Wild Grapes are all Around Us!

By Fr. Stephen V. Hamilton,

In Scripture the vineyard is always an image for the gathering of God’s People. As the Prophet Isaiah himself says, the vineyard is Israel. Later, upon Israel’s failure to recognize and accept Jesus as the awaited Messiah, the vineyard is the Church as the fulfillment of the gathering of God’s People, open to anyone who will produce the fruit of the kingdom. By faith and baptism we are called to be members of Jesus’ Body and we are called to belong to the only Church he himself established: the Catholic Church.

But we are not called to belong to the vineyard of the Church for the purpose of our own praises or to simply be members, as if in a club. Rather, taking the plain lesson of the Scriptures, we are called to belong to Jesus and to his Church in order to produce the fruit of God’s Kingdom.

The obvious question for us then is:

Will we produce the fruit of God’s kingdom?

Will we be a crop of “wild grapes” or will we produce the fruit of holiness and virtue that are signs that we are the cultivated and beloved vintage of God’s kingdom?

Two recent pictures I came across in the news serve as images to me that our world has us surrounded by wild grapes, bad fruit. The first is a picture from some mass protest. A man associated with an organization promoting the abandonment of Christianity is pictured. The organization claims Christianity and false beliefs about Jesus (things like Jesus is God) are responsible for many of the world’s problems. The kicker is this: the man is holding a sign reading “If Jesus returns, kill him again.” Let that sink in. “If Jesus returns, kill him again.”

The second picture is from one of the recent hurricanes whose force ripped ships loose from their moorings. I think the image of a boat ripped from its anchor, tossed about, and causing untold damage as it thrashes and beats against everything in its vicinity is an apt image of our world at this time. Christians and historic Christian lands have abandoned the true faith. In other cases, the label “Christian” remains but the substance is not the Gospel but rather a nonsensical, irrational “tolerance” that betrays the real point: that nothing is really so true as to stake your life on it, except of course for anything that it is fashionable to tolerate. And the wild grapes are wider than the abandonment of Christianity. Other religions and even non-religious people seem to have lost the ability to reason and have become unhinged from the foundation of truth, tossed about like a boat torn from its anchor.

So Many Wild Grapes!

Radical extremist Islam has a well-documented trail of blood demonstrating its violence. Yet it is not uncommon to find that secular elites can’t bring themselves to admit that, at the very least, this does present a problem for the whole of Islam that it must address in an authoritative way if it can be permitted for even a second to be called the religion of peace. The wild grapes of our world don’t stop with throwing off the moorings of Jesus, the Bible, and the Church. They even throw off clear undeniable facts in order to self-define and self-identify who and what they are, who they are with, who they marry and more. Most children learn from an early age and certainly by sixth grade science class that the reproductive system bespeaks the truth of male and female relationships. Not anymore. And there goes marriage too. Now not even the body gets to speak with any finality because despite the truth of genetic make-up modern man can claim to be the other sex and even alter his physical truth. But of course, it’s people like you and me who are the unscientific ones, believing all sorts of crazy fantasy. The irony is actually deeper than the intellectual force of these unhinged arguments.

What Must Catholics Do?

Wild grapes are all around us. We are foolish if we think we can sit back and be generally nice and they won’t overtake us and choke us off like wild vines always do against choice vines. So, let me ask again: Will we produce the fruit of God’s kingdom? The world needs disciples, and the Lord requires disciples, to be witnesses of truth and to produce the fruit of God’s kingdom. This is sorely needed in our time. There are many necessary responses to the crises of our time. I don’t pretend to know them all and I can’t overload you with many of them. But I do want to highlight one that has power and one that has historically been our uniquely Catholic response. It is invoking daily the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary who brought Truth in the flesh to this world, her Son Jesus Christ! October is a month typically dedicated to one particularly strong and valuable spiritual practice – a spiritual weapon even – the Holy Rosary. October is dedicated to the Rosary because of the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary (October 7), which is itself directly related to the memorial of how navies from Christian empires defeated invading Islam at the Battle of Lepanto in 1571. Since the Christian navies were largely outnumbered by the Islamic navies the Pope called upon all of Christian Europe to pray the Rosary for success in the battle. The Christian victory was considered miraculous and attributed to Mary’s intercession. The pope then established an annual feast day called Our Lady of Victory, which later has come to be called the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary. In our modern age we can tend to forget that we are in battle. Most definitely we must be clear that each disciple is in personal spiritual battle to produce the fruit of God’s kingdom and to deny Satan and his kingdom. But we are also in a battle external to ourselves. A battle for culture. A battle for the meaning of human sexuality, marriage, and the family. The Rosary is a weapon we would be foolish to ignore. It will change you personally. It will also impact the world around us in ways we cannot foresee.

