Keep your eyes open!...


August 31, 2017  

(Mat 28:20) .... And behold I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world.

NEWS REPORT: Lifting spirits: Texas woman breaks out into incredible gospel performance inside Hurricane Harvey shelter

REV. JOHN H. HAMPSCH, C.M.F: Where is God When I Need Him?

“Where’s the milk?” asks the time-pressed, breakfast-hustling husband.

“Where it always is—on the shelf in the fridge,” chirps the patient wife.

Life is punctuated with countless seemingly “urgent” questions that have simple and often overlooked or even ignored answers. One such question that bounces around in the mind of almost every human, sometimes almost as a petulant demand, at other times, just a silent, drifting cloud of wonder, is this:

Where is God when I need him?

To that challenging and often anger-darkened question, Jesus, in his serene majesty—like that indulgent wife countering the querulous husband--provides a simple but often overlooked answer, clearly, succinctly and trenchantly: “Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age" (Matt. 28:20). Right here with us!? So that’s where he is! That promise implies not only perpetuity (“until the end of the age”), but also continuity (“always”).

That divine presence almost cries out for our sustained awareness. The positive love-charged awareness of this truth is called the practice of the presence of God. When practiced in the midst of suffering—“when I need him”—it is not only comforting and consoling, but also enormously soul-sanctifying.

The basic truth of our Creator’s unwavering presence is reasserted insistently throughout his word: “God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you” (Heb. 13:5); and this segues into a quote from Psalm 118, urging us not to fear adversities. God’s promised presence was given to all of Israel (Deut. 31:6), and reaffirmed to Joshua (Josh 1:5) and Solomon (1Chron. 28:20).

However, Jesus also tells us that someday our very demanding questioning about his presence in our anguish (“when I need him”) will become irrelevant to us: “You are now in anguish. But I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy away from you. On that day you will not question me about anything” (John 16:22-23).

“On that day”—the day of his Second Coming—our petty questioning of God’s presence “when we need him” will seem utterly silly. On that day faith-anemic souls—that’s most of us—will be embarrassed by having questioned or doubted God’s presence in our suffering, especially as we recall Jesus’ own question, in response to our question: “When the Son of Man comes again [to restore peace to fallen humanity] will there be any faith left on earth?” [at the close of the great tribulation] (Luke 18:8).

Job, though he was the holiest man on earth in his time, questioned the Lord about the apparent “absence of God” in time of suffering, often with no answer to prayers for relief (like Paul’s apparently non-answered prayer in 2 Cor. 12:8-9. Job’s questioning of God was countered by God questioning him (Job 40:4). Then the Lord staggered him with a stultifying theophany (42:3-6) that answered, for him alone, his questions as to why innocent people suffer, with God often apparently absent or ignoring them. That answer will be crystal clear to each of us at the time of Jesus’ Second Coming (John 16:23).

As spiritually anorexic children of God, we have a starving need to be nourished with God’s life-sustaining love, while at the same time never denying that suffering itself is a mystery for us in this life—an ineffable, inscrutable, and disturbing mystery. Jesus’ prophesied period of our non-questioning coincides with the non-suffering period—“when your hearts will rejoice.” That mystery ends with the Parousia (Jesus’ Second Coming) and will be clear throughout eternity. The mysterious aspect provides the perfect opportunity to practice faith. The stronger our faith in the face of mystery, the greater the grace-flow.

As we grow in our reliance and trust in God’s loving presence, and in his mysterious providence that fashions crowns from crosses, we’ll find ourselves, like Paul, advancing from complaint to gratitude (2 Cor. 12:9) for our life’s lacerating thorns. As we strive to cope with our harrowing trials in this vale of tears, while snuggling into God’s compassionate embrace, heaven itself will begin to come into view even as we suffer. But this “joy in facing trials of many kinds” (James 1:2), and Jesus prophecy, “your hearts will rejoice” can be experienced only by those whose faith in God (trust) is firm enough to avoid petulantly demanding answers to “where is God when I need him?” We’ve all heard the many “why?” questions uttered by persons suffering pain and misfortunes. Why me? Why this hurt rather than another kind? Why doesn’t God answer my prayer? Why does God allow others to cause or aggravate my suffering? Why do some get miraculous healings and I don’t? Why does my suffering last so long?, etc., etc.

