Daily Prayer for Priests

O my Jesus, I beg You on behalf of the whole Church ... give us holy priests. You yourself maintain them in holiness.

O Divine and Great High Priest, may the power of Your mercy accompany them everywhere and protect them from the devil's traps and snares, which are continually being set for the souls of priests.

May the power of Your Mercy, O Lord, shatter and bring to naught all that might tarnish the sanctity of priest, for You can do all things. - St. Faustina (Diary, 1052)

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Bishop Reig Pla: A Backward Society

EuroWeeklyNews: Bishop Juan Antonio Reig Pla compared abortions with the Spanish Civil War and says only “backward societies” practice pregnancy terminations

Juan Antonio Reig Pla, the Bishop of Alcalá de Henares, Madrid, said that since 1985, the year that pregnancy interruptions were legally allowed in some cases in Spain, there have been “two million abortions, many more deaths than during the Spanish Civil War.”

Holy RosaryReig warned that a woman’s freedom becomes “corrupted” by using the “right to terminate the begotten child” defense.

The bishop added that there is no reason to defend voluntary abortion and that the right to life should be kept separated from the political debate and partisan fighting.

His statements came during Thursday’s presentation of a religious event involving the defense of family values, Jornada Mariana por la Familia y la Vida, which will take place at the end of this month.

Bishop Reig argued that abortions are clear evidence of a “backward society.”

This new statement from the Catholic Church comes amidst a storm of controversial legal reform of existing abortion legislation.

If the changes supported by Justice Minister Alberto Ruiz Gallardón are passed, the current system of abortion on demand in the first trimester will be replaced with a ban on abortion apart from in the cases of rape or serious risk to the mother’s health.

I Am Going to Die Tomorrow

Confessions of a Priest’s Brush with Death

By a Priest in St. Louis:  Some years ago when I was in seminary, I woke up in the middle of the night, and I had the distinct impression that I was going to die the very next day sometime. And as my heart of hearts pondered this… actually the thought of dying, I saw that some of the battles, particularly at MasterCard, that I had fought during life and really thought were important. And in preparing to stand before God, I realized they were empty. Some of my brokenness and sins seemed so silly and so stupid in the face of eternity, I was and am embarrassed. And for my sins, I had no excuse. And as I thought about it, there was one person in this wide world that I wished I had said that I loved her. And there were three people that I vowed if I ever met again in this life, I would apologize to. I have met two of the three and done just that.

Day of the dead -  Bouguereau

Day of the dead – Bouguereau

Now, you may be thinking at this point, you are still here on this earth, and blathering at us… you look very much alive to me. The next day, after saying about a gazillion Act of Contritions, I went to class at SLU and was walking along. I was dirt poor at that point but if it was to be my last day, I was going to have a couple of cold bottles of Lipton ice tea… my one addiction. I went to gas station and bought two bottles. And as I was walking from the gas station savoring one of them, it came to my mind that I would not die that day. And I thought that I had basically imagined the whole thing.

BUT, as I came to Laclede Road, I had the walk signal, and the red light and started to cross. A white Bentley GT came up at about 50 miles an hour… I was already in the street, and just managed to catch the car out of the corner of my eye. I stepped back, and as I did so, I saw the driver had his head down; he did not see a thing. He missed me by about 6 inches, and rolled through the stop light, somehow managed to avoid hitting other cars, and kept right on going. If I had been inattentive, I would have been reduced to a crimson stain on the asphalt.

I thought long and hard about how to present this: think about what I am going to say as a military intelligence briefing. This is what you can expect when you hit the beach. What beaches am I talking about? This day, I ask the question how prepared are you and I for the four last things you and I will ever have to face? Death, judgment, heaven, and hell. Adam and Eve, they were so unready for being separated from God. How prepared are you and I for the four last things you and I will ever have to face? Some of you will think, here is old Henderson preaching fire and brimstone. No. Not at all. Consider me a military intelligence officer who wants to give you give you proper information so that you might be ready. I want you to be ready with penance, and fasting and confession so that not only are you ready, but you are over-ready. I am asking you to evaluate honestly, honestly! your life situation in light of the four last things you and I will ever have to face: death, judgment, heaven, and hell. Pope Saint John Paul II thought we did not reflect on these Truths nearly enough.

Death, Judgment, Heaven and Hell

Death. Imagine if I had not seen that Bentley approaching. There would have been zero time for an Act of Contrition… no time for anything. And not to put too fine a point on it, but the devil launches his attacks against us at the weakest of moments. Notice he did so in our Gospel, the devil waited for Jesus to get hungry before tempting. And the hour of our death certainly qualifies as a week moment. And, need I say it? Death is terrifying. And in our modern society, we do everything in our power to deny that horrible situation. Whatever way we may leave this world – fast or slow: how prepared are we?

