This is Super Serious: Fortune Telling, Ouija Boards, Tarot Cards . . .

Ouija Boards and Demonic Oppression

By Fr. John Hollowell, On This Rock:

I spoke with a young man who was battling authentic demonic oppression for over twenty years after being in a room where a Ouija Board was being used when this young man was in seventh grade.

He shared that he felt something come into him and that from that point on in his life, he knew he was battling a Demon that had considerable ability to harm him (head aches and weariness) and to suggest things to him denigrating himself, his family, discouraging him from going to Church, discouraging him from confession and priests, and much more.

Stay away from fortune telling, Ouija boards, Tarot Cards, and all that other garbage.  EVIL IS REAL.  

“All forms of divination are to be rejected:  recourse to Satan or demons, conjuring up the dead or other practices falsely supposed to ‘unveil’ the future.  Consulting horoscopes, astrology, palm reading, interpretation of omens and lots, the phenomena of clairvoyance, and recourse to mediums all conceal a desire for power over time, history, and, in the last analysis, other human beings, as well as a wish to conciliate hidden powers.  They contradict the honor, respect, and loving fear that we owe to God alone”
– Catechism 2116

Note that Deuteronomy compares all these evil consultations with killing children: “Let there not be found among you anyone who immolates his son or daughter in the fire, nor a fortuneteller, soothsayer, charmer, diviner, or caster of spells, nor one who consults ghosts and spirits or seeks oracles from the dead.”
– Deuteronomy 18: 10-11

St. Paul and Deuteronomy note that those who engage in these types of acts commit mortal sins.  It is SUPER SERIOUS

As noted from this particular young man’s story, even those AROUND this type of activity can be harmed in serious ways.

What is Infinitely More Important for Lent?

Annual Lenten Reminder

By Fr. John Hollowell, On This  Rock:

Going to Mass EVERY weekend is INFINITELY more important than giving up something for Lent.

The Church NOWHERE requires Catholics to give up anything throughout Lent.

The Church does say that it is a grave sin to not attend weekend Mass (exceptions of illness/caring for someone who is ill/dangerous or overly burdensome travel etc.)

Sadly, some ignore the commandment concerning weekend Mass but would run through a brick wall in order to keep their Lenten pledge.

Don’t get me wrong – it is good to have zeal for a Lenten commitment, but it makes no sense if the more basic apparatus of the Faith is not in place as well.

It doesn’t make any sense to say “I’m giving up sweets for Lent even though the Church doesn’t require it, but I go to Mass once a month even though the Church says Sunday/Saturday pm Mass is what I am to build my life around.”

Said yet another way: don’t give up anything for Lent until you have first committed to going to Mass every weekend of Lent.

 

Clarifiers:

1) I’m not saying “do something positive instead of giving something up for Lent” I’m saying go to Mass every Sunday before worrying about doing something for Lent.

2) Also, this isn’t me “judging” anyone. Neither is this me saying I’m better than anyone. This is me pointing out an ACTION that is problematic and in need of correcting in order for a person to find true happiness. I share this out of love – weekly Mass is critical for a person to find peace.

Our Greatest Threats: Abortion and Euthanasia

By Father John Hollowell, On This Rock:

We’ve hear that we are all one Body in Christ so MANY times, which is good, but we probably lose the REVOLUTIONARY nature of what St. Paul was saying.

Every culture before Christ had, in one way or another, looked at some people as “more human” and other people as “less human” or even “expendable non-humans”

Saint Paul says – “THOSE DAYS ARE OVER”

Additionally, not only does St. Paul say the days of marginalizing the weaker members of the Body of Christ over, he also says those

“That seem to be weaker are all the more necessary, and those parts of the body that we consider less honorable we surround with greater honor”

The Church is the immune system of the Body of Christ.  It looks for threats to the Body of Christ, threats that attack the dignity of any single member of the Body of Christ, and the Church points out those threats.

A great example of the “Church as Body of Christ immune system” is this very month that we are in right now.  January is

1) Poverty Awareness month

2) Mid January – Migrant awareness week

3) This past week, we, for the 43rd year, remembered through prayer and fasting the anniversary of Roe v. Wade

There are a lot of ways the Body of Christ is attacked.  The Church speaks to all of the threats and attacks.

