Could a camera ever capture the average person embracing
a diseased, tumor ridden man?
God bless Pope Francis The courage to love.
Pope Francis makes me realize how little courage I have to love. Thank you Pope Francis for bringing this to my attention.
The Stages Of Sin From St. Bernard Of Clairvaux
By, Msgr. Charles Pope - There are just times when a saint speaks and one is stunned by the insight, the piercing analysis, like a surgeon’s scalpel dividing diseased from healthy tissue. Such is the case with a quote I read recently from St. Bernard that Ralph Martin references in his Book “The Fulfillment of all desires.”
In this quote Bernard analyzes the descent into the increasing darkness of sin experienced by those who do not turn back, who refuse to hear the call to repent. And not individuals only, but, I would argue, cultures too.
St. Bernard’s quote is long enough that I can only make brief comments. But consider it first in toto, and then in stages. Here is the full quote:
If this cold once penetrates the soul when (as so often happens) the soul is neglectful and the spirit asleep and if no one (God forbid) is there to curb it, then it reaches into the soul’s interior, descends to the depths of the heart and the recesses of the mind, paralyzes the affections, obstructs the paths of counsel, unsteadies the light of judgment, fetters the liberty of the spirit, and soon – as appears to bodies sick with fever – a rigor of the mind takes over: vigor slackens, energies grow languid, repugnance for austerity increases, fear of poverty disquiets, the soul shrivels, grace is withdrawn, time means boredom, reason is lulled to sleep, the spirit is quenched, the fresh fervor wanes away, a fastidious lukewarmness weighs down, brotherly love grows cold, pleasure attracts, security is a trap, old habits return. Can I say more? The law is cheated, justice is rejected, what is right is outlawed, the fear of the Lord is abandoned. Shamelessness finally gets free rein. There comes that rash leap, so dishonorable, so disgraceful, so full of ignominy and confusion; a leap from the heights into the abyss, from the court-yard to the dung-heap, from the throne to the sewer, from heaven to the mud, from the cloister to the world, from paradise to hell. (sermon 63.6b on the Song of Songs, The Fox in the Vineyard).
And now consider the stages, with brief comments by me to them along the way. Fasten your Seat belts, turbulence ahead.
1. If this cold once penetrates the soul when (as so often happens) the soul is neglectful and the spirit asleep - For it too easily happens that we are morally or spiritually asleep. And this provides doorways for the evil one, for the world, the flesh, and the devil. Jesus warns, Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak (Matt 26:41). And yet we love to sleep. We also love to anesthetize ourselves with alcohol, drugs, and other diversions. Jesus says in one of the parables that he sowed good seed in his field, But while everyone was sleeping, an enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away (Matt 13:25). We love to sleep. Bad stuff happens when we are spiritually and morally asleep.
2. And if no one (God forbid) is there to curb it, then it reaches into the soul’s interior, descends to the depths of the heart and the recesses of the mind - If we are smart, we walk in spiritual company with the Church, and with close spiritual friends and spiritual leaders in the Church. Even if, at times we get sleepy, they rouse us and warn us. But too many do not do this and if they pray at all they are lone rangers and many drift from or discount the voice of the Church and family members. Thus, in our weakness there is no one, by our own fault, to warn us, or if some one does, we ignore or ridicule them. Thus the darkness of sin reaches deeper into our interior.
3. Paralyzes the affections, - our desires being to go awry first. Our desire for spiritual things is shutting down.
4. Obstructs the paths of counsel, The darkness of sin makes good counsel seem difficult at first, obnoxious later. For example, one may begin to wonder, “Why does it matter if I go to Mass or not? What’s the big deal….Why is looking at a little porn so bad….why is the Church so “uptight” about stuff?”
5. Unsteadies the light of judgment - Severed from good counsel our judgments become poor and self serving.
6. fetters the liberty of the spirit - The (human) spirit is that part of us that opens us to God, that delights in the truth and in goodness. But as the flesh begins to dominate, the spirit’s influence is diminished and its “liberty” to move within us to draw us to the good, true and beautiful, is hindered.
7. And soon – as appears to bodies sick with fever – a rigor of the mind takes over: – Our thoughts become distorted, stinking thinking begins to masquerade as sensible. As St. Paul says of the Gentiles of his time that, having suppressed the truth, they became futile in their thinking, and their senseless minds were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools (Rom 1:21-22)
8. Vigor slackens - What was once virtuous, i.e. a good habit and easy to do, now seems hard and one lacks strength or vigor to do good.
9. Energies grow languid - Without the enthusiasm of an alive spirit infused with grace we begin to lack the energy to do what is good and right. It all seems so much harder, so much effort!
10. Repugnance for austerity increases - As the spirit goes more into a coma and the flesh becomes more demanding, any limits to pleasure make us wince and get angry. It is almost like a gluttony wherein the stomach is stretched and must have a bigger meal each time to satisfy. Never, satisfied, the flesh demands more and more, and any notion of limits causes anger and avoidance.
11. Fear of poverty disquiets – The more we get, the more we have to lose and the less secure we feel. The world and the flesh now have in their grip through fear. Poverty is freeing, but wealth enslaves. You can’t steal from a man who has nothing to lose, you can’t intimidate him. But a rich person, a person rooted in the world has too much to lose and is thus disquieted by even the most benign of threats. The laborer’s sleep is sweet, whether he has eaten little or much; but the rich man’s wealth will not let him sleep at all. (Eccles 4:11)
12. The soul shrivels - Just as any part of the body which is underused begins to atrophy (weaken and shrink) so too the soul and its faculties, increasingly unused, recede, grow weak and go dormant.
