Keep your eyes open!...


February 18, 2015  

(Ecc 3:1-7) All things have their season, and in their times all things pass under heaven. A time to be born and a time to die. A time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted. A time to kill, and a time to heal. A time to destroy, and a time to build. A time to weep, and a time to laugh. A time to mourn, and a time to dance. A time to scatter stones, and a time to gather. A time to embrace, and a time to be far from embraces. A time to get, and a time to lose. A time to keep, and a time to cast away. A time to rend, and a time to sew. A time to keep silence, and a time to speak.

UPDATES: Non-subscribers can access items emailed during Lent at!forum/tribulaton-times

VATICAN: Pope warns of globalization of indifference in Lenten message

ARCHBISHOP CHAPUT:  On the threshold of Lent, 2015

DYNAMIC CATHOLIC:  Free "Best Lent Ever" Program

10 things to remember for Lent

MEDITATION: Thoughts by St Theophan (1815-1894)

[Heb. 7:18-25; Luke 21:37-22:8]

Satan entered into Judas, and taught him how to betray the Lord; he agreed, and betrayed Him. Satan entered because the door was opened for him. What is within us is always closed; the Lord Himself stands outside and knocks, that we might open. What causes it to open? It is opened by sympathy, predisposition, or agreement. If all of this is inclined in the direction of the Lord, He enters. If satan enters, and not the Lord, the person himself is guilty. If you do not allow thoughts pleasing to satan, if you do not sympathize with them, or dispose yourself to their suggestions and agree to do them, satan walks nearby and then leaves, for he is not given power over anyone. If he takes possession of anyone, it is because that person gives himself over in slavery to him.

The source of all evil is one's thoughts. Do not allow bad thoughts and you will forever close the door of your soul to satan. That bad thoughts come — what can you do? Nobody on the earth is without them; there is no sin here. Chase them away, and that will end everything. If they come again, chase them away again — and so on for your entire life. When you accept thoughts and become engaged in them, it is not surprising that sympathy toward them appears as well; then they become even more persistent. After sympathy come bad intentions either for these or other bad deeds. Vague intentions then define themselves by an inclination toward one thing or another. Choice, agreement and resoluteness set in, and then sin is within! The door of the heart is opened wide. As soon as agreement forms, satan jumps in and begins to tyrannize. Then the poor soul is driven wearisomely like a slave or a pack-animal into doing indecent things. If it had not allowed bad thoughts, nothing of the sort would have happened.

REFLECTION: Lent leads to Easter

LENTEN READING: Hints of Heaven [Kindle Edition] by Fr. George William Rutler


The TRIB TIMES will not be updated again this year during the Lenten season, extending to the first week after Easter.  My computer time will be limited to 30 minutes each morning and evening during Lent. I will read all emails I receive, and will answer all that I can, time permitting.  I may also occasionally email non-reformatted news articles to Trib Times subscribers that I find to be of particular interest. But barring a major event (admittedly not unlikely these days), the Trib Times web page itself will not be updated. 

I apologize to all who have recently subscribed but will keep your email information for use after my return.  God willing, the next issue of the Trib Times should be shortly after Divine Mercy Sunday, April 12, 2015.  Please keep me in your prayers, and be assured that I will do the same.

I recommend the following links to keep up with unfolding events:

Catholic News

Signs of the Times

Readings & Meditations for Lent & Holy Week

Catholic Commentary
Courageous Priest
Statements of Archbishop Chaput
Crisis Magazine

Newer subscribers may also be interested in a meditation that first appeared in the Trib Times in 2004, The Pain of the Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ.

ORTHODOX LENT PRAYER: “Grant unto me, Thy servant, the spirit of chastity, meekness, humility, patience and love.

LINK TO DONATE TO AID TO THE CHURCH IN NEED:;jsessionid=1B6D0D927CE5E03CD247F9BC016AAE5D.app322b?idb=1588471532&df_id=1240&1240.donation=form1&idb=0.

The Desert Fathers: sayings of the Early Christian Monks: Sober Living

43. A brother said to a hermit, 'I don't find any disturbance in my heart.' The hermit said, 'You are like a door swinging open. Anyone who likes can go inside, and come out again, and you don't notice what is happening. If you had a door that was shut you wouldn't let wicked thoughts come in, and then you would see them standing outside the door and fighting against you.'