Judgment is another matter. So many people do not see judgment as they should. The enemy has given you a lot of worthless information; we have been lied to – at length – that judgment is easy. Is there mercy at Judgment? Absolutely. But as John Paul II tells us, ‘Christ intercedes for us with an offer of mercy, but that “does not exclude the duty to present ourselves pure and whole before God.”’ And one of the reports that came from a man who faced judgment was that the Lord Jesus went through a long list of this man’s sins. And all that man could do was acknowledge that he had sinned. There was no tap dancing, no game playing, no excuses… he found himself compelled to accept the bald, naked, and painful truth of what he had done during his lifetime. Would I have been so prepared if that Bentley hit me? Are you and I prepared for this?

Purgatory. Yes, purgatory is a Scriptural Truth. There are many Scriptural passages that reflect purgatory. I repeat, ‘Christ intercedes for us with an offer of mercy, but that “does not exclude the duty to present ourselves pure and whole before God.”’ Pope Saint John Paul said of purgatory, ‘before we enter into God’s kingdom, every trace of sin within us must be eliminated, every imperfection in our soul must be corrected. This is exactly what takes place in purgatory.’ It is painful, but God’s love moves our hearts so that we actually long to not be in God’s presence until our purification is complete.

Hell. I shall not dwell on the pains of hell, after all, this is an intelligence briefing. I shall only identify the threat by saying: here is another place where you have been fed an arsenal of worthless information: that you have to be really evil to go to hell. The modern world’s idea that few end up in hell is contradicted by Jesus Himself in the Scriptures, ‘the gate is wide and the road broad that leads to destruction, and those who enter through it are many.’ I have spoken before about the ‘Letter from Hell.’ The sins of that woman in the letter from hell are tame by comparison to our modern world – and they were enough to harden her heart against Christ. The Doctors of the Church have said many poor, poor souls are lost. And the Blessed Mother at Fatima not only stated that teaching once again, but stated that the sins of sexuality are the sins that most frequently send poor souls to hell.

Heaven. We, you and I, need to hear that beauty… to remind us what we are aiming for. But suffice it to say, ‘“What eye has not seen, and ear has not heard, and what has not entered the human heart, what God has prepared for those who love him,” this God has revealed to us through the Spirit.’

People of God, I do not want fire and brimstone. During this season of Lent, I want you and me to be over-ready for the last struggle: death, judgment, heaven, and hell. John Paul thought that if we would reflect on these four last things that we will all have to face, many of us would not be lost. And this is what I want… no one lost. And the only way that will happen is to be over-ready. Be over-ready by penance. Be over-ready by being honest about our sins: our acts of commission as well as omission. Be over-ready by using the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

Fire and brimstone? No. I want you to consider this a briefing with all the Truth Sacred Scripture has to offer us. Adam and Eve, they were so unready for being separated from God. I really want you and I to be over-ready, and Lent is a good time to begin that process of being over-ready.

Temptation: Satan Will Do All He Can To Separate Us From The Love Of Christ

Satan’s Greatest Victory:  He Has Convinced The World That He Does Not Exist

Fr. James Farfaglia - A Christian magazine once surveyed their subscribers regarding the areas of their greatest spiritual challenges.  The results showed that their greatest temptation was materialism.  After materialism, followed pride, self-centeredness, laziness, anger, lust, envy, gluttony and finally lying.

The survey respondents noted temptations were frequent and more forceful when they had neglected their time with God and when they were physically tired.  They stated that the ability to resist temptation was made easier by a strong spiritual life, avoiding compromising situations and being accountable to someone.

Temptation will always be a part of our lives.  No matter our age or the circumstances of our lives, temptation will be something that we have to deal with until the end of our journey here on earth.

Not every temptation is caused by Satan, so we need to look at the two causes of temptation. 

Most temptations are caused by our fallen human nature.  As we saw last Sunday, Original Sin has wounded our human nature.  We simply do not have complete control over our mind, memory, imagination, will, passions and emotions.  We will always struggle with something.

Sometimes we might be tempted to be lazy and sleep in, rather than go to work or to school.  Sometimes we might be tempted to gossip.  Sometimes we might be tempted to be impatient.  Sometimes we might be tempted to be unchaste.  Sometimes we might even be tempted to take something that does not belong to us.

“Because man is a composite being, spirit and body, there already exists a certain tension in him; a certain struggle of tendencies between spirit and flesh develops. But in fact, this struggle belongs to the heritage of sin. It is a consequence of sin and at the same time a confirmation of it. It is part of the daily experience of the spiritual battle” (Catechism of the Catholic Church #2516).

Satan Can Also Cause Temptation

Satan can also cause temptation.  Satan’s greatest triumph is that he has caused many people to no longer believe that he really exists.  Jesus tells us who he is when he said: “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven” (Luke 10: 18).  My dear friends, Satan is real and his actions in the world are very real.

The Second Vatican Council made this point very clear when it 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 to 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” (Second Vatican Council, Gaudium et Spes, 37.2).