13. Grace is withdrawn - as sin grows serious, now mortal sin robs the soul of graces.
14. Time means boredom - without spiritual insight, boredom is sure to follow. Nothing has real meaning. Even the delights of the flesh, now so demanded, fail to satisfy. Scripture says regarding a soul in this state: All things are wearisome; Man is not able to tell it. The eye is not satisfied with seeing, Nor is the ear filled with hearing. That which has been is that which will be, And that which has been done is that which will be done. So there is nothing new under the sun (Eccles 1:8-9)
15. Reason is lulled to sleep - foolish thinking is not seen for what it is. One cannot follow the path of simple logic or reason because the flesh feel threatened by it. Sins of the flesh are not the most serious of sins (sins of the spirit are) but they are the most disgraceful because of their capacity to cloud the mind.
16. The spirit is quenched - The human spirit becomes increasingly dead.
17. The fresh fervor wanes away - Even good days, spiritually speaking are fewer and fewer.
18. A fastidious lukewarmness weighs down - one actually begins to cultivate mediocrity, compromise and to celebrate it as open-minded, tolerant and avoiding “extremes.”
19. Brotherly love grows cold - Was it Camus or Sartre who said, “Hell is other people.” Yes, sin is growing very deep now, the world is closing in on an increasingly petty object: “Me.”
20. Pleasure attracts - It always has, but now inordinately and with greater and greater power.
21. Security is a trap - In other words it is a lie. This world is a thief. It takes back everything, no matter what the John Hancock Insurance Co. says. But increasingly the sinful soul prefers lies to truth, even knowing deep down that they are lies.
22. Old habits return - If one had made progress in virtue, now it erodes.
23. Can I say more? The law is cheated – In other words, legalism and minimalism becomes a tactic. One seeks the “least expensive” interpretation of everything, parses words, and uses every trick to see how the clearly manifest will of God is either not clear, does not apply or how it can be observed in the most perfunctory of ways. One will often collect experts to tickle their ears. Whatever it takes to cheat the law, skirt the edges and reinterpret clear norms.
24. Justice is rejected – After cheating the law the next step down is just to reject it outright. The person does not care what God says. They now begin to exult the imperial autonomous self saying in effect that they will do what they want and they will decide if it is right or wrong.
25. What is right is outlawed, - next comes trying to outlaw others from proclaiming the truth. Call what they say “hate speech” fine them, arrest them make them answer in court. Banish the truth from schools and the public square. Demonize and criminalize all possible ways of proclaiming the truth.
26. The fear of the Lord is abandoned - The delusion that one will never face consequences of judgement for what they do is embraced. They will answer to God, but they deny it and are permitted a very deep delusion that they will never have to answer for what they do.
27. Shamelessness finally gets free rein Things that ought to cause shame, and used to do so are now celebrated. Scripture laments them saying, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them (Rom 1:32). The celebration of sin, even the exultation of it as virtue shows that the darkness is now complete, the fall reaches as cracking and crushing thud. St Bernard describes it this way:
There [has come] that rash leap, so dishonorable, so disgraceful, so full of ignominy and confusion; a leap from the heights into the abyss, from the court-yard to the dung-heap, from the throne to the sewer, from heaven to the mud, from the cloister to the world, from paradise to hell.
Pay attention to what the Saints say. There are some who will no doubt dismiss this post as negative etc. I am more concerned if it is true, rather than negative (or positive). My own experience as Pastor, teacher, disciple, sinner and denizen of the world, is that St. Bernard is right on target and has given us a kind of diagnostic manual of the progression of the disease know as sin. Read this, ponder it, consider your own life, and consider too the lives of people you love.
Disease unattended has a way of moving deeper in stages to become grave if we do not soberly assess its presence and power and use the medicines of the Prayer, Scripture, Sacraments, and Fellowship with the Church (cf Acts 2:42).
Originally posted at: adw.org
One Priest’s Sobering Account Of The Afterlife!
Fr. Jose Maniyangat
For your discernment - A priest who saw heaven, hell, and purgatory on 4/14/85. The following is not a story coming out of the rumor mill. The priest whose testimony is given below is the pastor of a Catholic Church in Florida.
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Background On Father Maniyangat
A priest who saw heaven, hell, and purgatory The death experience of Father Jose Maniyangat Francais-Espanol Fr. Jose Maniyangat is currently the pastor of St. Catherine of Sienna Catholic Church in Orange Park, Florida. Here is his personal testimony:
I was born on July 16, 1949 in Kerala, India to my parents, Joseph and Theresa Maniyangat. I am the eldest of seven children: Jose, Mary, Theresa, Lissama, Zachariah, Valsa and Tom.. At the age of fourteen, I entered St. Mary’s Minor Seminary in Thiruvalla to begin my studies for the priesthood. Four years later, I went to St. Joseph’s Pontifical Major Seminary in Alwaye, Kerala to continue my priestly formation. After completing the seven years of philosophy and theology, I was ordained a priest on January 1, 1975 to serve as a missionary in the Diocese of Thiruvalla. On Sunday April 14, 1985, the Feast of the Divine Mercy, I was going to celebrate Mass at a mission church in the north part of Kerala, and I had a fatal accident. I was riding a motorcycle when I was hit head-on by a jeep driven by a man who was intoxicated after a Hindu festival. I was rushed to a hospital about 35 miles away. On the way, my soul came out from my body and I experienced death. Immediately, I met my Guardian Angel. I saw my body and the people who were carrying me to the hospital. I heard them crying and praying for me. At this time my angel told me: “I am going to take you to Heaven, the Lord wants to meet you and talk with you.” He also said that, on the way, he wanted to show me hell and purgatory.