February 16, 2015

(Rev 6:9-11) And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held. And they cried with a loud voice, saying: How long, O Lord (Holy and True), dost thou not judge and revenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth? And white robes were given to every one of them one; And it was said to them that they should rest for a little time till their fellow servants and their brethren, who are to be slain even as they, should be filled up.

NEWS.VA: Pope Francis: The blood of murdered Copts a "witness that cries out"

Pope Francis on Monday denounced the murder of 21 Coptic Christians by ISIL militants in Libya. The Islamist terrorist organization released a video of the killings on Sunday.

Speaking in Spanish to an ecumenical delegation from the Church of Scotland, the Holy Father noted those killed only said “Jesus help me.”

“They were murdered just for the fact they were Christians,” Pope Francis said.

“The blood of our Christian brothers is a witness that cries out,” said the Pope.  “If they are Catholic, Orthodox, Copts, Lutherans, it is not important: They are Christians. The blood is the same: It is the blood which confesses Christ.''

Pope Francis said that in remembering “these brothers who have been killed simply for confessing Christ,” Christians should encourage one another in the ecumenical goal, noting the “ecumenism of blood.”

“The martyrs are from all the Christians,” he said.

FIDES.ORG: 21 Copts kidnapped and murdered by jihadists in Libya are “martyrs for the faith” says Patriarch Ibrahim Isaac

At the news of the massacre of 21 Egyptian Copts decapitated in Libya by jihadists affiliated with the so-called Islamic State (IS), the Patriarch of Alexandria of Coptic Catholics, Ibrahim Isaac Sidrak, “offers his condolence to all the families of these martyrs who gave their lives for the faith, and at the same time expresses his gratitude to President Abdel Fattah al Sisi and all the institutions of the Egyptian government for giving an immediate response to this act of terrorism”.
In a statement given to Fides News through patriarchate personnel, the Primate of the Coptic Catholic Church says the tragic death of these Orthodox Coptic brothers is to be seen through the eyes of faith, and he underlines the importance of the fact that the entire country is united in its reaction to bloodthirsty barbarity on the part of jihadists, “This tragedy - Fides was told by Fr. Hani Bakhoum Kiroulos, Coptic Catholic Patriarchate secretary– is uniting the entire country, Christians and Muslims. If their aim was to divide us, they have failed. Immediate harsh condemnation came from Cairo’s Al Azhar University (the most important theological centre for Sunnite Islam: editor’s note:). And the swift retaliation on the part of the Egyptian air force on Islamic State bases in Libya also demonstrated that for the Egyptian government its citizens are all equal and that Egypt is suffering as a nation from the bloodthirsty delirium of the terrorists”.
A video of the decapitation of the 21 Copts kidnapped in Libya at the beginning of January, was put on line by jihadist websites yesterday 15 February. At dawn this morning, Egyptian Air force planes attacked and bombed jihadist positions in Libya, mainly in the area of Derna. “Revenge for Egyptian blood – says a statement issued by Egyptian armed forces regarding raids in Libyan territory - is an absolute right and will be implemented”. Egypt – the statement reads – claims the right to defend its national security and stability from any criminal attacks on the part of “individual terrorists or groups inside and outside the nation”. Egypt’s presidency has announced 7 days of national mourning for the 21 murdered Copts.

CRISIS MAGAZINE: Needed: A New Church Policy Toward Islam [Pt. 3]


ISIS Abduct Hundreds of Civilians in North Syria
Paraded in cages 'to be burned alive' like Jordanian pilot: ISIS releases video claiming to show 17 Kurdish fighters in humiliating procession through Iraqi city
Radical Islam Exists: Islamism is the New Totalitarianism

The Desert Fathers: sayings of the Early Christian Monks: Sober Living

42. A hermit said, 'No one can harm the man at the emperor's side; Satan cannot harm us if we keep ourselves close to God, as it is written, "Draw nigh to me, and I shall draw nigh unto you" (Zech. 1:3). But because we are so often puffed up with pride, it is easy for the enemy to snatch away our wretched soul to carnal passion and disgrace.'