As the holy season of Lent begins, this Sunday’s liturgy reminds us that we are engaged in a daily and dramatic battle between Christ and Satan, between good and evil.  What is at stake in this battle is our eternal salvation.  Satan will do all that he can do separate us from Christ.  

Many people become discouraged and nervous when they are tempted.  Many people can be scrupulous.  They think that they are sinning when in fact they have only been tempted.  Sin is only a sin when there is full consent.  Temptation is not a sin; therefore, there is no need to mention temptation within the Sacrament of Confession.  Actually, when we say no to the temptation and affirm our fidelity to the Lord, we need to realize that we have been victorious.  

The continual interior struggle to be faithful to God does have great personal benefits.  The struggle is a workout, and every work out makes us stronger and allows us to go deeper.

Although it is true that we will always be tempted, we must also do all that we can to avoid temptation.

Men who trap animals in Africa for zoos in America say that one of the hardest animals to catch is the ring-tailed monkey. For the men of the Zulu tribe it is quite simple.

The method the Zulus use comes from their knowledge of the animal. Their trap is nothing more than a melon growing on a vine. The seeds of this melon are a favorite of the monkey. Knowing this, the Zulus simply cut a hole in the melon, just large enough for the monkey to insert his hand. The monkey will stick his hand in, grab as many seeds as he can, then start to withdraw it. He cannot do this because his fist is now larger than the hole. The monkey will pull and tug, screech and fight the melon for hours. He cannot get free of the trap unless he gives up the seeds, which he refuses to do. Meanwhile, the Zulus sneak up and seize him.

In 1972, during one of his General Audiences in Rome, Pope Paul VI spoke of Satan and the nature of temptation with these dramatic words: “So we know that this dark disturbing being exists and that he is still at work with his treacherous cunning; he is the hidden enemy who sows errors and misfortunes in human history. It is worth recalling the revealing Gospel parable of the good seed and the cockle, for it synthesizes and explains the lack of logic that seems to preside over our contradictory experiences: ‘An enemy has done this.’ He is ‘a murderer from the beginning, and the father of lies,’ as Christ defines him.  He undermines man’s moral equilibrium with his sophistry. He is the malign, clever seducer who knows how to make his way into us through the senses, the imagination and the libido, through utopian logic, or through disordered social contacts in the give and take of our activities. He can bring about in us deviations that are all the more harmful because they seem to conform to our physical or mental makeup, or to our profound, instinctive aspirations.”

Make Use Of the Sacraments And Our Lady To Strengthen You In Battle

Prayer, daily Mass, filial devotion to our Lady, the reading of the Sacred Scriptures, adoration and the frequent reception of Confession are the proven remedies for temptation. 

At the same time, it is essential that we avoid the occasions of sin that put us in the danger of not only being tempted, but also may cause us to sin.  Young people who are preparing themselves for marriage need to be prudent about their relationship and establish firm boundaries that will help them to be chaste.  Parents need to be vigilant about the use of the television, cell phones, music, video games and the Internet in their homes.

The triple concupiscence of the world, the flesh and the devil are just as real today as they have been over the entire history of humanity.

Lent provides us with a special time of grace to examine our conscience and remove those things that are holding us back from a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ or may in fact be an obstacle to our eternal salvation.

In the Gospel of John, Jesus speaks about Satan with these words: “He was a murderer from the start; he was never grounded in the truth; there is no truth in him at all: when he lies he is drawing from his own store, because he is a liar, and the father of lies” (John 8: 44).

He has everyone believing a big lie.

He has everyone believing that abortion is reproductive health, that fornication is cohabitation, and that sodomy is gay.

The father of lies has everyone believing that there is no such thing as sin.

And the best lie of all, he has everyone believing that he does not even exist.

Pray The Rosary

I have told you before that Our Lady of Guadalupe is not really Our Lady of Guadalupe, instead she is really Our Lady of coatlaxopeuh which is pronounced “quatlasupe” and sounds extraordinarily like the Spanish word Guadalupe.  Coatlaxopeuh means She who crushes the head of the serpent.

“I will put enmities between thee and the woman, and thy seed and her seed: she shall crush thy head, and thou shalt lie in wait for her heel” (Genesis 3: 15, Douay – Rheims).

In our present day apocalyptic battle with the evil one, let us turn to Mary.  Let us pray the Rosary every day so that in our lives, in our homes and in our nation, she will crush the head of the serpent and give us the strength to live fully Christian lives with Our Savior Jesus Christi.    

Originally posted at:  fatherjames.org

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!

An Open Letter To Priests

“Fathers, If An Abused Woman Comes To You She Is Looking For Christ!”