I am not giving strong direction to learn and pray the Rosary as if it is the only prayer a Catholic should say. There are many ways to pray and we each need to pray in various ways. But I am saying that we should not ignore the Rosary. If prayed as it is intended, it is a type of meditation and it places us before the mystery of God’s saving plan for us, even as it invokes the Blessed Mother for our needs. In the 1950s Pope Pius XII released a document promoting the recitation of the Holy Rosary. But the title of that document might surprise you. The document on praying the Rosary is called Ingruentium Malorum, which in Latin means “In the face of approaching evils.” Pius XII’s description of the conflicts, the bloodshed, and the attempts to undermine the faith even of children in the 50s might make you think the document was written today. In this 100th anniversary year of Mary’s appearance at Fatima we cannot express surprise that one of the visionaries reported that the final battle between Satan and the Church would be over marriage and family life. But Mary, being the fulfillment of the woman in Genesis who crushes the serpent’s head, is a powerful intercessor in this battle.

We Should Pick Up Our Rosaries.

Pick up a pamphlet from church that teaches its recitation. Go online for resources to learn how to pray it. Use it at home in your family. Pray at least some part of it even if you can’t keep small children’s attention for the whole Rosary. From personal experience I can tell you that if you have a drive of at least about 14 miles (that’s from Edmond to the Cathedral, by the way!), you have time to get a Rosary in. Do not leave this weapon sheathed and dull. The Rosary will change you. It will aid your personal battles. It will help you produce the fruits of God’s kingdom. And, in so doing, it will help you be a valuable part in the battle for the soul of our world.

How to Understand Sin?

What is the Difference between Mortal and Venial Sin?

By Fr. Chris Pietraszko:

Although venial sin is lite, we ought to not treat any sin lightly. If we understand sin beyond a moral philosophy we may rather understand it from the point of view of a relationship. Venial sins are akin to the thorns piercing the sacred head of our Lord, while mortal sins are the nails that crucify and kill our Lord. While the thorns cause less damage that is not mortal, they arise from the same spirit that wants to put an end to our Lord. They hurt and betray Him, and they ultimately lead to a lack of reverence towards Christ that snowballs into His own murder.

Today some think that being zealous about avoiding venial sin is a form of scruples. Only when we inflate venial as mortal or good acts as sinful ones, does this apply. But to avoid offending God for that sake alone, is praiseworthy.

Mortal sin is to kill the life of grace which is nothing more than the very life of Christ within us. Venial therefore always leads to mortal sin, in that it’s spirit generates a hatred for Christ that will grow into banishing Him from our own sanctification.

In this, let us regret our thorns we press into His head, by also recognizing the mercy that pours out from His head for our sake.

Listen … We are at War.

“Secular War on the Supernatural.”

Fr. Richard Heilman, Roman Catholic Man:

Listen … We are at war. Dr. Alice von Hildebrand rightly called it a “Secular War on the Supernatural.” All the myriad life-and-death battles being fought on the socio-political and religious fronts today are mere symptoms of the root conflict – Satan and his secular army are at war with the supernatural. And, in this war, the vast majority of us are like a bunch of buck privates running around like chickens with their heads cut off … not following orders, with no supernatural body armor and no supernatural weapons … we’re sitting ducks for the enemy. Why? Because we think we can fight supernatural realities with our natural means. Or, we simply do not believe in supernatural realities.