February 11, 2015  

(Joh 2:4-5) And Jesus saith to her: Woman, what is that to me and to thee? My hour is not yet come. His mother saith to the waiters: Whatsoever he shall say to you, do ye.

CATHOLIC REVIEW ARCHIVES: World Day of the Sick: Prayers and reflections on illness, aging, tough decisions, and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

: Pope Francis’ message for 2015 World Day of the Sick

NEWS.VA: Pope Francis: Bring the light of the Word of God to the sick

The salvific work of Christ is not exhausted with His Person and in the arc of His earthly life; it continues through the Church, the sacrament of the love and of the tenderness of God for humans. Sending His disciples in mission, Jesus confers on them a double mandate: to announce the Gospel of salvation and to heal the sick (cf. Mt 10:7-8). Faithful to this charge, the Church has always considered helping the sick an integral part of her mission.

“The poor and the suffering you will always have with you,” Jesus warns (cf. Mt 26:11), and the Church continuously finds them along her path, considering those who are sick as a privileged way to encounter Christ, to welcome Him and to serve Him. To cure the sick, to welcome them, to serve them, is to serve Christ: the sick person is the flesh of Christ.

This occurs also in our own time, when, notwithstanding the many acquisitions of science, the interior and physical suffering of persons raises serious questions about the meaning of illness and of sorrow, and about the reason for death. It deals with existential questions, to which the pastoral action of the Church must respond with the light of faith, having before her eyes the Crucifixion, in which appears the whole of the salvific mystery of God the Father, Who for love of human beings did not spare His own Son (cf. Rm 8:32). Therefore, each one of us is called to bear the light of the Word of God and the power of grace to those who suffer, and to those who assist them – family, doctors, nurses – so that the service to the sick might always be better accomplished with more humanity, with generous dedication, with evangelical love, with tenderness. Mother Church, through our hands, caresses our sufferings and cures our wounds, and does so with the tenderness of a mother.

Let us pray to Mary, Health of the sick, that every person who is sick might experience, thanks to the care of those who are close to them, the power of the love of God and the comfort of His paternal tenderness.

INQUIRER.NET: Time to pray

Feb. 11 is the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes. It is also the World Day of the Sick. Let us continue to pray and become instruments of healing for those who are physically, emotionally and spiritually sick. Let us pray also for the healing of families and relationships. And let us pray for the healing of our land, and of the whole world.

May our sickness and suffering bring us closer to God’s heart. Those who go through sickness or suffering of any kind are recipients and channels of tremendous graces and blessings.

LINK: Live TV at the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes

OFFICE OF READINGS: From a letter from Saint Bernadette Soubirous, virgin
(Ep. ad Gondrand a 1861: cf. A. Ravier, Les escrits de sainte Bernadette, Paris, 1961, pp. 53-59)

The apparition of Our Lady of Lourdes

I had gone down one day with two other girls to the bank of the river Gave when suddenly I heard a kind of rustling sound. I turned my head toward the field by the side of the river but the trees seemed quite still and the noise was evidently not from them. Then I looked up and caught sight of the cave where I saw a lady wearing a lovely white dress with a bright belt. On top of each of her feet was a pale yellow rose, the same color as her rosary beads.

At this I rubbed my eyes, thinking I was seeing things, and I put my hands into the fold of my dress where my rosary was. I wanted to make the sign of the cross but for the life of me I couldn’t manage it and my hand just fell down. Then the lady made the sign of the cross herself and at the second attempt I managed to do the same, though my hands were trembling. Then I began to say the rosary while the lady let her beads slip through her fingers, without moving her lips. When I stopped saying the Hail Mary, she immediately vanished.

I asked my two companions if they had noticed anything, but they said no. Of course they wanted to know what I was doing and I told them that I had seen a lady wearing a nice white dress, though I didn’t know who she was. I told them not to say anything about it, and they said I was silly to have anything to do with it. I said they were wrong and I came back next Sunday, feeling myself drawn to the place....

The third time I went the lady spoke to me and asked me to come every day for fifteen days. I said I would and then she said that she wanted me to tell the priests to build a chapel there. She also told me to drink from the stream. I went to the Gave, the only stream I could see. Then she made me realise she was not speaking of the Gave and she indicated a little trickle of water close by. When I got to it I could only find a few drops, mostly mud. I cupped my hands to catch some liquid without success and then I started to scrape the ground. I managed to find a few drops of water but only at the fourth attempt was there a sufficient amount for any kind of drink. The lady then vanished and I went back home.

