your eyes open!...
February 28, 2014
(1Jn 2:15-17) Love
not the world, nor the things which are in the world. If any man love
the world, the charity of the Father is not in him. For all that is in
the world is the concupiscence of the flesh and the concupiscence of
the eyes and the pride of life, which is not of the Father but is of
the world. And the world passeth away and the concupiscence thereof:
but he that doth the will of God abideth for ever.
POPE FRANCIS: "When we endure trials with faith they ripen our lives."
by St Theophan (1815-1894)
[I John 2:7–17; Mark 14:3–9]
The world passeth away, and the lust thereof (I John 2:17). Who does
not see this? Everything around us passes away — things, people,
events; and we ourselves are passing away. Worldly lust also passes; we
scarcely taste the sweetness of its satisfaction before both the lust
and the sweetness disappear. We chase after something else, and it is
the same; we chase after a third thing — again the same. Nothing stands
still; everything comes and goes.
What? Is there really nothing constant?! There is, says the Apostle: he
that doeth the will of God abideth for ever (I John 2:17). How does the
world, which is so transient, endure? Because God so desires that the
world endure. The will of God is the world's unshakable and
indestructible foundation. It is the same among people — whosoever
begins to stand firmly in the will of God is made steadfast and firm at
once. One's thoughts are restless when chasing after something
transient. But as soon as one comes to his senses and returns to the
path of the will of God, his thoughts and intentions begin to settle
When at last one succeeds in acquiring the habit for such a way of
life, everything he has, both within and without, comes into quiet
harmony and serene order. Having begun here, this deep peace and
imperturbable serenity will pass over to the other life as well, and
there it will abide unto the ages. Amidst the general transience of
things around us, this is what is not transient, and what is constant
within us: walking in the will of God.
REV. JOSEPH LEO IANNUZZI: http://www.livinginthedivinewill.com/
RELATED NEWSLETTER: Divine Will Q & A
A MOMENT WITH MARY: A sigh in the direction of the Tabernacle and a glance at Mary at the foot of the cross
May my grand-children, to whom I gave the best of myself, have a long and happy life.
If one day illness or the loss of a loved one fills them with sorrow,
may they never forget that a sigh in the direction of the Tabernacle,
where the greatest and most venerable of all martyrs is kept, and a
glance at Mary at the foot of the cross, can make a drop of healing
balm fall on the deepest and most painful wounds.
Pope Francis’ grandmother, in I fioretti di papa Francesco, by Andrea Tornielli
Desert Fathers: sayings of the Early Christian Monks: Fortitude
20. Hyperichius said, 'Keep praising God with hymns, and meditating
continually, and so lighten the burden of the temptations that attack
you. A traveler carrying a heavy burden stops from time to time
to take deep breaths, and so makes the journey easier and the burden
February 26, 2014
(Mat 16:18-19) And
I say to thee: That thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build my
church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will
give to thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven. And whatsoever thou
shalt bind upon earth, it shall be bound also in heaven: and whatsoever
thou shalt loose on earth, it shall be loosed also in heaven.
ON POPE FRANCIS
AMAZING VIDEO: Pope Francis sends message of Christian Unity to Evangelicals
CATHOLIC ANSWERS: Peter the Rock
FROM THE MAILBAG
VIA Purgatory Project:
Just wished to share with you a wonderful discovery I recently made.
These 22 very talented and devoted young women (average age in the
convent is 28) in Missouri at the Benedictine Priory of "Our Lady of
Ephesus". They sing together 8 times every day, always acapella -
without any instruments.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yYhfQwxnYw0&list=RDtMF04ErFVaE ...can also search for "Benedictines of Mary"
They are very talented singers, and in 2012 they were number one on
national billboards in the category of "Classical Traditional Artist" !
Of course they give all the credit to God the Saints and the Angels!
The following video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0hPgVRZeEvY gives more background on the nuns and of course some more singing.
I sit and listen to them as I work on the Purgatory Project each day
and hoped you would be as blessed by their singing as I have been.
VIA Truth in Philosophy: The Vision of God
God the Father to St. Catherine of Siena - Dialog - A Treatise of Obedience:
"The obedient man
speaks words of peace all his life, and at his death receives that
which was promised him at his death by his superior, that is to say,
eternal life, the vision of peace, and of supreme and eternal
tranquility and rest, the inestimable good which no one can value or
understand, for, being the infinite good, it cannot be understood by
anything smaller than itself, like a vessel, which, dipped into the
sea, does not comprehend the whole sea, but only that quantity which it
contains. The sea alone contains itself. So I, the Sea Pacific, am He
who alone can comprehend and value Myself truly. And in My own estimate
and comprehension of Myself I rejoice, and this joy, the good which I
have in Myself, I share with you, and with all, according to the
measure of each. I do not leave you empty, but fill you, giving you
perfect beatitude; each man comprehends and knows My goodness in the
measure in which it is given to him."
It is Catholic teaching that the vision of God is the supreme joy of heaven and our ultimate fulfillment in eternity.
This essay will unpack this somewhat. It's purpose is to help us
meditate on God as our Supreme End. With sufficient knowledge and love
of God acquired in this life, we may avoid purgatory and enter heaven
immediately upon death. For the saved, if they enter purgatory it is
because they are still attached to the things of this earth because
they have not acquired a strong or pure enough knowledge and love of
God. Meditating upon God fervently and continuously will help remedy
Let us now consider the attributes of God as elucidated by traditional Catholic theology.
First of all, God is absolutely simple. He has no composition of parts,
and all of His attributes are one and the same as each other and His
attributes are His very self. For example, God does not *have*
knowledge as something distinct from His being, but He *is* the
infinite knowledge that He possesses.
God does not have existence, He is existence, and all the rest of His attributes are related by identity.
In heaven the blessed will see that His very existence is His infinite
knowledge - that His infinite knowledge is infinitely loving - that His
infinite love is all powerful - and that His omnipotence is infinitely
In the vision of God in heaven, there will be a supreme delight for the
intellect in seeing how elegantly and logically God's attributes are
connected and flow from each other. He is utterly simple and natural -
yet completely non-trivial. All eternity cannot exhaust Him. One of the
supreme properties of God is His pure and absolute intelligibility. The
intelligibility of something is its clarity, understandability, and
lucidity - in contrast to something being muddled and confused. The
logic of God is absolutely pure and clear to the blessed in heaven. He
will completely slake our thirst for truth, and will be seen as the why
and how of all things. As profundity gives intellectual pleasure, there
will be infinite intellectual pleasure in seeing God because He is
God's infinite intelligibility is connected to His infinite simplicity.