In his letter to Timothy, St. Paul warns of these times:

“But understand this: there will be terrifying times in the last days. People will be self-centered and lovers of money, proud, haughty, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, irreligious, callous, implacable, slanderous, licentious, brutal, hating what is good, traitors, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, as they make a pretense of religion but deny its power. Reject them” (2 Timothy 3:1-5).

but deny its power
but deny its power
but deny its power

This has been the campaign of the devil all along … root out any belief in the supernatural which then gives the devil the upper hand in this war. The strong insurgency began with the pride-filled, so-called Enlightenment of the 18th century that paved the way for the Communist Russian Revolution which was unleashed in … wait for it … 1917. What are the errors of Russia? Communism is an atheistic ideology that ultimately denies God’s natural order and natural law, which God inscribed on the hearts of men. Ultimately, it denies the supernatural.

In 1917 … in the days between Our Lady of Fatima’s June 13 apparition and July 13 apparition, Pope Benedict XV released his timely encyclical, Humani Generis Redemptionem on June 15, 1917. It would prove to be prophetic. In it he addressed an issue that he “looked upon as a matter of the greatest and most momentous concern” …

“If on the other hand, we examine the state of public and private morals, the constitutions and laws of nations, we shall find that there is a general disregard and forgetfulness of the supernatural, a gradual falling away from the strict standard of Christian virtue, and that men are slipping back more and more into the shameful practices of paganism.”

This is the leftist agenda, in nutshell … whether they are consciously aware of it or not.

So, you can see, Our Lady appears as this war against the supernatural is erupting. Out of love for her children, she is pulling out all of the stops, including reminding us of the consequence of lives lived away from God – she showed them Hell.

The 7 Deadly Sins

Catholic Journal, Fr. Joseph Esper:

The 7 Deadly Sins

The 7 Deadly Sins

Once there was a liberal clergyman who became pastor of a somewhat traditional church, and after a few weeks of listening to his modernistic, politically-correct preaching, some of his parishioners came to him and asked, “Reverend, do you believe in the devil and in hell?” The pastor scoffed at these ideas and responded, “No, of course not; those are silly medieval superstitions.” To this, the parishioners said, “Well, then, please resign and go somewhere else—for if there is no devil and no hell, we don’t need you, and if there is a devil and a hell, we don’t want to be led astray by you” (David F. Burgess, Encyclopedia of Sermon Illustrations, #451). The Church has always taught the reality of the devil, and the possibility of being eternally damned along with him as a result of the spiritual warfare he wages against us. For instance, Pope Francis has stated that the devil “exists in the 21st century, and we need to learn from the Gospel how to battle against him,” and also that “the presence of the devil is on the first page of the Bible, and the Bible ends as well with the presence of the devil, with the victory of God over [him].” It is not only mistaken, but also spiritually foolish—and potentially disastrous—to deny or ignore the devil’s existence. He hates each one of us personally, and is always plotting and working against us, seeking our eternal damnation. Only by remaining on guard against him, and by using the spiritual weapons and defenses the Lord provides us through the Church, can we be sure of defeating his attacks and of one day reaching our true home in heaven.

Jesus uses the image of weeds among the wheat to explain why evildoers are to be found in the world and even in the Church. However, it’s also possible to interpret this parable on a more personal basis: namely, Satan is trying to sow his evil seeds of sin and spiritual destruction in our own lives—and it’s our duty guard against this threat. The devil studies us very carefully, taking note of our strengths and weaknesses, our habits and inclinations, and he shrewdly chooses the particular temptations and attacks best suited to overcome us—all the while striving to work behind the scenes without us suspecting anything. Therefore, it’s good to ask the Holy Spirit to enlighten us. In this regard, we might ask ourselves: what particular evil seeds is the devil attempting to sow in the field of our lives?