I went back each day for two weeks and each time, except one Monday and one Friday, the lady appeared and told me to look for a stream and wash in it and to see that the priests build a chapel there. I must also pray, she said, for the conversion of sinners. I asked her many times what she meant by that, but she only smiled. Finally with outstretched arms and eyes looking up to heaven she told me she was the Immaculate Conception.

During the two weeks she told me three secrets but I was not to speak about them to anyone and so far I have not.

The Desert Fathers: sayings of the Early Christian Monks: Sober Living

40. A hermit said, 'If you lose gold or silver, you can find something as good as you lost. But the man who loses time can never make up what he has lost.'

February 9, 2015  

(Psa 104:24) How great are thy works, O Lord ? thou hast made all things in wisdom: the earth is filled with thy riches.

LINK: Chastity and Eternal Life by Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J.

EXCERPT VIA Anne Lastman: Broken Branches Issue 103 ( 

Abortion: The fight against evil

From the study of the history of the fight between good and evil and the community temptations of the devil of the last 150 years, there is no doubt that the truth- God's Truth- goes on to win. But then the evil one turns up with other lies. So the lies of apartheid, the Third Reich of Nazi Germany, communism, slavery and racism with their specious half-truths or less, have come and gone.

Some time the message runs on: "this is necessary sad to say. This is the way it has to be" Or, is it the excitement of being one of the chosen ones- the winning team. We can look back with sad amazement: how could anybody give their lives for such a wrong cause and for such an evil thing for their lives and the lives of others?

So it will be with the evil of abortion: being encouraged by sick and evil laws to have your own baby killed. Proponents of abortion say "It is not a baby or a person with rights," so by the millions and all around the world babies are being killed through abortion. That evil craziness we know is running out of puff. But meanwhile many things have to be done by us to make God's way to win.

Well one of the things we can do is to call down God's blessings on the ultra sound screens as people are viewing what is happening exactly here within this womb before me.

People like Abby Johnson, recently in Australia, and others before her over the last forty years have said: "God one day used an ultrasound image to bring about their conversion to the truth from out of the morass of lies from the culture of death to the Gospel of life."

People, so sad afterwards; have been telling their history after years of sorrow, sadness, and shame. We were told lies that were constantly being spread: "It is not a baby. It is just a blob of tissue." "There is no one there to feel anything," or, "this termination of pregnancy is a simple one-day surgery procedure. Not much more than going to the dentist really."

"Most people don't have and ongoing repercussions or consequences afterwards. You shouldn't have much trouble going back to your University class after lunch, or your job tomorrow morning." "Sad to say: this is the best and most necessary way of dealing with your problem, an unplanned pregnancy, and it is very brave really. Not many young women your age have the courage to go through with this." "Everything is going to be alright."

These and other lies gently reassuring, from the pit of hell. So what is the truth? The truth is: this is a baby, bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh. This baby- my baby- will look a lot like me. In the photo album of my life, if ultra sounds were available back then, I could have had a picture in my album of me at this stage of my development looking just like the image on the screen before me. This baby is a person to be, and he/she is alive and has basic human rights, even if invisible to the eyes under mother's skin.

And "that" - what is being proposed here? It is the killing: killing of my baby. It is murder. It is not fashionable to use these rough words on gentle young ladies, but that is the truth. It is horror, one-sided violence against someone who cannot protect themselves. It is being the terrorist that I condemn in others. It can be the worst choice and decision that I will ever make in my whole life, totally irreversible, like suicide. It is destroying the most helpless and trusting person on the plant, with my meant to be closest of kin.

Every baby brings a cloud burst of love as it is born. I am being the most anti God here if I choose to abort my baby. I am changing sides to let the most anti God, antilove, anti me person in the universe have a win out of my fears.

Well that is how it is before I sin - if I sin.

Afterwards, when I come to God with the truth of my sin, I meet welcome, mercy, forgiveness, love, acceptance, and God's open hands - a new chapter for my life.

