Keep your eyes open!...


July 24, 2017  

(2Ki 13:20-21) And Eliseus died, and they buried him. And the rovers from Moab came into the land the same year. And some that were burying a man, saw the rovers, and cast the body into the sepulchre of Eliseus. And when it had touched the bones of Eliseus, the man came to life and stood upon his feet.



: Saint Charbel

Fr. George W. Rutler: There are saints whose lives were inconspicuous and whose canonizations surprised some who thought they were unexceptional. There are others whose mystical gifts were so prodigious that they made every effort, sometimes amusingly as in the instance of Philip Neri, to distract attention from themselves. In recent centuries these would certainly include John Vianney, Padre Pio and Charbel Makhlouf, canonized in 1977, whose feast we celebrate on July 24.

He was born in 1828 in the northern Lebanese village of Biqa-Kafra. He became a monk at the age of twenty-three and was ordained a priest in 1859. After sixteen years in the Monastery of St. Maroun, Charbel was allowed by rare exception to live on his own as a hermit. For the next twenty-three years he lived a harshly mortified life. Given the rigors he endured, and neglect of any comfort, is it remarkable that he lived to the age of seventy. He wanted to be forgotten, and it was assumed that he would be, despite his quiet reputation for giving inspired spiritual advice to many who went to him. But for forty-five nights after his burial, an intensely bright light shone from his grave, attracting the devout as well as curiosity-seekers and even Muslims. Since then, an astonishingly long list of seemingly miraculous cures have been attributed to his intercession.

The Maronite Church to which Saint Charbel belonged uses the ancient West Syrian liturgy, with the consecration prayers in the Eucharist retained in the Aramaic that our Lord spoke. The Maronites, whose vernacular is Arabic, are in full communion with the Pope. Their origins as a distinct rite go back to Saint Maron in the late fourth century, and Saint John Maron, patriarch of Antioch from 685 to 707, who led a successful military resistance against the invading Byzantine armies of Justinian II, enabling the Maronites to be fully independent.

The Maronites preserved their identity during the Muslim caliphate (632-1258) and the Ottoman rule, and have maintained their presence since Lebanon became an independent state in 1943. The Maronite diaspora increased after the Muslim-instigated massacre of 1860. In 1902 a fourteen-year old Maronite named Khalil Salim Haddad Aglamaz emigrated to Mexico and started a dry goods business. One of his sons is Carlos Slim, who lives a relatively modest life for a man Forbes magazine declared the world’s richest in 2014.

At Sunday Mass we pray to our Patron, Saint Michael the Archangel, for our fellow Christians in the Middle East in these trying days. While Lebanon is safer for Christians than most regions in that part of the world, and by law its president must be a Maronite, its Christian population is shrinking. The Maronites have a tradition of hospitality, and bid visitors welcome: Ahlan wa sahlan. And now we also know why Saint Charbel is such a popular saint in Mexico, far from Biqa-Kafra.


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

6. The rule and limit of absolute and perfect purity is to be equally disposed towards animate and inanimate bodies, rational and irrational.

July 21, 2017  

(Rev 12:13-17) And when the dragon saw that he was cast unto the earth, he persecuted the woman who brought forth the man child. And there were given to the woman two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the desert, unto her place, where she is nourished for a time and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent. And the serpent cast out of his mouth, after the woman, water, as it were a river: that he might cause her to be carried away by the river. And the earth helped the woman: and the earth opened her mouth and swallowed up the river which the dragon cast out of his mouth. And the dragon was angry against the woman: and went to make war with the rest of her seed, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.

EXCERPT VATICAN INSIDER: The Triumph of the Immaculate Heart: The Light from the East is Dawning