The question, “Where is God when I need him?” is a generic question that implicitly embraces many forms the “Why?” questions. All such “why” questions clearly reflect a weakness in one’s faith, and ultimately an absence of trust in God, as well as an insincerity in reciting the Lord’s Prayer—“Thy will be done,” because when unaware of his presence they don’t relate to him in a personal way, and hence don’t see the Lord as being “in the driver’s seat” by his loving providence, by which all unavoidable sufferings are the unfolding of God’s will.

Commenting on Paul’s words, “In God we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28), St. Anthony Claret remarked that in his own life he felt that he related to God like a fish in water or a bird surrounded by air.” This brought him overwhelming support in his many hardships and sufferings.

St. Teresa of Avila said, “Those who pray or offer their sufferings while aware of God’s presence, feel that he is looking on them, while others may go for days without even once recollecting that God sees them at every moment.” This insight of St. Teresa is reminiscent of the words of James 4:8: “Come near to God and he will come near to you.” And that scriptural pericope is reminiscent of this bumper sticker that I saw recently, which epitomizes the entire spiritual issue of cultivating the practice of the presence of God—especially for suffering persons:



MEDITATION: Thoughts by St Theophan (1815-1894)

[I Cor. 1:26-29; Matt. 20:29-34]

The two blind men of Jericho cry out, and the Lord returns their sight to them. But could these blind men have been the only ones in those places? Of course not. Why did these receive vision, but not the others? Because those did not cry out; and they did not cry out because they did not have hope; they did not have hope because they did not please God; they did not please God, because they had little faith.

When true faith comes to man, he begins to please God from that very moment; with pleasing God hope comes hope, and from all of this comes prayer, compelling every help from above. Such people meet no refusal. They know both how to ask, in fact know that they should ask, they understand the limits to their asking, and they have patient persistence in prayer. All of this is indispensably necessary for success, for prayer by itself has feeble wings.

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 15- "On incorruptible purity and chastity"

21. Some have extolled those who are eunuchs by nature, because they are delivered from the martyrdom of the body; but I daily extol those who make themselves eunuchs by castrating their bad thoughts as with a knife (cf. Matt. 19:12).

August 29, 2017

(Mat 25:37-40)  Then shall the just answer him, saying: Lord, when did we see thee hungry and fed thee: thirsty and gave thee drink? Or when did we see thee a stranger and took thee in? Or naked and covered thee? Or when did we see thee sick or in prison and came to thee? And the king answering shall say to them: Amen I say to you, as long as you did it to one of these my least brethren, you did it to me.

CNS: Catholic groups are mobilizing to help in Hurricane Harvey's aftermath

Catholic dioceses and charities are quickly organizing to help in the aftermath of a Category 4 hurricane that made landfall with heavy rains and winds of 130 miles per hour late Aug. 25 into the Rockport, Texas area, northeast of Corpus Christi. The National Weather Service said in a tweet Aug. 27 that the rainfall expected after the hurricane and storm are over "are beyond anything experienced before."

The hurricane, named Harvey, is said to be the strongest one to hit the United States in more than a decade and perhaps the strongest one to make landfall in Texas.
Catholic Charities USA, as well as the Society of St. Vincent de Paul Disaster Services, announced early on Aug. 26 that they're mobilizing to help an as-yet-unknown number of persons affected by the hurricane. The Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops has a list of charities helping with the disaster listed on its website at

Authorities reported at least five casualties as of Aug. 27, but because of safety issues, not many emergency teams have been yet able to respond to the aftermath and much of the damage is unknown. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott declared the state a disaster area, which will allow federal money to help in reconstruction. Catholic groups said they want to help with the immediate needs of the communities affected.

"We will be sending in rapid-response teams to help our impacted St. Vincent de Paul councils and we are coordinating nationally with the Knights of Columbus, Knights of Malta and (Catholic Charities USA)," said Elizabeth Disco-Shearer, CEO of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul USA.

Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, on Aug. 27 urged "all people of goodwill to closely monitor future calls for assistance for victims and survivors in the days ahead."  The cardinal also is the head of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, one of the hardest-hit areas.  "Hurricane Harvey hit the Gulf Coast in a catastrophic and devastating way this weekend, bringing with it severe flooding and high winds which have taken human life, caused countless injuries, and severely damaged homes and property throughout the region," said the cardinal in an Aug. 27 news release. "The effects of this storm continue to put people in harm's way, with horrific scenes playing out all around, such as those of people trapped on their rooftops as water continues to rise around them. Many dioceses of the church in the United States have been affected; many others will be as the storm continues."