I believe that when the Bishop at my ordination ceremony proclaimed about me as Priest: "whatever you bless will be blessed, whoever you bless will be blessed" it was given to me the power to rock the universe, and so with total faith and obedient knowing, I bless the ultrasound screens of planet earth this day which depict the images of the unborn child within.

As I bless, I know that something has changed in the Spirit world- the world of the invisible -where truth and lies and murder come from. I do that priestly blessing many times, day and night. The lies of the devil are really like fragile balloons or soap bubbles that burst by the graces of the crown of thorns.

The lies, like smoke and smog surrounding man in a mist of confusion and fear are blown away by the Breath of the Holy Spirit so that truth and trust are awakened. You may say: "Well, that is OK for the Priest to do that - he has the power to bless. Well dear reader, you too can bring blessings to the ultra sound screens of this day.

The Vatican II documents and the Catholic Catechism constantly repeat the Church's teaching: Christ shares His Priesthood in two ways: The universal priesthood of all the baptised followers and the ministerial priesthood of Deacons, Priest and Bishops.

Our Lord shares his priestly power, the power of bringing God to the world and the world to God with all the Baptised.

As a Baptised follower I am His priest in the new creation level of my Baptism, confirmation and Marriage Vows. Because I am Baptised He is calling me to fight the evil in my time - part of which is the widespread culture of death in our time and place.

We can follow the story in Mark's Gospel Chapter 1:29-31. Simon's mother in law was sick with a fever and they told Him about her. Later in the day they brought to Him those in need of healing.

So if God is calling me to join in the pro-life battle against the evil one, I talk to Jesus about that. I can bring to Him for His Daily Blessings the ultra sound machines that portray the sight of life within the womb.

May the Holy Spirit be strong there - The Spirit of Truth, the Life Giver. May Our Lady of the nine months pregnancy share her graces with the young mother if she is being pressured by the culture of death - her boyfriend, her parents etc. "Go on, you have to do it. It's the only way out."

May the Angel, who brought solace to Jesus in His time of horror in the Garden of Gethsemane, and His Angelic companions, whisper to the young Mum and her loved ones whatever truth - God's Truth - is needed here "Thou shalt not kill." "He/she who lives by the sword, dies by the sword." "God will provide." His promises from His Holy Word are the antidote to fearing and focusing on only the worst that "must happen" in the nearby future.

As I make the sign of the Cross many times a day I ask for the truth graces of Calvary to be applied to someone where the ultra sound imaging is happening.

When I look at the Chalice elevated at Mass I can ask Our Lord for His precious blood to wash the ultra sound screens of today around the world, and the hearts and minds and thinking of those involved.

I know these are ways for praying for one aspect of the Gospel of Life story God entrusts you with.

Fr Hilary 2014.

The Desert Fathers: sayings of the Early Christian Monks: Sober Living

41. A hermit said, 'Before soldiers or hunters start on expeditions, they do not consider whether some will be wounded while others will be unhurt. Each one fights for himself alone. That is how a monk should be.'

February 6, 2015  

(Heb 13:1-2) Let the charity of the brotherhood abide in you. And hospitality do not forget: for by this some, being not aware of it, have entertained angels.

HEADLINE: Teen who fell in icy pond makes 'miraculous' recovery

VIA A Moment With Mary: A Miracle on the ocean floor…

A Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 disappeared on the night of Friday, March 7, 2014 in the China Sea. It took off from Kuala Lumpur, the capital of Malaysia, and was scheduled to land in Beijing, China. The search for this missing plane continues to surprise us.

Instead of finding the wreckage, divers participating in the research came nose-to-nose with a statue of the Virgin Mary at the bottom of the immense Indian Ocean.

The Church will have no choice but to classify this event among miracles. For to find something even on the surface of this vast expanse of water is in itself a kind of prodigy. But the divers did better. Without spotting anything, since the statue was not visible underwater, they somehow went directly to it.

As further evidence of a miracle, it was standing on its base, as if gently placed there by a divine hand. The underwater photo shows a statue of immaculate whiteness that the divers kissed with fervor...

VIA BHLA2:  Expect A Miracle

Wherever I go, I carry a small gray stone. It’s in my purse all day, tucked under my pillow each night. And on it are painted three simple words: Expect a miracle. I did expect one, and against all odds, that’s exactly what I was given.