I mentioned in the introduction that Fatima must be considered alongside the other approved private revelations in order for us to deduce exactly what the Holy Spirit is saying (in an extraordinary way) to the Church in this particular era. Without any doubt, the most important revelations apart from Fatima in the past century are the divine mercy revelations given to St. Faustina Kowalska. They have inspired millions to either return to their faith, or deepen their existing spiritual life. One thing perhaps still hidden somewhat, yet which cannot be denied, is the deep eschatological undercurrent that runs through these writings. On several occasions Jesus revealed the seriousness of the times: “You [St. Faustina] will prepare the world for my final coming”, “Speak to the world about my mercy; let all mankind recognize my unfathomable mercy. It is a sign for the end times.” “Secretary of my mercy, write, tell souls about this great mercy of Mine, because the awful day, the day of justice is near.” Perhaps the most famous prophecy though from St. Faustina’s Diary concerns these words: “I bear a special love for Poland…from her will come forth the spark that will prepare the world for my final coming.”  
It is certain that St. John Paul took these warnings extremely seriously-as Pope Benedict said of him: “Indeed, it was a concern of John Paul II to make clear that we are looking ahead to the coming of Christ.” This truth is borne out by the countless references to the second coming of Jesus in the magisterium of the Polish pontiff. In fact as early as 1976, in the Lenten retreat he gave as Cardinal Wojtyla for Blessed Paul VI, he wondered if we were on the “last lap of history” awaiting the coming of the Man of Sin. He saw our era finally as the one throughout all of history that could give fullest expression to Satan’s temptation from Genesis chapter 3 that “you will become like God.” Returning to his promotion of Divine Mercy, he referred to Jesus’ startling prophecy about Poland when he consecrated the Basilica of Divine Mercy in Krakow in 2002: “May the binding promise of the Lord Jesus be fulfilled: from here there must go forth ‘the spark which will prepare the world for his final coming (cf. Diary, 1732).’”  
Two other recent apparitions with Church approval also speak of the approaching second coming of the Lord: In Kibeho Rwanda, which has the same level of approval as Fatima, the Blessed Virgin told the main visionary Alphonsine Mumarake (now a nun) that she had come to prepare the world for the return of her Son, while in San Nicholas, Argentina Our Lady told the visionary, Gladys Herminia Quiroga de Motta , “the coming of the Lord is imminent” and “Daughter, the Prince of Evil pours out his venom today with all his might, because he sees that his sorry reign is ending. Little is left to him. His end is near”. Both these apparitions were in the 1980’s at a time when St. John Paul II was quietly promoting the devotion to divine mercy in anticipation of the official approval that would come with Sr. Faustina’s canonization.
There is no doubt that when we look at the magisterium of the past century, there is a prophetic element that is often overlooked. Pope Pius XII in his 1957 Easter Urbi et Orbi address stated: “Come Lord Jesus, there are numerous signs thy return is not far off.” He saw the two world wars as fulfilling Jesus’ words in the Gospels that nation would fight against nation. St. John XXIII took his name after St. John the Baptist because he saw his pontificate as similar in preparing for the coming of Jesus. Even the Second Vatican Council can be seen in the light of the end times. The Decree of Missionary activity, Ad Gentes, states the “sacred synod’s” intention in part is to “prepare the way for his coming”, while Blessed Paul VI stated: “The Council sought to enlarge the horizons of the Church…and finally to hasten it on its pilgrim journey towards its eschatological goal—its final, open and glorious encounter with Christ, Our Lord.” The Pontiff also sensed the signs of the end emerging in a conversation with his friend Jean Guitton; although he was careful to note we cannot know when the end will come. St. John Paul II certainly understood the events of the 20th century as a decisive stage in salvation history: “We believe that if the convulsions of our century are the death pangs of an old world, they are also the birth pangs of your new birth. We perceive that the hour is approaching for the young mother of the new Advent.” 
Those words were spoken at the first ever World Youth Day event in 1985; similar words were spoken in Edmunton, Canada in 1984: “May justice and peace embrace at the end of the second millennium, which prepares us for the coming of Christ in glory.” Pope Benedict continued the prophetic and urgent theme on several occasions; notably on two successive Christmas Midnight Mass homilies in 2010 and 2011. In the former he prayed: “Lord, make your promise come fully true. Break the rods of the oppressors. Burn the tramping boots. Let the time of the garments rolled in blood come to an end. Fulfil the prophecy that ‘of peace there will be no end’ (Is 9:7). We thank you for your goodness, but we also ask you to show forth your power. Establish the dominion of your truth and your love in the world – the “kingdom of righteousness, love and peace.”  
So how do we approach this apocalyptic scenario? It seems that St. John Paul had the correct idea: to live the Christian life with an “advent spirit”, as the early Christians did. This is not to be caught up in endless speculation and worries about certain cataclysmic events that may or may not come; or to concern ourselves with date setting that nobody can know except the Eternal Father. Rather, it is to place at the centre of our spiritual lives the joyful hope and knowledge that Jesus will return with his saints, transforming the universe definitively. In this way, we can pray “Maranatha, come Lord Jesus” not with fear for the future, but with real anticipation that evil and death will be destroyed forever. Fatima invites us to offer our lives towards this goal when the world will be saved forever, when we will all stand under the miracle of the true Sun as he illuminates the earth at his glorious coming. Pope Francis tells us: “With Mary’s protection, may we be for our world sentinels of the dawn, contemplating the true face of Jesus the Saviour, resplendent at Easter.” That dawn is now slowly rising from the East.

MEDITATION: Thoughts by St Theophan (1815-1894)

[I Cor. 3:18-23; Matt. 13:36-43]

And shall cast them (those who offend and do iniquity) into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the Kingdom of their Father. Thus will be carried out the division of good and evil, light and darkness. Now is the period of time in which they are mixed. It pleased the Lord to arrange that the freedom of creatures should grow and be strengthened in good through the struggle with evil; evil is tolerated within the vicinity of inward freedom, and in contact with a person externally. It does not determine anything, only tempts. One who feels a temptation must not fall, but enter into battle. He who conquers is freed from one temptation, and advances forward and upward to find new temptation there — and so on, until the end of his life.

Oh, when will we comprehend this meaning of the evil which tempts us, so we might arrange our lives according to this understanding! The strugglers are finally crowned, and pass on to the other life where there is neither sickness nor sorrows from the outside, and where they become inwardly pure like angels of God, free from the sting of tempting inclinations and thoughts. This is how the triumph of light and good is being prepared, and it will be revealed in all of its glory on the last day of the world.

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

5. He is chaste who has continually acquired perfect insensibility to difference in bodies.

July 19, 2017  

(Mat 10:34-36)  Do not think that I came to send peace upon earth: I came not to send peace, but the sword. For I came to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man's enemies shall be they of his own household.

ARCHBISHOP CHAPUT: A Word about Useful Tools

History is full of great quotations that people never said. One of the best lines comes from Vladimir Lenin. He described Russian progressives, social democrats, and other fellow travelers as “useful idiots” – naïve allies in revolution whom the Bolsheviks promptly crushed when they took power.

Or so the legend goes. In fact, there’s no evidence Lenin actually spoke those words, at least in public. But no one seems to care. It’s a compelling line, and in its own way, entirely true. The naïve and imprudent can very easily end up as useful tools in a larger conflict; or to frame it more generously, as useful innocents. The result is usually the same. They’re discarded.

History is also full of unfortunate comments that really were said – as found, for example, in a recent Rome-based journal article that many have already rightly criticized. The article in question, La Civiltà Cattolica’s “Evangelical Fundamentalism and Catholic Integralism in the USA: A Surprising Ecumenism,” is an exercise in dumbing down and inadequately presenting the nature of Catholic/evangelical cooperation on religious freedom and other key issues.