CATHOLIC CHARITIES OF THE ARCHDIOCESE OF GALVESTON-HOUSTON: Donate now and help families recover from Hurricane Harvey

DAILY CALLER: There’s A Catholic Priest Kayaking Around Houston Saying Mass For Victims Of Harvey

A Catholic priest in Houston, Texas, kayaked from his home in the flood-ravaged southeast portion of the city Sunday in search of higher ground, where he hoped to say Mass for those dispersed by Hurricane Harvey.

Father David Bergeron, CC set off by kayak from his home early Sunday in search of displaced Houstonians, particularly those stranded in the streets, who may wish to attend Mass, Houston’s NBC affiliate KPRC reported. Bergeron said he tried to purchase wine for the liturgy at a convenience store, but was precluded from doing so by Texas’ so-called “blue law” which prohibits the sale of alcohol before noon on Sundays.

Bergeron likened the experience to that of the first Christian missionaries in the Americas.

“This is how America was evangelized — by canoe,” he said.

Father Bergeron is a Quebec-born priest and associate director at Houston’s Catholic Charismatic Center, a large congregation of Roman Catholics who identify with the charismatic movement. The Center was not open Sunday given the grave weather and travel conditions.

VATICAN RADIO: Pope Francis: prayers for flood victims in Bangladesh, India, Nepal

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 15- "On incorruptible purity and chastity"

20. With beginners, falls usually occur by reason of luxury; with intermediates, because of haughtiness as well as from the same cause which leads to the fall of the beginners; and with those approaching perfection, solely from judging their neighbour.

August 28, 2017

(1Ti 2:1-4) I desire therefore, first of all, that supplications, prayers, intercessions and thanksgivings be made for all men: For kings and for all that are in high station: that we may lead a quiet and a peaceable life in all piety and chastity. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour, Who will have all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

FOX NEWS: Pope Francis, Christianity threatened in ISIS propaganda video that Vatican aide calls worrying

Pope Francis' top aide said a propaganda video released by Islamic State group militants in the Philippines threatening the pontiff is worrying but notes Vatican security was already at a high level.

Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Holy See's No. 2 official, said he has seen the video of militants desecrating Christian statues and threatening the pope by saying they'll come to Rome, as they tear in half photos of him and his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI.

The video was mostly filmed in the Philippines, where ISIS has been clashing with government forces for control of the city of Marawi, MailOnline reported.

Parolin said: "Obviously, one cannot help but worry, above all for the senseless hatred that it is." But he said the Vatican has not added more measures to its already bolstered security.

Pope Francis, right, hugs Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI prior to the start of a meeting with elderly faithful in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Sunday, Sept. 28, 2014. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)Expand / Collapse An ISIS propaganda video shows photos of Pope Benedict XVI, left, and Pope Francis being torn in half.
In the video, aimed at attacking Christianity, a narrator celebrates “the truthful soldiers of Mohammed” who are fighting in Asia. It shows them setting a church on fire.

The video also features ISIS militants wrecking decorations in a church, including statues of Jesus, Mary and St. Joseph.

“Remember this, you kuffar, we will be in Rome, we will be in Rome, inshallah,” a supposed terrorist named “Abu Jindal” says to the camera.

Photos of Pope Francis and Pope Benedict XVI are shown being ripped in half.

“After all their efforts, it would be the religion of the cross that would be broken,” the narrator says as footage of a church in flames rolls in the background. “The crusader's enmity toward the Muslims only served to embolden a generation of youth.” The propaganda was distributed by ISIS-aligned media organization Al Hayat. It also includes violent clips from fighting scenes in Marawi City – showing dead soldiers and jihadists shooting with AK-47s – while the narrator urges East Asian Muslims to come and “perform jihad,” Catholic News Agency reported.

CATHOLICCITIZENS.ORG: Muslims are taking over Europe faster than we realize

REVIEW: "It's a War on Christians": Muslim Persecution of Christians

RELATED: ISIS says it wants to rebuild the Muslim caliphate in Spain

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 15- "On incorruptible purity and chastity"

19. Certain learned men have well defined renunciation, by saying that it is hostility to the body and a fight against the stomach.