Several years ago, the bishops of the US wrote a letter addressing all these attacks to the dignity of the human person.  They mention:

1) starvation,

2) denial of health care

3) deadly violence of armed conflict and the scandalous arms trade that spawns such conflict.

4) domestic violence,

5) the spread of drugs,

6) a reckless tampering with the world’s ecological balance. 

But the document goes on: “Yet abortion and euthanasia have become preeminent threats to human dignity because they directly attack life itself, the most fundamental human good and the condition for all others.  They are committed against those who are weakest and most defenseless, those who are genuinely “the poorest of the poor.”

Military people are always assessing – “What are our GREATEST threats…most eminent threats”?

 

A question for us as Catholics – “Who do we listen to on this topic?”  Whose “humanity threat assessment do we utilize?”

EVERYONE believes that SOME of these threats are a problem.  But which one’s are MOST EMINENT?  Some people listen to the UN on how to order these threats.  Some people listen to news outlets.  Some listen to political parties, some listen to celebrities, and some listen to Jesus through the Church He founded.

 

This whole assessing of threats and deciding which are most eminent leads some to say two things (which are equally wrong)

1) Some say: “We can’t speak up against abortion and euthanasia because it will water down our speaking up on the other threats against the human person.

2) Some say: “I won’t speak up against anything else except abortion and euthanasia, lest someone think I’m wavering on abortion and Euthanasia”

These are both WRONG!

We can speak up vociferously against abortion and euthanasia AND still care and work very diligently for the poor in our community.  We can speak out against abortion and euthanasia AND protect all that God has created.

On Friday, we diverted our planned trip to Washington DC for the March for Life and instead went to Indy to avoid “snowmaggedon”.  Archbishop Tobin had two beautiful homilies at our vigil and Mass for Life.

He noted the same thing that our US bishops noted several years ago – there are a lot of attacks on the Body of Christ, but he too singled out abortion and euthanasia as the two preeminent threats. He noted that what is most troubling about them is that they are both often done by people who have been trained to bring healing and health to people.

Archbishop Tobin also talked about what we, as faithful Catholics, ought to be doing about all these issues.

“We do not fight against darkness and the culture of death with violence…but we do not take a vow of silence either, we speak the truth”

Saint Boniface:  Let us be neither dogs that do not bark nor silent onlookers nor paid servants who run away before the wolf.  Let us preach the whole of God’s plan to the powerful and the humble, to rich and to poor, to men of every rank and age, as far as God gives us the strength, in season and out of season.

May the Eucharist strengthen us to preach the WHOLE of God’s plan, and not just the parts that suit our politics.

 

The Run Away Shepherd: The Redefining of Marriage Debate

Are You a Run Away Shepherd?

by Fr. John Hollowell:

“A hired man, who is not a shepherd sees a wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away”

The Shepherd Running Away from His Sheep

When I’ve preached on abortion, I’ve been accused of being a right wing republican

When I’ve preached about the REQUIREMENT that Christ makes of us to help the poor I’ve been accused of being a left wing liberal

When I’ve preached on religious freedom – right wing republican

When I’ve preached on the Church’s teaching on immigration – left wing liberal

This Comes with the “job.”  In fact, it just comes with being Catholic.  That being said, it is important to note that despite the accusations, the Church is not a political party.

There is a wolf coming that is threatening the sheep that must be preached on as well because our Church is very clear on this topic.  Like the prophets, like Christ, like the Apostles, like those being martyred today for their Catholic Faith throughout the world, we preach the truth in season and out of season.

“A hired man, who is not a shepherd sees a wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away”

This week at the Supreme Court arguments will be heard about whether marriage ought to be redefined

What I’ve been amazed at over the past few years is how quickly the tone of this debate has turned.

If you even raise the possibility today that marriage is between a man and a woman you should prepare for an all-out assault.  You should prepare to be labeled a bigot, angry, hateful, a Pharisee, etc.

One Catholic evangelist notes that we hear a lot about tolerance.  Tolerance is a good thing, but it implies that I first disagree with a person before I can tolerate them.  We don’t tolerate the sunshine, we tolerate the rain, and so tolerance can only take place in a climate of disagreement, and yet tolerance is no longer extended to those who believe that marriage is between a man and a woman.