The Church speaks of the “Seven Deadly Sins,” which are anger, envy, gluttony, greed, lust, pride, and sloth or laziness. Every human being is weak or easily tempted in at least one of these areas, and probably several of them—and so these are usually the focus of the devil’s attacks.

  • In regard to anger, for instance, the devil wants us to nurse grudges and refuse to forgive other people, to become impatient with their failings, and to overreact to the things about them that annoy us.
  • Satan tries to use the sin of envy against us by getting us to compare ourselves with others, to adopt an “entitlement mentality,” and to consider ourselves better than those around us.
  • Because we Americans are, compared to most people, very self-indulgent, the devil has found gluttony to be a fertile field for his evil seeds. He tempts us to overdo life’s legitimate pleasures, to disdain or reject sacrifice and self-control, and to ignore other people’s poverty or suffering.
  • Greed is also a common weakness in our society, so Satan tempts us to want more money and possessions, more technology and convenience, and more luxury and leisure—when we should instead be concerned with storing up treasure for ourselves in heaven.
  • Lust is a particularly fertile field for the devil’s seeds; as Our Lady of Fatima revealed, more souls are in hell for sins against the 6th Commandment than any other. Satan is constantly tempting us to misuse sex, to glorify and expose our bodies, and to treat other people as objects for our own pleasure.
  • Pride is the sin which transformed Lucifer, the greatest of all the angels, into the hideous creature of Satan—and so the devil delights in using this sin against us. He wants us to think, “I’m superior to others, I know what’s best for me, and no one is going to tell me how to live my life”—for such attitudes make spiritual growth impossible, while causing us to reject the God-given authority and saving power of the Church.
  • Even if all these temptations fail, the devil will try to get us to fall victim to sloth, or spiritual laziness, in which we know we have to repent or take our spiritual duties more seriously, but we just can’t motivate ourselves to get started. Instead of striving for holiness, Satan wants us to settle for being good enough—for that may eventually allow him to turn us against God.

Other snares of the devil include poisoning our relationships, distracting us with this life’s concerns so that we’re always too busy or preoccupied to pay attention to God, making us afraid to do what’s right because of what other people might say, inflating our egos by appealing to our natural desire to be popular and praised by others, and trying to discourage us by convincing us we’ll never overcome our faults and that holiness is beyond our reach.

Farmers use weed-killers or pesticides to prevent or remove weeds in their fields, and fertilizer to nourish the crop and bring about the greatest possible growth. The most potent weed-killer against Satan’s evil seeds of spiritual destruction is humility. The more we humble ourselves, the more God’s grace can be at work within us, helping us overcome our faults and grow in holiness. In particular, frequently examining our consciences and regularly receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation will ensure the devil will not gain a solid foothold in our lives. As far as the spiritual fertilizer we need, worthily receiving Holy Communion each weekend is the single greatest thing we can do to be made ready for eternal life in heaven. Other valuable means of tending the field of our souls include reading the Bible and other worthwhile spiritual books, setting aside time for prayer every day, seeking God’s guidance in all our decisions, learning more about our Catholic faith, submitting to the authority of the Church on moral and religious issues, praying for the conversion of sinners and for the souls in purgatory, and cultivating a loving relationship with the Virgin Mary, our guardian angels, and our favorite saints. Satan is real; he is hate-filled and dangerous, and is conducting spiritual warfare against each of us personally. However, the devil is doomed to fail—if we take our faith seriously, and if we make a loving relationship with Jesus our highest priority.

Satan, Diabolical Nicety and You

Sword of Truth, by Fr. Nathan Siray,

In a short span of time, St. Peter went from being proclaimed  the steadfast Rock on which Jesus Christ would built His Holy Church to being rebuked as having the spirit of Satan within his

A false image of Satan.