God has no parts that are in metaphysical opposition to each other
(parts in metaphysical opposition is not necessarily an evil. For
example, an automobile has parts in metaphysical opposition in that the
wheels are not the engine. That is an aspect of being finite). However
in God, there is no part of Him that is not another part of Him. As
much we meditate on God, considering this or that attribute or quality
of Him, we are considering exactly the same thing, which is nothing but
God Himself. When we meditate upon God in this life, we invariably
picture or conceptualize Him with some degree of complexity. As an
exercise in meditating upon Him, we must always try to bring our minds
back to that whatever different things we consider about God we are
considering nothing but identically the same thing - purely God. There
is nothing in God but God. Such an infinitely simple being is
infinitely intelligible because it is infinitely pure. God's infinite
purity exists because absolutely nothing in Him is in metaphysical
opposition to anything else. Everything is strictly identical. So
everything in God (being only one) is speaking exactly the same thing
to the intellects of the blessed in heaven, giving rise to His absolute
intelligibility. It is an infinite laser focus. This infinite
simplicity and intelligibility means that God is infinitely pure which
gives infinite joy to the fully pure soul in heaven (that is why the
soul must be purified of every last spot before it can enter heaven).
God being infinitely pure means that His love is infinitely pure and
intense. Without metaphysical opposition in God, nothing is scattered
in Him. Rather than God being good in this or that way, He is Goodness
Itself - that is, Pure and Infinite goodness. The highest expression of
that goodness is the out-flowing love of God. This out-flowing love is
God's very being, as He is a Trinity of persons in which each one pours
Himself out fully for the others. This out-flowing love was poured into
the act of creation simply so that beings other than Himself could
share in His infinite blessedness and beatitude (cf. CCC par. 1).
The blessed in heaven have supreme delight in seeing that the infinite
simplicity, intelligibility, and purity of God make Him infinitely
beautiful. They have supreme happiness because they also experience
that this Infinite Beauty loves them infinitely. The most rapturous
human love on this earth is nothing but a pale shadow of the love of
God for the soul, and the happiness of the most rapturous love on earth
is nothing compared to the happiness of being loved by God in heaven
(the martial bond is only a symbol and pale reflection of the union
between God and the soul that loves Him). In fact, one only delights in
illicit sexual activity on this earth because it simulates love, and
something in its feeling reflects the infinite happiness of love in the
blessed in heaven. In light of this, the solution to illicit sex (and
all the problems it causes in society) is to bring people everywhere
back to a contemplation of God and an understanding that our ultimate
fulfillment is only in Him.
For this, it is useful to meditate on hell and what the damned have
lost through their own fault. For their supreme torment is that they
have forfeited an infinite good for a trifle.
On this note, we quote from the Dialog - a Treaties of Discretion -
where God speaks to St. Catherine of Siena. "The first [torment of
hell] is, that they see themselves deprived of the vision of Me, which
is such pain to them, that, were it possible, they would rather choose
the fire, and the tortures and torments, and to see Me, than to be
without the torments and not to see Me."
If we have lost God for eternity, we have lost everything.
We do this by unrepentantly choosing a finite good over the infinite good of God.
That in essence is what one does when one commits a mortal sin and does not repent of it.
Desert Fathers: sayings of the Early Christian Monks: Fortitude
15. Syncletica said, 'If you live in a monastic community, do not
wander from place to place; if you do, it will harm you. If a hen
stops sitting on the eggs she will hatch no chickens. The monk or
nun who goes from place to place grows cold and dead in faith.'
February 24, 2014
(Gal 5:13-15) For
you, brethren, have been called unto liberty. Only make not liberty an
occasion to the flesh: but by charity of the spirit serve one another.
For all the law is fulfilled in one word: Thou shalt love thy neighbour
as thyself. But if you bite and devour one another: take heed you be
not consumed one of another.
CRISIS MAGAZINE: The Ukrainian Struggle: Freedom with Dignity Over Corruption and Power
CSM: The Real Triumph of Ukraine's Protests
As the people of Ukraine now fix their democracy, they must remember
how they forced a corrupt and violent regime to simply collapse
Saturday, causing President Viktor Yanukovych to flee.
Lessons from the three months of protests on Kiev’s Independence
Square, or Maidan, can help restore the unity needed in a nation still
torn about its identity.
The protests were sparked Nov. 21 by the president’s refusal to sign a
pact with the European Union. But they were not really about material
things such as trade or wages. They were not about putting a particular
opposition figure in power. They were not about revenge or hatred
toward Mr. Yanukovych or his Russian backers.
Rather, the tens of thousands of Ukrainians who peacefully occupied
Maidan – and the more than 75 killed last week by security forces –
were united around common values such as honesty, integrity, and equal
regard for all. These values helped maintain discipline and restraint
among the protesters even as snipers fired on them from rooftops. The
moral force of the values eventually led police to ignore orders from
Mr. Yanukovych, who discovered too late that power does not come from
the barrel of a gun.
In addition, these values can now help political leaders in Ukraine put
the government back on track toward adopting European-style democracy
rather than the “managed democracy” of Vladimir Putin in Russia.
One remarkable aspect of the protests was the prayer and spiritual
support given by the clergy of Ukraine’s many religions, especially
Greek Catholics and Ukraine’s Orthodox denominations. A tent chapel was
set up in Maidan where people of different faiths could worship
together. The bells of St. Michael’s Golden-Domed Monastery rang out
with warning when security forces began to attack at night. Monks ran a
field hospital in a sanctuary to tend to the wounded. Protesters were
able to hide in the Roman Catholic St. Alexander’s Cathedral.
In one memorable scene, a group of clergy stood between police and
protesters with a Bible and a cross, calling for nonviolence and calm.
Clergy also mediated between officials and protesters.
On Sunday, as the coffins of protesters killed last week were carried through Maidan, the crowd offered prayers.