August 25, 2017

(Rev 7:9-10) After this, I saw a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations and tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and in sight of the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands. And they cried with a loud voice, saying: Salvation to our God, who sitteth upon the throne and to the Lamb.


The Last Words Of 25 Catholic Saints

These priests were martyred for refusing to violate the seal of confession
What Did the Saints Say about Islam?

CATHOLIC STANDARD: Communion of saints can intercede for Christian unity, Cardinal says

: Church Triumphant: Ten Insights into the Saints

EWTN: The Catholic Church is the Mystical Body of Christ by Fr. William G. Most

Speaking of full membership in the Church, Pius XII, in his Encyclical on the Mystical Body, said it is the society of those who have been baptized, and who profess the faith of Christ, and who are governed by their bishops under the visible head, the Pope, the Bishop of Rome.

The Church came into being when Christ died on the Cross, but it was formally inaugurated on Pentecost, when He sent the Holy Spirit as He had promised. St. Paul speaks of all Christians as members of Christ, so that with Him, they form one Mystical Body (Cf. 1 Cor 12:12-31; Col 1:18; 2:18-20; Eph. 1:22-23; 3:19; 4:13). St. Paul did not use the word Mystical. It was developed more recently to bring out the fact that this union is unique, there is no parallel to it. It is not the same as the union of a physical body, nor that of a business corporation.

The Church, the Mystical Body, exists on this earth, and is called the Church militant, because its members struggle against the world, the flesh and the devil. The Church suffering means the souls in Purgatory. The Church triumphant is the Church in heaven. The unity and cooperation of the members of the Church on earth, in Purgatory, in Heaven is also called the Communion of Saints. When St. Paul uses the word "Saints" in opening an Epistle, he does not mean they are morally perfect. He has in mind Hebrew qadosh, which means set aside for God, or coming under the covenant. Being such means of course they are called to moral perfection. But of course, not all have reached it in this world.

The word "Saint" in the modern sense means someone who has been canonized by the Church in recent times, or was accepted as such by the Church in earlier times. If a person is shown to have practiced heroic virtue--beyond what people in general do - in all virtues, the title "Venerable" is given; with two miracles by that one's intercession, the title is "Blessed"; two more miracles can lead to canonization and the title of Saint.

REVIEW: The Church Triumphant

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 15- "On incorruptible purity and chastity"

18. Do not trust that because of abstinence you will not fall. One who had never eaten was cast from Heaven.

August 23, 2017

(Psa 85:8-9) I will hear what the Lord God will speak in me: for he will speak peace unto his people: And unto his saints: and unto them that are converted to the heart. Surely his salvation is near to them that fear him : that glory may dwell in our land.

Fr Brian McCoy SJ.:  One of Ignatius’ gifts was to encourage people to be active in the world but also to be contemplative – people who could enjoy the depths of silence as much as the heights of social engagement. A tricky balance. Without this balance of contemplation and action we can easily become either inwardly self-focussed, even narcissistic, or outwardly other-focussed and superficial. We can either withdraw from the world or we get caught up in it. I suspect that, in our ever-busy and demanding world, the latter becomes the more real possibility. We risk making quick and impulsive decisions, responses arising out of heat and emotion. We don’t take enough time to consider with care and to listen to our deeper spirit selves before responding.  I recommend the quiet and prayerful space of Sevenhill. I know that not everyone can easily access such a resource. However, it is here to remind us to treasure space, quiet and silence, to listen to and respect the deeper movements of our hearts and souls, to respond to the issues of the day with conviction but calmly and respectfully. The gift of contemplation enriches those important decisions we need to make.

: Fake News, Real Revolution

EXCERPT ARCHBISHOP CHAPUT ADDRESSWhat’s next: Catholics, America and a world made new

So what do we do about our situation? How do we live the Gospel faithfully in such a different new culture? It’s part of our American DNA to want a well-crafted strategic plan to get the Church back in the “influence game.” But cultures aren’t corporations or math problems. They’re living organisms. There’s no quick fix for problems we behaved ourselves into, and the culture we have is a culture we helped make with our appetites, distractions and compromises.

