your eyes open!...
May 22, 2015
(Act 2:1-4) And
when the days of the Pentecost were accomplished, they were all
together in one place: And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as
of a mighty wind coming: and it filled the whole house where they were
sitting. And there appeared to them parted tongues, as it were of fire:
and it sat upon every one of them. And they were all filled with the
Holy Ghost: and they began to speak with divers tongues, according as
the Holy Ghost gave them to speak.
NEWS.VA: Pope urges prayers for China, persecuted Christians on Pentecost Sunday
CATHOLIC CULTURE ARCHIVES: Pope Benedict contrasts unity of Pentecost, division of Babel
Preaching at St. Peter’s Basilica on Pentecost Sunday (2012), Pope Benedict
contrasted Pentecost, “the feast of human unity, understanding and
sharing,” with Babel.
Babel, said the Pope, is
the description of a kingdom in which people have concentrated so much
power they think they no longer need depend on a God who is far away.
They believe they are so powerful they can build their own way to
heaven in order to open the gates and put themselves in God's place.
But it's precisely at this moment that something strange and unusual
happens. While they are working to build the tower, they suddenly
realise they are working against one another. While trying to be like
God, they run the risk of not even being human – because they've lost
an essential element of being human: the ability to agree, to
understand one another and to work together.
“Progress and science have given us the power to dominate the forces of
nature, to manipulate the elements, to reproduce living things, almost
to the point of manufacturing humans themselves. In this situation,
praying to God appears outmoded, pointless, because we can build and
create whatever we want,” he continued. “We don't realize we are
reliving the same experience as Babel. It's true, we have multiplied
the possibilities of communicating, of possessing information, of
transmitting news – but can we say our ability to understand each other
has increased? Or, paradoxically, do we understand each other even
“Unity can only exist as a gift of God's Spirit, which will give us a
new heart and a new tongue, a new ability to communicate,” he
continued. “This is what happened at Pentecost.”
MEDITATION: Pentecost and Mount Sinai
There are many compelling similarities between the expressions of God's
presence on Mount Sinai and his presence among the disciples during
- On Mount Sinai, God's presence was accompanied by fire, smoke, and
the sound of thunder (Ex. 19:16-19). God's presence during Pentecost
was accompanied by the sound of wind, tongues of fire, and the gift of
different languages (Acts 2:1-3).- When God gave the Torah to Moses on
Mount Sinai, the people were worshiping the golden calf. About 3,000
people died as punishment for their sins. When Jesus' Spirit was given
during Pentecost, the people repented, and about 3,000 people believed
and found spiritual life.- God's presence was symbolized by a cloud and
fire, which led the Israelites out of Egypt. Later, God moved his
presence into the temple (2 Chron. 5:7-8, 13-14). During Pentecost,
God's presence moved from the temple into a "new temple," the followers
of Jesus (Rom. 8:9).- Finally, The Torah provided God's teachings for
the Old Testament community of people. At Pentecost, the Holy Spirit
became the Teacher of believers (John 14:26).
OUTLINE: The Gift of the Holy Spirit: Understanding Pentecost with the Church Fathers
CATHOLICJOURNALUS: Pentecost: God Chooses Us by Fr. Charles Irvin
by St Theophan (1815-1894)
On Mid-Pentecost we hear the call
of the Lord: "Whosoever thirsteth, let him come to Me and drink" (John
7:37). If this is so, then let us all run to Him. Whatever you thirst
for - so long as it is not contrary to the spirit of the Lord - you
will find relief in Him. If you thirst for knowledge, run to the Lord,
for He is the one and only light, enlightening every man. If you thirst
for cleansing from sin and quenching of the flames of your conscience,
run to the Lord, for He tore asunder the handwriting of our sins upon
the Cross. If you thirst for peace in your heart, run to the Lord, for
He is the treasury of all good, Whose abundance will teach you to
forget all deprivations and despise all earthly good, so as to be
filled with Him alone. If you need strength, He is almighty. If you
need glory, His glory surpasses the world. If you desire freedom, He
gives true freedom. He will resolve all of our doubts, loose the bonds
of our passions, dispel all our troubles and difficulties, will enable
us to overcome all obstacles, temptations and intrigues of the enemy,
and will make smooth the path of our spiritual life. Let us all run to
PETER KREEFT: Charismatic Gifts —Resources
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Desert Fathers: sayings of the Early Christian Monks: Unceasing
13. One of the hermits said, 'No one can see his face reflected in
muddy water; so the soul cannot pray to God with contemplation unless
it is first cleansed of harmful thoughts.'
May 20, 2015
(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.
MUST SEE VIDEO: What 'gay marriage' did to Massachusetts
HEADLINE: Conservative, Catholic Ireland Votes On Same-Sex Marriage
ICN: Ireland: Archbishop of Dublin on same-sex marriage referendum
Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, Archbishop of Dublin issued the following
pastoral reflections for use at all Masses on 16 and 17 May.
I write on the subject of marriage and the family in the light of the
upcoming referendum. I have asked parishes to make available in
Churches some material to aid your reflection.
Marriage is linked with the family where mothers and fathers bring
different, yet complementary gifts and strengths into a child's life.
Marriage is not simply about a wedding ceremony or about two people
being in love with each other.
I ask you to reflect on why humans exist as male and female? It is not
an accident or a social construct. There is a unique complementarity
between men and women, male and female, rooted in the very nature of
our humanity. I believe that this complementarity belongs to the
fundamental definition of marriage. The vast majority of States in
Europe and worldwide interpret marriage in that sense.
I encourage you to consider very carefully the profound implications
which the constitutional amendment on marriage would have on the family
and on our understanding of parenthood.
Some say that the change will not affect those who do not agree with it
and will not affect marriages which take place in Church. No politician
can promise that, since it will be exclusively up to the courts to
interpret the changed Constitution.
In the debates around same sex marriage in Argentina, Pope Francis was
very clear that he was against same sex marriage yet he was consistent
in telling people not to make judgements on any individual. I know that
the severity with which the Irish Church treated gay and lesbian people
in the past - and in some cases still today - makes it difficult for
some to understand the Church's position.
The change is not simply about extending marriage rights to others; it
is not just a debate about religious views; it is a fundamental change
in the philosophy which underpins cohesion in society and thus affects
and concerns every citizen.
