Sunday 27 April 2014

Pro-Lifers (including MPs) Must Do Their Homework and Get Their Facts Right

Mark Pritchard MP
On 9th April 2014 the following question and answer was heard at Prime Minister’s Question time:

Q12. [903609] Mark Pritchard (The Wrekin) (Con): 
In 1967, the abortion term limit was set at 28 weeks. In 1990, it was reduced to 24 weeks. Given that it is now 2014, a quarter of a century on, and given recent breakthroughs in antenatal and neonatal care, does the Prime Minister agree that it is now time to reduce the abortion term limit to 22 weeks?

New Intercessors for The Church

Pray to our newest recognized saints for the future of the Church.  Pray that these saints will intercede for the Holy Spirit to come upon both clergy and laity alike, inspiring all of us to be saints.

St. Therese of Lisieux taught her novices that one did not have to endure purgatory after death, but could experience it on earth. The saints are those who allowed God to purify them while on earth, exhibiting the unity of God as much as possible here on earth. Enduring the Dark Night of the Senses and of the Spirit, moving through the purification of the heart, imagination, will, and soul, these saints show us that we, too, can attain holiness while on earth, but not without suffering.

For us, this is a call, not only for our own salvation, but for the upbuilding of the Church. Those who die to self-love and self-will allow for the freeing of the virtues given at baptism and strengthen in confirmation. Those virtues are blocked by sin and egoism.

Now, we have two more saints who have shown us how to suffer, and how to become illumined, truly in and through grace, through trials.

SS. John Paul II and John XXIII, pray for us who have recourse to you.

Saturday 26 April 2014

God loves a cheerful giver

 A Welsh priest who won his crown on England’s soil

Edward Morgan was born in Flintshire in the early part of the 17th century.
While little is known of his early life he studied for the priesthood in Rome, Valladolid and Madrid, finally being ordained at Salamanca in 1642.

Returning to England he was apprehended and incarcerated in the Fleet Prison where he was to spend the next fourteen years during which time his physical and mental condition deteriorated to such a degree that, at one stage, there were fears for his sanity.

His piety, however, was not dimmed, far from it.
Such was the zeal of this holy man that he forgave his tormentors and proved an inspiration to his fellow prisoners.

Receiving his sentence on the feast of St George 1642, he was overcome with such joy that he exclaimed “Enough, O Lord, enough”.

His journey by cart to the scaffold was borne with an abundance grace and humility and he won over the sympathy of the crowd that followed his way of the cross.

Once at the scaffold the Venerable Edward stood on the cart and preached a sermon based on The Good Shepherd and told the mob that all should be prepared to die for Christ just as He had died for us.

As the noose was placed around his neck he smiled and said that he hoped to be sent to Heaven wearing a rope.

When rebuked by a Protestant minister he responded: “What offence is there in going to Heaven cheerfully?”

The Venerable Edward Morgan won his martyr’s crown on April 26th 1642 – Ora pro nobis!

Posted by Linen on the Hedgerow

Friday 25 April 2014

Some Consideration of the Heroic Virtues of Pope St. John Paul II

At his funeral in St. Peter's Square in 2005, there were prolonged chants from the multitude gathered for “Santo Subito” (Sainthood Now!).  On April 27, 2014, the Catholic Church  celebrated the canonization of the 264th pontiff Pope St. John Paul II (born Karol Józef Wojtyła) along with the 262nd Vicar of Christ Pope St. John XXIII (ne Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli) in St. Peter's Square in Vatican City.

Three American Presidents paying respects to Pope John Paul II, April 2005
Some Protestants bristle at the notion that the Church “makes” saints, as nobody (but Christ) is perfect and that we are all supposed to be called to sainthood in our Christian identity.  Certainly our baptism marks us as part of the Lord’s people and calls us to holiness.  The Catholic Church can recognize, based on investigation and guidance from the Holy Spirit,  that a person is already a saint, definitely in heaven and having led a life of great holiness that is worthy of veneration by the faithful.  Canonized saints are important examples to the faithful of how to live a heroic (not perfect) Christian life.