When Christians hear the name Satan, they tend to think of the  devil as we commonly depict him: some sort of a red fiery goat creature with a pitchfork, pointed horns and in all honesty not all that frightening as he looks more like cartoon character than the Prince of Darkness. But the Jewish people thought of Satan in a different manner, based on the meaning of his name in Hebrew. The name Satan can be best translated as the accuser. They understood Satan to not be a fiendish centaur-like monster but instead a fallen angel who was the adversary of God but who was nonetheless permitted by God to act as an accuser against humanity.

In both the Book of Job and the Book of the Prophet Zechariah, we read how Satan was permitted to stand before the Throne of God, surrounded by the angelic court, and act as an accuser against the actions of humanity. God permitted His servants to undergo temptation and satanic manipulation and they proved to be faithful to God when put to the test.

Our Lord made frequent references to the activity and influence of Satan throughout His ministry, Himself undergoing temptation from the Evil One, and revealing how this adversary of God even tried to accuse Jesus of failing to act as God’s Son by not using His divine power to give himself bread to eat or to show how God would save Him from harm.

In rebuking St Peter and calling him a Satan, our Lord was showing a loving concern for the newly appointed leader of the Church in helping St Peter to realize that he, like the Devil, was acting as an accuser, by trying to dissuade Jesus from undergoing His Passion and regarding the coming of God’s Kingdom in all too human terms. St Peter had fallen under the influence of the cunning serpent and rightly needed to be rebuked by Christ, dispelling whatever satanic manipulation St Peter had undergone by once again saying Yes to the will of His Heavenly Father in accepting the royal road to the Cross and Resurrection.

If St. Peter, the Rock on which Christ built His church, was able to fall under the dark spell of the Evil One and become both an adversary and accuser against Christ, even if only for a passing moment, than we should not be surprised that Satan will look to deceive and manipulate other men and women in leadership positions and have them cause grave evil in the world.

Often, the machinations and deceiving influence of the Devil appears as actions that are seen as praiseworthy and good for society yet beneath these words and actions are what one could call “diabolical nicety.”

Take for example the recent actions of a prominent world leader, one that was baptized Catholic and has spoken of himself as being a practicing member of our Church in his own estimation. This world leader sent out a message on twitter recently congratulating Planned Parenthood, the largest abortion provider in the United States and elsewhere in the world, on their 100th anniversary and looked forward to their next 100 years, using the hashtag #100yearsstong. This tweet contained no words of profanity or overtly satanic references, but these words, as nice as they might sound, are sheer evil as this world leader gave thanks for 100 years of killing more than 100 million unborn children and hoped that the slaughter of the silent innocents will continue for another century. This is but one example of diabolical nicety, using politically correct language and appealing words like human rights, tolerance, progress, reproductive health and others to disguise and give praise for what is evil in the Lord’s sight.

Satan will not hesitate to use the powerful, elegant, attractive,  influential and ambitious of our world to continue the work of being the adversary and accuser of both God and His People. When a man or woman of incredible gifts and talents have not given their hearts to God and seek to serve first His kingdom and glory, than those gifts and talents can so easily be used by Satan, but more often than not disguised behind a smile and elegant words that sounds appealing and caring but in truth reek of evil and lies of hell.

Since the days of the Roman Caesars, who did not hesitate to kill God’s Holy People, both young and old, our Church has taken it upon herself to pray for men and women in positions of leadership. Be they political, religious, economic or media leaders, we, as God’s Holy People, must pray for the conversion of countless individuals who are carrying out the work of Satan in our world, most especially when these individuals are totally blind to the demonic influence that is compelling them to speak and act in a spirit of diabolical nicety. In addition to prayer and penance for these individuals, we  must also be courageous in acting out against the lies that they proclaim. We must make our voices heard when evil is promoted as good. We must manifest our faith for others to see and realize that doing so will cause people to hate us. We must give voice to those who have no means to speak. In all things, we must drown out the evil of this world in an abundance of good.

St. Peter might have allowed Satan to deceive him and cause him be become a momentary accuser and adversary of Christ. But we know he was reconciled to the Lord and remained faithful to Jesus, dying crucified upon on upside down Cross under the orders of the Emperor Nero, who is an example of a leader who had become a pawn of Satan.