Disclaimer:  The Courageous Priest Apostolate agrees with the author that the Priest should assist the abused person in their healing process by making use of the Sacraments, the Church, and the Saints.   The Courageous Priest Apostolate fully endorses the notion that  the injured soul should stay away from a secular therapist who may prescribe additional sin to heal past wounds.  However,  the Courageous Priest Apostolate believes finding a good and orthodox Catholic therapist would be beneficial at some point during the abused person’s healing journey.

Dear Fathers,

I am a Catholic survivor of incest and other childhood abuse.  I have been a recipient of Mental Health services and currently work in the Mental Health field with adults diagnosed with chronic mental illnesses.  I would like to share with you some of my experiences before I ask you to please stop sending women to counseling.

While I was working as an intern in two different places at once, one being a Veterinarian clinic and the other a counseling office, I was placed in a very difficult situation for any woman but especially difficult for one with my background.  The Veterinarian had a file at the Counselors office and I was able to read his clinical notes.  (Counseling notes do not have the privacy that the Seal of Confession offers.  HIPAA does not provide anywhere near the protection that the Seal does.)  This man had confessed to a beautiful, tall, blond, female Mental Health Nurse Practitioner that he mentally undresses the women who work in his clinic, suffers from ED and has anger issues.  She recommended that he “watch pornography to aid his manual stimulation to help overcome ED and go tanning to help with anger.”  I wish I was making this up, but I am not.  HE confessed to HER and SHE prescribed SIN.  SHE told HIM to watch pornography and masturbate and work on his anger in a tanning bed.  I wish this was an isolated incident, but sadly it was not.  All of her notes that I was privy to as I did her dictation offered advice along these lines.  She even suggested to a married couple that they watch porn to help a “dry patch” they were going through.

One of the men I care for with a chronic mental illness was receiving command hallucinations to corner and rape me.  He was admitted to the hospital where he was advised by the Psychologist who runs the floor to “watch porn in his room until the urge to rape is gone.”  Again, I wish to God this was a joke.  I have many more instances such as these to share, but I’ll leave it at these.

When I began actively healing from incest, the first person I turned to was my Priest in the Military.  He advised I go to counseling and stated he did not feel competent to help with such issues.  So I did; I started AMAC Counseling.  While in therapy I was taught to “embrace my anger as the fuel to get me through the healing process.”  As a Catholic with a basic Catholic High School education, I was taught that anger was one of the seven deadly sins.  So, during the week, I would “embrace my anger” and on weekends I would confess my sins of anger that I was committing because my Priest told me to go to counseling.  It was the same for compulsive sexual sins, hatred and addictive behaviors.  It seems the only thing that my counselors and Priests agreed on was forgiveness but even on that they were divided on what that was and how to go about it.  The confusion and guilt drove me to leave the Church for about a year because there was no way I could heal when the healing process included committing sins that I had to confess.  Something had to give, either I stop therapy or I stop going to Church; the two were incompatible.  I eventually did stop therapy when I was advised to burn my memories in a “fire cleansing ceremony.

When I turned to other Priests for help over the years, I was advised to go to therapy until I met one good Priest who led me through the healing process with only the Church and Saints as guides.

The women I have known that have gone to a Priest for help with abuse issues are usually going as a last resort instead of first recourse.  Please stop sending them back to therapy.  They are coming to you because you are a man of God, an ordained Priest an Alter Christus.

How can men and women who prescribe pornography as a remedy for sexual sins have true understanding and compassion for incest and sexual abuse survivors?

One Sacramental Confession and hour of Adoration has more power to heal abuse wounds than months of therapy.  If a woman who was abused comes to you, she is looking for Christ.  Don’t send her back to the wolves.  With the statistics claiming that one in three women have been sexually abused as children, the chances are very good that you will have a few coming to you for help.  Give her the advice of the Church and Saints, not the garbage of hell.

If you, Father, can’t help us, who can?

In Christ

Natalie Anne

“The priest holds the key to the treasures of heaven: it is he who opens the door: he is the steward of the good Lord; the administrator of His goods…The priest is not a priest for himself, he is a priest for you.” St John Vianney
 
Originally posted at:  Catholic Spiritual Healing

Priest Offers The TLM Near Planned Parenthood to “Make A Few Demons Quake!”

Our Fight Is Not Against Flesh And Blood, But Against Powers And Principalities!

By Christine Dhanagom, DENVER, CO, April 23, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Prayerbooks, rosaries, and pro-life pamphlets are a common sight outside Planned Parenthood’s massive facility in downtown Denver, but this year, local organizers of this spring’s Forty Days for Life campaign decided that one last piece was missing to bring the light of Christ to the country’s second largest abortion facility: the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

The idea to celebrate the Catholic Mass in front of Planned Parenthood came from Fr. Joseph Hearty, Assistant Pastor at Our Lady of Mount Carmel in nearby Littleton, who felt that it was time to “pull out the big guns.” It was, he told LifeSiteNews, an inspiration from the Holy Spirit.