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A Visit To Hell
First the angel escorted me to hell. It was an awful sight! I saw Satan and the devils, an unquenchable fire of about 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit, worms crawling, people screaming and fighting, others being tortured by demons. The angel told me that all these sufferings were due to unrepented mortal sins. Then, I understood that there are seven degrees of suffering or levels according to the number and kinds of mortal sins committed in their earthly lives. The souls looked very ugly, cruel and horrific. It was a fearful experience. I saw people whom I knew, but I am not allowed to reveal their identities. The sins that convicted them were mainly abortion, homosexuality, euthanasia, hatefulness, unforgiveness and sacrilege. The angel told me that if they had repented, they would have avoided hell and gone instead to purgatory. I also understood that some people who repent from these sins might be purified on earth through their sufferings. This way they can avoid purgatory and go straight to heaven. I was surprised when I saw in hell even priests and Bishops, some of whom I never expected to see. Many of them were there because they had misled the people with false teaching and bad example.
Next Stop Purgatory
After the visit to hell, my Guardian Angel escorted me to purgatory. Here too, there are seven degrees of suffering and unquenchable fire. But it is far less intense than hell and there was neither quarreling nor fighting. The main suffering of these souls is their separation from God. Some of those who are in purgatory committed numerous mortal sins, but they were reconciled with God before their death. Even though these souls are suffering, they enjoy peace and the knowledge that one day they will see God face to face. I had a chance to communicate with the souls in purgatory. They asked me to pray for them and to tell the people to pray for them as well, so they can go to heaven quickly. When we pray for these souls, we will receive their gratitude through their prayers, and once they enter heaven, their prayers become even more meritorious. It is difficult for me to describe how beautiful my Guardian Angel is. He is radiant and bright. He is my constant companion and helps me in all my ministries, especially my healing ministry. I experience his presence everywhere I go and I am grateful for his protection in my daily life.
Heaven Next, my angel escorted me to heaven passing through a big dazzling white tunnel. I never experienced this much peace and joy in my life. Then immediately heaven opened up and I heard the most delightful music, which I never heard before. The angels were singing and praising God. I saw all the saints, especially the Blessed Mother and St. Joseph, and many dedicated holy Bishops and priests who were shining like stars. And when I appeared before the Lord, Jesus told me: “I want you to go back to the world. In your second life, you will be an instrument of peace and healing to My people. You will walk in a foreign land and you will speak in a foreign tongue. Everything is possible for you with My grace..” After these words, the Blessed Mother told me: “Do whatever He tells you. I will help you in your ministries.” Words can not express the beauty of heaven.. There we find so much peace and happiness, which exceed a million times our imagination. Our Lord is far more beautiful than any image can convey. His face is radiant and luminous and more beautiful than a thousand rising suns. The pictures we see in the world are only a shadow of His magnificence.. The Blessed Mother was next to Jesus; She was so beautiful and radiant. None of the images we see in this world can compare with Her real beauty. Heaven is our real home; we are all created to reach heaven and enjoy God forever. Then, I came back to the world with my angel.
Father’s Soul Returns To His Body
While my body was at the hospital, the doctor completed all examinations and I was pronounced dead. The cause of death was bleeding. My family was notified, and since they were far away, the hospital staff decided to move my dead body to the morgue. Because the hospital did not have air conditioners, they were concerned that the body would decompose quickly. As they were moving my dead body to the morgue, my soul came back to the body. I felt an excruciating pain because of so many wounds and broken bones. I began to scream, and then the people became frightened and ran away screaming. One of them approached the doctor and said: “The dead body is screaming.” The doctor came to examine the body and found that I was alive. So he said: “Father is alive, it is a miracle! Take him back to the hospital.” Now, back at the hospital, they gave me blood transfusions and I was taken to surgery to repair the broken bones. They worked on my lower jaw, ribs, pelvic bone, wrists, and right leg. After two months, I was released from the hospital, but my orthopedic doctor said that I would never walk again. I then said to him: “The Lord who gave me my life back and sent me back to the world will heal me.” Once at home, we were all praying for a miracle. Still after a month, and with the casts removed, I was not able to move. But one day while praying I felt an extraordinary pain in my pelvic area. After a short while the pain disappeared completely and I heard a voice saying: “You are healed. Get up and walk.” I felt the peace and healing power on my body. I immediately got up and walked. I praised and thanked God for the miracle. I reached my doctor with the news of my healing, and he was amazed. He said: “Your God is the true God. I must follow your God.” The doctor was Hindu, and he asked me to teach him about our Church. After studying the Faith, I baptized him and he became Catholic. Following the message from my Guardian Angel, I came to the United States on November 10, 1986 as a missionary priest. I am currently the parish priest at St. Catherine Of Sienna Parish in Orange Park, FL.
Originally posted at EWTN.com (with editing)
Catholics Are Called To Live By The Spirit And Letter Of The Law!
Fr. John A. Hardon S.J. - In almost any group of Catholics today, one hears the question frequently asked, “Are you a conservative or liberal Catholic?” Or perhaps it is posed, “Are you charismatic?” Then again the speaker may interrogate his audience about his familiarity with renewals, retreats, liberation theology, centering prayers, Cursillo or any other currently popular movement or practice within the Church. Oftentimes people feel that the answer to such a question involves deep philosophical pondering. Semantics aside, there can be only one answer to these questions. But before that reply is supplied, and its rationale, one need examine the rather bizarre practice of describing our faith in social and political terms and the implications of such nomenclature.
Considering one’s self to be or, conversely, labeling others conservative or liberal in matters of faith is of relatively recent vintage. While these terms have a history of application within the political spheres, probably not until the aftermath of Vatican Council II did they become affixed to attitudes and beliefs among members of the Catholic Church. Prior to that time, the People of God were known either as practicing Catholics or fallen away Catholics. The implication was that the former were on a path of continually honing themselves toward perfection; the latter had somehow slipped through the cracks, but hope remained that they could yet see the Way, the Truth, and the Light. This dichotomous assessment was easily identifiable by others as well as by one’s self. One either totally accepted Catholic dogma and tradition as a package deal or not at all. So it could not easily be said that before recent ecclesiastical developments any political mindset in religious matters even existed.