Catholics and other Christians who see themselves as progressive tend to be wary of the religious liberty debate. Some distrust it as a smokescreen for conservative politics. Some see it as a distraction from other urgent issues. Some are made uneasy by the cooperation of many Catholics and evangelicals, as well as Mormons and many Orthodox, to push back against abortion on demand, to defend marriage and the family, and to resist LGBT efforts to weaken religious freedom protections through coercive SOGI (sexual orientation/gender identity) “anti-discrimination” laws.

But working for religious freedom has never precluded service to the poor. The opposite is true. In America, the liberty of religious communities has always been a seedbed of social action and ministry to those in need.

The divide between Catholic and other faith communities has often run deep. Only real and present danger could draw them together. The cooperation of Catholics and evangelicals was quite rare when I was a young priest. Their current mutual aid, the ecumenism that seems to so worry La Civilta Cattolica, is a function of shared concerns and principles, not ambition for political power.

As an evangelical friend once said, the whole idea of Baptist faith cuts against the integration of Church and state. Foreign observers who want to criticize the United States and its religious landscape – and yes, there’s always plenty to criticize — should note that fact. It’s rather basic.

Dismissing today’s attacks on religious liberty as a “narrative of fear” — as the La Civiltà Cattolica author curiously describes it — might have made some sense 25 years ago. Now it sounds willfully ignorant. It also ignores the fact that America’s culture wars weren’t wanted, and weren’t started, by people faithful to constant Christian belief.

So it’s an especially odd kind of surprise when believers are attacked by their co-religionists merely for fighting for what their Churches have always held to be true.

Earlier this month, one of the main architects and financiers of today’s LGBT activism said publicly what should have been obvious all along: The goal of at least some gay activism is not simply to assure equality for the same-sex attracted, but to “punish the wicked” – in other words, to punish those who oppose the LGBT cultural agenda.

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out whom that might include. Today’s conflicts over sexual freedom and identity involve an almost perfect inversion of what we once meant by right and wrong.

Catholics are called to treat all persons with charity and justice. That includes those who hate what we believe. It demands a conversion of heart. It demands patience, courage and humility. We need to shed any self-righteousness. But charity and justice can’t be severed from truth. For Christians, Scripture is the Word of God, the revelation of God’s truth – and there’s no way to soften or detour around the substance of Romans 1:18-32, or any of the other biblical calls to sexual integrity and virtuous conduct.

Trying to do so demeans what Christians have always claimed to believe. It reduces us to useful tools of those who would smother the faith that so many other Christians have suffered, and are now suffering, to fully witness.

This is why groups that fight for religious liberty in our courts, legislatures, and in the public square – distinguished groups like the Alliance Defending Freedom and Becket (formerly the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty) – are heroes, not “haters.” And if their efforts draw Catholics, evangelicals and other people of good will together in common cause, we should thank God for the unity it brings.

CNA: What Civilta Cattolica's analysis of US Christianity missed

THE CATHOLIC THING: Are Americans from Mars?

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

4. He is chaste who, even during sleep, feels no movement or change of any kind in his constitution.

July 17, 2017  

(2Ti 3:1-5) Know also this, that in the last days shall come dangerous times. Men shall be lovers of themselves, covetous, haughty, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, wicked, Without affection, without peace, slanderers, incontinent, unmerciful, without kindness, Traitors, stubborn, puffed up, and lovers of pleasure more than of God: Having an appearance indeed of godliness but denying the power thereof. Now these avoid.

EXCERPT MESSAGE OF AKITA (10/13/73): "As I told you, if men do not repent and better themselves, the Father will inflict a terrible punishment on all humanity. It will be a punishment greater than the deluge, such as one will never seen before. Fire will fall from the sky and will wipe out a great part of humanity, the good as well as the bad, sparing neither priests nor faithful. The survivors will find themselves so desolate that they will envy the dead. The only arms which will remain for you will be the Rosary and the Sign left by My Son. Each day recite the prayers of the Rosary. With the Rosary, pray for the Pope, the bishops and priests."

"The work of the devil will infiltrate even into the Church in such a way that one will see cardinals opposing cardinals, bishops against bishops. The priests who venerate me will be scorned and opposed by their confreres...churches and altars sacked; the Church will be full of those who accept compromises and the demon will press many priests and consecrated souls to leave the service of the Lord.

"The demon will be especially implacable against souls consecrated to God. The thought of the loss of so many souls is the cause of my sadness. If sins increase in number and gravity, there will be no longer pardon for them."

BLOG: “History has NOT always been like this. It has never been this bad.”

A MESSAGE FOR OUR TIMES:  Our Lady of Good Success

: Church Is ‘on the Verge of Capsizing’

The Catholic Church is a boat “on the verge of capsizing,” said Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI in a personal message for the funeral Mass of his close friend, Cardinal Joachim Meisner on Saturday.

Given his inability to travel, the usually silent retired Pope delivered the message in writing, and had it read aloud in the Cologne Cathedral by his personal secretary, Archbishop Georg Gänswein, who also serves as Prefect of the Papal Household for Pope Francis.

In the text, Benedict said that Cardinal Meisner “found it difficult to leave his post, especially at a time in which the Church stands in particularly pressing need of convincing shepherds who can resist the dictatorship of the spirit of the age and who live and think the faith with determination.”

What moved me all the more, Benedict said, was that, “in this last period of his life, he learned to let go and to live out of a deep conviction that the Lord does not abandon His Church, even when the boat has taken on so much water as to be on the verge of capsizing.”