During the protests, the Greek Catholic archbishop, Sviatoslav
Shevchuk, said in a message that “fear, aggression and anger” would not
determine Ukraine’s future.
“We realize that the dignity of a person and personal liberties don’t
come from a constitution, a state law, a ruler, but from God,” the
patriarch said. “God created us in his own image and likeness as free
men and free women.”
DRAMATIC PHOTOS: Ukraine’s priests take an active role in protests
EXCERPT: Christian Values In An Age of Globalization by Moscow Patriarchate Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk
What is freedom? This concept has key meaning for the Christian
tradition. ‘Brethren, ye have been called unto liberty’ , says St. Paul
(Gal. 5: 13). However, he does not mean freedom as moral anarchy but
the liberation of the human person from the power of sin, of passions,
of instincts; it is the inner freedom which is founded on the
observance of God’s commandments. From the perspective of Christianity,
the freedom of the human person is inseparable from moral
responsibility. Human freedom possess a great power for it likens the
human person to God, yet it contains an explosive potential if it goes
against God. Freedom may be compared to a nuclear reaction which is of
benefit only where it is active in a nuclear power station and not when
it is turned into a destructive weapon. Moral responsibility is the
system of spiritual security which preserves the human person from
disintegration under the influence of the power of one’s own freedom.
Of course, freedom is an immutable value, yet in any religious
tradition it exists in moral and ethical, national and cultural, and
other contexts. Even in countries with a majority of Christians there
may exist differing concepts of the framework of freedom. The universal
value of freedom as such cannot be viewed as a carte blanche for
committing all sorts of sinful acts.
We are obliged to note the great crisis of freedom as a value caused,
among other things, by the discrepancy between the declared
relationship towards the freedom of the human person and the real
relationship. Thus we ought not to believe that the numerous documents
on the freedom of the human person have solved the problem of slavery.
According to Human Rights Watch the everyday trafficking of people as
slaves may be as many as 900,000. Throughout the world there are an
enormous number of people who are involved in criminal networks linked
to human trafficking, drug dealing, prostitution and the procuring of
Today there are a number of European countries where prostitution is
legal. Its presence is justified ideologically by the person’s right to
choose their sexual partner as they please and the right of the other
person to make money by any means possible. I say this not in order to
condemn those women who sell their bodies. If they return to the Church
in repentance, as happened with St. Mary of Egypt who was transformed
from a prostitute into a great saint, the Church receives their
repentance and forgives their sins. Yet the Church can never agree to
their way of life being elevated to a norm or recognize as normal the
behaviour of those persons who use their services.
When the woman caught in adultery was brought to Christ he said to
those who demanded that she be stoned to death: ‘He that is without sin
among you, let him first cast a stone at her’. He not only did not
condemn the woman but saved her from death. And yet he said to her:
‘Go, and sin no more’ (Jn. 8: 2-11). If we are to follow the secular
notions of free choice and human dignity, then the Saviour of the world
ought not to have said these words but recognize her behaviour to be
normal and say: ‘ Go and continue to do the same’.
In following the example of Christ the Church condemns sin but shows
mercy to the sinner. In 2006, thanks to the intercession of His
Holiness Patriarch Alexy II, in Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates a
Ukrainian woman, who was threatened with criminal prosecution including
the death penalty for committing an abortion, was shown mercy. In the
Patriarch’s letter to it was stated that the Church does not justify
abortion, believing it to be a sin, but at the same time she calls for
mercy to be shown towards the woman.
Desert Fathers: sayings of the Early Christian Monks: Fortitude
14. Poemen also said this: Isidore, the presbyter in Scetis, once spoke
to a group of monks and said, 'My brothers, isn't work the reason why
we are here? But now I see that no work is done here. So I will take my
cloak and go where there is work and so I shall find rest.'
February 21, 2014
(Psa 34:14) Turn away from evil and do good: seek after peace and pursue it.
"With a troubled heart I am following what is happening in Kiev. I
assure the Ukrainian people of my closeness and I pray for the victims
of the violence, for their families and for the injured. I call on all
sides to stop every violent action and seek agreement and peace."
EDITORIAL: Religion and Ukranian Protests
Amidst the ongoing turmoil in Kiev,
there is a constant link between the protests and religion. About a
quarter of Ukrainians are traditional Eastern Orthodox Christians, yet
many other Christian groups are gathering at an unprecedented level to
join the anti-government protests against the Ukrainian president,
Viktor Yanukovych. Fr. David Nazar from Kiev explains that, “Ukrainian
culture has spirituality at its matrix, unlike many Western
cultures…[The] Ukrainian language is peppered with references to God.
Holy days on the Church calendar are in many instances national
holidays… The Church is the most respected institution in the country
at 73 per cent of the people.”
Protests began when Yanukovych
chose to strengthen economic ties with Russia, instead of with the
European Union. Interestingly, Ukrainian conservatives favor an
isolationist economic approach, even while they recognize the need of
international commerce. Of the two foreign evils, they would prefer the
EU, even though “it negates nations and de-Christianizes Europeans
through liberalism,” to Russia, which is “the biggest and first threat
for the Ukraine,” according to protester Andriy Tarasenko.
Laymen are not the only Christians
involved in the protests. Even priests have joined the protests,
calling on the protestors and the riot police to keep the disagreement
peaceful, presiding over religious ceremonies in the protest camps, and
singing prayers between rough clashes. During one particularly rough
clash with riot police, protestors were given sanctuary in the
Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Kyivan Patriarchate.
In light of religious participation
in the protests, the Ukrainian government threatened to outlaw the
Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church. The charge was that priests were
“breaking the law” by presiding over religious services outside of
places of worship. This threat has since been rescinded, but the
official website of the Ukrainian Catholic Church was recently hacked
and vandalized from inside Russia.
This tie to religion can even be
seen from the pro-government side. When Dmytro Bulatov (one of the
three protestors put on the police’s arrest list) was kidnapped, the
wounds inflicted on him show an association with Christianity. Besides
being beaten and having his face cut, Bulatov was nailed to a Cross and
part of his ear was sliced off in an interesting, albeit chilling,
homage to the Bible. Bulatov himself said that his abductors spoke
“with a Russian accent,” which has fueled more anti-Russian feelings
amidst the protesters.