“If we can pray the rosary, why not offer the Mass, why not use the Mass and the Eucharist as a means of fighting this tragedy,” he said. “Why not use the most powerful means that we have?”

As it turned out, the idea energized the local pro-life community far beyond what organizers had expected. Fr. Hearty planned for thirty attendees at his first Mass on March 3rd, and got a hundred.

Providentially, an empty parking lot right across the street from the Planned Parenthood owned by a pro-life couple was big enough to accommodate the crowd.

As a member of the traditional Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter, Fr. Hearty celebrated the traditional Latin Mass, known as the Tridentine Mass. Diocesan priests have also gotten in on the action, though, with six different Masses offered in the parking lot during the Forty Day campaign in English and Spanish. All six Masses were well attended, averaging between fifty and a hundred persons.

A March 31st closing rally kicked off with a Spanish Mass, followed by a rosary led by Bishop James Conley, apostolic administrator for the Denver Archdiocese. In comments at the rally, Bishop Conley urged pro-lifers to vigilance as Planned Parenthood continues to build “mega-plex death mills” across the country, the Denver Catholic Register reports.

According to the Register, over 300 people attended the rally, which ended with a second Latin Mass celebrated by Fr. Hearty. There were so many at the final Mass that the priest returned to the altar four times to break up the hosts for distribution before finally running out.

The popularity of the idea, says Fr. Hearty, is a sign that “people really want to do something.” He hopes the idea will spread, and in particular that clergy in other parts of the country will be inspired to become more involved in pro-life work.

“That’s our vocation,” he said. “We’re there to mediate, and we’re there to lead, and we’re there to encourage.”

As for the effort in Denver, organizers are hoping to build on the momentum and establish a regular schedule of Masses in front of the clinic, continuing to wage spiritual warfare against the nation’s largest abortion provider.

“Our fight is not against the world, it’s against principalities and darkness, it’s against evil, it is against the devil,” says Fr. Hearty. “Why not make a few demons quake?”

Cardinal Burke: Does the Pope Affirm the Teachings of the Church?

Pope Francis Through the Lens of Cardinal Burke:
An Honest,  Surprising, Re-assuring and Revealing Peek

Note: We know many feel uncomfortable with Pope Francis.  Can we let Cardinal Burke put your mind at ease?  If you only read one thing today, than read this.   To the surprise of many, “the Holy Father has in fact affirmed the unchanging and unchangeable truths of the Church’s teaching on the inviolable dignity of innocent human life, and the integrity of marriage and the family.” Cardinal Raymond Burke

_____________

Pope Francis:

Pope Francis: the Faithful Servant of the Church

During a recent visit to the United States, I was repeatedly impressed by how deeply Pope Francis has penetrated the national conversation on a whole range of issues. His special gift of expressing direct care for each and all has resonated strongly with many in my homeland.

At the same time, I noted a certain questioning about whether Pope Francis has altered or is about to alter the Church’s teaching on a number of the critical moral issues of our time, for example, the teaching on the inviolable dignity of innocent human life, and the integrity of marriage and the family. Those who questioned me in the matter were surprised to learn that the Holy Father has in fact affirmed the unchanging and unchangeable truths of the Church’s teaching on these very questions. They had developed a quite different impression as a result of the popular presentation of Pope Francis and his views.

Pope Francis has a strong gift . . .

Clearly, the words and actions of the Holy Father require, on our part, a fitting tool of interpretation, if we are to understand correctly what he intends to teach. My friend and colleague at the Dignitatis Humanae Institute, Cardinal Renato Raffaele Martino, put it this way in a recent article in this newspaper: “The Holy Father instructs with his words, but effectively teaches through his actions. This is his uniqueness and his magnetism” (L’Osservatore Romano, English edition, [ore] 13 December 2013, p. 7). In other words, Pope Francis is exercising strongly his gift for drawing near to all people of good will. It is said that when he manifests his care for a single person, as he does so generously whenever the occasion presents itself, all understand that he has the same care for each of them.

Here is where the confusion comes . . .

With regard to his manner of addressing the critical issues, the Holy Father himself has described his approach, when he stated: “We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods…. I have not spoken much about these things, and I was reprimanded for that. But when we speak about these issues, we have to talk about them in a context. The teaching of the Church, for that matter, is clear and I am a son of the Church, but it is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time” (“The Pope’s Interview”, ore, 25 September 2013, p. 14). In other words, the Holy Father wants, first, to convey his love of all people so that his teaching on the critical moral questions may be received in that context. But his approach cannot change the duty of the Church and her shepherds to teach clearly and insistently about the most fundamental moral questions of our time. I think, for instance, of the Holy Father’s words to the participants in the second annual March for Life in Rome on 12 May of last year, or of his Twitter message to the participants in the annual March for Life in Washington, D.C., on 22 January.