TRANSLATED TEXT: At this hour, when the church of Cologne and faithful from further a field gathered to say goodbye to Cardinal Joachim Meisner, my heart and thoughts are with you also, and gladly accepting the invitation of Cardinal Woelki, I wish to address a word of remembrance to you.

When I heard of the death of Cardinal Meisner last Wednesday, I did not want to believe it. The day before we had talked on the phone. His gratitude for the fact that he had been on vacation after he had participated in the beatification of Bishop Teofilius Matulionis in Vilnius on Sunday before (June 25) was clear in his his voice. The love for the Church in the neighboring countries in the East, which had suffered under the Communist persecution, as well as the gratitude for the withstanding the sufferings of that time, shaped his life. And so is it is no coincidence that the last visit to his life was one to a Confessor of the Faith in those countries.

What particularly impressed me in that last talk with the retired Cardinal, was the loosened joy, the inner joy, and the confidence he had found. We know that this passionate shepherd and pastor found it difficult to leave his post, especially at a time in which the Church stands in particularly pressing need of convincing shepherds who can resist the dictatorship of the spirit of the age and who live and think the faith with determination. However, what moved me all the more was that, in this last period of his life, he learned to let go and to live out of a deep conviction that the Lord does not abandon His Church, even when the boat has taken on so much water as to be on the verge of capsizing.

Two things in recent times which pleased him more than anything:
When, on his last morning, Cardinal Meisner did not appear at Mass, he was found dead in his room. His Breviary had slipped out of his hands: he was praying as he died, looking at the Lord, talking to the Lord. The death that was given to him, shows once again how he lived: looking at the Lord and talking to him. So we can confidently recommend his soul to the goodness of God. Lord, we thank thee for the testimony of thy servant Joachim. Let him be an intercessor for the Church of Cologne, and on the whole world! Requiescat in pace!

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

3. Chastity is the name which is common to all the virtues.

July 14, 2017

(Gen 41:55) And when there also they began to be famished, the people cried to Pharao, for food. And he said to them: Go to Joseph: and do all that he shall say to you.

(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.

SEMINARY LECTURE: The Story of Joseph, Sold by His Brothers

The story of Joseph is also extremely rich in typology.  Joseph the dreamer is hated by his brothers on account of envy. He has prophetic dreams which foretell that all his brothers, and indeed even his father and mother, would worship him; and he is the favorite son of his father, begotten by Rachel in his old age. “Now Israel loved Joseph more than any other of his children, because he was the son of his old age; and he made him a long robe with sleeves.  But when his brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers, they hated him, and could not speak peaceably to him” (Gen 37:3–4).

Jacob sent Joseph to visit his brothers in the field to see how they were doing. The envy of his brothers incited them to plan to kill him, but seeing the opportunity for a profitable transaction, they preferred to sell him into slavery for twenty pieces of silver. They presented the cloak of many colors, stained with the blood of a goat, to their father.

Thus far, it is easy to see in these events a typological allegorical sense. Joseph represents Christ, the promise of Israel and of the nations, sent by His Father to assist his brethren. “He came into his own, but his own received him not” (Jn 1:11). Both the plan to kill him and to sell him for a few pieces of silver were realized in His Passion.  His cloak of many colors represents His sacred humanity, which, stained with blood, was presented by his brethren to God the Father.

However, as we know, the allegory does not end here.  The treachery and malice worked on Joseph redounds to the salvation of the very same brothers who betrayed him, of their whole house, and indeed of the nations, represented by Egypt, and all those who came to Egypt to buy grain in the time of famine.

Joseph is sold into slavery in Egypt. There, because of his purity in refusing the advances of Potiphar’s wife, he is put in prison. In prison he correctly interprets the dreams of the cupbearer and the baker. Much later, when Pharaoh has the dream of the seven fat cows, followed by seven lean ones, the cupbearer tells Pharaoh of Joseph’s ability, and Pharaoh summons him to interpret his dream. He is then set over all of Egypt, second only to Pharaoh, who orders that all are to go to Joseph in their need. In this capacity his brothers are sent to him to buy grain during the great famine. Although he knows their treachery, Joseph tries their repentance and forgives them with deep emotion.

How marvelous and mysterious are the plans of God! An abominable crime of betrayal and ingratitude is worked, which results in the salvation of the treacherous brothers and their house, and also of Egypt, the greatest of nations.  If Christ is prefigured in the prophetic dreams of Joseph, in his predilection by his father, and in his betrayal for twenty pieces of silver, He is no less prefigured in the wonderful consequences of that betrayal. God permits evil so as to enable an incomparably greater good to be accomplished.  He permits Joseph to be sold by his brethren into slavery so as to save all—both his family and the gentile Egyptians— thereby prefiguring how the betrayal of Christ would work the salvation of the children of Israel and of all the Gentiles.  Here we can apply the profound phrase that the liturgy of the Church says of the sin of Adam: “O happy fault (felix culpa), which merited us so great a Redeemer.”

Blaise Pascal summarizes beautifully:

Christ prefigured by Joseph. Innocent, beloved of his father, sent by his father to see his brothers, is sold for twenty pieces of silver by his brothers. Through this he becomes their lord, their savior, savior of strangers and savior of the world. None of this would have happened but for their plot to destroy him, the sale, and their rejection of him.
In prison Joseph, innocent between two criminals.  Jesus on the cross between two thieves. He prophesies the salvation of the one and the death of the other when to all appearances they are alike. . . . Joseph only prophesies, Jesus acts. Joseph asks the man who will be saved to remember him when he comes in glory. And the man Jesus saves asks to be remembered when He comes into His Kingdom.