The only way to create new life in a culture is to live our lives joyfully and fruitfully, as individuals ruled by convictions greater than ourselves and shared with people we know and love. It’s a path that’s very simple and very hard at the same time. But it’s the only way to make a revolution that matters.

When young people ask me how to change the world, I tell them to love each other, get married, stay faithful to one another, have lots of children, and raise those children to be men and women of Christian character. Faith is a seed. It doesn’t flower overnight. It takes time and love and effort. Money is important, but it’s never the most important thing. The future belongs to people with children, not with things. Things rust and break. But every child is a universe of possibility that reaches into eternity, connecting our memories and our hopes in a sign of God’s love across the generations. That’s what matters. The soul of a child is forever.

If you want to see the face of Europe in 100 years, barring a miracle, look to the faces of young Muslim immigrants. Islam has a future because Islam believes in children. Without a transcendent faith that makes life worth living, there’s no reason to bear children. And where there are no children, there’s no imagination, no reason to sacrifice, and no future. At least six of Europe’s most senior national leaders have no children at all. Their world ends with them. It’s hard to avoid a sense that much of Europe is already dead or dying without knowing it.

But here, we still have time. And here, in this room, today, what can we start to do?

Hell has been described in a lot of ways, from a soulless bureaucracy, to a furnace of fire, to a lake of ice. But I think C.S. Lewis put it best in one of his novels when he says that hell is noise. If that’s true, and I think it is, then much of the modern life we share we also make hellish, by filling it with discord, confusion and noise. Every day, every one of our choices is a brick in the structure of the heaven or hell we’re building for ourselves in the next life. And we’ll never understand that unless we turn off the noise that cocoons us in consumer anxieties and appetites.

Silence is water in the desert of modern desire. God spoke to Elijah not in the majesty of a storm but in a small voice heard only in silence. When Cardinal Robert Sarah writes about “the power of silence” – his book, The Power of Silence, is terrific by the way; buy it from Ignatius Press – he reminds us that God renews the world by first renewing each precious, immortal individual person in the quiet of his or her soul. God is not absent from the world. We just make it impossible to hear him. So the first task of the Christian life today is to unplug, carve out the silence that allows us to listen for God’s voice, and make room for the conversation we call prayer.

If we don’t pray, we can’t know and love God. C.S. Lewis reminds us that we’re embodied spirits. Our bodies are part of our prayer. We can and we should pray anytime and everywhere. But kneeling down in worship at some point in the day acknowledges that the God of Israel is the God who made the stars without number. It helps us remember God’s words to Job: “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?” (Job 38:4). Our humility in prayer is an act of justice.  Fear of the Lord – the respect and worship due our Creator – is the beginning of wisdom. And wisdom, as I said earlier, is the framework of a fully human life.

So we need to create silence. We need to pray. And we need to read – above all the Word of God, but also history and biographies and great novels. If we don’t read, we condemn ourselves to chronic stupidity and a conditioning by mass media that have no sympathy for the things we believe. Television is not a channel for serious thought. It’s often just the opposite.

And the internet, for all its advantages, is too often a source of isolation. The Hulu television series, The Handmaid’s Tale, which is based on the Margaret Atwood feminist novel, is nominated for 13 Emmy Awards this year. It’s very well done. It’s also fiercely anti-religious in its content. The point is: If we fill our heads with poison and junk, we make ourselves angry and dumb.

Finally, we need to be skeptical about the world, while we also engage it with our faith. That means vigorously advancing our social ministries, which are vital expressions of Christian charity. It also means getting and staying involved politically. We can never build heaven on earth. But we can make this world at least a little more loving, free, merciful and just by our actions in the public square.

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 15- "On incorruptible purity and chastity"

17. Throughout your life, do not trust your body, and do not rely on it till you stand before Christ.

August 21, 2017

(Gen 1:14-15) And God said: Let there be lights made in the firmament of heaven, to divide the day and the night, and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days and years: To shine in the firmament of heaven, and to give light upon the earth, and it was so done.


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CATHOLIC EXCHANGE: Mary and the Great American Solar Eclipse

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EXCERPT ALETEIA: The Surprising Liturgical Coincidence of the Solar Eclipse

While the upcoming solar eclipse may not be a sign of the “end times,” it does occur on a significant day and year of the Church’s liturgical calendar.