Let us ask the Prince of the Apostles to intercede for all men and women of influence and power who have become adversaries of Jesus Christ, that they will recognize the evil they are doing and seek to repent and be reconciled back to Heart of Jesus Christ lest they face His dread judgment for their wicked and evil deeds.

Anxious Over Up-coming Persecution?

“It is So Crazy Out Here!”

By Fr. Charles Nwora Okeke:

The trial of persecution is no fun: “We should not wish persecution upon ourselves, and it does us no good to always be thinking of it. However, if God would permit that we experience persecution, we pray that He grants us the grace that we may find the courage to live our faith without flinching”.

Doomsday PreppersIt is not uncommon to meet with Catholics who are more ready for the final persecution than they are willing to deny themselves presently, take up their cross and follow Jesus. They know everything about the purported three days of darkness, and have stocked up on blessed candles, etc. Some have even set up rooms at home for the private celebration of the Mass during the persecution. It is so crazy out here.

Our spirituality should not be rooted in vain preparation for persecution, final or not, but rather in the desire to go to heaven and be with Christ forever. We should not wish persecution upon ourselves, and it does us no good to always be thinking of it. However, if God would permit that we experience persecution, we pray that He grants us the grace that we may find the courage to live our faith without flinching.

True Preparation

Instead of raising our anxiety levels and those of others by constantly harping on the end-time persecution, we should spend more time building up on sources of strength and boldness that feed our resolution to firmly live the truth under all circumstances. We train ourselves daily in virtue rooted in the holy fear of God; we foster our desire for eternal glory. Keeping in mind that we are living members of the Mystical Body of which Christ is the Head, we spare no efforts to attain to holiness so as to be worthy of this Body in which we are united in bonds of grace and love. In this single Body, we must love one another; help one another and serve one another. In this way, we grow spiritually strong, ready for whatever trial God permits to come our way.

To Save Souls You Must be Holy

By Fr. Daniel E. Doctor,

If the Prophet Isaiah were alive today,  I don’t think God’s message through him would be much different in our times.  First, we are instructed to “observe what is right.”  This means we take notice of the things around us, we see and perceive not just the surface, but what are the motives of our actions.  We discern and judge the moral weight of the situation we find ourselves in.  Then we seek what is proper and moral, ethical and honorable, we honestly seek what is right, good and true.  So that by our actions we execute, accomplish, and achieve the goal of our human existence namely, salvation in Christ Jesus, Our Lord.  To be just like God means we are virtuous, impartial, loving all equally, so that before men we are fair-minded in our attitudes, disciplined in our behavior, and give to others what they are due – namely dignity and respect . . . and to love as Christ loves.

And why do we do these things?

“Because our salvation is about to come . . .” Our means of deliverance from sins, is based solely on our willingness to forgive others, our means of escaping hell is based on our ability to love and show mercy.  If we ever hope to receive love and mercy from God, St. Teresa of Avila, the great Doctor of the Church on the spiritual life, firmly taught her sisters, that it would be most beneficial to your souls to learn and understand what Christ saved you from . . . namely eternal damnation in hell.

The Prophet warns us, “God’s justice is about to be revealed . . .” which means God is coming to give each person what they are due for a good or bad life.  What we think or what the world thinks no longer matters (if it ever did). Now what God thinks is our due is about to be revealed.  And we already know the standard of judgement that will be used against us.  Did we treat others the way Christ would have treated them?  Have we given to others as if they were Christ Himself?  Have we loved like God with the limited time we have been given?  This is the standard.  Did we live our lives like Jesus’ lived his, as a complete gift of self in service for others?

And so, we come to the conclusion that we need prayer.  God leads us there by saying to the Prophet, “For my house shall be called “a House of Prayer” for all people . . .”

When we come before this great and almighty Lord, who is our God, present here in the Tabernacle, is there a certain way we should conduct ourselves?