One objection to this homily is that “The Church should stay out of politics”

But this, at the end of the day, makes no sense

If something is talked about by politicians or judges or whomever, does that mean it is no longer in the realm of Faith?  If something is part of our civil discourse, that we have to STOP talking about it here?

People likely told Fr. Theodore Hesburgh to keep his religion out of politics when he walked arm in arm with Dr. Martin Luther King to protest discrimination against African Americans – but he did it any way, and thanks be to God that he did.

People likely told John Paul II to keep his religion out of politics as he worked in the political realm to take down Communism – but he did it anyway, and thanks be to God

The idea that if something is being talked about in the political sphere means it can’t be talked about as a religious issue just doesn’t pass muster

If murder were up for discussion at the state house, no one would tell priests not to preach against murder

Pope Francis, in a daily homily recently, attacked this belief that if something is in the political realm we should stop talking about it in Church.

He said: “Some say a good Catholic doesn’t meddle in politics.  That’s not true. That is not a good path.  A good Catholic meddles in politics, offering the best of himself, so that those who govern can govern… Politics, according to the Social Doctrine of the Church, is one of the highest forms of charity, because it serves the common good. I cannot wash my hands

The Church actually compels us to be active in the political sphere because it is in the political sphere that decisions that affect the world are made.

The Church has a most important book called the “Compendium of Social Doctrine of the Church” – and it is a guide to how we are to be active and what we are to work for as people who are engaged in the civil realm.  To say that we should stay out of these issues civilly is a non-Catholic stance.

Now, on the particular topic of same-sex marriage – what does the Church say?  This is absolutely crucial and so often confused, and if we want to continue to see marriage being only between a man and a woman, we have to understand this crucial teaching.

The most important takeaway is this, if you remember nothing else is that the Church says in its book on these issues – in order to defend marriage you don’t need the Church, the Bible, or Jesus.

So often people make this mammoth mistake in talking about this issue.  Someone asks you: “Why do you believe marriage is between a man and a woman” and people  respond “because Jesus said so”, or “The Bible says so,” or “The Catechism says so” – but the quick follow up question by those who want to redefine marriage is quite clear – “you can’t make me do something because your religion says it!”

At this point – most Christians and Catholics go slinking back home telling themselves “They’re right; I can’t say something ought to be this way because of religion.

The Church says, however, that in order to say that marriage is between a man and a woman you don’t need the Bible or Jesus or the Church to win the argument.  Marriage being between a man and a woman, according to the Church, is a first principle – something that you need not be a follower of Christ to understand.

The Church is not in the government running business anymore.  We were for many centuries – Popes and Cardinals were highly intertwined with governments, kings, etc.

We don’t run countries anymore, and as George Weigel notes, “In separating the Church from the State, what is clear is that the Church is better off for it.  What isn’t clear is whether the state is better off for it!”

The Church sees its role as political advisor – particularly in offering first principles up to nations.  What the Church does is say to all governments, kingdoms, etc. – here are some first principles, some things that all just societies must put into practice if they hope to endure.  If you build your nation on other principles that contradict these, your nation will not endure.

“First principles” are the “cornerstones” that any society must be built on, and we need not be a Christian to understand that these first principles must be cornerstones, nor do we need to use Christ to justify working to ensure that our country is founded on these cornerstones.

And everyone has first principles.  I was on a marriage panel at Rose Hulman about a year ago and one guy who was arguing for redefining marriage said “I really think it ultimately comes back to harmony and justice” – Okay, so those are your first principles, the axioms on which you think the country should be founded, the non-negotiables that everything is built off of.  Of course the question quickly becomes “what is harmony to you?”  “who defines harmony?”  “What does justice mean?”  “Who defines what justice is?”

Others say a founding axiom should be that “love is love.”  Okay, fair enough, you think that should be a first principle of our society.  Let’s flesh it out.  You think that all love is the same?  What if 8 people all love each other…is that marriage?  What if two cousins love each other?  What if a 55 year old and a 16 year old love each other?  Is the government in the “congratulating people on being in love” business.

Everyone has first principles, and we have just as much of a right to work for the first principles that we think our nation should have as anyone else has a right to work and advocate for first principles that they think our country should have.