Pope Francis chose the moment for himself to speak unambiguously on these issues, and to do so within the context of pastoral charity, when he addressed the Dignitatis Humanae Institute at our Fifth Anniversary Papal Audience. Exhorting the assembled politicians, the Holy Father warned of a modern-day “throwaway culture” which threatens “to become the dominant mentality”. He went on to identify those who suffer most from such a culture, declaring: “The victims of such a culture are precisely the weakest and most fragile human beings — the unborn, the poorest people, sick elderly people, gravely disabled people… who are in danger of being ‘thrown out’, expelled from a machine that must be efficient at all costs. This false model of man and society embodies a practical atheism, de facto negating the Word of God that says: ‘Let us make man in our image, according to our likeness’” (lor, English edition, 13 December 2013, p. 7).

Pope Francis has reaffirmed the Church’s perennial teaching on the indissolubility of marriage . . .

In a similar way, Pope Francis has reaffirmed the Church’s perennial teaching on the indissolubility of marriage, as well as the practical importance of the Church’s canonical discipline in seeking the truth regarding the claim of the nullity of a marriage. I think in particular of his words to the Plenary Assembly of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura: “It is always necessary to keep in mind the effective connection between the action of the Church which evangelizes and the action of the Church which administers justice. The service of justice is an undertaking of the apostolic life…. I encourage all of you to persevere in the pursuit of a clear and upright exercise of justice in the Church, in response to the legitimate desires that the faithful address to their Pastors, especially when they trustingly request that their own status be authoritatively clarified” (ore, 15 November 2013, p. 8).

How are we to understand Pope Francis?

Pope Francis has clearly reaffirmed the Church’s moral teaching, in accord with her unbroken tradition. What, then, does he want us to understand about his pastoral approach in general? It seems to me that he first wishes to have people set aside every obstacle which they imagine to prevent them from responding with faith. He wants, above all, that they see Christ and receive His personal invitation to be one with Him in the Church.

Here is the Key.

The Holy Father, it seems to me, wishes to pare back every conceivable obstacle people may have invented to prevent themselves from responding to Jesus Christ’s universal call to holiness. We all know individuals who say things like: “Oh, I stopped going to Church because of the Church’s teaching on divorce”, or “I could never be Catholic because of the Church’s teaching on abortion or on homosexuality”. The Holy Father is asking them to put aside these obstacles and to welcome Christ, without any excuse, into their lives. Once they come to understand the immeasurable love of Christ, alive for us in the Church, they will be able to resolve whatever has been troubling them about the Church, His Mystical Body, and her teaching.

Surely, persons whose hearts are hardened against the truth will read something very different into the approach of Pope Francis, claiming that, in fact, he intends to abandon certain teachings of the Church which our totally secularized culture rejects. Their false praise of the Holy Father’s approach mocks the fact that he is the Successor of Saint Peter, totally grounded in the Beatitudes, and that, therefore, with humble trust in God alone, he rejects the acceptance and praise of the world.

It is not that the Holy Father is not clear . . .

in his opposition to abortion and euthanasia, or in his support of marriage as the indissoluble, faithful and procreative union of one man and one woman. Rather he concentrates his attention on inviting all to nurture an intimate relationship, indeed communion, with Christ, within which the non-negotiable truths, inscribed by God upon every human heart, become ever more evident and are generously embraced. The understanding and living of these truths are, so to speak, the outer manifestation of the inner communion with God the Father in Christ, His only-begotten Son, through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

In seeking to put the person of Jesus Christ at the heart of all of the Church’s pastoral activity, the Holy Father is following closely the teachings of his predecessors in the See of Peter. Over a century ago, Pope St Pius x wrote in his first encyclical letter, E supremi: “Should anyone ask Us for a symbol as the expression of Our will, We will give this and no other: ‘To renew all things in Christ’” (n. 4). Ten years after the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, the Venerable Pope Paul VI stated in the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii nuntiandi: “There is no true evangelization if the name, the teaching, the life, the promises, the Kingdom and the mystery of Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God are not proclaimed” (n. 22). At the close of the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000, Blessed Pope John Paul II reminded the Church: It is not therefore a matter of inventing a “new programme”. The programme already exists: it is the plan found in the Gospel and in the living Tradition, it is the same as ever. Ultimately, it has its centre in Christ himself, who is to be known, loved and imitated, so that in him we may live the life of the Trinity, and with him transform history until its fulfilment in the heavenly Jerusalem (Novo millennio ineunte, n. 29).

In the Mass for the inauguration of his ministry as Successor of St. Peter, Pope Benedict XVI, echoing the words of his predecessor, summed up the invitation which the Church proposes in every age: “Do not be afraid of Christ! He takes nothing away, and he gives you everything. When we give ourselves to him, we receive a hundredfold in return. Yes, open, open wide the doors to Christ — and you will find true life” (Homily of Pope Benedict XVI, 24 April 2005) It is this invitation, to the fulness of life in Christ, which Pope Francis wishes to put at the center of his pastoral outreach.