I remind all of you of your civic responsibility to vote. I urge you
before voting to remember that marriage really matters and to reflect
carefully and be informed before changing its definition.
+ Diarmuid Martin Archbishop of Dublin
NCR COMMENTARY: Why Same-Sex ‘Marriage’ Is Impossible for Catholics
French Protestant church allows pastors to bless same-sex marriages
Gay leader of staunchly Catholic Luxembourg marries partner
Germany's Catholic Church Just Took An Amazing Step For LGBT And Remarried Catholics
Desert Fathers: sayings of the Early Christian Monks: Unceasing
12. A hermit used to say, 'Ceaseless prayer soon heals the mind.'
May 18, 2015
(1Co 12:27-31) Now
you are the body of Christ and members of member. And God indeed hath
set some in the church; first apostles, secondly prophets, thirdly
doctors: after that miracles: then the graces of healings, helps,
governments, kinds of tongues, interpretations of speeches. Are all
apostles? Are all prophets? Are all doctors? Are all workers of
miracles? Have all the grace of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do
all interpret? But be zealous for the better gifts. And I shew unto you
yet a more excellent way.
DULUTH NEWS TRIBUNE: Reader's view: Women can be saints, but not Catholic priests by Father Richard Partika
Frequently the News Tribune and much of the secular media put out
letters and articles showing great ignorance and often great
anti-Catholic prejudice. It sells but certainly does no public good.
Primary sources for this content are people and groups who wrongly and
dishonestly call themselves Catholic. That can be remedied very easily
by buying a copy of the official Catholic Catechism. It’s available in
most bookstores for about $10.
To take on one of the more frequent sources, there’s a group of women
who claim to be Catholic priests and are demanding ordination and
performing their own ceremonies (“Woman, 80, to become priest, face excommunication,”
Jan. 17). These women can get by with calling themselves whatever they
wish even as it is a smear on their own integrity since they can only
Fortunately, there are far more wonderful Catholic women working in and
for the Church while not demanding ordination, something the Church
cannot grant. Some are administering the finances and business ends of
parishes, schools and even dioceses and are most welcome in their
positions. Since these other discretions and the secular media see
things only in political terms, they will always miss the point.
Faith and the theology that teaches faith are alien to them and thus their evaluations miss the whole issue.
The only position women do not hold in the Catholic Church is Holy
Orders. Neither do most good Catholic men. And none of us guys are
blessed to be mothers. God seems to have much different ideas about
coalitions than our much screwed-up society. I will side with Him.
The Blessed Virgin Mary — whom William Wordsmith, a Protestant poet,
called “our tainted nature’s solitary boast” — is, by God’s grace, the
greatest of all the saints. True saints fulfill many different
vocations (callings from God).
RELATED: Meet the man behind the many letters
You know the name -- Father Richard Partika -- and his unwavering
stands in support of life and in defense of the Catholic Church.
You know because every 30 days or so he and his opinions are published
in the letters to the editor section of the News Tribune. He'd be in
more often if we let him, no doubt, if we didn't insist writers wait at
least a month between submissions to give others a chance to have their
For half a century, Father Richard Partika -- "Father Dick," to his
friends -- has been writing, and sometimes ranting, to the paper,
making his a household name across the Northland and leaving him with a
reputation as a fiery, never-back-down individual.
Or as something less polite: "Partika is one of the most dangerous
people in this town," an angry newspaper reader once wrote in an e-mail
that found its way back to Partika.
So just who is he, the man behind all those letters?
I know I've wondered, especially after once being told Partika grew up
in a Duluth orphanage. In March, when Partika announced in a letter
(how else?) that he was suffering the early stages of dementia, I
requested an interview.
He met me in the lobby of the Westwood Apartment building, a commanding
brick structure at the southwestern end of the College of St.
Scholastica campus. A four-room apartment has been his home there since
June 2000. He has it decorated with religious statues and with
photocopies of old family pictures that he tacked to the walls. Piles
of papers cluttered most flat surfaces, including near his well-worn
I sat down. The homily began.
Partika was born 85 years ago, on April 26, 1926, right here in Duluth
in St. Mary's Hospital. His family first came to Duluth four decades
earlier, in 1885, he said. His grandfather worked for the Great
Northern Railroad. The family settled in the West End, the neighborhood
now known as Lincoln Park. They attended St. Clement's, the Catholic
church for the neighborhood's many German-speaking immigrants.
Partika's father, Frank, was the youngest of six siblings. After he
grew up, he worked as a part-time cabbie, as a part-time bartender at
the Kozy (back when it was a respectable, "family gathering place," as
Partika defended it) and in a used-car office.
But mostly Partika's father was a "victim of the Depression," he said.
"He never had a steady job. He spent much of his time walking the
streets, looking for work. I think he drew a lot of criticism in his
life for that. He wasn't taking care of his family very well, he was
told. He was not able to take care of his three young kids. I feel for
Frank Partika wasn't able to care very well for his wife, either. In
1929, before she was even 30 years old, Lillian Partika was diagnosed
with spinal paralysis.
Partika can still remember, as a 3-year-old, watching his mother
grabbing for the walls and then holding on for support as she made her
way from room to room.
Within a year she was bedridden and a resident of St. Ann's, a nursing
home on 20th Avenue West and Third Street, a building that originally
was a Catholic orphanage and that also was the original site of St.
'A lot better than living on the streets'
In November 1930, with his mother in a nursing home, unable to walk,
with his father walking the streets, unable to find decent work, and
with other relatives scattered and struggling and unable to take them
in, Partika, his older sister Eileen and his younger brother Irving
were sent to live at St. James Orphans Home on Woodland Avenue.
The sheer size of the four-story, brick structure was menacing. It
stretched nearly a city block long and featured massive pillars, wide
balconies and ornate architecture. The orphanage looked like a
combination of a school and a Southern plantation, and no matter how
warm it was inside, it was unable to shake its cold, institutional aura.
It looked nothing like it does today as Woodland Hills, a nonprofit
agency and "a proud champion for children," as its slogan boasts.
St. James orphanage could have made a similar claim, Partika insisted.