So as Catholics, we work to ensure that marriage being between a man and a woman is a first principle in our government.  We believe that if it is not, then what will result is vastly different than a just and healthy society.

“If, from a legal standpoint, marriage between a man and a woman were to be considered just one possible form of marriage, the concept of marriage would undergo a radical transformation, with grave detriment to the common good.” (Compendium of Social Teaching, paragraph 228).

A solution that some propose but which can not actually work because it does not actually understand what the Church teaches is the proposed solution that the Church “get out of the civil marriage business” – civil marriage and if you want to get married in the Church, go do that too

It is NOT appropriate for Church authorities to remain neutral toward adverse legislation even if it grants exceptions to Church organizations and institutions. The Church has the responsibility to promote family life and the public morality of the entire civil society on the basis of fundamental moral values, not simply to protect herself from the application of harmful laws” – Congregation For The Doctrine Of The Faith

These are not easy issues.  I spent the last two years working on a documentary on what the Church teaches about same sex attraction.  I interviewed a lot of beautiful people who experience same sex attraction and heard their stories.  It was an amazing experience for me.  The way we grow toward unity is through dialogue – not through name calling, labeling, and ignoring what the other side is saying.  I look forward to these opportunities to gather and keep the conversation going.

In Conclusion – I am not the only shepherd in this room.  We are all, through our baptism, called to shepherd those around us.  Do we see our role in society to be a light to the world – do I believe that I am called to shepherd and get involved in the civil society I find myself placed in – or do I retreat to my home or my Church building and say to God, like Cain did – “AM I MY BROTHER’S KEEPER?”

 

“A hired man, who is not a shepherd sees a wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away”

 We pray for the strength to be authentic shepherds, to work for the first principles that our Church puts forth for all societies.  Pope Francis said that we shouldn’t always talk about contraception and same sex marriage, and I wholeheartedly agree!  What the Pope implies in that comment is that we should talk about them some of the time.  May we have the courage to do that, and not see problems arising in our country and simply run away.

Father, You’re Off-putting and Mean

Archbishop Joseph W. Tobin and Father John Hollowell, left

Ask  A Priest:  Missing Mass

By Fr. John Hollowell:

I’ve had a very similar conversation with several different people at multiple parish assignments.

The same person will ask two questions maybe a few days or weeks or months apart:

1) “Father, why do you talk about missing Mass and mortal sin?  It’s so off-putting and mean.”

and then, at some other point:

2) “Father, why have my kids stopped going to Mass?”

Hello!

If no one tells the next generation that going to Mass is SERIOUSLY important, and that their salvation is on the line, then why would they go?

Canon Law, 1247:  On Sundays and other holy days of obligation the faithful are bound to participate in the Mass.”

The Catechism, 2180: “The faithful are obliged to participate in the Eucharist on days of obligation, unless excused for a serious reason (for example, illness, the care of infants)…Those who deliberately fail in this obligation commit a grave sin.”
“Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”  Proverbs 22:6

10 Sins That Must Be Confessed Before Receiving the Holy Eucharist

 Fr. Hollowell: Should You Stop Receiving Holy Communion?

 

By Fr. John Hollowell:

No Holy Communion for you

Do you need to go to confession first?

You can’t receive the Eucharist if you’ve:

1) Missed a weekend or Holy Day Mass without a valid reason
2) Having sex outside of marriage, with yourself (masturbation) or someone else
3) desecrated the Eucharist
4) haven’t been to confession in a year
5) Use artificial birth control – condoms, pills, patches, IUD’s, etc
6) sponsor or help in any way with an abortion or any destruction of an embryo
7) Murder
8) Hate/Anger
9) Lust after someone
10) Pride, Greed, Sloth, Envy

etc. etc. The list is not exhaustive, and any sin that we have meditated on before hand, understood its gravity and still chosen to do it can be a deadly sin.

Blogger Note:   Numbers 8 through 10 would depend mostly upon the gravity of the sin.

C.C.C. 1857    For a sin to be mortal, three conditions must together be met: “Mortal sin is sin whose object is grave matter and which is also committed with full knowledge and deliberate consent.”131

1 Corinthians 11:27  27 Therefore whosoever shall eat this bread, or drink the chalice of the Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and of the blood of the Lord.