While the threat of outlawing
Ukrainian churches has been rescinded, Yanukovych and the government
are placing new restrictions on the religious, prohibiting them from
joining protests against the government. These new constraints are
burgeoning resentment within the country. Many Ukrainians are starting
to view this protest as both a political and religious ultimatum.
The crisis between the church and
state is growing tenser with time. Since the government has already
begun to view Christian churches as revolutionary organizations, I
cannot imagine that the authorities will all of a sudden become more
accepting. If Yanukovych refuses to resign and is determined to
associate the Ukraine with Russia, he will continue to find ways to
lessen Christianity’s anti-Russian influence.
STATEMENT OF THE UKRAINIAN CATHOLIC UNIVERSITY:
“We unequivocally affirm that responsibility for the current escalation
rests solely on the government – personally Viktor Yanukovych and his
“Every case of escalation, each more striking in its complete
absurdity, slashes our hopes for a peaceful and wise solution to the
crisis and brings us closer to a humanitarian catastrophe. Every case
seems to check off the next item in the ‘crisis managers’ secret plan.
“Conversely, every step toward overcoming social tensions, every
manifestation of the people’s self-defense, every effort to be faithful
to God’s commandments – all of this makes us co-authors in the positive
program of the Lord’s Providence.”
VATICAN RADIO: Head of Ukrainian Catholic Church condemns violence
BAPTIST PRESS: Ukraine's violence escalates; Churches Share Scripture & Pray
CRISIS OVERVIEW: Explainer: What’s Going on in Ukraine?
STRATFOR: Protesters in Lviv Raise the Stakes in Ukraine's Crisis
UPDATED NEWS LINKS
EXCERPT JOURNAL OF ROBERT MOYNIHAN: Ukraine -- End Game
It also is clear that what is happening is not just about Ukraine but also, and perhaps primarily, about Russia.
And since Russia is at the heart of
the message of Fatima -- "in the end, Russia shall be converted, and a
period of peace shall be granted to the world," as the Lady said to the
three children in Portugal in 1917 -- what is happening now in Kiev
must also be seen in the context of the Fatima message: in the context
of the future of the Christian faith in Russia and of a coming age of
Desert Fathers: sayings of the Early Christian Monks: Fortitude
13. Poemen said, 'The character of the genuine monk only appears when he is tempted.'
February 19, 2014
(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.
NCR: With Reforms Unclear, Francis Starts Possible Bellwether Week
In the space of eight days, the pontiff is to:
Ahead of Saturday's consistory, cardinals will meet for two days behind
closed doors to begin preparations for the October summit on family
- hear reports from three groups studying reform of the Vatican's finances;
- welcome cardinals from around the world for a special ceremony adding new members to their ranks; and
- kick off more formal preparations for an October meeting of the
world's bishops that could lead to changes in the church's pastoral
practices focused on family life.
Francis scheduled the summit last year and took the unusual step of
sending bishops around the world a questionnaire for ordinary Catholics
to fill out about how they understand and practice church teaching on
marriage, sex and other issues related to the family.
The results, at least those reported by bishops in Europe and the
United States, have been eye-opening. Bishops themselves reported that
the church's core teachings on sexual morals, birth control,
homosexuality, marriage and divorce are rejected as unrealistic and
outdated by the vast majority of Catholics, who nevertheless said they
were active in parish life and considered their faith vitally important.
"On the matter of artificial contraception the responses might be
characterized by the saying, 'That train left the station long ago,'"
Bishop Robert Lynch of St. Petersburg, Florida, recently wrote on his
blog, summarizing his survey's findings. "Catholics have made up their
minds and the sensus fidelium (sense of the faithful) suggests the
rejection of church teaching on this subject."
German and Swiss bishops released similar survey results earlier this
month. German bishops reported this: "The church's statements on
premarital sexual relations, on homosexuality, on those divorced and
remarried and on birth control ... are virtually never accepted, or are
expressly rejected in the vast majority of cases."
The Swiss bishops went further, saying the church's very mission was being threatened by its insistence on such directives.
BISHOP ROBERT LYNCH BLOG LINK: http://bishopsblog.dosp.org/?p=6014
ST. PETERSBURG, FL SURVEY RESULTS: http://home.catholicweb.com/diosp/files/Bishop/Vatican_Survey_Statistical_Survey_2-6-2014.pdf
This gift, the sensus fidei, constitutes in the believer a kind of
supernatural instinct that has a connatural life with the same object
of faith. It is a criterion for discerning whether or not a truth
belongs to the deposit of the living apostolic tradition. It also has a
propositional value because the Holy Spirit does not cease to speak to
the Churches and lead them to the whole truth. Today, however, it is
particularly important to clarify the criteria used to distinguish the
authentic sensus fidelium from its counterfeits. In fact, it is not
some kind of public opinion of the Church, and it is unthinkable to
mention it in order to challenge the teachings of the Magisterium, this
because the sensus fidei can not grow authentically in the believer
except to the extent in which he or she fully participates in the life
of the Church, and this requires a responsible adherence to her
POPE FRANCIS: The
Pope said the Magisterium, the Church’s teaching authority, has the
“duty to pay attention to what the Spirit tells the church through
authentic manifestations of the ‘sense of the faithful’.”
But he told the theologians this sense
“must not be confused with the sociological reality of majority
opinion. That is something else. It is therefore important, and it is
your task, to elaborate the criteria that permit discernment of
authentic expressions of the ‘sense of the faithful.’”
Desert Fathers: sayings of the Early Christian Monks: Fortitude
11. Mathois said, 'I like to find some light but continual work, rather than a heavy work that is quickly finished.'
February 17, 2014
(1Pe 1:15-16) But
according to him that hath called you, who is holy, be you also in all
manner of conversation holy: Because it is written: You shall be holy,
for I am holy.
REV. JOSEPH M. ESPER: Raising Heroic Children in an Anti-Heroic Age
MARK MALLET BLOG: When The Light Comes
ARCHBISHOP CHARLES J. CHAPUT, O.F.M. CAP.: Ten ways to deepen our relationship with God
Over the years I’ve heard from many good people who want a closer
relationship with God. But they’re stymied by what they perceive
as God’s silence. What they often mean, without knowing it, is
that they’d like God to do something dramatic in their lives; something
with a hint of Mt. Sinai that proves his credentials.