The eclipse will occur on August 21. The primary feast for this day is Saint Pius X, a pope who chose the motto “to renew all things in Christ.” He is most well known for lowering the age of Holy Communion and said, “Holy Communion is the shortest and safest way to Heaven.”

Another celebration on August 21 in the Church’s calendar is Our Lady of Knock. It was on August 21, 1879 that the Virgin Mary appeared to 15 people in a small parish church in Ireland. Three figures appeared, that of the Blessed Virgin, St. Joseph and St. John. Furthermore, a witness described, “Above the altar and resting on it was a lamb and around it I saw golden stars, or small brilliant lights, glittering like jets or glass balls, reflecting the light of some luminous body.” Additionally, “a farmer in the distance, about half a mile away from the scene, went out to have a look at his land. He saw something that attracted his attention; he described what he saw as a large globe of golden light.”

What’s interesting is that Our Lady of Knock spoke no words as at other of her appearances. Soon after, cures were reported at the site of the apparition and Our Lady of Knock is still strengthening the faith of the Irish and other devotees from around the world.

Last of all the solar eclipse occurs during the year of the 100th anniversary of Fatima. The famous apparitions of Mary ended with one last “Miracle of the Sun” that occurred on October 13, 1917. People describe what they saw that day as the sun “dancing” in the sky; they were able to gaze at the sun without hurting their eyes. It was a miracle witnessed by thousands of people.

In Christian symbolism the moon is often seen as a symbol of the Virgin Mary, since it reflects the light of the sun just as she reflects the light of the Son of God. At the same time, in Revelation she is described as, “clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet” (Revelation 12:1).

All of these events and symbolism can come to mind on Aug. 21 as we enjoy the eclipse (take the needed precautions to protect your eyes!), remembering Mary’s role in Salvation History. She is the one in whom we find refuge in times of trial and who intercedes on our behalf.

A MOMENT WITH MARY: In Knock, the Virgin appeared with Saint Joseph and Saint John

On the rainy Thursday evening of August 21, 1879, at about 9 o'clock in the evening, at Knock Mhuire (County Mayo, Ireland), Mary McLoughlin, 45, and Mary Byrne, 29, saw a vision of the Virgin at the south gable of Knock Parish Church. Surprised, the women alerted several others in the village. Sixteen more people ran to the place and all of them saw the Virgin for nearly two hours. Those who left and later returned continued to witness the apparition.

The Virgin stood about two feet from the ground. She was clothed in white robes with a brilliant crown on her head. She was in an attitude of prayer. Saint Joseph and Saint John the Evangelist stood at her side. The witnesses also saw an "altar" with a lamb and a cross. Although the witnesses standing before the gable were drenched, no rain fell in the direction of the gable. The apparition was fully silent, and physical cures followed it.

On the altar, the sacrificial Lamb evokes the sacrifice of Calvary, made present every day during Mass. Saint John the Evangelist appeared as a priest, designating Mary present at the foot of the Cross given by Christ as his Mother to the disciple by the words: "Woman, behold, your Son." Each one of us is called to become a member of Christ, and to participate with him and Mary in the mystery of Redemption.

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 15- "On incorruptible purity and chastity"

16. A fox pretends to be asleep, and the body and demons pretend to be chaste; the former in order to deceive a bird, and the latter in order to destroy a soul.

August 18, 2017  

(1Ti 4:1-3) Now the Spirit manifestly saith that in the last times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to spirits of error and doctrines of devils, Speaking lies in hypocrisy and having their conscience seared, Forbidding to marry, to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving by the faithful and by them that have known the truth.

BENEDICT XVI: “People say for the sake of negative tolerance [i.e. “not offending anyone”] there must be no crucifix in public buildings. With that we are basically experiencing the abolition of tolerance, for it means, after all, that religion, that the Catholic faith is no longer allowed to express itself visibly.”

EXCERPT CATHOLIC WORLD REPORT: Without Christian witness and culture, the West cannot resist Islam

Seventy-nine years ago, the indomitable Hilaire Belloc wrote The Great Heresies. Within that category, to the amazement of many a reader, he named Islam. Most commentators tend to regard Islam as a new religion appearing in the seventh century. Belloc thought otherwise. He maintained – and demonstrated very convincingly – that Islam is a heretical spin-off of Christianity. In actuality, the principal doctrines of Islam are appropriations of Old Testament teachings assumed into Christianity: the unicity of God, His transcendence, human immortality, divine justice and mercy. It denies, with a passion, all the “distinctives” of Christianity because, it seems, the Christians Mohammed encountered were Nestorians – themselves Christian heretics. Islamic theology is very simple: easy to understand and easy to practice. That said, having traveled extensively throughout the Middle East and North Africa, I must say that the level of theological ignorance of the average Muslim is even greater than that of the average Catholic!