Don’t step out of bounds…and by all means…if you do…get back in bounds through confession! Don’t desecrate the Eucharist and receive it as some sort of prize you’ve earned simply by showing up for Mass!

 

Slight editing.

The Definition of Marriage CANNOT Change: Think About It

If You Change Marriage, Then  You Change EVERYTHING

by Fr. John Hollowell:

As I’ve admitted on here elsewhere, I was a math major.

Euclid’s Geometry is based on five axioms. These axioms are used to build the whole system. If you change one of the axioms (i.e. you say “two parallel lines CAN intersect”) then the ENTIRE system changes, and it looks COMPLETELY different than Euclidean Geometry.Fr. John Hollowell

You can change one of the axioms, but the change echoes throughout the system, producing a completely new system.

Marriage between a man and a woman is an axiom of our society. It is assumed to be true and everything hinges on that as a foundational principle. There are a few other “axiomatic” principles that our society is founded on. The Church notes that a just society is one in which:

1) the dignity of every human life, from conception to natural death, is honored
2) religious freedom is granted
3) the right to work is respected
4) marriage is between a man and a woman

IF YOU STOP UPHOLDING THESE VALUES…THE SYSTEM CRASHES…DEMOCRACY EXISTS NO MORE

Some people think the Church is against same-sex “marriage” because the Bible and the Church are against same-sex sex. The Church is against same-sex “marriage” because the Church knows the types of decisions that bring societies crashing down – and one of those would be a redefinition of what marriage is.

That’s why the Church says:

“If, from a legal standpoint, marriage between a man and a woman were to be considered just one possible form of marriage, the concept of marriage would undergo a radical transformation, with grave detriment to the common good.” (Compendium of Social Teaching, paragraph 228).

Here’s the point – we’re not saying, as Catholics, that society needs to listen to us because God is great and “you all need to do what God says”…

The Catholic Church says, as a political advisor, IF YOU CHANGE YOUR UNDERSTANDING OF MARRIAGE, YOUR SOCIETY WILL NOT ENDURE

If you change one of the foundational axioms, you change EVERYTHING…and when you change an axiom, what you soon have is a system that looks NOTHING like what you had before

7 Fallible Tips for Lent

by Father John Hollowell:

I see legalism during Lent sometimes, and I think it can be problematic. Lent should not be about proving to yourself (and definitely not proving to other people) how strong your will is and how disciplined you are. It is about clearing away attachments so that we can more completely attach ourselves to God. With that being said, I offer some tips for Lent

1. Don’t tell people what you are giving up for Lent.

2. Don’t ask people what they are giving up for Lent. Don’t try to guess what someone gave up for Lent either (Dave: “Bill, you want some coffee?” Bill: “No thanks.” Dave: “What, did you give up coffee for Lent?” – don’t be Dave!)

3. If someone breaks #1 or #2 with you, don’t correct them (although if you are giving up a few things, you can just mention one thing you’ve given up to satisfy their curiosity).

4. If someone offers you something that you have given up for Lent, I advise proceeding in one of two ways, depending on the situation

a. If it is a situation where you can casually brush off the offer without drawing attention to it, then just decline the offer
(example: “Dave, I’m going to the concession stand…do you want anything?” Dave: “No I’m fine.” Dave does not have to say “No, I gave up candy and snacks for Lent.”)

b. If it is a situation where you are with a small group of people, or you are at someone’s house for dinner or something like that, and they offer you dessert or something, just take it and don’t tell them “Sorry, I gave that up for Lent.” If someone gives up TV but the whole family is watching TV, don’t go sit in the other room, just watch TV and be with the family.

5. Don’t replace what you are giving up with some other thing that you are attached to

6. Take advantage of the detachment to do something positive like prayer and/or doing something to help the poor.

7. If you normally celebrate Sundays and Solemnities during the year with a spirit of feasting, then continue to celebrate those days during Lent. If that involves breaking something that you’re fasting from, then break your fast. However, if you don’t celebrate Sundays or Solemnities, then don’t break whatever you are fasting from during Lent.

The important thing is to realize that Lent is a time to strip away some attachments and spend time growing closer to Christ not crossing the finish line of Easter 46 days from now with your Lenten promises unbroken at all costs.

Lent is made for man, not man for Lent!