Subsequent to Vatican II, many Catholics seemed to become increasingly more vocal. Pope Paul VI’s emphasis on human interest, in itself just, was soon to be denuded of any vestige of Christian transcendence and replaced by a materialistic and humanistic interpretation. The aggiornamento or updating desired by John XXIII was designed to aid the Church to “open its windows.” The gentle breeze he foresaw entering the Church quickly became a violent storm of juxtaposed philosophies. Ecumenism, once considered the hope for reunification among separated Christian brethren, came to mean a homogenization of beliefs, bland and innocuously nonspecific, so they could be readily acceptable to any denomination. Concern for the poor amplified itself, festered, and oozed out as Liberation Theology which, in essence, can be seen as nothing less than Marxist ideology replete with an acceptance of violence and guerilla war overtones thinly disguised by a veneer of social justice. Despite these perversions, or perhaps even because of them, many Catholics felt the need to align themselves with either one viewpoint or the other of what was increasingly appearing as a major rift between opposing factions. As this division became more obvious, each side waxed more strident in its declarations and more extreme in the outward manifestations of its beliefs. This gave rise to the variety of practices easily observable today.
The left of Rome, liberal Catholic manifests his faith in several unique public expressions. Often he is associated with causes such as gay rights, feminism, euthanasia, and a plethora of others. His religion is an umbrella which encompasses saving whales, recycling inorganic materials, worrying about CIA involvement in Latin American governments, humanizing bureaucratic organizations, and awaiting a cosmic Christ. The unity he envisions in the new world order has little if any linkage to the one bread, one body in which the religion he supposedly espouses was based. In his alleged concern for all rights, he supports many wrongs. Endorsed by him would be a church in which a non-gender-specific liturgical “service” is led by a female priest, assisted by altar girls for a congregation which consisted of those who hold disparate beliefs all of which were democratically allowed under the guise of freedom from the patriarchal system whose leadership, outdated and outmoded, was yet based in Rome.
At the opposite end of the belief spectrum is the conservative Catholic whose actions and opinions are always right (of center, that is). SSPX epitomizes for them the essence of strict adherence to the true faith. Just as their hands will not be sullied in an exchange of peace nor receive the Eucharist from a priest or (heaven forbid) an extraordinary minister, so too will their minds remain untouched by any of the allowable innovations inaugurated by the Second Vatican Council. As if the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass offered in the language of the laity instead of Latin were not bad enough, what could be said of the scandal of speaking in tongues and other manifestations of the charismatic Catholic? In practice much like strict interpreter of the Constitution, this believer professes only that which is explicitly expressed in the Ten Commandments of in Canon Law; all that which is tacitly implicit is not a viable worship option.
Extremist beliefs of any sort are always dangerous and often fatal to the institution with which they are associated. The either/or fallacy is always just that—a meretricious assignment of validity to one point of view with the attendant obliteration of any counter system. This blindness lends itself to a bigotry quite often found in social and political systems, but no such taint should ever be allowed to mar our religious and ethical behaviors.
A question similar to those which began this essay was posed to a Catholic priest just recently. In response to the query, “Father, are you a conservative or liberal Catholic,” he replied, “I’m a Roman Catholic. I follow the guidelines of the Vatican.” The holder of the Petrine Office is the direct descendent of Peter to whom were handed the keys of the kingdom. His mandate is clear; our duty as Roman Catholics is to adhere to both the letter and the Spirit as the Holy Father delineates them for us, not pick and choose those aspects of Catholicism more to our liking. As 2 John 9 reminds us, anyone who “does not remain rooted in the teaching of Christ does not possess God, while anyone who remains rooted in the teaching possesses both Father and the Son.”
Originally posted at: The Real Presence.org
Fathers Are The Priests Of The Home!
By: Fr. Wade Menezes
I. Develop an intimate, personal relationship with Jesus, allowing Him to forgive you of your past, to talk to you, to heal you and to guide you. Then, trust the Holy Spirit in all things. Trust Him to provide everything you need, including financial help.
II. Get your priorities in order: Jesus first, your wife second, your children third, your work fourth, etc. Develop a weekly schedule, blocking out quality time for the Lord, your wife, each child and the family as a whole. A husband’s most important time during any given day is the first five minutes when he gets home from work and the love and attention he shows his wife and children at that time. Remember that your human fatherhood is rooted in the Divine Fatherhood of Almighty God (cf. Ephesians 3:14-15; cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2214).
III. Realize that you are the “priest” of the home. It is your primary responsibility to oversee the TV and its influence, the internet and its influence, as well as the books and magazines that enter into your home. You must stand firmly against all evil influences, asking constantly for God’s strength and guidance to lead your family in living a pure, holy and non-violent lifestyle. Esto vir! (Be a man!). A father fosters moral virtue within his home first and foremost by example. Get into the habit of blessing your children – both alone and with your wife – before they go to sleep at night or before they leave the house in the morning.