But God typically doesn’t work that way. He’s not in the theater
business. God wants to be loved and even in a sense “courted” –
which means that we can’t be passive partners in the
relationship. We need to pursue God as we would the persons we
So as we make our way through these last weeks of ordinary time before
Lent, here a few steps – in no particular order – that can help us draw
closer to God.
First, start by listening to him. Faith isn’t a 12-step action
program. Nor is it an algebra problem that needs to be
“solved.” It’s a love affair. As with a spouse, the most
important thing we can do is to be present and listen. This
requires the investment of time and focus. If a spirit of
impatience or pretending to listen doesn’t work with your spouse, why
would it work with God?
Second, cultivate silence. We can’t listen when our world is
filled with noise and toys. C.S. Lewis often said that noise is
the music of hell. Our toys – those things we choose to distract
us – keep us diverted from focusing on the main questions of
life: Why are we here? What does my life mean? Is
there a God, and if so, who is he, and what does he ask of me?
Third, seek humility. Humility is to the spirit what material
poverty is to the senses: the great purifier. Humility is the
beginning of sanity. We can’t really see – much less love –
anyone or anything else when the self is in the way. When we
finally, really believe in our own sinfulness and unimportance, many
other things become possible: repentance; mercy, patience, forgiveness
of others. These virtues are the foundation stones of that other
great Christian virtue: justice. No justice is ever possible in a
spider’s web of mutual anger, recrimination and hurt pride.
Fourth, cultivate honesty. Complete honesty is only possible for
a humble person. The reason is simple. The most painful but
important honesty is telling the truth to ourselves about our own
motives and our own actions. The reason honesty is such a
powerful magnet is because it’s so rare.
Modern life is too often built on the marketing of half-truths and lies
about who we are and what we deserve. Many of the lies are
well-intentioned and not even very harmful — but they’re still
lies. Scripture praises the honest woman and man because they’re
like clean air in a room full of smoke. Honesty allows the mind
to breathe and think clearly.
Fifth, seek to be holy. Holy does not mean nice or even good,
although truly holy people are always good and often – though not
always — nice. Holiness means “other than.” It’s what
Scripture means when it tells us to be “in the world, but not of the
world.” And this doesn’t just miraculously happen. We need
to choose and seek holiness.
God’s ways are not our ways. Holiness is the habit of seeking to
conform all of our thoughts and actions to God’s ways. There’s no
cookie-cutter model of holiness, just as piety can’t be reduced to one
particular kind of prayer or posture. What’s important is to love
the world because God loves it and sent his Son to redeem it, but not
to be captured by its habits and values, which are not godly.
Sixth, pray. Prayer is more than just that portion of the day
when we advise God about what we need and what he should do. Real
prayer is much closer to listening, and it’s intimately tied to
obedience. God certainly wants to hear what we need and love and
fear, because these things are part of our daily lives, and he loves
us. But if we’re doing the talking, we can’t listen. Note
too, that we can’t really pray without humility. Why?
Because prayer requires us to lift up who we are and everything we
experience and possess to God. Pride is too heavy to lift.
Seventh, read. Scripture is the living Word of God. When we
read God’s Word, we encounter God himself. But there’s more:
J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Georges Bernanos and so many others – these
were deeply intelligent and powerful writers whose work nourishes the
Christian mind and soul, while also inspiring the imagination.
Reading also serves another, simpler purpose: It shuts out the noise
that distracts us from fertile reflection. We can’t read The
Screwtape Letters and take network television seriously at the same
time. And that’s a very good thing.
By the way, if you do nothing else in 2014, read Tolkien’s wonderful
short story, Leaf by Niggle. It will take you less than an hour,
but it will stay with you for a lifetime. And then read C.S.
Lewis’ great religious science-fiction trilogy – Out of the Silent
Planet, Perelandra and That Hideous Strength. You’ll never look
at our world in quite the same way again.
Eighth, believe and act. Nobody “earns” faith. It’s a free
gift from God. But we do need to be willing and ready to receive
it. We can discipline ourselves to be prepared. If we
sincerely seek truth; if we desire things greater than this life has to
offer; and if we leave our hearts open to the possibility of God — then
one day we will believe, just as when we choose to love someone more
deeply, and turn our hearts sincerely to the task, then sooner or later
we usually will.
Feelings are fickle. They’re often misleading. They’re not
the substance of our faith. We need to be grateful for our
emotions as God’s gifts, but we also need to judge them in the light of
common sense. Falling in love is only the first taste of
love. Real love is both more beautiful and more demanding than
the early days of a romance.
In like manner, a dramatic “road to Damascus” style conversion doesn’t
happen to most people, and not even St. Paul stayed on the road very
long. Why? Because in revealing himself to Paul, Jesus
immediately gave him something to do. We know and more deeply
love Jesus Christ by doing what he tells us to do.
In the real world, feelings that endure follow actions that have
substance. The more sincere we are in our discipleship, the
closer we will come to Jesus Christ. This is why the Emmaus
disciples only recognized Jesus in “the breaking of the bread.”
Only in acting in and on our faith, does our faith become fully real.
Ninth, nobody makes it to heaven alone. We all need friendship
and community. A friend of mine who’s been married more than 40
years likes to say that the heart of a good marriage is
friendship. Every successful marriage is finally about a deep and
particular kind of friendship that involves honesty, intimacy,
fidelity, mutual sacrifice, hope and shared beliefs.
Every successful marriage is also a form of community. Even Jesus
needed these two things: friendship and community. The Apostles
were not simply Christ’s followers; they were also his brothers and
friends, people who knew and supported him in an intimate way.
All of us as Christians need the same two things. It doesn’t
matter whether we’re a religious, layperson, deacon or priest, single
or married. Friends are vital. Community is vital.
Our friends both express and shape who we are. Good friends
sustain us. Bad friends undermine us. And that’s why
they’re so decisive to the success or failure of a Christian life.