Pope John Paul II was a remarkable man who wore many hats in his life. He was a Laborer, Thespian, Playwright, Patriot, Priest,  Philologist, Philosopher, Pilgrim, Bishop, Theologian, Sportsman, Scholar, Statesman and Vicar of Christ.  The cause for John Paul II's canonization however  is not premised on doctrinal dissertations, academic accolades or even geopolitical accomplishments. It is about how John Paul II lived his life to reflect the Christian virtue which still touches the faithful today.

After several years of investigation led by postulator Monsignor Slawomir Oder, the Vatican’s Congregation for the Causes of Saints recommended Servant of God John Paul II’s heroic virtue to the Pope. On December 19, 2009, Pope Benedict XVI proclaimed John Paul II as “Venerable”.  The Church normally requires that one miracle is attributable to intercessions of a Venerable, but the Vatican only investigates possible miracles after a candidate is declared Venerable. These miracles are almost always miraculous medical cures as these are the easiest to verify.

Sr. Marie Simon Pierre
Sister Marie Simon Pierre, a nun from the order of Little Sisters of the Catholic Motherhood in Aix au Province, France, had suffered with Parkinson’s Disease, like John Paul II, for four years. She intensely prayed along with her community for healing through the intercession of John Paul II only two months after John Paul II’s death.  Doctors determined that Sr. Simon Pierre’s neurological symptoms had disappeared inexplicably.   This was deemed John Paul II's first miracle in 2011. 


Floribeth Mora Diaz
In April 2011, Floribeth Mora, a 50 year old Costa Rican grandmother, was diagnosed with an inoperable brain aneurysm  and was sent home to die.  But on the day of John Paul II's beatification, Mora saw a photograph of John Paul II and the photograph spoke to her saying "Get up" and "Be not afraid".  Remarkably, her aneurysm disappeared that same day. Neuro-surgeons in Rome could not medically explain the disappearance.  This miracle satisfied the Congregation for the Causes of Saints in the Vatican.


The date of the canonization may well have been chosen because it was the 2nd Sunday of Easter, which Pope John Paul II instituted during his Papacy as “Divine Mercy Sunday”, due to his Devotion to St. Faustina Kowalska (1905-1938).  The vigil mass of the feast of Divine Mercy had just been celebrated at John Paul II’s bedside when he fell into a coma and soon after died.

Pope John Paul II at Auschwitz (1979)
The date of John Paul II’s canonization also occurs on National Holocaust Rememberance Day in Israel and during the March of the Living where people  gather in in  Krakow,  Wojtyła’s home for 40 years, to march between the Nazi death camps of  Auschwitz to Birkenau to remember the Holocaust.  John Paul II had strong connections with the Jewish community in his childhood home off Wadowice, where ¼  of the town’s 8,000 residents were eradicated for anti-Semitic aspirations of Nazi racial purity.  These events strongly influenced John Paul II’s weltanschauung, since during his pontificate, John Paul II made great strives to acknowledge the sin of anti-semitism, especially in the Holocaust, and to strengthen the Church’s relations with the Jewish Community. In May 1998, Pope St. John Paul II gave a formal apology about Catholic shortcomings in the Holocaust in the proclamation "We Remember: A Reflection of the Shoah".

Then Cardinal Karol Wojtyła was elected Pontiff in October 1977 during the Year of Three Popes.  While Pope John Paul II was the first non-Italian pope in 454 years and was from a nation behind the Iron Curtain, he was chosen because of his theology.  John Paul II chose as his papal motto “Totus Tuus”, which reflected his Reflected his personal consecration to Mary which was based on the spiritual approach of St. Louis de Montfort (1673-1716)—“Totus tuus ego sum, et omnia mea tua sunt" ("I am all yours, and all that I have is yours").  In Crossing the Threshold of Hope,  he explained that the “Totus Tuus” motto expressed the understanding that he “[c]ould not exclude the Lord's Mother from my life without neglecting the will of God-Trinity”.  Polish born composer Henryk Gorecki (1933-2010) wrote the choral piece “TotusTuus” in honor of Pope John Paul II’s 3rd visit to Poland in 1987.