IV. Make sure you know what your children are being taught at school regarding morals and values. All teachers teach “in your place” as you and your wife are the primary educators of your children. If objectionable subjects or materials are being taught in the classroom, you must stand strong. The primary place for Christian morals and values to be taught and practiced is within the family home – your home, which you oversee. This is an awesome responsibility given both to you (as the “head” of your household) and to your wife (as the “heart” of your household). Realize that your headship is to be modeled after the headship of the wise and prudent king who loves and rules over his kingdom and its inhabitants. Your headship is not to be modeled after the headship of the master who rules over his slaves. You do not exist as the head of your family to have your needs met, but rather to have your family’s needs met. Your headship is not about you being served, but rather about you serving. Your headship is about sacrificial love and service. As head of the family, you are called to great responsibility. Many husbands and fathers want headship without the responsibility it demands. Dare to discipline with love and firmness. The wise and prudent king loves all of the subjects within his kingdom and wishes to see them prosper in the fullness of beauty and Truth. He desires to bring them all to the fullness of Truth and prosperity. Jesus Christ Himself is the Head of His Church; He is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. St. Augustine calls the family the “domestic church.” You are the “head” and “king” and “lord” of this domestic church: “The place and task of the father in and for the family is of unique and irreplaceable importance. In revealing and in reliving on earth the very fatherhood of God (cf. Ephesians 3:14- 15), a man is called upon to ensure the harmonious and united development of all the members of the family” (Pope John Paul II, Familiaris Consortio [The Role of the Christian Family in the Modern World], 25).
V. Pray with your wife and regularly so. Try to keep a simple, but sincere spiritual journal and share it with her, even if your entries are just short, inspirational sentences. Trust the Lord to guide, purify and sanctify your relationship with your wife. She is the “heart” of the home. Reverence her as such. Love her with the same love and affection Christ has for His Church. Remember that your sons will grow up to relate to women much in the same way that they saw you relate to your wife. Similarly, your daughters will learn from their father what to expect from men in a relationship. Share with your wife her burdens, her sorrows and her joys. Ask the Lord for the strength to love her with the same love and purity with which He loves His Bride, the Church.
VI. Spend quality time with each child. Treat each child in a unique and personal way. The power of a father’s affirming love is tremendously overwhelming and something truly wonderful. Children need it. They require it for their full and proper development. Let each child share his or her ideas, feelings, fears and problems with you. Do everything in your power to ensure that your child can always approach you in any matter. Be sure to share periodically with your wife your insights concerning each child. Discipline with firmness and love (again, your model here is that of the wise and prudent king who rules over the inhabitants of his kingdom with a firm, but great love and not of the master who rules over his slaves).
VII. Consecrate your home to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Set up a “prayer corner” within the home in the room where the family most gathers. In this room should be an “altar-table.” On this table place a Bible, a good condensed version of the Lives of the Saints and a copy of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. On or around this table also place images (statues, pictures or icons) of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary. The daily family Rosary is a powerful prayer. If your children are still small, pray only a decade of the Rosary and/or vary it daily with the Chaplet of Divine Mercy. A wonderful, fixed time for daily family prayer and spiritual reading (say, a total of just 15 or 20 minutes) is immediately after supper each evening. Included here could be the Readings from the Mass of the day; purchase a daily Roman missal for this. Again, remember that you are the priest of the home. As such, you are called to be a true leader. A child will remember well into his adult life these early family practices of the Faith. They will never be forgotten. A father must be the first Christian witness to his wife and children. This is both a duty and a responsibility. Also, be sure to foster the use of sacramentals among your family members. Sacramentals are “sacred signs which bear a certain resemblance to the Sacraments and by means of which spiritual effects are signified and obtained through the prayers of the Church” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, Glossary). Examples of sacramentals include the Sign of the Cross, holy water, enrollment in the Brown Scapular of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, religious medals, blessings, pilgrimages, processions, the Stations of the Cross, sacred art, rosaries and the veneration of relics. While sacramentals do differ from the seven Sacraments, they are still very important in the life of a Catholic Christian. Also, promote visits to the Blessed Sacrament with your family members, for instance, when in town running errands.
VIII. Do not let sports or outside activities become more important to you or to your children than Christ and family. Sports have become a false god in America today – especially on Sundays – and we tend to overemphasize them. Spend fun time at home. Do things together as a family. This calls for creativity, imagination and frequent planning in advance. Seek suggestions from your wife and older children in this regard.
IX. Pray that each one of your children may answer the call to the vocation that Almighty God has chosen for him or her from all eternity. Never ask your children, “What do you want to be?” Rather, ask each child, “What do you think God is calling you to be?” Help them to discern their states-in-life, whether it be singlehood, the married state or consecrated religious life. Have this discussion often with your children, especially after they reach the age of 15.
X. Ensure the frequenting of the Sacraments by your family members. The Sacrament of Confession should be partaken of at least monthly and the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist should be partaken of at least weekly. You must make sure that your family’s sense of sin is never dulled. Take your family to Sunday Mass precisely as a family. Do not give your teenagers an option here. If you do, you are not fulfilling your vocation as a father. Foster among your family members a great love of the Holy Eucharist. Tithe regularly and devotedly. Do everything in your power (as the wise and prudent king of your home) to truly make Sunday the Lord’s Day and a day of family togetherness; that is, a day of prayer, relaxation and recreation. Again, this calls for creativity, imagination and frequent planning in advance. Seek input from your wife and older children in this regard. Remember, any good and wholesome recreation is really a “re-creation” of both body and soul. (Inspired by and adapted from Superabundant Family Love by Fr. Bill McCarthy, MSA)
PRAYER FOR OUR FAMILY Heavenly Father, most good and gracious God, sustain our family in Your love. Make our family home a place where holiness and love abound. In our daily actions, help each one of us to learn to be more like Jesus. Aid our family to imitate the Holy Family of Nazareth: Jesus, Mary and Joseph. Help our family to learn from the good example of those families that especially please You in their way of life. May our family members learn to give good example always by living lives in true Christian faith, hope and love. Assist our family in learning to bear pain and suffering as Jesus did. Aid our family members, too, in overcoming difficulties and carrying their crosses. Help our family life to lead to Jesus Christ, the Source of all Truth and happiness. We ask this through Your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, Who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God for ever and ever. AMEN.