How did Islam expand so rapidly, especially in Christian strongholds like North Africa? Belloc puts it succinctly: “It won battles.” Further, he prognosticated that Europe would become easy prey to Islamicization because “it has forgotten its nature in forgetting its religion.” As the European Union was being finalized, Pope John Paul II pleaded with the leaders to acknowledge – even in a sentence or two – the Christian roots of Europe. He was roundly ignored. Belloc saw in this attitude (already in place in his time) a European death wish which would result in “the return of Islam.” Belloc wasn’t Madame Zelda on the boardwalk gazing into tea leaves or crystal ball; he was merely an astute student of history and human nature. I don’t think he would take delight in saying to his European descendants, “I told you so!”

How else does Islam gain adherents, even suicide bombers? By highlighting the immorality of the secularized (pagan) West. Abortion, artificial contraception, same-sex “marriage”, pornography and gender theory are all abhorrent to “People of the Book” – or should be. Yet are those not the sacred cows of all liberal western democracies – constituting “the Great Satan”? As horrifying and despicable as the various ISIS-inspired attacks are, can we admit that much of what presents itself as “modern” culture is repugnant to the God of Revelation? Long before Charlie Hebdo in Paris made the fatal mistake of caricaturing Mohammed, it had been spewing blasphemies against Christ and His Church. Just before the massacre in the Paris concert hall, a Satanic song had been sung. Ariana Grande informed the tween girls at her concert about her sexploits with her latest boyfriend.

What I am saying is just this: If the Christian witness were strong, coherent and consistent, Islam would not gain a foothold.

Where does all this leave us?

Eastern European countries like Hungary and Poland, castigated by the EU for supposed insensitivity to immigrants, has shown the way firstly by strengthening their Christian identity; interestingly, one does not find jihadist assaults there. Poland’s bishops – and national leaders! – even rededicated their nation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

First, Catholics cannot afford to be deluded about the nature of a religion that almost equals Catholicism in number of worldwide adherents. While the Second Vatican Council’s Nostra Aetate identifies points of commonality between Islam and Christianity (as it does likewise for Judaism and other religions), that irenic presentation does not pretend to be the full story. Indeed, contrary to the theologically naive diocesan employee in Florida, there has never been any “official” teaching of the Church on Islam (or on any other religion, for that matter). Pick up Belloc’s book for a solid analysis of Islam, so that you can make an intelligent, informed contribution to much-needed interreligious conversations; such conversations cannot be conducted in any worthwhile way when we deal with fantasy, instead of reality. Another fine work is 111 Questions on Islam: Samir Khalil Samir S.J. on Islam and the West.

Second, and most importantly, we must do everything possible to return the secularized West to its Christian roots. That will happen one believer at a time. Our commitment to a biblical way of life will be the best response to Islamic extremism. After all, didn’t Our Lord tell us: “When a strong man, fully arms, guards his own palace, his goods are in peace” (Lk 11:21)?

CATHOLIC HERALD: Money can’t save German Catholicism

THE CATHOLIC THING: To Convert America

If anyone should want to convert America, or even his friends or himself, he must risk the death of love. At the present hour we are in a dark night of the Church. The usual ways are lost. There is little comfort in the visible Church now. The liturgy, set upon by thieves, is lying in the ditch; contemplatives are mouthing political slogans in the streets; nuns have lost their habits along with their virtues, virgins their virginity, confessors their consciences, theologians their minds. And, if this is true, it is a “happy chance!” – because there is absolutely no reason left to be Catholic now except the only one there ever really was – that in the invisible life of the Church you will find the love of Christ. But if the Church were lost? That can never be, because, as St. Peter said, there is a soft and gentle candle flame like the vigil light that burns beside the Blessed Sacrament, “a light that shineth in a dark place until the day dawn and the day star arise in your hearts.” “Lead, kindly light,” Newman had written:
Lead, kindly light, amid the encircling gloom,
Lead thou me on.
The night is dark and I am far from home,
Lead thou me on.
Keep thou my feet; I do not ask to see
The distant scene – one step enough for me.
“On a dark night, kindled in love with yearnings – O happy chance!” said St. John of the Cross.
The greatest need in the Church today is the contemplative life of monks and nuns. The arguments and public martyrdoms are vain without the sacrifice of hearts. And what are the arguments and sacrifices for, except to bring us to the love of God? Apologetic has the mind of Thomas and the sword of Paul and the heart of them both and all the saints including, let us hope, the least of us. The spiritual life is not just for the great saints; it is the ordinary way of salvation.