From the start of his Petrine ministry until his eventual death from Parkinson’s Disease 26 ½ years later, John Paul II’s message to the faithful was the Lucan exhortation “Be not afraid”.   In fact, John Paul II uttered the phrase three times during his homily at the Papal Inauguration.  This message “Be not afraid… open the door wide to Christ” was chosen as the slogan for his beatification.  

  It was the same message that he brought when he first visited his homeland of Poland in June 1979.  The documentary Nine Days That Changed the World showed the power that John Paul II message of “Be not afraid” had with the Polish people to instill the dignity of the individual to live out their faith and, with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, renew the face of the Earth and their land.

The  millions of Poles who flocked to their favorite son's first pilgrimage back to his homeland showed that the faithful were not alone in that officially atheistic state and served as a real retort to Stalin’s taunt of “The Pope! How man divisions does he got?"  Both Lech Walesa, the piously Catholic worker who lead the Solidarity movement (and eventually became Poland’s President), and Vaclav Havel, the less spiritual leader of a free Czechoslovakia, credit the fall of the Iron Curtain to the message “Be not afraid” embodied in John Paul II’s 1st visit to Poland. 

On May 13, 1981, Pope John Paul II was shot  four times at close range and critically wounded in St. Peter’s Square by Mehmet Ali Ağca, a trained Turkish gunman. Many belief that this assassination attempt was a hit job coordinated by the Bulgarian Secret Police with the complicity of the Kremlin.  Yet less than two and a half years later, John Paul II met with Mehmet Ali Ağca and forgave the gunman on Christmas, 1983.

[L] Pope John Paul II shot May 13, 1981, [R] Pope forgives Agca December 25, 1983
Pope St . John Paul II was convinced that Our Lady of Fatima kept him alive during the ordeal where he lost 3/4ths of his blood. The Third Secret of our Lady of Fatima can be seen as predicting the assassination attempt on the Pope. The John Paul II’s faith filled connection between his assassination attempt and the visions of Fatima that a bullet from his wounds now tops the golden finery of the Our Lady of Fatima processional statue. 
One of the hallmarks of Pope St. John Paul II’s reign was being a Pilgrim as Vicar of Christ to proclaim Jesus as the Redeemer of Humanity to all the Earth. Frankly, he came pretty close to covering it all.  It is speculated that the curia spent about a fourth of their time planning for and executing his 104 foreign trips to 125 countries which totaled 725,000 miles.  


At the behest of Pope St. John Paul II, World Youth Days were held every couple of years at rotating international locations. Skeptics certainly questioned in disengaged youth would care about such events, but the youth loved to rally around the Pope and open themselves to the new evangelization.  The vitality of  World Youth Day tradition has not subsided in the loss of John Paul II.  These large conclaves of young people meeting to renew their faithful inclinations echoes how John Paul II loved to channel the energy of crowds in a positive manner to allow people to feel connected in a vibrant and visceral way.


While Pope Benedict XVI did not formally recognize John Paul II as a martyr in his beatification mass, many feel that the manner in which John Paul II lived with his debilitating disease and how he died with dignity in the Vatican was exemplary.  His final words were uttered in Polish "Allow me to depart to the house of the Father".  John Paul II had run the good race and was not afraid to go home to the Father by extending his life through extraordinary medical procedures for terminal illness.

In addition, Pope St. John Paul II left a large body of theology during his long pontificate, which will have a long lasting influence upon the Church.  [***]  Many feel that Pope St. John Paul II will be best remembered for his "Theology of the Body", which was based on 129 lectures from his Wednesday audiences, which focused on Christian marriage, celibacy and virginity, contraception and the sacrament of marriage. 

In  Washington, DC, the new seminary  has dedicated to the now Pope St. John Paul II. The John Paul II Cultural Center in Washington DC has been converted into a Church and Shrine and will be rechristened the "St. John Paul II Shrine".

Pope St. John Paul II's example of the new evangelization, his example of forgiveness and fearlessness for standing up for the faith certainly gives the model to “Be Not Afraid” in our own paths toward being part of the Community of Saints.