FAMILY PRAYER TO OUR BLESSED MOTHER, MARY Holy Mary, Virgin Mother of God, we seek your patronage and we invoke you under your title “Queen of Families.” O Blessed Mother, you were conceived without sin. May every family choose you this day as the model for their household, along with St. Joseph, your most loving, chaste and caring spouse. Through your Immaculate Conception, preserve all families from every disaster, from all violence and from every misfortune. O Holy Virgin, bless and protect all families, strengthen them in trial and keep them from every evil. AMEN.
“Affiliates with the Rainbow Sash Movement
will Not be Admitted into the Cathedral”
Statement of Most Rev. Thomas John Paprocki, Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Springfield in Illinois, Regarding Planned Rainbow Sash Event at Cathedral
The Rainbow Sash Movement has encouraged Roman Catholics to come to Springfield to “have a loud Catholic presence for marriage equality.” They have announced plans to gather at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception at 4:30 p.m. just before the 5:15 p.m. Mass to stand in the Cathedral and indicate that they are there to pray the rosary for “marriage equality.”
It is blasphemy to show disrespect or irreverence to God or to something holy. Since Jesus clearly taught that marriage as created by God is a sacred institution between a man and a woman (see Matthew 19:4-6 and Mark 10:6-9), praying for same-sex marriage should be seen as blasphemous and as such will not be permitted in the cathedral.
People wearing a rainbow sash or who otherwise identify themselves as affiliated with the Rainbow Sash Movement will not be admitted into the cathedral and anyone who gets up to pray for same-sex marriage in the cathedral will be asked to leave.
Of course, our cathedral and parish churches are always open to everyone who wishes to repent their sins and ask for God’s forgiveness.
Most Reverend Thomas John Paprocki
Bishop of Springfield in Illinois
“A Steady Diet Of, “God Loves You And All Is Well, No Matter What…” Has Emptied Our Pews.”
Msgr. Charles Pope - I have written before on Five Hard Truths That Will Set You Free. In this post I would like to ponder Some Hard Spiritual truths that will set us free.
In calling them “hard truths,” I mean that they are not the usual cozy bromides that many seek. They speak bluntly about the more irksome and difficult realities we confront. But, if we come to accept them, they have a strange way of bringing serenity by getting us focused on the right things, instead of chasing after false dreams.
For it sometimes happens that a person can spend his whole life being resentful that life isn’t peachy, forgetting all the while that we are in exile, that we are making a hard journey, we pray, to a life where, one day, every sorrow and difficultly is removed, and death and sorrow are no more. But not now.
There is a kind of unexpected serenity in living in the world as it is, rather than resenting the world for not being what we want it to be. For now, the journey is hard and we have to be sober about our obtuse desires and destructive tendencies. And that is why there is a value in calling these insights, “hard truths that will set us free.”
In the very opening section of his Spiritual Canticle, St. John of the Cross lays out a presumed worldview that the spiritually mature ought to have attained. And because he presumes it of his reader, he states it only briefly.
Yet, for us who live in times not known for spiritual maturity, we ought to slow down for a moment and ponder these truths which are not only poorly understood, but even actively resisted today by many who call themselves wise and spiritually mature.
Remember now, these are hard truths, and many today wish to bypass the harder teachings of God. Thus we do well to pay special attention to a Spiritual Master who is deeply immersed in Scripture, as a remedy for the soft excesses of our modern times.
Lets first look at the quote from St. John and then, by way of a list, examine his points. With this preamble of sorts, St. John begins his Spiritual Canticle:
The soul… has grown aware of her obligations and observed that life is short (Job 14:5), the path leading to eternal life constricted (Mt. 7:14), the just one scarcely saved (1 Pet. 4:18), the things of the world vain and deceitful (Eccles. 1:2), that all comes to an end and fails like falling water (2 Sam. 14:14), and that the time is uncertain, the accounting strict, perdition very easy, and salvation very difficult. She knows on the other hand of her immense indebtedness to God for having created her solely for Himself, and that for this she owes Him the service of her whole life; and because He redeemed her solely for Himself she owes Him every response of love. She knows, too, of the thousand other benefits by which she has been obligated to God from before the time of her birth, and that a good part of her life has vanished, that she must render an account of everything – of the beginning of her life as well as the later part – unto the last penny (Mt. 5:25) when God will search Jerusalem with lighted candles (Zeph. 1:12), and that it is already late – and the day far spent (Lk. 24:29) – to remedy so much evil and harm. She feels on the other hand that God is angry and hidden because she desired to forget Him so in the midst of creatures, Touched with dread and interior sorrow of heart over so much loss and danger, renouncing all things, leaving aside all business, and not delaying a day or an hour, with desires and sighs pouring from her heart, wounded now with the love for God, she begins to call her Beloved…
Let us look at these hard but freeing spiritual insights one by one.
The soul has grown aware of her obligations and observed
1. That life is short (Job 14:5).
More than any other age we entertain the illusion that death can be easily postponed. It cannot be. We are not guaranteed the next beat of our heart, let alone tomorrow! It is true that with advances in medical science, sudden death from lesser causes it not as frequent today. But too easily this leads us to entertain the notion that we can cheat death. We cannot.
Life remains short, and we do not get to choose when we will die. Both my mother, and sister died on a sudden, were swept away in an instant. They never got to say goodbye. You do not know if you will even finish this sentence before or article before death summons you.
This is wisdom. It is a hard truth that gives us an important perspective. Life is short and you don’t have a calendar to know how short.
What are you doing to get ready to meet God? What are you getting worked up about and what are not concerned about? Are your priorities rooted in the truth that life is short? Or are you waging bets in a foolish game where the house (death and this world) always wins on its terms and not yours?
There is a strange serenity and freedom in realizing that life is short. We do not get as worked up about passing things, and we become more invested in lasting things, and the things to come.