At the same time,

we should not think that such an invitation requires that we be silent about fundamental truths of the natural moral law, as if these matters were somehow peripheral to the message of the Gospel. Rather, the proclamation of the truth of the moral law is always an essential dimension of the proclamation of the Gospel, for it is only in light of the truth of the moral law, written on every human heart, that we can recognize our need to repent from sin and accept the mercy of God offered to us in Jesus Christ. It is for this reason that Our Lord begins His own proclamation of the Kingdom of God with the challenge to “Repent and believe in the Gospel” (Mk 1:15). The call to repentance involves both the reminder of our sinfulness and failure to keep God’s law and, at the same time, the offer of God’s forgiveness. Thus, we see the Apostles, in their preaching after Pentecost, both admonishing their hearers for their sins, and inviting them to accept the mercy that God wishes to offer them through the Risen Christ (Acts 2: 38-40; 3:14-20). St Paul, in his Letter to the Romans, begins his comprehensive presentation of the Gospel precisely by reminding us of the natural moral law, written on every human heart, which reveals to us our sinfulness and our need for salvation through faith in Jesus Christ (cf. Rom 1-3).

In this way, the Church’s insistent proclamation of the moral law, especially regarding the issues most disputed in our time, provides an essential service to her mission of evangelization. This proclamation, however, is always in the context of the call to life in Christ, in whose merciful Heart, opened for us on the Cross, we find the grace to be converted from our sins and to live in accord with God’s commandments, above all the supreme commandment of charity.

The Pontificate of Pope Francis should therefore be seen as a radical call to redouble our efforts for the new evangelization. Radical in the sense that, in our dialogue with others and with the world, we must start with the beginning, Christ’s call to life in Him. This call of Christ is the good news of God’s love and mercy which our world so badly longs for. At the same time, as Simeon foretold to Our Blessed Mother when Our Lord was presented in the temple, it is also “a sign that will be contradicted” (Lk 2:34), in every age and particularly in our “post-Christian” society. This is because the proclamation of Jesus Christ can never be authentic without the proclamation of his Cross. Pope Francis reminded us of this most eloquently in his homily to the cardinal electors on the afternoon following his election: When we journey without the Cross, when we build without the Cross, when we profess Christ without the Cross, we are not disciples of the Lord, we are worldly: we may be bishops, priests, cardinals, popes, but not disciples of the Lord. My wish is that all of us, after these days of grace, will have the courage, yes, the courage, to walk in the presence of the Lord, with the Lord’s Cross; to build the Church on the Lord’s blood which was poured out on the Cross; and to profess the one glory: Christ crucified. And in this way, the Church will go forward (Homily of Pope Francis, 14 March 2013).

In the face of a galloping de-Christianisation in the West, the new evangelization, as Pope Francis underlines, must be clearly grounded in Christ crucified who alone can overcome the world for the sake of its salvation.

Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke
Prefect of the Sacred Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura;
President of the Advisory Board of the Dignitatis Humanae Institute

 

Warning: Confusion About Marriage Is Rampant Amongst Catholics!

Marriage Is Under Constant Attack From A Culture That Is Out Of Control!

Father James Farfaglia - “You have heard that it was said, You shall not commit adultery. But I say to you, everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5: 27-28).  These words spoken by our Lord provide an excellent opportunity for us to reflect upon the Sacrament of Marriage.

The Sacrament of Marriage represents a lifelong commitment on the part of the spouses.  For better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do you part; marriage is forever.

Marriage Is Under Constant Attack

Increasingly, the dominant American culture has intensified the barrage against marriage. Every day millions of living rooms are inundated with lustful images depicted in soap operas, situation comedies, movies, talk shows and music videos. Magazines extol immoral lifestyles. Weekly tabloids play up the scandalous sexual proclivities of   film, sports and television celebrities.

This onslaught against marriage has been relentless, seemingly working toward discrediting the notion of Christian marriage as an institution and cornerstone of society.

It is very easy for married couples to become discouraged and overwhelmed.

Since there is so much confusion about marriage, even among Catholics, it is important that we remember some basic facts about marriage as a sacrament.

7 Issues To Remember About Marriage

  1. A man and a woman living together under the same roof, unmarried and engaging in sexual intimacy are committing fornication, a mortal sin.
  2. Parents who tolerate this promiscuity in their homes also commit a mortal sin because they are collaborating with sin.
  3. A civil marriage between two Catholics is not a valid marriage.  This may be a sin of fornication or adultery depending on the circumstances.
  4. A divorced Catholic spouse who enters into a new marriage civilly before receiving an annulment commits adultery.  He or she needs to wait for the annulment before entering into a new marriage.
  5. When a divorced Catholic spouse seeking an annulment does not wait for the annulment process to be completed and enters into a new marriage in any Protestant denomination, this too is adultery.  The divorced spouse is still married.
  6. A Catholic who marries in a Protestant church without the proper dispensation from the bishop of the diocese enters into an invalid marriage.
  7. A marriage between homosexual partners is not a marriage.