In fact, it is easy to see in this story a figure not only of Christ, but of the centuries of Christendom. In Egypt, Joseph was first put into prison, which could signify the three hundred years of brutal Roman persecution of the Church. He was then raised up to the right hand of Pharaoh, to whom all pay deference, which can be seen as a figure of the social kingship of Christ during the centuries of Christendom. Joseph ruled for fourteen years (and more), as a parallel to the same number of centuries in which the nations publicly recognized Christ. In the end, the once perfidious brethren themselves come to be reconciled, in the final triumph of providence worked through Joseph.  This final element of the story is, it would seem, a figure of an event foretold, but not yet fully realized: the final conversion of Israel to faith in Christ in the last times before Christ our Lord comes a second time in majesty to judge the living and the dead.

BIBLE STUDY: A Comparison between Joseph and Jesus

HAPPY CATHOLIC: Parallels Between Joseph and Christ

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

1. Purity means that we put on the angelic nature.  Purity is the longed-for house of Christ and the earthly heaven of the heart.  Purity is a supernatural denial of nature, which means that a mortal and corruptible body is rivalling the celestial spirits in a truly marvelous way.

July 12, 2017

(Mat 19:17-19) Who said to him: Why askest thou me concerning good? One is good, God. But if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. He said to him: Which? And Jesus said: Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness. Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.

CARDINAL GERHARD MULLER: "Euthanasia not only constitutes a grave wrong in itself, but its legalisation creates toxic and deadly social pathologies that disproportionately afflict the weakest members of society".

CATHOLIC VOTE: The Catholic Leaders Who Left Charlie Gard for Dead

: Will the U.S. accept Euthanasia?

Euthanasia is intrinsically evil and always gravely immoral. It is not justified by a good intention or purpose, not even by the medical purpose of relieving severe suffering. It is not justified by a dire circumstance, not even that a person is terminally ill and in severe pain. Euthanasia is a form of murder, and murder is the direct and voluntary killing of an innocent human being.

The nation with the most extensive acceptance and legal use of euthanasia is the Netherlands. In 2015, they euthanized 5,561 persons out of a population of 16.94 million. That’s a rate of 0.000328 (or 0.0328%). It’s a small percentage, but a large number.

If euthanasia ever becomes as accepted in the U.S. as it is in the Netherlands, that percentage of our population would imply 106,928 deaths per year, making it 6th leading cause of death overall (not counting abortion).

The arguments used to justify euthanasia and to widen its legality proceed along much the same course as the arguments for legalized abortion. They start with the most severe cases. The propose the case of a conception by rape or incest, when the prenatal has a severe disability. They propose the case where direct abortion will save the life of the mother. Then once they obtain legalization of some abortion, they push the door open wider. Abortion becomes legal in more and more cases, until it is proclaimed to be a right and is available on demand.

The same process will likely happen with euthanasia. They will obtain its legalization in very limited cases, as when the person is terminally ill and near death. Then they will widen the types of cases where euthanasia is permitted. In the end, they will proclaim the supposed right to die, and obtain the legalization of euthanasia for a wide range of reasons.

In California, a devout Roman Catholic woman was struggling with cancer, and needed a different type of chemotherapy. But then the State approved physician-assisted suicide. She was denied coverage for the cancer treatment medications, but offered coverage for a suicide pill: Terminally ill mom denied treatment coverage, but gets suicide drug approved

“Then her doctors suggested that switching to another chemotherapy drug might buy her time. Her medical insurance company refused to pay. She says she asked if the company covered the cost of drugs to put her to death. She was told the answer is yes — with a co-payment of $1.20.”

Euthanasia is inexpensive. Treating the elderly and the dying is costly. So there is an inevitable push from sinful secular society toward euthanasia. It is portrayed as compassion, but it is a way to get rid of people who seem like a burden on society, financially or otherwise. And once it becomes legal, the expansion of cases where euthanasia is deemed appropriate never stops.

A 24 year old woman in Belgium obtain permission for physician assisted suicide. She was not terminally ill, just suffering from depression. The Netherlands is considering a change to their laws to allow euthanasia in cases where the person is simply elderly, not ill at all. But they also currently allow euthanasia for children as young as 12, with their parents’ consent. “Euthanasia now accounts for 4% of total deaths in the Netherlands….” [Wikipedia]

The teaching of the Roman Catholic Church is clear and definitive. Euthanasia is intrinsically evil and always gravely immoral. Neither a good purpose, nor a dire circumstance can ever justify an intrinsically evil act. But secular society (and many Catholics, too, unfortunately) does not accept the idea that some acts are immoral, regardless of intention or circumstances.


A Dutch euthanasia pioneer surveys the wreckage and despairs
SHOCKING STUDY: 431 People Involuntarily Euthanized in the Netherlands in 2015
Church and states braced for biggest battle on euthanasia

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: step 14- "On that clamorous mistress, the stomach"

21. He who cherishes his stomach and hopes to overcome the spirit of fornication, is like one who tries to put out a fire with oil.

July 10, 2017

(Rom 1:26-28) For this cause, God delivered them up to shameful affections. For their women have changed the natural use into that use which is against nature. And, in like manner, the men also, leaving the natural use of the women, have burned in their lusts, one towards another: men with men, working that which is filthy and receiving in themselves the recompense which was due to their error. And as they liked not to have God in their knowledge, God delivered them up to a reprobate sense, to do those things which are not convenient.