Yes!  Yes, there is! The Prophet Habakkuk taught, “The Lord is in His Holy Temple; let all the earth be silent before Him.”  The prophet Zephaniah taught, “Stand in silence in the presence of the Sovereign Lord, for the awesome day of the Lord’s judgment is near. The Lord has prepared His people for a great slaughter and has chosen their executioners.”  Even the book of Psalms makes reference to this, “Be silent in the Lord’s presence and wait patiently for Him.”  If the Old Testament was not enough guidance to tell us how we should act in the presence of God, we even receive similar advice from the Saints.  St. Faustina wrote in her diary, “A soul that has never tasted the sweetness of inner silence is a restless spirit which disturbs the silence of others.”  Or St. Mother Teresa who taught her sisters, “God speaks in the silence of the heart.”  Or even the great Father, St. Ambrose, who taught, “What ought we to learn before everything else, but to be silent; so that then we might be able to speak.”

The correct posture before Our Lord is one of silence, because God does not raise His voice to be heard.  He only speaks in whispers.  Therefore, we must be patiently silent and carefully wait for Him to speak.  In the mean time, we observe and seek after the good, the true, and the beautiful.  These things make life on earth much more fulfilling, far happier, and rewarding.  Try and remember the famous, but forgotten, words of Robert Frost, “I took the road less traveled and it made all the difference.”

St. Paul gives us a great insight into the mind of God, “For God delivered all to disobedience, that He might have mercy upon all.”  As St. Paul also taught, in the Letter to the Romans 3:23, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”  So, all humanity is in need of His mercy.  We all need His love.  He is ever ready to give to us His forgiveness, but the process (at times) may not be so easy.  Look at the Gospel of St. Matthew (15:21-28).  A woman, a Gentile woman, comes begging for our Lord’s help to cure her daughter.  She does not ask for anything for herself, but her love for her daughter gives her the courage and the hope to approach Our Lord and get a favorable response.  What happens next?  “Jesus didn’t say a word in answer to her.” She is completely ignored by Jesus.  Ouch!  That should hurt us a little,  to hear our Lord treat her this way.  But, that does not stop her.  She persists in her calling out to Our Lord for assistance.

Now, even the Apostles are tired of her and say to Our Lord, “Get rid of her.”  No compassion or intercession even from Our Lord’s followers.  Finally, Jesus somewhat acknowledges her by
speaking about her to the Apostles, a clear indication that Jesus still does not want to speak to her directly, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel . . .”  Feeling somewhat acknowledged by our Lord, even though indirectly, she cries out, “Lord help me!” And instead of helping her, He appears to insult her, refers to her as a dog.  Is this a misprint?  Our Lord refers to someone as a DOG, no human dignity or respect in those words.  Oh, but this woman is not done.  Her love for her daughter moves her to even take Jesus’ insults and name calling.  The woman must have thought to herself, “Insult me, I don’t care, just as long as you help me.” And so she suffers it, to which our Lord responds, “. . . your great faith, . . . let it be done as YOU wish. . .”

Here we see again the great kindness and mercy of our Lord to help even when He clearly does not want to.  But, He does the will of the other, for the sake of the other.  Every week we come here
and hear of such great faith from those who were around Jesus when He lived on earth.  These events in the life of Jesus are meant to inspire us to great faith, to perform great acts of love in our lives.  The late Blessed Cardinal John Henry Newman, shortly before becoming a Catholic said, “I believe that the Roman Catholic Church is the true Church of Jesus Christ, but where is the mark of holiness? where are the Saints?” Fantastic question!  Where are they?  Those who know me well, have heard me say many times, “I entered the seminary for fives years and when I came out, I could no longer find the Catholic Church.”  Where is the One, Holy, Catholic, Apostolic Church? Where are Her saints? Why and where are they hiding?