– from The Death of Christian Culture

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 15- "On incorruptible purity and chastity"

12. He who drives away this dog by prayer is like is like someone fighting with a lion; he who subdues it by resistance is someone still pursuing his enemy; but he who has once for all reduced its assault to nothing, even though he is still in the flesh, is as one who has already risen from his coffin.

August 15, 2017

(Luk 1:46-49) And Mary said: My soul doth magnify the Lord. And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. Because he hath regarded the humility of his handmaid: for behold from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. Because he that is mighty hath done great things to me: and holy is his name.

EXCERPT: In her assumption Mary bridges for us our earthly and heavenly reality. Saint John Paul II affirmed also that “Mary contributes in a special way to the union of the pilgrim Church on earth, with the eschatological and heavenly reality of the Communion of Saints, since she has already been ‘assumed into heaven’” (Redemptoris Mater, 44). Mary, as Mother of the Church, is for us a sign of hope and a source of solace that the promise of eternal life is real, that the journey of this life will end for those who are faithful in the joy of heaven (see Lumen Gentium, 69).

: The Case for the Assumption of Mary

THE SHIELD OF FAITH: Padre Pio's Tribute to the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

BISHOP TOBIN: Mary's Assumption: A Sign of Hope

EXCERPT VATICAN RADIO: Pope Pius XII based his declaration of the Assumption on both tradition and theology. The uninterrupted tradition in the Eastern Churches starting from the first century, the apocryphal first century book, Transitus Mariae, and the writings of the early Fathers of the Church, such as St. Gregory and St. John Damascene, supported and promoted the popular belief in the Assumption of Mary. There is a tomb at the foot of the Mt. of Olives where ancient tradition says that Mary was laid. But there is nothing inside. There are no relics, as there are with the other saints. This is acceptable negative evidence of Mary’s Assumption. In addition, credible apparitions of Mary, though not recorded in the New Testament, have been recorded from the 3rd century till today.

In his decree on the Dogma of the Assumption, Pope Pius XII gives four theological reasons to support this traditional belief.

#1: The degeneration or decay of the body after death is the result of original sin. However, since, through a special intervention of God, Mary was born without original sin, it is not proper that God would permit her body to degenerate in the tomb. In other words, at the first moment of her life, by a very special privilege of God, Mary was preserved free from the stain of sin. At the last moment, by another very special privilege she was preserved free from the corruption of the grave.

#2: Since Mary was given the fullness of grace, Heaven is the proper place for this sinless mother of Jesus. Hence, unlike other saints, Our Lady is in Heaven not only with her soul but also with her glorified body.

#3: Mary was our co-redeemer, or fellow-redeemer, with Christ in a unique sense. Hence, her rightful place is with Christ our Redeemer in Heavenly glory. (The term co-redeemer or co-redemptrix means "cooperator with the Redeemer.” This is what St. Paul meant when he said, "We are God's co-workers" I Cor 3:9.). Hence, it is “fitting” that she should be given the full effects of the Redemption, the glorification of the soul and the body.

#4: In the Old Testament, we read that the prophet Elijah was taken into Heaven in a fiery chariot. Thus, it appears natural and possible that the mother of Jesus would also be taken into Heaven. The Mother of God was conceived without original sin. Consequently, she did not have to wait, like the rest of us, for the resurrection on the last day.

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 15- "On incorruptible purity and chastity"

7. Let no one thoroughly trained in purity attribute its attainment to himself. For it is impossible for anyone to conquer his own nature. When nature is defeated, it should be recognized that this is due to the presence of Him who is above nature. For beyond all dispute, the weaker gives way to the stronger.
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