A year ago, when I first had bloating and pains in my pelvis and lower abdomen, I passed it off as side effects from the estrogen I was taking for menopause. But driving home one day, the pains got so wrenching I nearly crashed my car.

This can’t be normal! I thought in fear. I’m a nurse, so I raced to my medical books as soon a I got home. Almost as if I were directed, I picked one from the shelf and opened straight to the page on ovarian cancer. A chill raced down my spine as I read the symptoms, bloating, pain, frequent urination…I had every one.

“We’ll have to run some tests,” my doctor said after examining me. “But it could be ovarian cancer.” Driving home, I felt so scared I could barely breathe. And when I walked in the door, my husband, Rich, took one look at me, and hugged me close. “We just need to pray,” he told me.

But my test results were terrifying: I had a large tumor, and a blood test that indicated the possible presence of ovarian cancer read 462, normal is 30. I’m going to die! I wept.

That night, I forced myself to stay calm as I told our two teenage daughters that I had cancer. But when I saw the fear in their eyes, my heart nearly broke in two. So I wouldn’t burden them with my fear, I said I had to run to the store and slipped out to my car, tears coursing down my cheeks.

In my mind, I pictured all the faces I loved: Rich, the girls, our five other children through previous marriages, parents, friends… Oh, God, please don’t take my life, I pleaded. I still have so much to live for.

“Don’t do this alone,” my priest told me when I cried to him. “Let others help you.” And the next day, all those faces I pictured the night before were in my home, surrounding me with their love.

Their love carried me through my surgery to remove the tumor, along with my fallopian tubes and ovaries. But I was far from out of danger. “You still have only a 15 percent chance of making it,” once doctor told me. “Your only hope is chemotherapy.”

Half crazed with fear, I began making frantic bargains: if you heal me, God, I’ll be a better wife, a better mom, a better person. Just give me a second chance. I had six chemo treatments, one every three weeks. Sometimes I thought I wouldn’t make it through them, they made me so weak and sick. But when I most needed a boost, a friend would show up with dinner or drop by to take the girls out.

Folks even organized fund-raisers to help us pay my medical bills!

Bouyed by so much love, I knew I owed it to others, and to myself, to stay optimistic. So I read books on healing and listened to tapes that helped me visualize getting well. I’m not giving in, I’d think. Rich was my strength whenever I felt afraid, praying with me and holding me. My daughters stayed positive, too. Lindsay, 14, and Sarah, 16, refused to believe I would die. “You’re going to be all right, Mom,” they’d say.

But after my last treatment, I faced a terrifying moment of truth. Doctors were going to take 100 biopsies, one in ever place they feared the cancer might have spread. “To be honest, we don’t expect to find you’re cancer-free,” they warned. And if the chemo hadn’t destroyed the cancer cells, my chances for survival were slim.

I could feel terror creeping into every fiber of my being. I can’t give up hope now, I thought fiercely. So before leaving for the hospital, I opened the drawer where I kept a good-luck symbol a friend had given me, a small, hand-painted rock.

Expect a miracle, I read, then slipped the stone in my purse. The stone was still in my purse the next day, when I opened my eyes after surgery to find a pretty woman with dark hair and a white dress leaning over my hospital bed.

She must be a nurse, I thought. But she had no pills in her hand, no blood pressure monitor to hook up. Instead, she looked at me kindly and asked, “Are you the one who’s looking for a miracle?”

Confused, I stammered, “Yes.” But how did she know? I wondered. Then, before the question left my lips, she’d vanished.

The next morning, the woman in white was beside me once again. In her hand was a plaque that read:  Miracles Happen Every Day. “Is this what you’re looking for?” she asked gently. Tears sprang to my eyes, but before I could say a word, once again she was gone. As I gazed at the plaque she’d given me, I felt a funny tingly sensation throughout my body…

“Dawn,” Rich said as I groggily opened my eyes, “the results of the biopsies are in. They were negative, each and every one!” I’ll never know whether the woman was a nurse, or an angel. but it doesn’t matter. She came to let me know that hopes are never foolish, prayers never wasted.