To be able to persevere in right judgement, just thinking, to be silent and have a reverential fear before God. . .  To be humble and contrite, this is the path of holiness, the way of the Saints. Because God will have mercy on our human weakness, as long as we are faithful and persevere.  We do this because this is what will win us salvation.  It may not be the popular or the most rewarding or even the easiest way.  But, out of love for our God, we persevere in His ways if they are easy or not; if they cause us difficulty or not.  We don’t hide as Catholics.  We don’t run in fear. But, we fight for a better world for those we love.  We can no longer sit on our hands when faced with such evils that are in this world today.

Therefore, what do Catholics do?  We fight, as Pope Leo XIII, reminds us, “Catholics are made for combat.”  We were confirmed by the Holy Spirit to be soldiers.  Our best weapons are our Rosary and Eucharistic Adoration.  But, these are not, and should not be, the only weapons at our disposal.  We need to learn our faith so we can defend it.

In 1972, Bishop Fulton Sheen asked a very important question, that as Catholics we better wake up and listen to.  “Who is going to save our Church?” he asked.  His answer, “not our bishops, not our priests, and religious. It is up to you, the people. You have the minds, the eyes, the ears to save the Church.  Your mission,” he continued, “is to see that your priests act like priests, your bishops act like a bishops, and your religious act like religious.”

Well, all anyone has to do is take a good hard look at this diocese and see how this has not been the case for far too long.  This is why Bishop Sheen said, “to save souls we must be holy, for God does not use dirty tools.”  It would do us good to wake up quickly to God’s call to holiness, before the Church is completely gone from our society.

Therefore, listen carefully to the words Our Lord gives to us, words of great wisdom, power, and love.  Let us aspire to the greatness that is ours as Catholics and with great joy open our hearts to God’s call to authentic holiness, not only in our words and in our prayers, but most especially in our actions.

On This Day 400 Years Ago: St. Rose of Lima Entered Heaven


by Fr. Arnaud Devillers, FSSP, pastor of St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church, Quincy, IL:  

Our Saint loved Jesus Christ and His Blessed Mother, the Virgin Mary, and Saint Catherine of Sienna and her guardian angel, with so fervent a love, that they, to reward her, often visited her, and conversed with her in a familiar manner. She had in this way learned that she should die on Saint Bartholomew’s day. Having attained her thirty-first year, she not only knew that her hour was come, but also that in her passage from life to death she must endure incredible torments.

On the first of August, she went to her room at night in perfect health; but at midnight she was heard crying and groaning piteously, and the wife of Don Gonzalez, to whose house she had removed before her illness, found her extended half dead on the floor, cold, without pulse, motionless, and scarcely breathing. The physicians came to visit her in that state, and with them her confessor, who, commanded her to describe to them her sufferings. “It seems,” said she, “as if a ball of fire were forced into my temples, that it descended to my feet, and passed across from my left side to my right with an insupportable heat – as if my heart were lacerated by a burning dagger; and the invisible hand which guides it pierces me sometimes from head to foot, and then crossing from side to side, engraves the figure of a cross on my body with this instrument, which burns me with all the violence of the hottest fire. I feel as if my bowels were being torn out with burning pincers, and my head burns as if heated coals, just taken from a flaming furnace, were placed upon it. In fact, I believe that when I die, my bones will be found reduced to ashes, and the marrow dried up, from the effects of the burning heat which I endure.”

Though she suffered so much, God preserved miraculously her mind sound and entire till her last breath. By a further favor He granted her the use of her tongue, to make known her thoughts till she died. She was often seen during this last illness, without any use of her outward senses, or in raptures in which her soul seemed to leave her body, to unite itself more closely with God.

During her final illness she usually confessed her sins every day; and to dispose herself better for death, she made a general confession of her whole life, with such marks of deep contrition, that her sighs and groans were heard in the room adjoining. On the third day she received the holy Viaticum and Extreme Unction. Almighty God had revealed to her that her soul, on leaving the body, would pass immediately to Heaven and would not have to suffer the pains of Purgatory. She said twice: “Jesus be with me, Jesus be with me.” and died. It was shortly after Midnight on August 24th, 1617, the feast of St. Bartholomew.