Tenth and finally, nothing is more powerful than the sacraments of
Penance and Eucharist in leading us to the God we seek. God makes
himself available to us every week in the confessional, and every day
in the sacrifice of the Mass. It makes little sense to talk about
the “silence of God” when our churches are made silent by our own
absence and indifference. We’re the ones with the cold hearts –
He’s never outdone in his generosity. He waits for us in the
quiet of the tabernacle. And he loves us and wants to be loved
wholeheartedly in return.
If we’re willing to give that love, these steps will lead us to him.
Desert Fathers: sayings of the Early Christian Monks: Fortitude
8. Poemen said about John the Short that he asked the Lord to take away
his passions. So his heart was at rest, and he went to a hermit and
said, 'I find that I am at peace, with no war between flesh and
spirit.' The hermit said to him, 'Go and ask the Lord to stir up a new
war in you. Fighting is good for the soul.' When the conflict revived
in him, he no longer prayed for it to be taken away, but said, 'Lord,
grant me strength to endure this fight.'
February 13, 2014
(Mat 5:14-16) You
are the light of the world. A city seated on a mountain cannot be hid.
Neither do men light a candle and put it under a bushel, but upon a
candlestick, that it may shine to all that are in the house. So let
your light shine before men, that they may see your good works, and
glorify your Father who is in heaven.
POPE FRANCIS: “The Christian bearing the light is a burning lamp... Let us always go forward with the light of Jesus!”
COURAGEOUS PRIEST: Dissent Into Hell- Those Who Knowingly Reject Church Teaching Place Their Souls In Serious Peril!
EXCERPT HOMILY FR. ESPER: Darkness Hates The Light
Our culture of death hates those who proclaim the truth that every
single human life is precious from the moment of conception until the
instant of natural death; our politically correct society scorns those
who insist that Jesus alone is the way, the truth, and the life; our
rebellious and defiant world attacks those who faithfully shine and
reflect the light of faith in the midst of the darkness that surrounds
If we take our faith seriously, we are going to stand out; we’re going
to be countercultural, and perhaps we’ll earn this world’s enmity and
opposition. Darkness hates the light, but is unable to extinguish it.
It doesn’t matter how dark a room is: if you shine just one candle or
lamp, that light will be visible throughout the room, and available as
a source of guidance and hope to everyone willing to follow it. So it
is with our example—and it’s entirely possible that we may be the only
reflection of Christ’s light of truth and love that some people ever
see. God calls each of us to be numbered among His “children of light,”
and we will find inner peace in this world, and eternal glory in the
next, to the same degree we answer this call.
by St Theophan (1815-1894)
[Eph. 6:10–17; Matt. 4:1–11]
The Apostle clothes Christians in the whole armour of God. It is
appropriate that this follows the previous lesson. For, if someone,
heeding the call of God, has taken on the beginning of a new life
through God's grace, providing for his own part all diligence (II Pet.
1:5), then he must not expect to rest on his laurels, but rather to
He has left the world — for that the world will begin to press him. He
was saved from the power of the devil — the devil will chase after him
and set snares before him, to throw him off the path of good and drag
him back to his domain. He has denied himself, denied selfishness
together with a whole horde of passions. But this sin living in us will
not suddenly relinquish its free and untrammelled existence as we live
in self-pleasure, and every minute it will attempt under various
pretexts to establish once more the same life routine that so richly
filled and fed it earlier.
These are three enemies, each with innumerable hordes; but the
commander-in-chief is the devil, whilst his closest helpers are the
demons. They run the show in a sinful life — the opponents of a
spiritual life. That is why the Apostle arms the Christian against them
as if there were no other enemies at all. He says: we wrestle not
against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers,
against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual
wickedness in high places (Eph. 6:12). If they did not exist, perhaps
battles would not exist either. Likewise, as soon as they are repelled
and struck down, it takes nothing to repel and defeat the others.
So each of you look to see where you need to direct your arrows, or at
least look to see from which side you particularly need to defend
yourself. Then, defend yourself! The Apostle prescribed several
weapons; but all of them have power only through the Lord. That is why
experienced spiritual fighters have passed on to us this instruction:
“Strike the enemy with the name of the Lord Jesus!”
RELATED: Satan is Real – Read these Amazing Stories by Fr. Dwight Longenecker
Desert Fathers: sayings of the Early Christian Monks: Fortitude
6. A brother asked Theodore, 'If you suddenly hear the sound of falling
masonry, are you frightened, abba?' He said, 'If the heavens fell down
on the earth, Theodore would not be afraid.' For he had prayed to God
that fear might be taken from him. That was why the brother questioned
February 11, 2014
(1Jn 3:16-18) In
this we have known the charity of God, because he hath laid down his
life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. He
that hath the substance of this world and shall see his brother in need
and shall shut up his bowels from him: how doth the charity of God
abide in him? My little children, let us not love in word nor in
tongue, but in deed and in truth.
OVERVIEW: February 11: Our Lady of Lourdes
VIDEO: The 67 miracles of Lourdes
LOURDES LIVE WEBCAM: http://en.lourdes-france.org/tv-lourdes/
LINK: Placing a petition at the Grotto
VATICAN.VA: MESSAGE OF POPE FRANCIS FOR THE 22nd WORLD DAY OF THE SICK 2014
Faith and Charity: “We Ought to Lay Down Our Lives for One Another” (1 Jn 3:16)
1. On the occasion of the Twenty-second World Day of the Sick, whose
theme this year is Faith and Charity: “We Ought to Lay Down Our Lives
for One Another” (1 Jn 3:16), I turn in a special way to the sick and
all those who provide them with assistance and care. The Church
recognizes in you, the sick, a special presence of the suffering
Christ. It is true. At the side of – and indeed within – our suffering,
is the suffering of Christ; he bears its burden with us and he reveals
its meaning. When the Son of God mounted the cross, he destroyed the
solitude of suffering and illuminated its darkness. We thus find
ourselves before the mystery of God’s love for us, which gives us hope
and courage: hope, because in the plan of God’s love even the night of
pain yields to the light of Easter, and courage, which enables us to
confront every hardship in his company, in union with him.