2. The path leading to eternal life constricted (Mt. 7:14)
Another illusion we entertain today is that salvation is a cinch, that it is a done deal. The “heresy” of our time is a kind of universal salvation that denies the consistently repeated biblical teach which declares: Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few. (Matt 7:13-14 inter al).
In parable after parable, warning after warning, Jesus speaks with sober admonition about the reality of hell and the closing reality of judgment. No one loves you more than Jesus, and no warned you about Hell and Judgment more than Jesus.
Salvation is not easy, it is hard. Jesus said this, not me. This is not because God is mean, it is because we are stubborn, obtuse and prefer the darkness to light. We need to sober up about our stubbornness and our tendencies to prefer “other arrangements” to what God offers and teaches. In the end, God will respect our choice and there comes a day when our choice for or against the Kingdom and its values will be sealed forever.
This is a hard saying, but it sets us free from the awful sin of presumption, a sin against hope and instills in us a proper priority for the work that is necessary to root us in God. Accepting this hard truth will free you from silly and baseless presumption. It will make you more serious about your spiritual life and aware of the need for prayer, sacraments, Scripture and the Church. It will help you have better priorities that are less obsessed with passing worldly things and people, and be more rooted in what it eternal. It will make you more evangelical and urgent to save souls. It will turn you to Jesus and away from Belial and passing pathetic worldly things.
3. That the just one scarcely saved (1 Pet. 4:18)
Here is a further truth that sets aside modern errors about an almost universal salvation. The fuller context of the quote is this: For it is time for judgment to begin with God’s household; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God? And, “If it is hard for the righteous to be saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?” (1 Peter 4:17-18)
And yet, despite this and many other quotes and teachings like it, we go one presuming that almost everyone will go to heaven. We set aside God’s Word, for human errors and wishful thinking. We substitute human assurances for God’s warnings. We elevate ourselves over St. Paul who said that we should work out our salvation in fear and trembling (Phil 2:12) and spoke of disciplining himself, lest, after preaching to others, he should be lost (1 Cor 9:27). Are we better and more enlightened that Jesus? Than Paul, Than Peter?
Salvation is hard. This is not meant to panic us, but it is meant to sober us to the need for prayer, Sacraments, Scripture and the Church. Without these medicines we don’t stand a chance. And we must persevere to the end.
This hard truth sets us free from illusion and sends us running to the Lord who alone can save us. Smug presumption roots us in the world, Godly fear and sober awareness of our stubborn and unrepentant hearts sends us to Jesus and this frees us.
4. The things of the world vain and deceitful (Eccles. 1:2)
Such a freeing truth. First that the things of this world are vain. That is to say, they are empty, passing, and vapid. We so exult power, popularity, and worldly glories. But they are gone in a moment. Who was Miss America in 1974? Who won the Heisman Trophy in that same year? If you know, do you really care and does it really matter? Empty show, glitter and fools gold, yet we spend billions and watch this stuff forever.
And even though we should fight for justice, for the sake of the kingdom, even here the Scriptures counsel some perspective: I have seen a wicked, ruthless man, spreading himself like a green laurel tree. But he passed away, and behold, he was no more; though I sought him, he could not be found. (Ps 37:35-36).
And how deceitful is this passing world.! The main deceit of this world is to say, “I am what you exist for, I am what matters, I am what satisfies.” Lies and deceptions on all counts. The form of this world is passing away. It cannot supply our infinite desires. Our hearts were made for God, and only being with him one day will satisfy.
Yet so easily do we listen to the world’s seduction and lies. Too often we want to be lied to and prefer to chase illusions, vanity and indulge deceit.
How freeing this truth is, if we can lay hold of it. We learn to make use of what we need, but begin to lose our obsession with vain and passing things, and our insatiable desire for more. Yes, perhaps you can live without that granite counter top.
This is a very freeing truth if we can accept its hard reality. And becoming more free a deeper serenity finds us.
5. That all comes to an end and fails like falling water (2 Sam. 14:14)
The world is passing away. It can’t secure your future. The world cruel lies that it can supply you is on display in every graveyard. So much for the world’s empty promises: “You can have it all!” Yes, and then you die.
Meditate on death often. Indeed, every night the Church bids us to rehearse our death in night prayer by the reciting of the Nunc Dimittis.
Scripture says, For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come (Heb 13:14). Do you have your sights fixed where true joys are? Or are you like Lot’s wife?
Let this truth free you to have proper perspective. Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God (Col 3:1).
6. And that the time is uncertain.
You got plans for tomorrow? Great, so do I. Only problem, tomorrow is not promised or certain. Neither is the next beat of your heart. Another hard, but freeing truth.
7. The accounting strict -
Jesus warns, But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken (Matt 12:36). St. Paul says, He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of the heart (1 Cor 4:5). And adds, So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad (2 Cor 5:9-10). And James chillingly says, So speak and so act as those who are to be judged by the law of liberty. For judgment will be merciless to one who has shown no mercy (James 2:12-13) What he says is chilling since so many are without mercy today.
If God judges us with the same strict justice we often dish out, we don’t stand a chance. The accounting will be strict, so don’t pile on with unnecessary severity and wrath toward others.
Here is another freeing truth that helps us take heed of the coming judgement.
8. Perdition very easy - I wonder why he might have repeated this? I just wonder….!
9. And salvation very difficult - Hmm… look he repeated this too! I wonder why? Maybe repetition is the mother of studies.
10. [That we are often and strangely ungrateful and unmoved] She knows on the other hand of her immense indebtedness to God for having created her solely for Himself, and that for this she owes Him the service of her whole life; and because He redeemed her solely for Himself she owes Him every response of love. She knows, too, of the thousand other benefits by which she has been obligated to God from before the time of her birth, and that a good part of her life has vanished,
Here is a sober truth that calls us to remember. What does it mean to remember? To remember means to have present in your mind and heart what the Lord has done for you so that you are grateful and different.