"It was a very nice place. We had very good nuns and priests running
it," he said, dispelling immediately the negative Hollywood stereotypes
of early 20th-century orphanages. "It was as normal as you could
possibly make it. Sure, kids were lonesome for their families and
wanted their families restored. But it just couldn't be."
"It sure was a lot better than living on the streets, I guess," Irving
Partika, 83, said by phone from his home in Outagamie County, Wis.,
where he retired as a sergeant from the sheriff's department.
"It was my home and I loved it," said Eileen, now 86; she lives today
in Weyauwega, Wis., near her seven daughters. "I loved the nuns. They
were just beautiful to all of us. ... We went there as babies and
stayed all through our grade school years. They were so good to us
there; they took us places (like) on boat trips every year.
"My mother didn't want us separated. In the orphanage we could still be
brothers and sister," she said. "We lived with it and were lucky to be
together. We ate dinner together and went to church at the same time,
things like that. It was just wonderful. It couldn't be beat."
The Partika children were among 75 or 80 children at a time at St.
James, ranging from babies through eighth-graders. Only the babies were
ever adopted, Partika recalled.
The boys lived in the building's western reaches, separated by age.
Girls occupied the east and were similarly divided. Above the girls --
a quick staircase climb away, so the girls could help with them -- were
the babies. The babies were separated according to whether they could
Between the boys' and girls' dorms was a chapel. The nuns lived on the
second floor. Playrooms were in the basement. A dining room was on the
first floor, which also was where the children welcomed visitors,
including the Partika children's father. Classrooms filled the first
floor, too, for kindergarteners through seventh-graders. Eighth-graders
were sent to school at nearby St. John's, a parish operating to this
"The idea was to get (the eighth-graders) to leave (and) to go out into the rest of the world," Partika recalled.
Three priests lived at the orphanage. A bedroom was reserved for the
bishop of the Diocese of Duluth, who often stayed overnight when he
visited because poor road conditions resulted in long and difficult
journeys back into town.
Msgr. Michael Boland was the orphanage's administrator. "He ran
everything. He was in charge. The kids loved him. If we were down in
the playrooms, he'd come down and he'd visit with us," listening to the
radio, playing cards or shooting pool, Partika recalled.
Sister Eulalie O'Donovan was in charge of what Partika called "the
boys' department," where the boys lived. She, too, played cards and
other games with the children and often brought them snacks.
Sister Yvonne Campbell was in charge of all the sisters and the internal workings of the place and was monsignor's secretary.
Sister Corona, who was German, ran the "baby department," followed by
Sister Carmelita, who brought her uncle and aunt, Albert and Mary
Stepan of St. Cloud, Minn., to milk the orphanage's cows and to work
its 120-acre farm. The kids called them Uncle Albert and Aunt Mary, as
that's how their niece introduced them.
As often as possible, relatives and Msgr. Boland took the Partika children to visit their mother.
"They knew we missed our mother very much," Partika said.
'Was in good hands'
On Feb. 10, 1939, after 10 bed-ridden years at St. Ann's, Partika's
mother died. She was just 39 and the youngest of her brothers and
sisters. She was buried in a cemetery in Hermantown at what had been
her family's farm while she was growing up. The farm had been cleared
by her grandfather in 1862.
"She was in good hands the last 10 years of her life, and she knew it,"
said Partika, who was 12 when his mother died. "She appreciated
everyone at St. Ann's. She became a convert while she was there. ... I
used to pray regularly when I was a kid that my mother would get better
and we'd all be together again. But it didn't work out that way."
A year later, in 1940, done with the eighth grade, Partika left the
orphanage. He stayed with his father, who had remarried, but he also
bounced around to other relatives and their homes in and around
downtown. He got a job delivering the Duluth Herald in the afternoons.
His route was from Lake Avenue to Third Avenue East and down to
"I lost money," he said. "With the Carter Hotel and Hotel Duluth, I had
customers who were either never home or who moved away without paying.
... My favorite paper customers were Ignatz Kozarek at ... Kozy's Bar
and Gene Poirier in the barbershop under the Carter Hotel across from
His brother worked for the paper, too, selling copies on the street and
stuffing inserts into the Sunday editions on Saturday nights. Irving
Partika, who'd graduate from Washington Junior High and Central High,
also worked as a bellhop at the Spalding Hotel before joining the
merchant marines and then serving in the South Pacific in World War II.
"I had a lot of jobs," Irving Partika chuckled, recalling his efforts to support and help his brother and sister.
"To me he was the hero of the family," Partika said of Irving. "I give
him credit. He took all the grief and paid all the bills. He never kept
anything for himself. I have the greatest admiration for him. He's the
greatest guy on Earth."
Partika had plenty of jobs himself. In addition to hawking newspapers,
he installed car radios and tested tubes for Don Roach's radio shop.
His sister did the bookkeeping for the shop, which was on Second Avenue
East, beneath the Studebaker dealership, as Partika recalled.
Off to seminary
In the fall of 1940, Partika enrolled as a ninth-grader at Washington
Junior High School -- but stayed only two weeks. A priest working for
Catholic Charities -- Father Lawrence A. Glenn, later the pastor of St.
James Catholic Church in West Duluth and bishop in Crookston, Minn. --
encouraged him to attend Cathedral Junior High School instead. When
Partika said he couldn't afford the tuition, Glenn agreed to pay it. A
year at Cathedral was all Partika needed to decide what he wanted to do
with his life: He wanted to be a priest, like the ones he so admired at
St. James orphanage.
"They were marvelous models of dedication," Partika said. "Learning to
cope with things has a lot to do with the people around you and how
they deal with tough things. I think lovingly of those people at St.
It didn't hurt that Partika's uncle, his father's oldest brother, who
was just 9 months old when the family first came to Duluth, was a
priest -- the priest who baptized Partika, in fact, at St. Clement's.
Wilfrid Partika was ordained in 1911 and served St. Clement's from 1926
to 1936 when he suffered a massive stroke. He was bedridden in the
infirmary at St. John's Abbey in Collegeville, Minn., for nearly 10
years until he died at age 63.
Partika went off to seminary in 1941. His education there also was paid
for by Father Glenn. It included five years at Nazareth Hall on Lake
Johanna north of St. Paul and six years at St. Paul Seminary.