 SEE MORE at DC-LausDeo.US

Tuesday 22 April 2014

Cavalier or Puritan or Catholic?

Do you think like a Catholic? There seem to be two extremes to avoid in thinking which have been demonstrated by some Catholics of late. Let me call these two extremes of thinking the "Cavalier" thinker and the "Puritan" thinker.

The Puritan thinker may be a person who is more Rome than Rome, sees himself as more moral than the rules of the Church, or even the Teaching Magisterium. The neo-Puritan feels holier than the pope and sees himself as needing to criticize all positions for the sake of being critical, not merely because of a certain issue, but as one who has adopted a hyper-critical attitude towards the hierarchy.

The mark of the neo-Puritan is self-righteousness and a lack of humility.

The neo-Puritan forgets that when he complains against the Church or the pope that he is complaining against God. I am not referring to being critical of heresies within Catholic circles, or with needed complaints regarding scandal, but those complaints which are simply not in the control of the laity. The laity need to deal with their own lack of holiness before attacking that of the hierarchy.

The neo-Puritans need to be reminded that although men voted in the pope, and not the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit guides and protects the Church from error until the Second Coming of Christ. This is our faith and not a fairy tale. God allows the free will of all peoples, including the College of Cardinals.

Exodus 16:8

And Moses said: In the evening the Lord will give you flesh to eat, and in the morning bread to the full: for he hath heard your murmurings, with which you have murmured against him, for what are we? your murmuring is not against us, but against the Lord.
What the Puritans wrecked in Great Britain must not be forgotten, as that same "spirit of dissent", a dissent which thinks it is holier than Rome, exists today.
The Cavalier thinker finds herself on the other extreme, that of the person who merely wants to have a career in the Church, be an emerging layperson without the proper purification from God, without purity of heart, mind, soul and senses. Too many Catholics think they are God's gift to the Church and work in the Church for the satisfaction of their own egos.
Egotism is a barrier not only to holiness, but to the Truth. Without an intense life of prayer and sacrifice, works are barren and not of God. One reason why the Church in England and Wales is so weak is that too many Catholics without a depth of spirituality, without having gone through the Dark Night, run about working out of egotism.

Cavaliers want to be noticed, to be "great", to receive accolades. They want all the good things out of life, without sacrifice, pain, suffering. They want attention.
Pope Francis speaks of priests who are careerists. Let us acknowledge that there are too many lay people who are careerists in the Chruch.
Here is St. Bernard on the true disciple's relationship with God. From Sermon 74 on the Song of Songs:

II. 5. Now bear with my foolishness a little. I want to tell you of my own experience, as I promised. Not that it is of any importance .... I admit that the Word has also come to me-I speak as a fool-and has come many times—But although he has come to me, I have never been conscious of the moment of his coming. I perceived his presence, I remembered afterwards that he had been with me; some times I had a presentiment that he would come, but I was never conscious of his coming or his going. And where he comes from when he visits my soul, and where he goes, and by what means he enters and goes out, I admit that I do not know even now; as John says: 'You do not know where he comes from or where he goes.' There is nothing strange in this, for of him was it said, 'Your foot steps will not be known.' The coming of the Word was not perceptible to my eyes, for he has not color; nor to the ears, for there was no sound; nor yet to my nostrils, for he mingles with the mind, not the air; he has not acted upon the air, but created it. His coming was not tasted by the mouth, for there was not eating or drinking, nor could he be known by the sense of touch, for he is not tangible. How then did he enter? Perhaps he did not enter because he does not come from outside? He is not one of the things which exist outside us. Yet he does not come from within me, for he is good, and I know there is no good in me. I have ascended to the highest in me, and look! the word is towering above that. In my curiosity I have descended to explore my lowest depths, yet I found him even deeper. If I look outside myself, I saw him stretching beyond the furthest I could see; and if I looked within, he was yet further within. Then I knew the truth of what I had read, 'In him we live and move and have our being'. And blessed is the man in whom he has his being, who lives for him and is moved by him.
6. You ask then how I knew he was present, when his ways can in no way be traced? He is life and power, and as soon as he enters in, he awakens my slumbering soul; he stirs and soothes and pierces my heart, for before it was hard as stone, and diseased. So he has begun to pluck out and destroy, to build up and to plant, to water dry places and illuminate dark ones; to open what was closed and to warm what was cold; to make the crooked straight and the rough places smooth, so that my soul may bless the Lord, and all that is within me may praise his holy name. So when the Bridegroom/ the Word, came to me, he never made known his coming any signs, not by sight, not by sound, not by touch. It was not by any movement of his that I recognized his coming; it was not by any of MY senses that I perceived he had penetrated to the depth of my being. Only by the movement of my heart, as I have told did I perceive his presence; and I knew the power of his might cause my faults were put to flight and my human yearnings brought into subjection. I have marvelled at the depth of his wisdom when my secret faults have been revealed and made visible the very slightest amendment of my way of life I have experience his goodness and mercy; in the renewal and remaking of the spirit of my mind, that is of my inmost being, I have perceived the excellence of his glorious beauty, and when I contemplate all these things I am filled with awe and wonder at his manifold greatness.
The Church needs saints, Catholics who have "put on the mind of Christ", and not Cavaliers or Puritans.
If one finds one's self not in deep peace, not pursuing humility and meekness, one may be falling into false thinking. Let our prayer be that of St. John the Baptist:

John 3:22-34

22 After these things Jesus and his disciples came into the land of Judea: and there he abode with them, and baptized.
23 And John also was baptizing in Ennon near Salim; because there was much water there; and they came and were baptized.
24 For John was not yet cast into prison.
25 And there arose a question between some of John's disciples and the Jews concerning purification:
26 And they came to John, and said to him: Rabbi, he that was with thee beyond the Jordan, to whom thou gavest testimony, behold he baptizeth, and all men come to him.
27 John answered, and said: A man cannot receive any thing, unless it be given him from heaven.
28 You yourselves do bear me witness, that I said, I am not Christ, but that I am sent before him.
29 He that hath the bride, is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, who standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth with joy because of the bridegroom's voice. This my joy therefore is fulfilled.
30 He must increase, but I must decrease.
31 He that cometh from above, is above all. He that is of the earth, of the earth he is, and of the earth he speaketh. He that cometh from heaven, is above all.
32 And what he hath seen and heard, that he testifieth: and no man receiveth his testimony.
33 He that hath received his testimony, hath set to his seal that God is true.
34 For he whom God hath sent, speaketh the words of God: for God doth not give the Spirit by measure.

Tuesday 15 April 2014

Turning against the "inexhaustible surprise of divine love"

The best book I have read in months is The Yes of Jesus Christ by the Pope Emeritus, written in 1989, when he was Cardinal Ratzinger.

I started it as it was a gift from a grateful reader, but it has proved to be a goldmine of spirituality for us in this culture of death and despair.

I cannot give a complete review, although there are some tidbits on my blog. But, on this blog, during this holiest of weeks, I want to highlight one major point.

How many lapsed Catholics have we all met who complain about the Church? I can understand someone complaining who is still in the Church, but if someone has decided to leave, why bother?

The Pope Emeritus has the answer.

It is man's fundamental disconnectedness with himself that as it were takes its revenge on other people because they do not provide what could only be provided by a new opening up of one's own soul. Today it can often be observed in numerous variants even within the Church but it always stems ultimately from the fact that people do not want from the Church what it is its to impart, the grace of being a child of God, and that they are then found to regard as inadequate everything else that the Church is offering, so that one disappointment follows another."

In other words, those who want the Church for social reasons, sound like this, "I am single and find no one my age in my parish. Why should I go?"  Those who want the Church to be that of perfect saints sound like this, "All Catholics are hypocrites, as I know some."

Those who want the Church to be full of social workers and politicians complain about social justice issues, and those who want the Church to be made in their own image of immorality and soft consciences, want the Church to change her stand on marriage or contraception.

The Church exists to impart grace through the sacraments first and foremost, and the preaching of the Gospel. All else follows as is right and true.

Some want to make the Church into their own images and likenesses.