CATHOLIC WORLD REPORT: Bishop Paprocki responds to controversy, criticisms over decree on same-sex “marriage”

CANON LAWYER'S BLOG: Bp Paprocki’s norms on ‘same-sex marriage’

CATHOLIC CULTURE: Bishop Paprocki and his critics: someone here is unhinged

LINK TO TEXT: Bishop Paprocki's Same-Sex Marriage Decree

ARCHBISHOP CHAPUT: A letter to the Romans

Christians are always, in a sense, outsiders. We have the joy and privilege to be a leaven for good in society. That’s an exhilarating vocation. It means working for as much justice and virtue in human affairs as we can. We have a special obligation to serve the weak and the poor, and to treat even those who hate us with love.

But while we’re in the world and for the world, we’re never finally of the world. And we need to understand what that means.

Writing in the mid-first century to “all God’s beloved in Rome, who are called to be saints” — and despite the dangers and frustrations he himself faced — St. Paul said, “I am not ashamed of the gospel; it is the power of God for everyone who has faith, to the Jew first and also to the Greek, for in it the righteousness of God is revealed …” (Rom 1:7, 16-17).

Paul’s Letter to the Romans became a key text of the New Testament. The Church has always revered it as part of the inspired Word of God and incorporated it into her thought and practice. The books of Scripture, even when they’re morally demanding, are not shackles. They’re part of God’s story of love for humanity. They’re guide rails that lead us to real dignity and salvation.

That’s a good thing. Much of human history – far too much — is a record of our species’ capacity for self-harm. The Word of God is an expression of his mercy. It helps us to become the people of integrity God created us to be. As Paul reminds us, we’re “called to be saints.”

Sometimes Scripture’s lessons toward that end can be hard. But God cannot lie. His Word always speaks the truth. And the truth, as Jesus tells us in the Gospel, makes us free. This is why Christians must never be ashamed of God’s Word – even when it’s inconvenient.

Which brings us to the heart of my comments this week.

In Romans 1:21-27, speaking of the men and women of his time “who by their wickedness suppress the truth,” Paul wrote:

“… for although they knew God they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking and their senseless minds were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools….

“Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.

“For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. Their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural, and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in their own persons the due penalty for their error.”

If reading that passage makes us uneasy, it should. Many of Paul’s Roman listeners had the same response. Jesus didn’t come to affirm us in our sins and destructive behaviors – whatever they might be — but to redeem us. Paul’s message was as resented in some quarters then as it is now. In an age of sexual confusion and disorder, calls to chastity are not just unwelcome. They’re despised. But that doesn’t diminish the truth of the words Paul wrote, or their urgency for our own time.

What we do with our bodies matters. Sex is linked intimately to human identity and purpose. If our lives have no higher meaning than what we invent for ourselves, then sex is just another kind of modeling clay. We can shape it any way we please. But if our lives do have a higher purpose – and as Christians, we find that purpose in the Word of God — then so does our sexuality.

Acting in ways that violate that purpose becomes a form of self-abuse; and not just self-abuse, but a source of confusion and suffering for the wider culture. The fact that an individual’s body might incline him or her to one sort of damaging sexual behavior, or to another very different sort, doesn’t change this.

This can be a difficult teaching. It’s easy to see why so many people try to finesse or soften or ignore Paul’s words. In a culture of conflict, accommodation is always the least painful path. But it leads nowhere. It inspires no one. “Fitting in” to a society of deeply dysfunctional sexuality results in the ruin that we see in so many other dying Christian communities.

In his recent book “Building a Bridge” (HarperOne), Father James Martin, S.J., calls the Church to a spirit of respect, compassion and sensitivity in dealing with persons with same-sex attraction. This is good advice. It makes obvious sense. He asks the same spirit from persons in the LGBT community when dealing with the Church. Father Martin is a man whose work I often admire. “Building a Bridge,” though brief, is written with skill and good will.

But what the text regrettably lacks is an engagement with the substance of what divides faithful Christians from those who see no sin in active same-sex relationships. The Church is not simply about unity – as valuable as that is – but about unity in God’s love rooted in truth.

If the Letter to the Romans is true, then persons in unchaste relationships (whether homosexual or heterosexual) need conversion, not merely affirmation. If the Letter to the Romans is false, then Christian teaching is not only wrong but a wicked lie. Dealing with this frankly is the only way an honest discussion can be had.

And that honesty is what makes another recent book – “Why I Don’t Call Myself Gay” by Daniel Mattson (Ignatius) – so extraordinarily moving and powerful. As Cardinal Robert Sarah writes in the Foreword, Mattson’s candor about his own homosexuality, his struggles and failures, and his gradual transformation in Jesus Christ “bears witness to the mercy and goodness of God, to the efficacy of his grace, and to the veracity of the teachings of his Church.”

In the words of Daniel Mattson himself:

“We cannot remain reluctant to speak about the beauty of the Church’s teaching on sexuality and sexual identity for fear that it will appear ‘unloving,’ ‘irrational,’ or ‘unreal.’ We need to love the world enough to speak about the Christian vision of sexual reality, confident that God’s creation of man as male and female is truly part of the Gospel of Jesus Christ we are called to proclaim to a lost and confused world.

“We need to be a light for the world and speak passionately about the richness of the Church’s understanding of human sexuality. We can’t place the Good News of the Church’s teaching on human sexuality under a bushel any longer, for the world desperately needs the truth we have (p. 123).” Spoken from experience. Spoken from the heart. No one could name the truth more clearly.

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: step 14- "On that clamorous mistress, the stomach"

20. Satiety of the stomach dries the tear springs, but the stomach when dried produces these waters.

July 6, 2017  

(Eph 6:13-15) Therefore, take unto you the armour of God, that you may be able to resist in the evil day and to stand in all things perfect. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth and having on the breastplate of justice: And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace.