He lost his father while at seminary. Frank Partika died of a stress-caused heart attack in 1949. He was just 44.
Richard Partika became Father Richard Partika in 1951, returning back
home to Duluth for his ordination at Sacred Heart Cathedral. On
Thursday, he'll celebrate 60 years in the priesthood.
The first parish he served was Blessed Sacrament in Hibbing, from July
1951 to September 1959. Then he went to St. Isidore's in Sturgeon Lake
for seven years where he also served the mission parish of St. Joseph
in Split Rock Township. In 1966, he became priest at St. Anthony's in
Duluth for 14 months before moving to the Iron Range for a four-month
stint at Our Lady of the Sacred Heart in Buhl. In January 1970 he
started three and a half years of service at another Our Lady of the
Sacred Heart, this one in Cloquet. That was followed by 11 years at
Babbitt's St. Pius Church.
In the mid-1980s, while returning from a trip to Hawaii, Partika
suffered a fainting spell, the first of 10 he'd endure through the
years. Three happened while he was saying Mass; nearly all of them
occurred during morning hours, leading him to decline now to say Mass
or to officiate at funerals held in the mornings. Doctors never did
figure out what caused his lightheadedness and blackouts, not even
during a five-day stay in the hospital.
"I've gotten various fuzzy answers," Partika said. "Frankly, I don't
care anymore what's causing them. Not at my age. If it happens again it
Hoping a smaller, less-demanding parish would be easier on his health,
the bishop, in 1984, sent Partika from Babbitt to St. Joseph's in
Beroun, Minn. He remained there a little more than a year.
His next move, his final move, was one he requested. He wanted to
return home to Duluth. His stepbrothers and stepsisters were getting
older. He wanted to get to know them while he could. In 1985, he became
priest at St. Margaret Mary in Duluth's Morgan Park neighborhood. But
his plan didn't work out. "Clyde Iron and Diamond Tool both closed and
my relatives moved," he said. "So they're still like distant cousins."
He remained at St. Margaret Mary until his retirement 13 years later.
"I liked all the parishes I was in," he said. "I have wonderful friends
in all of them. In a way they're all your family. I had so many places
and homes I could go drop in at any time of day. I used to stop in all
kinds of places."
Though retired, Partika still says Mass six days a week at a small
altar in his living room. For the past 11 years he also has said the
4:30 p.m. Mass every Saturday at the Benedictine Health Center next
door to his apartment building. He can walk over without going outside.
'Important enough to write about'
Partika's many letters to the editor started in the 1960s. Father Billy
Larkin wanted to write but wasn't very tactful. Knowing Father Partika
shared his views, he encouraged the younger priest to write. The
letters continue to this day. Partika's latest was published this past
"There are certain issues important enough to write about, and not
enough people do," Partika said. "I write mostly in response to
distortions and statements made publicly that I feel are harmful.
Somebody should be writing on these issues, and I don't feel anyone
else is doing it. No one else is speaking up."
What about being called "one of the most dangerous people" in Duluth?
"So be it," he said. "When they attack me, I figure, 'Well, that's par
for the course; you have to take it.' Decent people don't enjoy
Partika doesn't know how long he'll keep writing. As long as he can, he supposes, and as long as he has something to say.
"It depends what I keep finding, what I keep running into," he said. "I
hate to see people get by with vicious attacks on the Church. When they
attack the Church and distort the teaching, that reflects on a lot of
people, and I don't like to see that happen."
Father Partika isn't the oldest or longest-serving priest in the Duluth
diocese. Those distinctions go to Father Vince Arimond, who turned 90
on April 15 (Partika is eighth-oldest), and Father James Crossman, who
was ordained as a priest on June 6, 1946 (Partika is the diocese's
But because of his frequent and many letters to the editor, Partika probably is the Twin Ports' best-known cleric.
"He's a very good man who is a very good priest and who is very
concerned about two things," Father Jim Bissonette, the priest at St.
James Catholic Church in West Duluth, told me. When he was a boy,
Bissonette was an altar boy for Partika in Babbitt; the two remained
"He's concerned about the teachings of the Church and he's concerned
about the salvation of people's souls," Bissonette said. "He feels a
responsibility to talk about what he believes. When he writes to the
paper he's writing as a priest and as an individual. His thoughts are
his and he has his reasons for them.
"If (his oft-harsh critics) ever got to know him, they would understand
he is doing his level best to get across to people what he believes is
the truth and that he cares about them. He understands that not
everyone thinks the same way he does."
And let's thank the heavens for that. What a boring world it would be
if everyone shared the same opinions -- and how unproductive, as
solutions come from a diversity of viewpoints. That includes those with
which everyone doesn't necessarily agree.
Desert Fathers: sayings of the Early Christian Monks: Unceasing
11. They said of Sisois that unless he soon lowered his hands when he
stood up to pray, his mind was caught up to heaven. So if he happened
to be praying with another brother, he quickly lowered his hands and
ended his prayer, so that his mind should not be rapt or cause him to
go on praying too long for his brother.'
May 15, 2015
(Act 1:9-11) And
when he had said these things, while they looked on, he was raised up:
and a cloud received him out of their sight. And while they were
beholding him going up to heaven, behold two men stood by them in white
garments. Who also said: Ye men of Galilee, why stand you looking up to
heaven? This Jesus who is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come
as you have seen him going into heaven.
CARDINAL JOHN HENRY NEWMAN:
"Start now with this holy season and rise with Christ. See, He offers
you his hand; He is rising; rise with Him. Mount up from the grave of
the old Adam; from groveling cares, and jealousies, and fretfulness,
and worldly aims; from [impulsions] of habit; from the tumult of
passion, from ... a cold, worldly, calculating spirit, from frivolity,
from self conceit and [self righteousness]."
CATHOLIC JOURNAL: Christ’s Ascension Bridges The Infinite Chasm by Fr. Charles Irvin
WHEN JESUS ASCENDED, DID HE GO “UP” INTO HEAVEN?
You might think the answer is obviously yes.” But thoughtful reflection gives us an answer that is not so simple.