The Pope Emeritus writes later in this section, "Such people now deem this new interpretation both to themselves and to others as the true content of the Christian message, because no one can bear to have to regard himself of herself as an apostate."

In order not to be called an apostate, Luther, Henry VIII, and others created their own churches, made in their images and likenesses.

So as not to wear the condemnation which is justly theirs, they left the great calling of humility and purity of heart, and became hateful towards those who followed Christ and His Church. Hence, the English Age of the Catholic Martyrs.

Benedict notes that the "self-justification in which such a person has taken refuge after the loss of faith" , (which is the same as a holder of a bad conscience), this person wants all to live as he does, in darkness and in sorrow. "Misery loves company" could be the motto of the society of agnostics in which we live.

Horrible, but the society at large has come to this point wherein the majority, who no longer believe, want to drag down into their spitefulness all those who strive to be holy.

Benedict, quoting St. Thomas Aquinas, outlines that apathy, faintheartedness, nursing grudges and spitefulness are the great daughters of accidie, that sin of inertia which gives up on the path to perfection.

Such were the sins of Judas which led him to his rejection of love, the Love which he witnessed daily.

One substitutes such morbidity for what Benedict calls, "the inexhaustible surprise of divine love".

How beautiful is the constant call of the Bridegroom to His beloved. Behold my beloved speaketh to me: Arise, make haste, my love, my dove, my beautiful one, and come. Song of Songs 2:20 DR

This is my faith, that of a loving God who calls all to Him over and over, even in our darkness.

I choose that love and want to be surprised daily. Therefore, I choose to turn my back on the society of the agnostics, or engage with such, if anyone in that culture of death really wants an "out".  Love conquers all...really, truly.

Thursday 10 April 2014

Pope Francis Condemns Slaying of Dutch Jesuit in Syria

Dutch Jesuit Fr. Francis van der Lugt was brutally murdered in Homs, Syria by masked gunman. The septigenarian cleric was beaten by a masked man on the street in front of the Jesuit monastery in Bustan al-Diwan, a Christian portion of the Old City,  and then he was shot twice in the head.

Fr. van der Lugt who was a trained psychotherapist, had spent fifty years living in Syria ministering to disabled people at the Al Ard Center near Homs.  The Center also took in refugees from the Syrian Civil War, but that mission curtailed as the staff fled since they could not ensure the safety of their guests.  Fr. van der Lugt tried to be a companion to those in mental distress and give them as much food as possible.

Fr. Frans refused to be part of the February 2014 UN supervised evacuation of 1,400 people from the city, which had been besieged for a year and a half.  In the Old City of Homs, the Christian population had shrunk from tens of thousands to just 66.  Christians used to make up 10% of the Syrian population before the Civil War, but Christians have been brutalized for their faith during the conflict Fr. van der Lugt reasoned that he was the only priest remaining to minister to his people so how could he leave.

In January, Fr. van der Lugt made pleas through the media that gained world-wide attention to have humanitarian aid sent to the city to feed the starving Muslim and Christian population.

This led to meeting with UN officials to receive aid and hear first hand accounts of the humanitarian trials in Homs. Fr. van der Lugt procured four kilos of kilos of flour a week from a Muslim charity so that he could make bread and distribute half a loaf to the enclaves neediest 30 people.


Fr. van der Lugt's selfless dedication to his fellow man and openness to serve the Lord even unto death
echos the ultimate sacrifice that our Lord Jesus Christ which we will celebrate next week in the Triduum.


Monday 7 April 2014

Redemption is Real

1 Cor. 10 

“All things are lawful,” but not all things are beneficial. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up. Do not seek your own advantage, but that of the other. Eat whatever is sold in the meat market without raising any question on the ground of conscience, for “the earth and its fullness are the Lord’s.” If an unbeliever invites you to a meal and you are disposed to go, eat whatever is set before you without raising any question on the ground of conscience. But if someone says to you, “This has been offered in sacrifice,” then do not eat it, out of consideration for the one who informed you, and for the sake of conscience— I mean the other’s conscience, not your own. For why should my liberty be subject to the judgment of someone else’s conscience? If I partake with thankfulness, why should I be denounced because of that for which I give thanks? So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God. Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God, just as I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, so that they may be saved." [8]

One of the growing problem with traditional Catholics is Jansenism and a neo-Puritanism. As Catholics, we have been free of the chains of seeing nature and especially humans in terms of depraved flesh. We are not Puritans, nor are we those few odd religious people, such as Christian-Scientists, who believe all matter is either evil or illusion.