2. The incarnate Son of God did not remove illness and suffering from
human experience but by taking them upon himself he transformed them
and gave them new meaning. New meaning because they no longer have the
last word which, instead, is new and abundant life; transformed them,
because in union with Christ they need no longer be negative but
positive. Jesus is the way, and with his Spirit we can follow him. Just
as the Father gave us the Son out of love, and the Son gave himself to
us out of the same love, so we too can love others as God has loved us,
giving our lives for one another. Faith in God becomes goodness, faith
in the crucified Christ becomes the strength to love to the end, even
our enemies. The proof of authentic faith in Christ is self-giving and
the spreading of love for our neighbours, especially for those who do
not merit it, for the suffering and for the marginalized.
3. By virtue of Baptism and Confirmation we are called to conform
ourselves to Christ, who is the Good Samaritan for all who suffer. “We
know love by this, that he laid down his life for us – and we ought to
lay down our lives for one another” (1 Jn 3:16). When we draw near with
tender love to those in need of care, we bring hope and God’s smile to
the contradictions of the world. When generous devotion to others
becomes the hallmark of our actions, we give way to the Heart of Christ
and bask in its warmth, and thus contribute to the coming of God’s
4. To grow in tender love, and a respectful and sensitive charity, we
have a sure Christian model to contemplate: Mary, the Mother of Jesus
and our Mother, who is always attentive to the voice of God and the
needs and troubles of her children. Mary, impelled by God’s mercy which
took flesh within her, selflessly hastened from Galilee to Judea to
find and help her kinswoman Elizabeth. She interceded with her Son at
the wedding feast of Cana when she saw that there was a shortage of
wine. She bore in her heart, throughout the pilgrimage of her life, the
words of the elderly Simeon who foretold that a sword would pierce her
soul, and with persevering strength she stood at the foot of the cross
of Jesus. She knows the way, and for this reason she is the Mother of
all of the sick and suffering. To her we can turn with confidence and
filial devotion, certain that she will help us, support us and not
abandon us. She is the Mother of the crucified and risen Christ: she
stands beside our crosses and she accompanies us on the journey towards
the resurrection and the fullness of life.
5. Saint John, the disciple who stood with Mary beneath the cross,
brings us to the sources of faith and charity, to the heart of the God
who “is love” (1 Jn 4:8,16). He reminds us that we cannot love God if
we do not love our brothers and sisters. Those who stand with Mary
beneath the cross learn to love as Jesus does. The cross is “the
certainty of the faithful love which God has for us. A love so great
that it enters into our sin and forgives it, enters into our suffering
and gives us the strength to bear it. It is a love which enters into
death to conquer it and to save us… the cross of Christ invites us also
to allow ourselves to be smitten by his love, teaching us always to
look upon others with mercy and tenderness, especially those who
suffer, who are in need of help” (Way of the Cross with Young People,
Rio de Janeiro, 26 July 2013).
I entrust this Twenty-second World Day of the Sick to the intercession
of Mary. I ask her to help the sick to bear their sufferings in
fellowship with Jesus Christ and to support all those who care for
them. To all the ill, and to all the health-care workers and volunteers
who assist them, I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing.
Desert Fathers: sayings of the Early Christian Monks:
3. Ammonas said that for fourteen years in Scetis he had been asking
God day and night to give him strength to control his temper.
February 7, 2014
(Joh 15:19-21) If
you had been of the world, the world would love its own: but because
you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world,
therefore the world hateth you. Remember my word that I said to you:
The servant is not greater than his master. If they have persecuted me,
they will also persecute you. If they have kept my word, they will keep
yours also. But all these things they will do to you for my name's
sake: because they know not him that sent me.
ESSAY: Why the World Hates Christianity by Jim J. McCrea
NEWS.VA: Holy See responds to UN Committee on Rights of the Child
According to the proper procedures forseen for the parties to the
Convention, the Holy See takes note of the Concluding Observations on
its Reports, which will be submitted to a thorough study and
examination, in full respect of the Convention in the different areas
presented by the Committee according to international law and practice,
as well as taking into consideration the public interactive debate with
the Committee, held on 16 January 2014.
The Holy See does, however, regret to see in some points of the
Concluding Observations an attempt to interfere with Catholic Church
teaching on the dignity of human person and in the exercise of
The Holy See reiterates its commitment to defending and protecting the
rights of the child, in line with the principles promoted by the
Convention on the Rights of the Child and according to the moral and
religious values offered by Catholic doctrine.
FRIDAY FAX VIA C-FAM: Vatican Blasts UN Committee That Asks Church To Change Teaching on Abortion and Homosexuality By Stefano Gennarini, J.D.
This is perhaps the most outrageous thing I have seen in all my 17
years at the UN. A UN Committee has told the Catholic Church to let
kids have sex, contraception and abortions. This simply boggles the
imagination. We have launched a petition drive to defend the Church at
the UN. Please go to www.defendtheholysee.org and sign, and then send to your entire address book. Stefano Gennarini reports.
Desert Fathers: sayings of the Early Christian Monks: Fortitude
2. A brother asked Agatho, 'I have been instructed to go somewhere, and
I have serious doubts about the place where I have been told to go. I
want to obey the order, yet I'm frightened of the inner struggle which
will follow.' The hermit said, 'Agatho was like that. He obeyed orders,
and so he won the battle.'
February 6, 2014
(1Co 12:24-26) But
our comely parts have no need: but God hath tempered the body together,
giving to that which wanted the more abundant honour. That there might
be no schism in the body: but the members might be mutually careful one
for another. And if one member suffer any thing, all the members suffer
with it: or if one member glory, all the members rejoice with it.
CATHOLIC REGISTER: Ukrainian struggle is Church’s struggle
NCR: St. Louis Ukrainian Catholics pray, worry as unrest unfolds in homeland
STRATFOR: Perspectives on the Ukrainian Protests
RELEASE: STATEMENT OF ARCHBISHOP CHARLES J. CHAPUT, O.F.M. CAP REGARDING THE CRISIS IN UKRAINE
We belong to one Church - a family that spans continents and centuries,
bound together by a common faith in Jesus Christ. In that spirit, today
I ask all Catholics in the Greater Philadelphia region to pray urgently
for the Church in Ukraine and to press our elected federal
representatives for financial and travel restrictions on Ukraine's
political and business leaders.