We can say “yes” He went up into heaven only in the context of saying
that at His birth He came down from heaven. We must not, however, limit
ourselves to thinking in directional terms, like an elevator comes down
and then goes up. We’re not talking here about directional operations
in measurable space. We are talking here theologically; we are talking
about His changes in status. He came down to us from the right hand of
the Father and now He returns to sit at the right hand of the Father,
the state of being from whence He came to us in the first place.
God sent His only-begotten Son to seek us out, to find us, to join us
into His Christ so that Christ might take us back to our Father, His
Father, your Father, and my Father. The odyssey of God the Son has, for
us, a mission – a mission with a departure, arrival and return.
Only the One who came down to us from the Father can return to the
Father. He came to us in our powerlessness because we could not then
and cannot now save ourselves. Only the Infinite One can bridge the
infinite chasm we caused to exist between ourselves and God by our
turning away from Him in sin. Adam and Eve turned away from God, and we
have also. By ourselves we have no way back to our Father’s house. Only
Christ can bridge the chasm between us and our Father in heaven.
That bridge that Jesus Christ built used the wood of the manger and the
wood of the cross. Jesus promised us that when He was lifted up on the
cross He would then, in His resurrection and ascension into heaven, be
able to take us with Him back to our Father in heaven. The first
lifting up led to the second lifting up. Christ’s ascension on his
cross led to His ascension into heaven. Joined into His humanity
through the Sacraments of His Church we will ascend through Him, with
Him, and in Him into heaven. The sacraments, we must remember, are not
things we do. Sacraments are wonders that God the Son does.
It is important to remember that the truly human Jesus of Nazareth
became, in His resurrection and ascension, the Christ of glory. Thereby
in His humanity we are taken up into heaven in Christ’s divinity. Our
humanity joined by Holy Communion into His, is given the destiny to
return in Christ to His Father (and now ours) in heaven.
It is not yet, however, completed. Truly Christ Jesus is risen and has
ascended into heaven. But work remains to be done. Christ Jesus now
sits at the right hand of the Father in definitive and irreversible
glory. Our humanity, however, is still on its journey. Our own odyssey
is yet incomplete. Jesus intercedes for us constantly; Jesus
continually brings His Father’s presence, power, and love to us. We
still have to receive it and respond. The story of our journey is not
Risen and ascended into heaven, Jesus has established God’s kingdom
here on earth among us. He often spoke of God’s kingdom. Jesus is
quoted as speaking of God’s kingdom 107 times in the Gospels, an
astonishing number considering the relatively few quotes of Jesus found
in the New Testament.
But what kind of a kingdom is it? It is not a political, legal, or
social entity. It’s boundaries are beyond our categories, beyond our
specifications, beyond our human measurements. It is realized, however,
in our human hearts, in our attitudes, and in our ways of relating to
others here on earth. It is a kingdom of justice, love and peace. God’s
kingdom is located in our hearts and souls.
Being seated at the right hand of the Father, Christ has inaugurated
God’s kingdom here among us, but it has not yet been brought to
completion. God has offered, we have yet to respond. God has initiated,
we have yet to finish what He has started. We live in the time of the
already, but not yet.
Given the state of the world in which we live it ought to be obvious
that we do not have the resources and the wherewithal to accomplish the
immense task that confronts us. Given the levels of violence and hatred
that surround us, given the indifference toward God and the rejection
of God’s ways we find in many around us, and given the downright evil
and abuse of others, even children, that are a part of our daily news,
we desperately need our Daily Bread to nourish, strengthen, and sustain
us in realizing God’s kingdom here on earth as it is in heaven.
Jesus did not go away only to leave us orphans. Quite the contrary!
Jesus abides with us here. With His Father He sends us His Holy Spirit.
He encounters us in the Sacraments of His Mystical Body, the Church.
His ascension into heaven is, therefore, not a departure, it is an
inauguration of His new presence among us, a presence we find in the
sacraments. He disappeared from sight back then in order that He could
reappear in His new body, His Mystical Body the Church, down through
So, in His ascension did Jesus go “up” into heaven? The answer is both
“yes” and “no”. We need the eyes and ears of faith in order to discern
the complete answer. We, poor and weak as we are, need Christ’s
ever-sustaining presence, power, and love that come to us here because
He sits now at the right hand of the Father and sends us, through His
Holy Spirit, all that we need.
In professing our Catholic faith, we state that we believe “in the
resurrection of the body and life everlasting.” We can make that
statement of belief because of the ascension of Jesus Christ into
It’s all pure gift, God’s gift to us because He loves us. Let us now give Him thanks.
MORE: Love Lifted Me by Msgr. Charles Pope
Desert Fathers: sayings of the Early Christian Monks: Unceasing
8. Lot went to Joseph and said, 'Abba as far as I can, I keep a
moderate rule, with a little fasting, and prayer, and meditation, and
quiet: and as far as I can I try to cleanse my heart of evil thoughts.
What else should I do?' Then the hermit stood up and spread out his
hands to heaven, and his fingers shone like ten flames of fire, and he
said, 'If you will, you can become all flame.'
May 13, 2015
(Joh 15:18-20) If
the world hate you, know ye that it hath hated me before you. If you
had been of the world, the world would love its own: but because you
are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore
the world hateth you. Remember my word that I said to you: The servant
is not greater than his master. If they have persecuted me, they will
also persecute you. If they have kept my word, they will keep yours
“Today we are seeing those who kill Christians in the name of God
because they think they are not believers. This is Christ’s Cross:
‘They will do this because they have not known either the Father or
me’. This happened to me – Jesus says – it will happen to you too – the
persecutions, the tribulations – but do not be scandalized: the Holy
Spirit will guide us and help us understand”.
L'Osservatore Romano (translated): In the Three Secrets of Fátima by Cardinal Angelo Amato
When I was Secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith,
I had the privilege to have in hand and read original manuscripts
regarding the secrets of Fatima and their message. I have pondered long
since shed the light of faith and hope on the sad events of the last
century and beyond.
Recall that the twentieth century, as predicted time dominated by
reason and brotherhood among peoples, in fact it was a tragic period
for Christianity, persecuted and oppressed in many parts of the world.
Without considering the two world wars, the stations most tragic of
this Via Crucis evangelical were sequentially the Armenian genocide,
the repression Mexican, Spanish persecution, the Nazi massacres,
extermination communist, and, in this first part of the third
millennium, Islamist persecution. Millions of victims of malignant
ideologies, which have generated and generate more conflicts, hatreds
How often says Pope Francis, the Church today is the church of martyrs,
of those Christians who, unarmed, are routinely killed only for their
unwavering hatred of the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.