And yet we live so many years and hours of the day in ingratitude. We get all worked up resentful about the smallest setbacks, and almost totally ignore the trillions of blessings each day.
In a sense our ingratitude is obnoxiously massive because of the easy manner with which we mindlessly receive and discount incredibly numerous blessings, and magnify every suffering setback or trial. So much of our life passes in the complaint department. And so commonly we are stingy with even a simple “Thank you Lord, for all your obvious and hidden blessings, thank you Lord for creating, sustaining and loving me to the end, and for inviting me to know, Love and serve you.“
11. That she must render an account of everything – of the beginning of her life as well as the later part – unto the last penny (Mt. 5:25) when God will search Jerusalem with lighted candles (Zeph. 1:12) - Did he repeat himself again? Now why do you suppose he does that?! You don’t think he considers us stubborn, do you?
12. and that it is already late – and the day far spent (Lk. 24:29) – to remedy so much evil and harm. Repetitio mater studiorum
13. [That the unrepentant will experience the wrath to come] – She feels on the other hand that God is angry and hidden because she desired to forget Him so in the midst of creatures,
The wrath of God is really in us, not in God. It is our experience of discomfort before the holiness of God. It is like being used to a dark room, and suddenly being brought into the bright afternoon sunlight. We protest and say the light is harsh. But the light is not harsh. We are incapable of tolerating the light due to our preference for and acclamation to the dark. In the same way God is not “mad” He is not moody or harsh. He is God. And God does not change.
Thus St. John teaches here, the hard but freeing truth that God is holy and no one is going to walk into his presence unprepared. If we prefer the world and its creatures to the Creator, we thereby prefer the darkness and cannot tolerate the light. Heaven is simply not possible for those who prefer the darkness. And thus Jesus says, And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil (John 3:19) – That’s right, just three verses after John 3:16
And while the sinful soul may “feel” that God is angry and hiding himself, the problem is in the sinful soul, not God.
The freedom of this hard saying comes in reminding us, and urging us to get ready to meet God. He is not going to change. He can’t change. So we have to change, and by his grace, become the light of his holiness.
14. [We Need to Call on the Savior] – Touched with dread and interior sorrow of heart over so much loss and danger, renouncing all things, leaving aside all business, and not delaying a day or an hour, with desires and sighs pouring from her heart, wounded now with the love for God, she begins to call her Beloved
And yes, here is the real point of all these hard truths: to make us love our savior more, learn to depend on him, and run to him as fast as we can. Only when we know the hard truths are we really going to be all that serious.
After all, who goes to the doctor? One who is convinced he has no cancer (even though he does). Or the one who knows he’s got it bad and that ain’t good? The answer is self evident.
Bad sadly the answer is self-evident enough to this current generation where, even in the Church, there are so many who don’t want to discuss any of the hard and sober truths we need to lay hold of before we get serious.
A steady diet of “God loves you and all is well, no matter what…” has emptied our pews. Why? Well, who goes to the spiritual hospital if all they hear is that nothing is wrong and that their salvation is secure, almost no matter what?
The good news of the gospel has little impact when the bad news is no longer understood. What does salvation mean if there is no sin and nothing to be saved from? Now of course the bad news should not be preached without pointing to the good news. But the point is that both are needed.
Thus, St. John’s hard truths are not meant to discourage. They are meant to sober us and send us running to the doctor.
Now look, you’ve got it bad and that ain’t good. But the Good news is, there is a doctor in the house. Run to him now, he’s calling you!
Originally posted at: adw.org
“Pray The Rosary To Convert The Most Hardened Sinners And Most Obstinate Heretics!”
By: St. Louis Marie de Montfort
Dear ministers of the Most High, you my fellow priests who preach the truth of God and who teach the gospel to all nations… I beg of you to beware of thinking of the Rosary as something of little importance—as do ignorant people and even several great but proud scholars. Far from being insignificant, the Rosary is a priceless treasure which is inspired by God.
Almighty God has given it to you because He wants you to use it as a means to convert the most hardened sinners and the most obstinate heretics. He has attached to it grace in this life and glory in the next. The saints have said it faithfully and the Popes have indorsed it.
When the Holy Spirit has revealed this secret to a priest and director of souls, how blessed is that priest! For the vast majority of people fail to know this secret or else only know it superficially. If such a priest really understands this secret he will say the Rosary every day and will encourage others to say it. God and His Blessed Mother will pour abundant grace into his soul, so that he may become God’s instrument for His glory; and his word, though simple, will do more good in one month than that of other preachers in several years.
Therefore, my dear brethren and fellow priests, it will not be enough for us to preach this devotion to others; we must practice it ourselves. Even if we firmly believed in the importance of the Holy Rosary but never said it ourselves, people could hardly be expected to act upon our advice, for no one can give what he does not have: “Jesus began to do and to teach”. We ought to pattern ourselves on Our Blessed Lord, Who began by practicing what He preached. We ought to emulate Saint Paul who knew and preached nothing but Jesus Crucified. This is really and truly what you will be doing if you preach the Holy Rosary. It is not just a conglomeration of Our Fathers and Hail Marys, but on the contrary it is a divine summary of the mysteries of the life, passion, death and glory of Jesus and Mary.
I could tell you at great length of the grace God gave me to know by experience the effectiveness of the preaching of the Holy Rosary and of how I have seen, with my own eyes, the most wonderful conversions it has brought about. I would gladly tell you all these things if I thought that it would move you to preach this beautiful devotion, in spite of the fact that priests are not in the habit of doing so these days. But instead of all this I think it will be quite enough for this little summary that I am writing if I tell you a few ancient but authentic stories about the Holy Rosary.
This article was excerpted from St. Louis de Montfort’s Secret of the Rosary, Montfort Publications, 1991.