POPE FRANCIS TELEGRAM: "With profound emotion I heard the news that suddenly and unexpectedly Cardinal Joachim Meisner has been called from this earth to the God of mercy," he said.  "With profound faith and sincere love for the Church, Cardinal Meisner dedicated himself to the announcement of the good news," it continued. "May Christ our Lord reward him for his faithful and courageous commitment on behalf of the people of the east and west, and make him a participant in the communion of saints in heaven."  The telegram concluded with the Pope's bestowal of the apostolic blessing on all those "who remember the deceased pastor with prayer and sacrifice."

HEADLINE: Cardinal Joachim Meisner, one of the four ‘dubia’ cardinals, has died aged 83


Given that man is positioned between two opposing forces, the condition in which he finds himself must necessarily give rise to two cultures: the culture of the truth and the culture of the lie.

There is a book in Holy Scripture, the last, the Apocalypse, which describes the final confrontation between the two kingdoms. In this book, the attraction of Christ takes the form of triumph over enemy powers commanded by Satan. It is a triumph which comes after lengthy combat. The first fruits of the victory are the martyrs. “The great Dragon, serpent of the primal age, he whom we call the devil, or Satan, seducer of the whole world, was flung down to earth… But they [= the martyrs] overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of the testimony of their martyrdom” [cfr. Ap. 12, 9.11].

In this second section, I would like to respond to the following question: in our Western culture, are there developments which reveal with particular clarity the confrontation between the attraction exerted over man by the Crucified-Risen One, and the culture of the lie constructed by Satan? My response is affirmative, and there are two developments in particular.
The first development is the transformation of a crime [termed by Vatican Council II nefandum crimen], abortion, into a right. Note well. I am not speaking of abortion as an act perpetrated by one person. I am speaking of the broader legitimation which can be perpetrated by a judicial system in a single act: to subsume it into the category of the subjective right, which is an ethical category. This signifies calling what is good, evil, what is light, shadow. “When he lies, he speaks according to his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies”. This is an attempt to produce an “anti-Revelation”.

What in fact is the logic which presides over the ennoblement of abortion? Firstly, it is the profoundest negation of the truth of man. As soon as Noah left the floodwaters, God said: “Whoever sheds the blood of a man, by a man shall that person’s blood be shed, for in his own image God made man” [Gen. 9, 6]. The reason why man should not shed the blood of man is that man is the image of God. Through man, God dwells in His creation. This creation is the temple of the Lord, because man inhabits it. To violate the intangibility of the human person is a sacrilegious act against the Sanctity of God. It is the Satanic attempt to generate an “anti-creation”. By ennobling the killing of humans, Satan has laid the foundations for his “creation”: to remove from creation the image of God, to obscure his presence therein.

St Ambrose writes: “The creation of the world was completed with formation of the masterpiece which is man, which… is in fact the culmination of creation, the supreme beauty of every created being” [Exam., Sixth day, Disc 9, 10.75; BA I, page 417]. At the moment at which the right of man to order the life and the death of another man is affirmed, God is expelled from his creation, because his original presence is denied, and his original dwelling-place within creation – the human person – is desecrated

The second development is the ennoblement of homosexuality. This in fact denies entirely the truth of marriage, the mind of God the Creator with regard to marriage.
The Divine Revelation has told us how God thinks of marriage: the lawful union of a man and woman, the source of life. In the mind of God, marriage has a permanent structure, based on the duality of the human mode of being: femininity and masculinity. Not two opposite poles, but the one with and for the other. Only thus does man escape his original solitude.

One of the fundamental laws through which God governs the universe is that He does not act alone. This is the law of human cooperation with the divine governance. The union between a man and woman, who become one flesh, is human cooperation in the creative act of God: every human person is created by God and begotten by its parents. God celebrates the liturgy of his creative act in the holy temple of conjugal love.

In summary. There are two pillars of creation: the human person in its irreducibility to the material universe, and the conjugal union between a man and woman, the place in which God creates new human persons “in His image and likeness”. The axiological elevation of abortion to a subjective right is the demolition of the first pillar. The ennoblement of a homosexual relationship, when equated to marriage, is the destruction of the second pillar.

At the root of this is the work of Satan, who wants to build an actual anti-creation. This is the ultimate and terrible challenge which Satan is hurling at God. “I am demonstrating to you that I am capable of constructing an alternative to your creation. And man will say: it is better in the alternative creation than in your creation”.

This is the frightful strategy of the lie, constructed around a profound contempt for man. Man is not capable of elevating himself to the splendour of the Truth. He is not capable of living within the paradox of an infinite desire for happiness. He is not able to find himself in the sincere gift of himself. And therefore – continues the Satanic discourse – we tell him banalities about man. We convince him that the Truth does not exist and that his search is therefore a sad and futile passion. We persuade him to shorten the measure of his desire in line with the measure of the transient moment. We place in his heart the suspicion that love is merely a mask of pleasure.

The Grand Inquisitor of Dostoevsky speaks thus to Jesus: “You judge of men too highly, for though rebels they be, they are born slaves …. I swear to you that man is weaker and lower than You have ever imagined him to be! Man is weak and cowardly.”

How should we dwell in this situation? In the third and final section of my reflection, I will seek to answer this question.

The reply is simple: within the confrontation between creation and anti-creation, we are called upon to TESTIFY. This testimony is our mode of being in the world.

CHIESA: Müller Out. But the Real Attack Is Against "Veritatis Splendor"

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: step 14- "On that clamorous mistress, the stomach"

19. The mind of a faster prays soberly, but the mind of an intemperate person is filled with impure idols.

July 5, 2017

(Luk 10:2) And he said to them: The harvest indeed is great, but the labourers are few. Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest that he send labourers into his harvest.