The message of Fatima in a visionary way evokes this drama, lifting the
veil on the concrete historical events, where the benevolent Providence
of God is opposed to the evil will of evil by the enemy of the good,
that, as Jesus was tried, so continues today tries his holy church,
instilling in the hearts of men feelings of enmity and death.
Fatima, with its famous secret , is undoubtedly the most prophetic of
modern apparitions, with specific references to wars, divisions,
REVIEW: The Middle East and Its Grim Near-Future Development
EXCERPT ACN NEWS: Genocide? The Islamic State's Religious Cleansing Campaign
I would like to start with this quotation from Dabiq -- the online
publication of ISIS addressing the Christian world—which says: “We will
conquer your Rome, break your crosses, and enslave your women, by the
Permission of Allah...”
Abu Bakr Naji, one of ISIS’s intellectual architects, published a book
online outlining its strategy and vision. He writes: “Jihad is nothing
but violence, crudeness, terrorism, frightening people, and
massacring.” This is the blueprint of ISIS to execute its grand
plan—this translates into religious and territorial cleansing of
Christians and other minorities in the Middle East.
The acts of ISIS show clear intent – violent and brutal executions
targeting Christians and Yazidis who represent distinct “national,
ethnic, racial and religious groups” in Iraq. The intent of ISIS goes
beyond destruction; It aims to erase the past, present and future of
the Christians and Yazidis.
Of course, the International community faces a problem in terms of
prosecuting a genocide case against ISIS. ISIS is not a country, and
does not abide by any international law. The international community
has not yet figured out how to deal with ISIS.
When the time comes, should ISIS be prosecuted by an “International
court”? This question creates a bigger problem for the
international community, because it will require the investigation of
certain countries that can be considered as “complicit to genocide”
because they allow passage of fighters and weapons and provide other
forms of support to ISIS, including funding.
It is also important to keep in mind that ISIS is deploying a kind of
war that targets the collective psyche (the imagination and the emotion
of the human beings), which also fits the parameters of genocide. This
technique goes beyond the brutal physical force. It creates fear; it
wages a war fueled by fear.
For the Christians in the Middle East, fear and a sense of abandonment
is among the greatest crosses they have to bear. "We feel forgotten and
isolated. We sometimes wonder, if they kill us all, what would be the
reaction of Christians in the West? Would they do something then?" Such
was the prophetic plea by Chaldean Patriarch Louis Sako I of Iraq, even
before ISIS swallowed chunks of Iraq and Syria.
ISIS is waging an uncompromising war that amounts to religious and
territorial cleansing of Christians and other minorities from the
Middle East, and the recent event in Texas reminds us that ISIS is not
just a regional threat.
The world must respond. We must not allow the annihilation of Christianity in the Middle East!
RELATED: ISIS Bombs Assyrian, Armenian Churches in Syria
Desert Fathers: sayings of the Early Christian Monks: Unceasing
7. Isiah said, 'A priest at Pelusium was holding a love-feast: and when
the brothers in church were eating and talking, he rebuked them saying,
"Be quiet, my brothers. There is one brother eating among you whose
prayer is gong up to God like a darting flame."'
May 11, 2015
(Rev 21:3-5) And
I heard a great voice from the throne, saying: Behold the tabernacle of
God with men: and he will dwell with them. And they shall be his
people: and God himself with them shall be their God. And God shall
wipe away all tears from their eyes: and death shall be no more. Nor
mourning, nor crying, nor sorrow shall be any more, for the former
things are passed away. And he that sat on the throne, said: Behold, I
make all things new. And he said to me: Write. For these words are most
faithful and true.
C.S. LEWIS: “Every
time you make a choice you are turning the central part of you, the
part of you that chooses, into something a little different than it was
before. And taking your life as a whole, with all your innumerable
choices, all your life long you are slowly turning this central thing
into a heavenly creature or a hellish creature: either into a creature
that is in harmony with God, and with other creatures, and with itself,
or else into one that is in a state of war and hatred with God, and
with its fellow creatures, and with itself. To be the one kind of
creature is heaven: that is, it is joy and peace and knowledge and
power. To be the other means madness, horror, idiocy, rage, impotence,
and eternal loneliness. Each of us at each moment is progressing to the
one state of the other.”
MEDITATION Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen:
Time passes and does not return. God has assigned to each of us a
definite time in which to fulfill his divine plan for our soul, the
time for our life on earth. For each of us this is “the acceptable time
… the day of salvation” (2 Cor 6:2), in which we must work diligently
to cooperate with the grace given us for our sanctification; we have
only this time and shall have no more. Time ill spent is lost forever.
Our life is made up of this uninterrupted, continual flow of time,
which never returns. In eternity, on the contrary, time will be no
more; we shall be established forever in that degree of love which we
have reached now, in time. If we have attained a high degree of love,
we shall be fixed forever in that degree of love and glory; if we
possess only a slight degree, that is all we shall have throughout
eternity. No further progress will be possible when time has ended. St.
Paul urges: “Let us not grow weary in well-doing, for in due season we
shall reap if we do not lose heart. So then as we have opportunity, let
us do good to all men” (Gal 6:9-10). Each passing year is a warning to
treasure each present moment and to sanctify it with charity. We must
give each moment its full amount of love, and make each passing moment
eternal, by giving it value in love.” (Sr. Carmela of the Holy Spirit,
Charity sanctifies every action, even the most trivial and indifferent,
and confers upon it a value for eternal life. In fact, “love urges us
to live more intensely for him who died for us and rose again. We
strive, therefore, to please the Lord in all things… Thus when we have
finished the one and only course of our earthly life, we may merit to
enter into the marriage feast with him and to be numbered among the
blessed” (Lumen Gentium 48). By living in this manner we carry out the
divine plan for our soul, and reach that level of love that God expects
of us, and with which we shall love and glorify him for all eternity.
FROM THE MAILBAG
VIA RON ROLHEISER, OMI: AGAINST AN ETERNAL HORIZON
We understand our lives best when we see them against the horizon of
the infinite. Nowhere is this more important than in the belief that
there is a life beyond this one.