Being a Catholic has given us some freedom with regard to art, especially "fine art".

But, the judgmental attitude of many trad Catholics has infected the Catholic beliefs as to enjoying life. Yes, we are in a vale of tears, but God has not only redeemed us, but nature.

And, as being made in the Image and Likeness of God, although as St. Bernard states, we have kept the Image but lost the Likeness, we have creative instincts, as well as reason and free will.

The likeness we have lost is grace. I contend that most of the unhappiness in the blogosphere has to do with expectations of either a Puritanism, or a seeping Jansenism. In a depraved world, it is too easy to emphasize depravity and man's fallen nature instead of the grace of God.

We cannot believe in irresistible grace. Nor, can we believe in relativism. The path of Catholicism means that we walk a path of prudence and temperance, not one of unnecessary strictures or gross freedoms.

There is enough Puritanism in some popular religions. Catholics can avoid such by concentrating on the Resurrection and the Redemption of Christ, rather than on our own sorry sins.

Sunday 6 April 2014

Be Careful; Travel in Twos

As I have grown older, I have become more patient. Physical suffering brings about a resignation, as does financial suffering, or being separated from those one loves.

What is also necessary is a resignation towards some things in the Church. Too often, we lay people think we have to fight all the battles. Some battles belong to our area of expertise, and some do not.

Patience is bearing with the imperfection of a situation, or the bearing with the faults of others.

I see many single people not bearing with the faults of others, but wanting to change everything.

Choose your battles wisely. Even St. Paul walked away from conflict.

If you are single and want to change the direction of the Church, you have many options besides writing.

Prayer is the first line of battle.

Second, one could become a monk or a nun and pray more intensely for the Church. In days of chaos in the past, many single people entered monasteries in order to pray more effectively.

Third, if a man, you could become a holy priest, and, perhaps, a holy bishop. We need both desperately.

Fourth, if you are single, you can get married to a holy person, and change your parish by becoming a holy couple, raising children in the virtues. Raise priests and nuns.

Some of the problems with my dear single friends is that they are fighting battles by themselves, in their own spheres, without back-up. Even online, one is isolated.

Strength lies in numbers, even in spiritual warfare.

St. Michael did not cast out Satan by himself. Joshua did not conquer the Holy Land by himself.

David needed an army, and the prophets frequently had their scribes, such as Baruch, or even the schools of prophets.

Being single in the Church is a hard and dangerous journey. One can lose sight of the truth without companions.

Remember, the apostles and disciples went out with a minimum of one companion each.

Think about this. Perhaps some of the impatience has to do with learning to bear with one another, and work together.

And as they were ministering to the Lord, and fasting, the Holy Ghost said to them: Separate me Saul and Barnabas, for the work whereunto I have taken them. Acts 13:2 DR

Tuesday 1 April 2014

What Is Heaven?

Earlier this year, on this blog, I wrote two posts: one on hell, and one on purgatory.

Because we live in this "vale of tears", writing about sin and sorrow, pain and purification, seems an easier task than writing about the goal of our lives, heaven.