In all of the cases stated above, those living in any of these irregular situations cannot receive Holy Communion until they reconcile their lives with God.   Reconciliation can take place in the following manner:

Solutions To The Above Situations

Case #1 – The couple will first need to split up, confess their sin and receive absolution.   They are more than welcome to marry in the Catholic Church.

Case #2 – The parents who have been tolerating this situation in their home, need to become more demanding and urge the couple to split up and marry in the Church.  They need to reach out to the couple.  They must not remain silent.  They can be kind and welcoming, but they cannot allow sin to take place in their home.

Case #3 – If no previous marriage exists, couples in these circumstances must go to Confession and then contract a valid marriage in the Catholic Church.

Cases # 4 and #5 – Before these individuals can go to Confession and receive Communion, they will need to obtain an annulment.  If there are no dependent children living in the household, they should split up until they have obtained the annulment.  If there are dependent children in the home, the couple should avoid sexual intimacy by separating or by living in separate rooms until they have obtained the annulment.  By living in a state of celibacy, they can then approach the Sacraments of Confession and Eucharist.

Case #6 – Those having attempted marriage in this manner need to have the marriage validated and blessed by a Catholic priest.

Case #7 –Ceremonies of this sort can never be marriages. Catholics must never attend these ceremonies because they give rise to scandal.

Catholics Have Become Increasingly Confused By Moral Relativism and Hedonism

Aside from all of the confusion caused by moral relativism and hedonism, more Catholics in recent decades have become confused by the alarming number of annulments being granted to Catholics.

An annulment is not a Catholic divorce, as some mistakenly believe. A valid marriage signifies the full and free consent of a man and woman to live together in Holy Matrimony for the rest of their lives.  An annulment means that an impediment exists which has hindered the full and free consent of those contracting marriage.

Many Marriages Have Failed Due To The Fact Couples Have Been Ill Prepared For Marriage

Many Catholic priests agree with my experience, that in the majority of cases, the large number of failed marriages has resulted from the couples having  been insufficiently prepared for the Sacrament of Marriage in the first place. Thorough and caring marriage preparation for engaged couples is essential.

Still, the best preparation for marriage is Christian chastity.  It is this virtue of chastity that helps a married couple to remain faithful to one another.  But, if young people are not being sufficiently challenged to cultivate this virtue, we may be marrying many who have developed profound sexual addictions through a promiscuous life style; and these addictions in and of themselves will not allow for the necessary full and free consent to take place.

Whether clergy or concerned lay people, we need to take the time to help young people live chastely in a very difficult world.  Encouraging them to develop a rich Eucharistic life, to use the Sacrament of Confession frequently, to practice devotion to Mary and to avail themselves of on-going spiritual direction, all these are the proven ways by which we can help strengthen young people to live out their relationship with Jesus and each other.

The Church Cannot Capitulate To The Clamors Of The World

The Church must not capitulate to the clamors of the secular world.  By the holiness of their lives, both the clergy and married couples can be a wonderful help to those who are called to the Sacrament of Marriage.

For those who are already married, mutual fidelity is the path that provides personal joy and peace.  However, subject as we are to the effects of Original Sin, we are all fallen creatures of flesh and blood, and it is normal that fidelity can prove a struggle. For married couples a daily renewal of their personal commitment to their spouses, a well disciplined spiritual life and a realistic acceptance of their own personal limitations will provide the lasting strength to remain faithful until death.

As a priest, I have always delighted in the exuberant joy of young couples as they marry and then bring their first child to the parish to be baptized.  I have always admired those elderly couples, who after the many years of happiness and patience, still faithfully wear their wedding rings by now embedded in the worn and wrinkled fingers that have been tried by the adversities of life.

Chastity Is The Antidote To Lust

Although the Catholic Church upholds the indissolubility of marriage, the Church always welcomes her children who are divorced and separated.  Those who suffer from difficult marital situations are always welcomed as living members of Christ’s Church.  Even in those situations where individuals may not be able to participate fully in the Eucharist, the doors of the Catholic Church remain open to all, welcoming all to be living members of the family of God.

No matter how difficult a personal history or situation may be, there is always a solution for those who are open to doing God’s will. And all those who are entrusted with the pastoral care of souls must be kind, patient, compassionate, understanding and willing to spend a lot of time ministering to all those who seek their loving care.

This past Friday, we celebrated Saint Valentine’s Day.  The annual celebration of this beautiful day provides married couples to renew their love for each other.  This feast day also provides young people who are preparing for the Sacrament of Marriage to live a profoundly chaste love.  Chastity is the antidote to lust.  Lust is a distortion of love.  Chastity is true love.

Originally posted at:  Father James.org