Today it is not always fashionable to say this. More and more,
theologians and spiritual writers are either ignoring the importance of
life after death or, worse still, positively denigrating any emphasis
one might want to put on it. For example:
A few years ago, I was watching a discussion on television between a
prominent religious commentator and a panel of theologians representing
a number of Christian churches. The commentator asked the panel this
question: “Should it make any difference in the way you live whether or
not you believe in life after death?”
Everyone on the panel and the host himself agreed that it shouldn’t. In
their view of things, whether or not you believe in life after death
shouldn’t make any difference practically in the way you live. Each
asserted that they believed in individual immortality, but each also
said that this didn’t, and shouldn’t, influence their daily actions in
a practical way.
Moreover they pushed things further: Several of them suggested that
focusing on belief in life after death can be positively harmful
because it can deflect a person off of the proper agenda for this life,
work against strong involvement in this world, and tie one immaturely
to a system of rewards and punishments. Belief in life after death, for
them, can throw off the proper focus for life in this world.
What’s to be said about this?
There’s a certain commendable stoicism in it to be sure, but, at the
end of the day, such a view of things is religiously false and wreaks a
certain havoc in our lives.
What’s wrong is not that God, or anyone else, is disappointed with our
theological inconsistency. What’s wrong is that we are more prone to do
violence to ourselves and to others because life cannot give us what we
Simply put, when we stop believing in life after death we tend to put
too much pressure on this life to give us the full symphony. When we
stop seeing our lives as being completed by something beyond the
present world, it becomes natural to become more frustrated with the
limits of our lives and to begin to demand, however subtly or
unconsciously, that our spouses, children, friends, careers, jobs, and
vacations give us something they can’t give, namely, complete
fulfilment, full meaning, final satisfaction, joy beyond frustration,
When we stop, practically, believing in a heaven beyond this life, we
too easily demand that we have a taste of heaven right now. Crassly
stated, if this life is our only kick at the cat, it’s becomes pretty
hard to handle the fact that this one kick at it is almost always a
long, long ways from what we would want it to be. None of us goes
through this life without our share of bitter disappointment, crushed
potential, broken dreams, and daily frustration. Our lives are never
the way we dreamed them to be. There’s always a huge gap between our
dignity, our desire, our potential, and the actual state within which
we find ourselves. We come into this world over-charged, are all too
soon beaten-up, and never quite find the end of the rainbow. There are
no perfect lives. There is no heaven this side of eternity.
All of us have suffered abuse of body and heart. All of us have been
unjustly robbed of our potential. All of us live inside situations of
tension, bitterness, gossip, and hatred. All of us suffer a certain
silence between ourselves and those we most love, and all of us suffer
the absence of full embrace and sexuality in our lives. None of us have
the whole symphony and none of have joy without shadow. All of us too
live with a history of bad choices, mistakes, sins, and opportunities
Thus, unless we can somehow place our present lives against an horizon
of an after-life that completes it, the punishing limits, daily
inadequacy, and brute mortality of this world will eventually drive us
to depression, bitterness, or violence. Outside of a vision of life
after death, we can’t come to full peace with this life, the
sophisticated stoicism of so much of contemporary theology and
In one of the parables, Jesus points out how those servants who do not
expect their master’s return go about getting drunk and beating their
fellow-servants. This image of violence is precisely a metaphor for the
type of violence we do to life and to each other when we do not see our
lives against the horizon of the master’s return.
Conversely, when we do await the master’s return we don’t have to
demand that this life give us more than it can and we can more easily
live without impatience, bitterness, and violence, even inside of lives
that are far from complete.
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Desert Fathers: sayings of the Early Christian Monks: Unceasing
6. Bishop Epiphanius of Cyprus, of holy memory, was told this
the abbot of his monastery in Palestine. 'By your prayers we have kept
our rule; we carefully observe the offices of terce, sext, none and
vespers.' But Epiphanius rebuked him and said, 'Then you are failing to
pray at other times. The true monk ought to pray without ceasing (1
Thess. 5:17). He should always be singing psalms in his heart.'
May 7, 2015
(Mat 16:18) And
I say to thee: That thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build my
church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
MSGR. RONALD KNOX: "It is stupid of modern civilization to have given up believing in the devil, when he is the only explanation of it."
NATIONAL REVIEW: To Hell with Satan
ALETEIA: 4 Common Tactics of the Devil - It helps to know what you're up against
by St Theophan (1815-1894)
[Acts 10:21–33; John 7:1–13]
world cannot hate you; but me it hateth, because I testify of it, that
the works thereof are evil (John 7:7). The Lord did not say this to His
disciples; to His disciples He foretold later that the world would hate
and persecute them also, because He has taken them out of the world.
So, note what the world hates, and you will learn of Christ's lot. The
world rebels most strongly against what is of Christ, what is closest
to Him, and more like unto His spirit. This is an external indicator,
but for those who live externally this is enough.
The world does not act on its own,
but is kindled in its works by its prince — satan, the works of whom
the Lord destroyed, and continues to destroy in believers and with
believers. He cannot do anything to the Lord directly; this is why he
directs his anger upon those who believe in Him, so that in frustrating
them he will frustrate the Lord. He does not act directly in this, but
through his agencies, which make up the world. This does not mean that
he is strong; do not fear him, but rather be bold, for the Lord
overcame the world and the prince thereof. Satan is not in a condition
to do anything to one who does not yield on his own.
NATIONAL CATHOLIC REGISTER: How to Approach Spiritual Warfare, According to Teresa of Avila
Valladolid, February 19, 1569
To Alonzo Ramirez
Cause of the delay in the journey to Toledo.
Encouragement in the difficulties likely to arise.
As regards the licenses, with the
help of heaven I hope to get the king’s easily. There may be a certain
amount of worry about it, as I know by experience that Satan cannot
endure our houses and always persecutes us, but God is all-powerful and
the evil one goes off with a broken head.
