for today, we find some of the Apostles and disciples, those closest to the Lord, returning to their former ordinary way of life.  Just like us – and the Apostles – the celebration of Easter Sunday has ended, the glory of the Lord’s Resurrection has begun to fade a little. And most especially in our world, we can see that the great mystery of our salvation is being forgotten or denied. Without a doubt, we are definitely in the same boat as the Apostles. Of course that is exactly what St. John expects us to understand.

As I have mentioned to you before – nothing that St. John wrote should ever be taken at its face value because the Gospel of St. John is filled with symbolism intended and designed to pull us into the story so that a much deeper, richer, theological experience can and will enlighten our faith.

So, as St. John shows us, these 7 men (7 because it is the number of perfection and completion) set out in a boat.  He wants us to see ourselves in that boat, too, because this boat is a symbol for the Church, of which we are all members.

We can see St. Peter, the first Pope, leading the other Bishops out to fish and by analogy He leads us as well. And what are we fishing for?  Not fish, but souls. We can understand this because in the story we see St. Peter, as the leader of the Church, pulling the net full of fish onto shore which is a sign of the power of St. Peter’s papacy to bring souls to Heaven, in and through the Church. Now, the number of fish (153) is also a symbol of every race and nation on earth, because at the time of St. John there was believed to be 153 different countries and cultures in the world. So, from the very beginning of the Church, beginning with St. Peter and the Apostles, down to this very day with Pope Francis and the Bishops, we Catholics, have always been in this same boat.

We are so united in this journey, on this one boat – that if there is a single Catholic suffering in our world, we all suffer. If one is rejoicing, we all rejoice. If we are failing to live the Gospel over here – we fail to live it over there.

As one Church, sailing through life aboard the boat of Catholicism, we have one main purpose, one mission – catching fish. Everything we do, or say, or how we behave in the world either serves or undermines that one purpose.

Catching fish, namely saving souls is our business and our work as Catholics. So much so, that if there is anything that occurs or exists in our world that would hinder anyone from obtaining salvation – this is clearly our business, our responsibility, our right to eliminate it. Now obviously – this all begins on a personal level, we see this in St. John’s Gospel as well, Christ called the Apostles as individuals not as a group and He does the same with us. Conversion is a very personal and individual thing and the reality of our salvation is that if we are not converted, we are not going to convert anyone else. This is why in the beginning of the story the Apostles have caught no fish, because they were refusing to live the life Christ called them to, namely catching souls – not fish.

Another way to look at this – is in the life of married couples. You see, no husband and wife are due children. Children are not owed to a married couple – they are not a right to which the couple is entitled. If that were true, then children would be nothing more than an object, like a hammer or a washing machine – something that could be brought or sold at a whim from anyone with the means. Nor do children belong to the government, state, or community.  If that were true, God would be a communist – which He is not. Pope Francis recently made the sad commentary about our postmodern society that “we worry more about our pets and our cosmetics than we do our own children.”

Children are a gift from God and He expects to receive them back one day unharmed and well cared for – because like all gifts they are meant to be treasured, celebrated, cherished, and protected – not controlled, abused, unguarded like some kind of a commodity of human society. Of course the same is true of your spouse, who helps to complete you – or our friends, who enrich our lives, or and the stranger who graces our day. People are not things we push around or bully to fulfill our needs or a means to our selfish desires.

As members of the Catholic Church, it is our duty to get to heaven and to bring as many people with us as possible – to fill that net to its breaking point.  But there is only one way we can faithfully and successfully accomplish this – and this we see in St. John Gospel as well – the Apostles become successful because their eyes turn to Christ, who stands on the shore – which is a symbol for heaven. And so, we too, must keep our eyes fixed on Christ, who is calling to us, “Have you caught anything? Have you converted any souls? Included any others in the boat? Or is your net still empty?”

St. John is clearly sending us this message because what happens to the Apostles as they leave that Easter glory behind and go fishing?  They fail miserably. St. John even tells us why they failed.  They were fishing in the dark, which makes it impossible to see Christ. But also, for St. John, darkness is always a symbol for ignorance, selfishness, and sin.