Today I’m 49 and cancer-free. And each time I hug my daughters, share a quiet moment with Rich or just watch  autumn leaves scuttle across the sidewalk, I remember again that every new day is a blessing, a new chance to expect a miracle.By: Dawn Stobbe

The Desert Fathers: sayings of the Early Christian Monks: Sober Living

39. A hermit said, 'A monk ought to examine himself every day morning and evening, to check how far he has kept the Lord's will. He ought to be leading a penitential life all his days. That was the way Arsenius lived.'

February 5, 2015  

(1Jn 4:18-21) Fear is not in charity: but perfect charity casteth out fear, because fear hath sin. And he that feareth is not perfected in charity. Let us therefore love God: because God first hath loved us. If any man say: I love God, and hateth his brother; he is a liar. For he that loveth not his brother whom he seeth, how can he love God whom he seeth not? And this commandment we have from God, that he who loveth God love also his brother.

POPE FRANCIS: "To know God we must walk through life in love, love for our neighbor, love for those who hate us, love for all”.

EXCERPT FR. ESPER HOMILY: The Gospel of Mark (1:21-28) relates how, when Jesus was teaching in a synagogue early in His public ministry, He was interrupted by a demonically-possessed man. The Lord quickly and easily expelled the demon; the reason He was able to do so was because He Himself embodied perfect Love. Love was the source of His power over evil; love was the source of His authority in teaching in a way that astonished the people. Evil often seems to gain the upper hand in this world, but in the end, love will triumph. The Book of Deuteronomy (18:15-20) tells us that God in His love promised to send prophets to His people, helping them know and live by the truth, and St. Paul (1 Cor 7:32-35) suggests that if we truly have love for God in our hearts, we will want to live in a way that serves Him and pleases Him. Evil is barren and self-destructive, whereas love is liberating and life-giving—and if we open our hearts to God’s love, He will bless us and use us in His ongoing plan of salvation.

About a week ago I read a sad story in the newspaper about an atheist, a fierce and hostile opponent of religion, who moved into a small town in western Michigan and began shaking things up by organizing protests, filing lawsuits challenging the presence of Christian symbols in public places, and forcing school districts to cancel voluntary lunch-time programs sponsored by an area church. The sad part of the article was where the man stated that in response to his efforts, he has been cursed at by Christians, been compared to a terrorist or even the devil from pulpits and on social media, and has received hate mail and death threats from religious believers (Detroit News, January 24, 2015). If his claims are true, some Christians in Michigan’s so-called Bible Belt are acting in a very non-Christian way; their clumsy efforts to defend the faith are merely raising the level of hatred and intolerance. It would be far more effective if they were to surround this misguided man with love and acceptance, drowning the fires of his anger and bigotry with an avalanche of kindness and compassion.

This was the approach of a pro-life organization whose peaceful marches and activities were always shadowed by a hostile pro-abortion demonstrator. He constantly shouted obscenities and curses at them, but they simply smiled at him and prayed for him; they greeted him by name, and offered him hot chocolate on cold and rainy days. When the man’s wife died, it wasn’t other pro-abortionists who comforted and helped him; no, it was the members of the pro-life organization who came to the funeral home and offered to help in any way they could. This was too much for him; he broke down in tears as his hatred melted away, realizing that he had been wrong. Love brought about a change of heart, and the man eventually joined the pro-life group he had once so fiercely opposed.

When we respond to evil persons or situations with hatred, evil becomes stronger; when we respond with love, God’s Name is glorified, His grace flows out from us, and the final triumph of love draws that much closer. Living this way isn’t easy; it requires a certain amount of spiritual heroism—but such a holy and radical outlook and lifestyle is possible through divine grace. When someone sins against us, we’re entitled to defend ourselves, but not to respond in hatred. Instead, we should pray, “Jesus, I ask you to bless this person, and I offer up this injustice for Your glory.” We might say to the person, “I hope God helps you find the peace you’ve been looking for,” or simply, “I forgive you in Christ’s Name.” If enough Christians did this, the beauty of our faith might attract and help bring about many new members of the Church, while beginning to transform our society in a wonderful way.

MORE FROM FR. ESPER: How The Saints Faced Anxiety

The Desert Fathers: sayings of the Early Christian Monks: Sober Living

38. One hermit visited another hermit and said during their conversation, 'I'm dead to the world.' The other said, 'Don't be so confident until you have actually died. You may say about yourself that you are dead, but Satan is not dead.'