We had a great deal of trouble here
from the leading men of the city but it is all over now. Do not suppose
that you will have to offer God no more than you have planned; you will
have to give Him much more. He rewards good works by sending us an
opportunity for greater ones. It is nothing to give coppers—they
cost us little—but when people stone you and your son-in-law and all of
us who have taken part in the matter (as they nearly did in Avila when
St. Joseph’s was founded), then the project will succeed, and I believe
that neither the convent, nor we who suffer in the cause, will be any
the worse for it, but will gain greatly. May God direct the whole
affair as He sees best! Do not feel at all anxious. . . .
Your unworthy servant,
Teresa of Jesus, Carmelite
Spiritual Warfare: One can almost
see a smirk on the face of Teresa as she writes the last line of this
paragraph, “Do not feel at all anxious.” After letting her victim know
that he will have to give far more than he is prepared to give, and
reflecting on the devil’s response to the advance of the kingdom, she
seems to find a bit of fun in the battle.
Teresa was ever aware of the work
of the enemy in and through people. But she was even more aware of the
strength of God’s kingdom as it advances: “Satan cannot endure our
Many rightly quote Matthew 16:18 when speaking of the battle we face as we advance the kingdom of God:
And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.
However, the common interpretation
is often far from the meaning of Jesus’ words. He proclaims that He
will build His Church on the confession and ordination of Peter, and
that the gates of hell will not be able to hold back the advance of the
kingdom as it breaks in and invades territory otherwise occupied by the
The mighty warrior mystic knows
firsthand the proper interpretation of Jesus’ words in this passage.
She rightly sees the establishment of her monasteries as an assault and
occupation of enemy territory. As such, as when a beehive is disturbed,
she also knows the consequences and the heavenly rewards as she reveals
in The Way of Perfection chapter 38:
I feel convinced that souls which
have arrived at this degree of perfection in prayer do not ask God to
deliver them from trials or temptations, nor from persecutions and
combats. This is another unmistakable and noteworthy effect, showing
that the contemplation and favors given to such people come from the
Holy Ghost and are not illusions, for, as I said just now, these souls
wish for and demand such troubles and love them instead of
hating them. They are like soldiers—the more they fight, the better
they like it, for thus they hope for a richer booty. When there is no
war they live on their pay, but they know they will not grow rich on
that. Believe me, sisters, the battle never comes soon enough for the
soldiers of Christ. I allude to contemplatives, and people who practice
prayer. They have little fear of open enemies, knowing them well
already and being aware that such foes have little power against the
strength given them by God through which they always gain the victory
and come forth from the fray with great spoils and riches, so that they
never beat a retreat.
With this faith-filled conviction
and an extraordinary strength of will, she unhesitatingly disturbs the
hive knowing she will be stung, but that the suffering—rather than
weaken her—will only make her stronger and further establish the work
of God in her heart and in her mission.
Her comfort comes not from any
human ability to endure the assault, but from knowing that God is
working in and through the assault, and that by her “yes” and His
grace, she will conquer all the territory that He assigns to her.
Desert Fathers: Sayings of the Early Christian Monks: Unceasing
5. He also said, 'When a distracting thought comes into your head, do
not cast around here and there about it in your prayer, but simply
repent and so you will sharpen your sword against your assailant.'
May 5, 2015
(Lev 19:19) Keep
ye my laws. Thou shalt not make thy cattle to gender with beasts of any
other kind. Thou shalt not sow thy field with different seeds. Thou
shalt not wear a garment that is woven of two sorts.
NATURE: Chinese scientists genetically modify human embryos
In a world first, Chinese scientists have reported editing the genomes
of human embryos. The results are published1 in the online journal
Protein & Cell and confirm widespread rumours that such experiments
had been conducted — rumours that sparked a high-profile debate last
month2, 3 about the ethical implications of such work.
In the paper, researchers led by Junjiu Huang, a gene-function
researcher at Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou, tried to head off
such concerns by using 'non-viable' embryos, which cannot result in a
live birth, that were obtained from local fertility clinics. The team
attempted to modify the gene responsible for β-thalassaemia, a
potentially fatal blood disorder, using a gene-editing technique known
as CRISPR/Cas9. The researchers say that their results reveal serious
obstacles to using the method in medical applications.
"I believe this is the first report of CRISPR/Cas9 applied to human
pre-implantation embryos and as such the study is a landmark, as well
as a cautionary tale," says George Daley, a stem-cell biologist at
Harvard Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts. "Their study should be
a stern warning to any practitioner who thinks the technology is ready
for testing to eradicate disease genes."
Mammoth Cloning: Paving Way for Human Cloning
Success of Gene Therapy to Treat Blind Fades With Follow-Up
CRISIS MAGAZINE: Virtual Abortion Comes to Montana
HEADLINE: Israeli Woman Gives Birth To Two Babies From Two Fathers And Another Mother
A breakthrough in fertility has been achieved recently in Israel, with
the birth of twins from two different fathers, from eggs donated from
another mother. The successful birth came the end of a complex
fertilization process carried out by Dr. Ilya Bar of the Fertility
The fertilization was carried out simultaneously and separately in two
different groups of eggs, with each being fertilized by another
The resulting embryos developed in the lab for five days, the maximum
time in which a fetus can develop in a laboratory outside the womb.
Close to the end of this period, the quality of the embryos was
examined. The best embryo with the highest chance of successful
pregnancy and birth was chosen from each of the groups. Those two
embryos were returned to the uterus and both were integrated
According to Dr. Bar, “this special treatment required a 200 percent
success rate, because each fertilization had to succeed by 100 percent.”
Dr. Bar explained that “in neither case did not want to implant more
than two embryos, to avoid a multiple fetal pregnancy, which is not
recommended under any circumstances. In our initial conversation, both
prospective parents expressed their desire to carry a combined
pregnancy from the two fathers, so we worked to get them their wish,
and I’m pleased that we managed after their very first treatment here.”
SEE ALSO: Sofia Vergara’s Ex- Boyfriend Nick Loeb Speaks Out About Frozen Embryos Dispute
Desert Fathers: Sayings of the Early Christian Monks: Unceasing
4. Evagrius said, 'If your attention falters, pray. As it is written,
pray in fear and trembling (cf. Phil. 2:12), earnestly and watchfully.
We ought to pray like that, especially because our unseen and wicked
enemies are trying to hinder us forcefully.'
Dr. Zambrano Home
2000: Bringing the World to Jesus
Tribulation Times Archives:
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