Western Catholics remember the suffering of the Polish Church under
Communism because of Pope John Paul II's witness of resistance. Less
well known, but even more brutal, was the half-century of Soviet
persecution experienced by Ukrainian Greek Catholics, who make up the
largest Eastern Catholic Church in the world.
After Communism's collapse, life for the Church in Ukraine improved.
But late last year Ukraine's leaders shifted back toward the Russian
orbit. They cracked down heavily on demonstrations and dissent, killing
some protesters and arresting hundreds of others. Christians in Ukraine
- Catholics, Orthodox and others -- have not been silent. The Church's
people and leaders have played a major role in denouncing government
violence, political repression and corruption. Ukrainian Catholic
clergy have given vital pastoral care to those demonstrating for human
rights and democratic principles. And they've been targeted by the
government for doing so.
Last week, the Wall Street Journal voiced its frustration with
Washington's inaction - and seeming disinterest -- in the face of the
worsening Ukraine crisis. The Journal's editors noted that the best way
of curbing repression by corrupt Ukraine officials and "business
oligarchs" is a visa ban and freeze on their American-based assets. But
so far, it hasn't happened.
Philadelphia's Ukrainian Catholic Archbishop Stefan Soroka has called
on all of us as fellow Catholics, and other Americans of good will, to
support the struggle for religious and civil liberties in Ukraine. We
can do that first and most importantly by prayer - and then by
contacting our elected representatives. Silence from the United States
encourages oppression in Ukraine. We can't let that happen, again, to
fellow believers who bore so much suffering for so many decades.
It's a privilege to join my own voice, and the voice of the people and
clergy of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, to the voice of Archbishop
Soroka and the Ukrainian Catholic community.
RELATED: Recent information about Ukraine
Desert Fathers: sayings of the Early Christian Monks:
Someone brought a hermit who was a leper some money and said, 'Take
this to spend, for you are old and ill.' He replied, 'Are you going to
take me away from Him who has fed me for sixty years? I have been ill
all that time, and have needed nothing because God has fed me and given
me what I need.' He would not accept it.
February 4, 2014
(Psa 127:3-5) Behold
the inheritance of the Lord are children: the reward, the fruit of the
womb. As arrows in the hand of the mighty, so the children of them that
have been shaken. Blessed is the man that hath filled the desire with
them; he shall not be confounded when he shall speak to his enemies in
LINK: One Rosary a Day to Defeat Abortion
CATHOLIC SENTINEL: Florida mom says women's true stories about abortion changing hearts
EXCERPT BROKEN BRANCHES NEWSLETTER: A Mother’s Letter to her son
I told you people would read about you... I promised you that you would not go unnoticed! I am so proud of you.
It has been two years already and still your presence is with me
daily...I can never start to comprehend how much I love you and how
much I miss you...I think of you every single day and wish you were
here to share life's moments. I lie awake imagining how perfect you
would look sleeping and how I would lose myself just watching you
dream... I can only imagine how you look and how much you have grown.
I imagine you must have big bright eyes full of joy and love and can
only imagine how beautiful you are! I think about how you laugh most of
the times and how your face would just light up my day. I would really
love to hold your hand and hold you close to my heart assuring you that
I will never let you go.
You certainly are the most intelligent, most talented boy I would have
ever met! I would have loved to help you with your homework and listen
to hear all the stories you would have told me! I would have loved to
answer all your questions and provide the best answers I could have. We
would have danced, sang and played together everyday. I think of the
long walks we could have had together. I still go to the park and
picture how you would have loved being on the swings and the slides and
cannot help but smile and appreciate the warmth you bring to my heart.
I wish you could have met your cousins; I see your face every time I
look at them and cannot help but wish you were here.
You would have been the kindest, most caring, thoughtful and selfless
boy. Ishmael, you are perfect. I am pleased for you... I really am...
I am sorry because I feel like I have robbed you of the gift of this
life... But at the same time cannot help but feel happy for you because
you are in the best place anyone could ever be. Ishmael I am sorry...
As much as you have forgiven me already I just want you to know I was
wrong and I am so sorry.
I want you to know that I did complete my Bachelors degree and am
building a career but it is still not a good enough reason for letting
you go... I cry my son, but my tears are not because I regret your 12
week existence but because you are gone and you have changed my life in
a way you can never imagine.
Every little boy I meet now I am reminded of you and is a symbol and a
sign of strength, bravery, courage and faith that in Christ we can do
all things... I cannot wait to tell your brothers and sisters, (when
they come) about you. I know they will love you. I live for the day I
will walk through heaven's gates and see you there waiting to embrace
me... That will surely be a dream come true...
Meanwhile... I know you already and see you standing there. Till then
be a good boy. Keep on smiling and know that I love you beyond my
ability to express on this paper.
You truly are my world and you are forever on my heart...
I would like to tell you more about your father, about my parents, my
sisters and the amazing people who have touched my life on this journey
of mine... Someday...
Someday I will.
Truly, madly, deeply in love with you.
This dear friend is a letter from
Tendi to her aborted son. You dear friends have been praying for her.
Please keep prayers going. You can see the reconciliation between
mother and child. This is our work. Yours and mine. In this way we give
glory to God for His creation and ensure that the child is never
forgotten and of course when reconciled the mother can rest in a new
peace. Thank you Tendi and thank you to those who help me to continue
this work, without you I couldn’t do it.
Desert Fathers: sayings of the Early Christian Monks:
A great man came from a distance to Scetis carrying gold, and he asked
the presbyter of the desert to distribute it among the brothers. But
the presbyter said to him, 'The brothers do not need it.' But he was
very pressing, and would not give way, and put a basket of money in the
church porch. So the presbyter said, 'Whoever is in need may take money
from here.' No one touched it, some did not even look at it. The
presbyter said, 'God has accepted your offering to him. Go away and
give it to the poor.' He went away very much edified.'
Dr. Zambrano Home
2000: Bringing the World to Jesus
Tribulation Times Archives:
USE NOTICE: This site contains copyrighted material the
use of which
has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We
are making such material available in our efforts to advance
understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic,
democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this
constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted
as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance
with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is
distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest
in receiving the included information for research and educational
purposes. For more detailed information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml.
If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of
your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain
permission from the copyright owner.