February 2, 2015  

(Mar 1:24-27) Saying: What have we to do with thee, Jesus of Nazareth? Art thou come to destroy us? I know who thou art, the Holy One of God. And Jesus threatened him, saying: Speak no more, and go out of the man. And the unclean spirit, tearing him and crying out with a loud voice, went out of him. And they were all amazed insomuch that they questioned among themselves, saying: What thing is this? What is this new doctrine? For with power he commandeth even the unclean spirits: and they obey him.

CATHOLIC ONLINE: Spiritual Warfare and the Healing Power of Jesus Christ

Satan has deceived the world to believe that he does not exist, that there is no sin and that there is no hell.  Nevertheless, Jesus tells us something to the contrary.

"I watched Satan fall like lightning from heaven" (Luke 10: 18).  "He was a murderer from the start; he was never grounded in the truth; there is no truth in him at all: when he lies he is drawing on his own store, because he is a liar and the father of lies" (John 8: 44). 

The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains the reality of Satan with these words:  "The power of Satan is, nonetheless, not infinite.  He is only a creature, powerful from the fact that he is pure spirit, but still a creature.  He cannot prevent the building up of God's reign.  Although Satan may act in the world out of hatred for God and his  kingdom in Christ Jesus, and although his action may cause grave injuries - of a spiritual nature and, indirectly, even of a physical nature - to each man and to society, the action is permitted by divine providence which with strength and gentleness guides human and cosmic history.  It is a great mystery that providence should permit diabolical activity, but we know that in everything God works for good with those who love him" (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 395)

This Sunday's Gospel passage is one of numerous examples where Jesus not only confronts Satan, but he is victorious over him. 

"In their synagogue was a man with an unclean spirit; he cried out, 'What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth?  Have you come to destroy us?  I know who you are - the Holy One of God!'  Jesus rebuked him and said, 'Quiet!  Come out of him!'  The unclean spirit convulsed him and with a loud cry came out of him" (Mark 1: 23-26).

Our personal struggle with Satan and with evil is very real indeed.  Saint Paul tells us in his letter to the Ephesians how we are to fight this battle.

"Put God's armor on so as to be able to resist the devil's tactics.  For it is not against human enemies that we have to struggle, but against the Sovereignties and the Powers who originate the darkness of this world, the spiritual army of evil in the heavens.  That is why you must rely on God's armor, or you will not be able to put up any resistance when the worst happens, or have enough resources to hold your ground" (Ephesians 6: 1-13).

And what is God's armor for you?  We have to develop a very serious spiritual life and make frequent use of the Sacrament of Confession.  We have to avoid moral relativism when it comes to the formation of our conscience, and we have to remove from our soul any manifestation of sloth and spiritual tepidity. 

Only by putting on God's armor will we be able to persevere.

Aside from the real spiritual warfare that we experience with Satan, he can also make havoc on our weaknesses and wounds.

The damage that dysfunctional families make on the individual is astounding. 

Modern psychology recognizes that traumatic events that are too agonizing to deal with can be buried deep in our soul as a way of coping with the pain that the event or events may cause us.

It is true that these buried emotions will affect our behavior unless we deal with them properly. 

Bitterness, anger, resentment and discouragement can be healed.  Jesus will heal us if we turn to him.  If we want to experience peace and happiness in our lives we need to turn to the Lord. 

However, too many times we escape from the pain caused by our wounds, weaknesses and addictions by turning to sexual sin, drugs, excessive alcohol and over eating.  Sometimes we seek escapes in excessive work, sports, entertainment and even shopping. 

Jesus will bring about profound healing in our lives if we were to do three things every day: 1) spend 20 - 30 minutes each day in silent  meditative prayer at home or in front of the Blessed Sacrament; 2) go to Mass every day or as often as possible; and 3) pray the Rosary every day. 

These three moments of peaceful prayer will allow the Holy Spirit to enter into the deep recesses of our soul and heal us with his loving presence.

"If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts" (Psalm 95: 8). 

REVIEW: Spiritual Warfare: The Occult Has Demonic Influence


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The Desert Fathers: sayings of the Early Christian Monks: Sober Living

36. He also said, 'The life of a monk should be like that of the angels, all fire to burn up sin.'
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