SAINT JOHN VIANNEY:  “O, how great is the priest! … If he realized what he is, he would die…"

FATHER JOHN A HARDON, S.J.: The Value of Prayer and Sacrifice for Priests

MSGR. POPE BLOG: Pray for Priests! An Urgent Call Based on a Teaching by Robert Cardinal Sarah

One of the most consistent concerns expressed both by my readers and by attendees at the various talks I give, is the large number of tepid and problematic clergy. We clergy give our people much to endure, yet for the most part they are so very patient and loving with us despite our foibles and idiosyncrasies.

Most of the people are highly concerned about the widespread silence and/or vagueness of the clergy in the face of the grave moral meltdown in our culture. At best, many pulpits are silent or replete with abstractions and generalities. At worst, some pulpits and clerical teaching contain outright errors or ambiguities that (intentionally or not) mislead and confuse the faithful.

There are, to be sure, numerous exceptions to these concerns. There are many fine, hard-working priests who teach courageously and clearly, with love and zeal. However, the problem is widespread enough that it is a common concern of the faithful.

Cardinal Robert Sarah, in his recent book The Power of Silence Against the Dictatorship of Noise, presents an insightful analysis of the problem and its causes. He relates the problem to a lack of prayerful silence on the part of many priests, who find little time for prayer let alone deeper silent contemplation. He begins by referencing Fr. Henri Nouwen, who once said,

Silence is the discipline by which the inner fire of God is tended and kept alive … Especially we [priests], who want to witness to the presence of God’s Spirit in the world, need to tend the fire within with utmost care … [Yet] many minsters have become burnt-out cases … in whom the fire of God’s Spirit has died, and from whom not much more comes forth than their own boring and petty ideas and feelings; … It is as if [they] are not sure that God’s Spirit can touch the hearts of people [cited in The Power of Silence, p. 77].

Here are two key insights. First, a priest who is not accustomed to silently praying and listening to the voice of the Lord begins to hear only the voice of the world and to parrot its slogans and often insipid, ephemeral notions. The voice of Christ and the light of the Gospel grow dim, and his mind centers more on vain things and worldly notions. Gradually, he “goes native,” taking up the mind of the world, fleshly notions, and even the doctrines of demons.

Second, a priest can slip away from the “still, whispering voice of the Lord.” He can begin to lose trust in the power of God’s grace to touch and change people’s hearts. Vigorous preaching is rooted in confidence about both the truth proclaimed and the power of grace to bring about what the revealed Word announces. It is true that the Lord’s teachings are often challenging to the faithful, but this did not trouble Christ who, knowing the power of grace, did not hesitate to point to the highest truths and confidently summon the faithful to trust in His grace and mercy to get there! Without deep prayer, we lose our trust in God and in His people.

Gradually, as Nouwen notes, a priest’s untended inner fire grows cool and the numbness of the world extinguishes his joy, zeal, confidence, and love. The demands of the Gospel come to seem unreasonable or even impossible to him. And because he sees the Gospel as too challenging he is hesitant to preach its demands. As the inner fire grows dim, he slips into watering down the Gospel message, into the obfuscation of abstractions and generalities, or into outright denial of the harder truths.

Cardinal Sarah warns priests of this tendency and its outcome:

Christ is certainly distressed to see and to hear priests and bishops, who ought to be protecting the integrity of the teaching of the Gospel and of doctrine, multiply words and writing that weaken the rigor of the Gospel by their deliberately confused, ambiguous statements. It is not inopportune to remind these priests and prelates … of Christ’s severe words: “Therefore I tell you every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven … either in this age or the age to come. [He] is guilty of an eternal sin” [Ibid., pp. 77-78].

Thus, as both Fr. Nouwen and Cardinal Sarah point out, priests who let the fire of God grow dim and who no longer trust God or His people, sin against the Holy Spirit. They do so because they come to doubt or even deny the power of grace to make possible the satisfaction of the Gospel’s demands. Human flattery and worldly perspectives are preferred to the Holy Spirit’s urging to announce the Gospel plainly, lovingly, and without compromise. Human weakness becomes the baseline for what is expected. God the Holy Spirit is dismissed as irrelevant or incapable of perfecting God’s people. This is a sin against the Holy Spirit and a disastrous end for a priest, especially one who has reached the point of outright misleading God’s people and confirming them in sinful and erroneous notions.

Therefore, I ask all of the faithful to pray often for priests and bishops. In our human weakness, we clergy can stray from prayer. From there, the fiery zeal of God and the joy of the truth give way to the thinking of the world and to a lack of confidence in preaching without compromise. From the point of compromise, things just keep getting worse.

In his book, Cardinal Sarah references St. Augustine’s own plea for prayer, and I will conclude with that:

It is not my intention to waste my life on the vanity of ecclesiastical honors. I think of the day when I will have to render an accounting for the flock that has been entrusted to me by the Prince of pastors. Understand my fears, because my fears are great [p. 79].

CNA: A Prayer for Priests by St. Therese of Lisieux

O Jesus, eternal Priest,
keep your priests within the shelter of Your Sacred Heart,
where none may touch them.

Keep unstained their anointed hands,
which daily touch Your Sacred Body.

Keep unsullied their lips,
daily purpled with your Precious Blood.

Keep pure and unearthly their hearts,
sealed with the sublime mark of the priesthood.

Let Your holy love surround them and
shield them from the world's contagion.

Bless their labors with abundant fruit and
may the souls to whom they minister be their joy and consolation here and in heaven their beautiful and
everlasting crown. Amen.

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: step 14- "On that clamorous mistress, the stomach"

17. Master your stomach before it masters you; and then you are sure to control yourself with the aid of shame. Those who have fallen into the horrible gulf know what I have said; but men who are eunuchs have not experienced this.
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