Indeed, heaven is the goal of all Catholics. The Baltimore Catechism question and answer on this fact remains stuck in my memory:

Question: Why did God make you?
Answer: God made me to know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him in this world, and to be happy with Him forever in the next.
If the goal is heaven, and if the focus of our actions is union with God, do we understand what heaven really is? 
The popular view, repeated over and over and over in paintings and even cartoons, reveals not only a lack of imagination, but a lack of understanding as to our ultimate goal, if we merit heaven.
People gliding around in white robes on clouds seems dull to the last three generations which grew up on over-stimulated, high-tech movies and television shows. Our reaction to the seemingly dullness of heaven may be one reason why some atheists just are not interested.
But, what if we knew that heaven was a sharing in the Divine Life of God? That God in the Beatific Vision shares with us His Love, in intimacy and a completeness we cannot experience on earth, seems too vague for some to grasp the meaning of joy and peace.
We were created to know and love God. That focus remains in the cores of our beings whether we acknowledge this focus or not. Humans are enobled by love and the love of God will make us perfect.
I think of the Apollo Belvidere, one of the most beautiful statues ever created by man. One can see this in the Vatican Museum. I have seen it and it is indescribably transcendent. The Greeks knew that humans reflected a perfection not found in other natural creatures. That humans reflected the ideal of the gods and the fullness of a life of virtues was known to them through reason. But, the cracks in their philosophy had to be filled in by the Revelation to the Jews in both the Old and the New Testaments.
Within all humans resides a love of happiness and a love of order, an order which can only be brought about through the life of the virtues. All disorder is sin, and in heaven, there is no sin, only perfect order.
The deepest desires of our hearts, minds and bodies will be fulfilled in heaven, but not in the material way described by some religions. 

The theologians use the term visione intuitivâ et etiam faciali. We shall see God as He is, face to face.
Pope Benedict XII in the 14th century made this a dogma of faith. We do not need to doubt that we shall see God face to face in the fullness of His Essence.
Those of us who have experienced human love understand the import of those words. When we love someone, we long to see them face to face. We long to know them and to cherish them. We long to be with them constantly. 
I know a couple who have been married for 35 years and daily, this busy doctor-husband phones his wife to say hello. He works up to twelve hours a day, but always takes time to reveal his love and honor for his wife.
We crave this type of attention and recognition. We crave love and knowledge of who we are. The most terrible loneliness for some people is to never have been known, loved, and cherished by another.
God will reveal Himself to us and our intellects will be illuminated. The phrase, lumen gloriae, refers to this illumination. Some people experience this on earth, just as some experience union with God on earth, as far as possible. These people we call "saints". But, we are all called to this journey of perfection.
Our desire for heaven may be found in the Song of Songs 8:6-7.
Put me as a seal upon thy heart, as a seal upon thy arm, for love is strong as death, jealousy as hard as hell, the lamps thereof are fire and flames.
Many waters cannot quench charity, neither can the floods drown it: if a man should give all the substance of his house for love, he shall despise it as nothing.
If one can being in love for all eternity, one can imagine heaven. If one has not experienced the love of the Bridegroom-God, ask His perfect Bride, Our Lady Mary, for guidance. She, alone, of all humans, experienced heaven on earth and was raised up, body and soul into the Beatific Vision.
Dante attempts a description of this in . Cantos 30.106 to 32.138.
If we love the Mother, we shall find the Son, and thereby, the Trinity.

“Thou Virgin Mother, daughter of thy Son, Humble and high beyond all other creature, The limit fixed of the eternal counsel,
Thou art the one who such nobility To human nature gave, that its Creator Did not disdain to make himself its creature.
Within thy womb rekindled was the love, By heat of which in the eternal peace After such wise this flower has germinated.
Here unto us thou art a noonday torch Of charity, and below there among mortals Thou art the living fountain-head of hope.
Lady, thou art so great, and so prevailing, That he who wishes grace, nor runs to thee, His aspirations without wings would fly.
Not only thy benignity gives succour To him who asketh it, but oftentimes Forerunneth of its own accord the asking.
In thee compassion is, in thee is pity, In thee magnificence; in thee unites Whate’er of goodness is in any creature.
Now doth this man, who from the lowest depth Of the universe as far as here has seen One after one the spiritual lives,
Supplicate thee through grace for so much power That with his eyes he may uplift himself Higher towards the uttermost salvation.
And I, who never burned for my own seeing More than I do for his, all of my prayers Proffer to thee, and pray they come not short,
That thou wouldst scatter from him every cloud Of his mortality so with thy prayers, That the Chief Pleasure be to him displayed. 

See the Catholic Encyclopedia online for more info.
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