Once we leave Christ and go off into the darkness, once we have excluded Him from the ordinary, everyday events of our lives, once we no longer invite Him into the boat and incorporate Him in our work, our entertainment, our homes, our relationships, our families – we will always fail miserably. Remember the words of Jesus, “without me you can do nothing.”

The spiritual principle at work here is a very simple one.  Once the Apostles come into the light and obey Christ, they enjoy great success.  This is the only way we can succeed too. To the measure we are faithfully keeping our eyes on the Risen Lord and living in the light and obeying Him in and though all our work – including the most important to the most mundane – we will succeed too!

At the end of this encounter of the Apostles with the Risen Lord, we get to see the standard and the rule for our salvation – LOVE. This is what St. John reveals to us through St. Peter.  It is a question of love, and when we love – we feed others.  And we can only feed and love others when we give ourselves completely over to Christ and His way of life.

Superficial Catholics

The problem infecting our Church now-a-days, is that Catholicism is only lived in a superficial way by Catholics. To use St. John’s analogy, it seems we are all jumping ship to live with the sinners, instead of pulling them out of the filth that most people are swimming in.

Pope Francis, in his homily to the papal household last week, stated, “the end of gossip among Christians would be a good place for us to start” that is if we are serious about being a follower of Christ. The gossip that plagues my ears, is about coming to the Eucharistic chapel at night, “Oh don’t do it – it’s dangerous!!” When we start out spreading such gossip do we really think for one second how offensive this is to our Lord? And how deserving we are of eternal damnation? Do we really think our Lord would not grant us supernatural protection from His angels if we made the effort to adore Him? Do we really think the Lord is not generous to those who make an effort to love Him, most especially at night when most sins are committed against Him? We grossly offend our Lord and truly do the work of the Devil when we speak in such ways that cause others to fear coming to our Lord in Eucharistic Adoration. Anyone, and I don’t care who they are – who openly speaks against Eucharistic Adoration, deters anyone from making a visit, or gossips against our Eucharistic Chapel only reveals himself or herself to be a son or daughter of Satan himself, and deserving of the hottest flames of hell for all eternity.

No one should be made to feel ashamed or afraid to run to Christ in this wonderful Sacrament, or even to call themselves Catholic.  Because no institution, group, idea, philosophy, government, religion or spirituality has benefited the world more than the Catholic Church, and history proves this.  But as individual Catholics we have stopped calling people to conversion of heart.  And, in most cases, we have jumped out of the boat and into the waters of sin and evil while preventing so many souls from ever coming aboard the boat of Holy Mother Church, or to get caught in Her nets, because we have abandoned them and the work that is required of us, which for us and the world is the only means of salvation.

The way most Catholics behave and what the secular liberal media reports would have everyone believing, is that the Catholic Church is an enemy of the people, an enemy of freedom – because most would rather swim in the sea of filth than be free to walk on the shore and enjoy a meal with Christ. We defend life, liberty and marriage, we are absolutely against abortion and birth control, we love Christ who is present to us in the Eucharist and never speak against it.

You Are Called

Because we believe, in the deepest parts of our souls, where God dwells with us, that there is no true, authentic freedom lived without Christ.  Don’t let others, the world, or the media cause you to jump ship or be afraid to love Christ with your whole heart.  Yes, we may not be perfect, we sometimes lose sight of Christ, too.  But we have many reasons to be proud to be Catholic, because we have Christ waiting for us on the eternal shores of heaven – we can never return to – or have – an ordinary life.

For we, just like the Apostles, are called to authentic freedom and spiritual greatness.  And, we can only achieve that within the great design and will of our God – who calls us to come aboard the boat of Catholicism – who calls us then to lower our nets – who calls us to the reward of coming ashore – who calls us out of the ordinary into His own wonderful extraordinary life.

So, stay aboard, lower your nets and enjoy the ride of your life until we all meet Christ on the shores of everlasting life and enjoy the banquet He has prepared for us!

slight editing: