Be Still

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  I have been reading a book by Thomas H. Green, SJ called Opening to God, A Guide to Prayer. his is not a new book, but it is a good book for beginning to examine what prayer is and how to pray. My brief time in which I was getting spiritual direction, I learned that my spirituality was something that I felt on a personal emotional level. I tend to be abstract and look at things in an analytical fashion, so when I was asked to think solely on how I felt about things, namely my relationship with God, it caused me to stop, slow down, and meditate on where I was. As a theology teacher I try to encourage my students to look a the beneficial side of prayer. Like any good relationship communication is essential in coming to know each other. As Thomas Green explains praying is as much about learning about yourself as it is about learning about God. Some essential things to comprehend are that the purpose of prayer is really coming to understand what God’s will is for you in your life. Prayer is both active and passive. We can only prepare ourselves for God to enter in communion with us, by taking measures to make the situation conducive to hearing Him by silencing the world around us, and by purifying ourselves through some type of “penance.” It is only through God’s grace that God chooses to come to us. We prepare our hearts for Christ to enter. Truly we can make the moments to our lives prayer. So young  people out there, do the best you can in including prayer into your life, seek God and in the stillness He will let us know His presence.

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We are Healers

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  Have you ever come to the aid of a wounded animal? A nest blown from the tree after a storm with little critters who are now homeless or missing the care of  their mother, or perhaps an injured or wounded animal. It is gratifying to help nurse or even save the life of a desperate animal. Jesus was the greatest healer in the history of mankind. We have the Gospels to tell us of his marvelous healings, the lame, the blind, those who  were near death and those who had even died. Jesus came to heal all of us wounded by sin, scarred from a life of bad mistakes, bleeding inside from self inflicted hurt, from our lack of love from others or our inability to love. The point that I would like to make is that we too are healers. We can aid those whose lives are going through pain and suffering. Not just those who have suffered major losses like that of a loved one, or the tragedies as a result of havoc that natural disasters can have on us (we have seen too much of that lately), we can be healers to those who have things out of order. Maybe the home life or work aren’t going well. Someone close has rejected you or you weren’t invited to be a part of a group. We can be healers if we take the time to listen and to spend a moment with someone in need. Stop and think. Is there anyone I can help today, who maybe needs a word of encouragement, or just a phone call to say hello?

On Angels and Things

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  I am saddened by the fact that here in America we have things backwards. We take all the wrong things too seriously and all the right things too lightly.This is particularly the case with young Catholics and their faith. The Pew studies have shown that Catholics are pretty ignorant of their faith and that in the past few decades have been leaving by the droves. This does not speak well of the catechesis and education being done in our parishes and schools. It also shows a lack of understanding regarding what appeals to young people. The latest figure I have found on Mass attendance is from around 31 -33% go to Mass every week. That means around 70% (an overwhelming majority) never see the inside of a church, with the exception of a funeral or a wedding, Yet those same people won’t miss an episode of American Idol, Survivor, or whatever popular tv show has got their attention. We have a crisis here and no one seems to be doing anything about it. Has God suddenly become irrelevant ? Where has the Church failed in bringing the Gospel? Why haven’t they presented a compelling case for Jesus Christ to these lost and disinterested Catholics? In my humble opinion there is primarily  a two-fold reason. The first is the nature of Catholicism, which accepts all and everyone. Church officials have been reluctant to define what is required of you to wear the big “C” by your name. You can have pretty much an eclectic run of beliefs from abortion to euthanasia (actually all the life issues) to gay marriage to whatever secular idea fits in (like not wasting time on Sunday services) and call yourself a Catholic because you once received Holy Communion and can still recite the Hail Mary. The second reason is for decades we have a genuine lack of spiritual leadership in the priesthood. Pastors have become little “corporate presidents,” busy with managing the parish finances and making decisions that do not deal with faith issues. Catholics like Protestants have found it comfortable to mesh their faith life with the secular world.  I also believe the situation is going to get worse, I see no real sign that there will be a turn around. This leads me to the title of this post. We have to take an approach to catechesis which alters how people think. That is to say people have to know why they think what they think. There is a compelling case for angels, for spirituality, for a virtuous life, and of course Jesus Christ. Young people are starving and we need to offer a new menu. The Holy Spirit can and will teach if we deliver it.

Psalm 10

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Why, LORD, do you stand at a distance and pay no heed to these troubled times?
 
Arrogant scoundrels pursue the poor; they trap them by their cunning schemes.
 
The wicked even boast of their greed; these robbers curse and scorn the LORD.
 
In their insolence the wicked boast: “God doesn’t care, doesn’t even exist.”
 
Yet their affairs always succeed; they ignore your judgment on high; they sneer at all who oppose them.
 
They say in their hearts, “We will never fall; never will we see misfortune.”
 
Their mouths are full of oaths, violence, and lies; discord and evil are under their tongues.
 
They wait in ambush near towns; their eyes watch for the helpless. to murder the innocent in secret.
 
They lurk in ambush like lions in a thicket, hide there to trap the poor, snare them and close the net.
 
The helpless are crushed, laid low; they fall into the power of the wicked,
 
Who say in their hearts, “God pays no attention, shows no concern, never bothers to look.”
 
Rise up, LORD God! Raise your arm! Do not forget the poor!
 
Why should the wicked scorn God, say in their hearts, “God doesn’t care”?
 
But you do see; you do observe this misery and sorrow; you take the matter in hand. To you the helpless can entrust their cause; you are the defender of orphans.
 
Break the arms of the wicked and depraved; make them account for their crimes; let none of them survive.
 
The LORD is king forever; the nations have vanished from God’s land.
 
You listen, LORD, to the needs of the poor; you encourage them and hear their prayers.
 
You win justice for the orphaned and oppressed; no one on earth will cause terror again.

Christianity is Not Simply a Morality

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   There are those both young and old who tend to see moral rules as something that is exterior to themselves. Religion is thus a restriction of one’s freedom. They witness those who fail to live the Christian life as Christ desired, and conclude that they are hypocrites. However in the same vein they do not see the hypocrisy of  their failure not to practice their religion. They conclude “I love God isn’t that enough?” Our faith however is both a mystery and a profound willingness to make central our being, the Gospel of Jesus. The message of Jesus Christ is that the love of God calls for us to respond to Him and our neighbor. Christian morality calls us to act morally out of a desire to return the love of Christ to others. Our moral perfection is directly responsible for our happiness. In Peter Kreeft’s Summa of the Summa in his response to Aquinas’ Question 4 on ethics, “Whether rectitude of will is necessary for happiness?” is found in footnote 72: the” connection between morality and happiness, and between morality and knowledge of God’s essence, is not extrinsic and artificial, as if God chooses to make a “deal” with us, to make happiness or knowledge of Him dependent on our good will; but the connection is intrinsic and necessary. The reason God insists so uncompromisingly on morality is because He knows it is the only way we can possibly be happy. This is also the main point and conclusion of the greatest non-Christian book in the history of philosophy, Plato’s Republic: that justice (virtue) is always more profitable (happifying) than injustice.” Without internalizing this love of Christ, no matter what you believe or what you may consider your faith to be, you will not find happiness. Why? Because you will be the arbiter of what is the “good” and more often than not you will be wrong and that will lead to unhappiness and rejection of religion.

What Kind of Myths Do You Believe?

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  The thing that makes me wonder about people is this: Can you or the people you associate with really know why you think what you think?  Let’s start with this presumption: no one is exempt from a belief system, from a set of beliefs. If you wake up in the morning and get out of bed, you believe in something.( I could even argue that is still the case even if you  stayed in bed) No one is immune from this. There exists no such thing as a neutral or valueless position. This means that all behavior is guided by what you believe and think. All your actions, known as “human acts” things that you willfully do in a rational manner has for its foundation a set of beliefs. Yet the vast percentage of the population doesn’t know why they believe what they believe.  People operate under a series of information, sometimes never tested for validity or certitude. bits and pieces of information garnered through numerous sources, varying in their degrees of reliability. All the while the thought that there may be a God who loves us and desires us to be with Him is dismissed as foolish or fantasy. St. Thomas Aquinas, the great philosopher and theologian used his rational mind to see whether in  fact that a belief in God made sense, that it would stand both under rational scrutiny and yet remain the mystery of this God, whom it takes so much to know. The Apostles met Him personally, they testified to that fact.Peter told us as much: “We did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming  of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we had been eyewitnesses of his majesty. For he received honor and glory from God the Father when that unique declaration came to him from the majestic glory, “This is my Son, my beloved, with whom I am well pleased'” “We ourselves heard this voice come from heaven while we were with him on the holy mountain. Moreover, we possess the prophetic message that is altogether reliable. You will do well to be attentive to it, as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. Know this first of all, that there is no prophecy of scripture that is a matter of personal interpretation,for no prophecy ever came through human will; but rather human beings moved by the Holy Spirit spoke under the influence of God.” 2 Peter 1:16-21

Our Lady of Fatima – Mary Speaks to Us Today

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  Today we recall the time back in 1917 when Our Blessed Mother choose to reveal herself to three peasant children Lucia, Francisco and Jacinta, while they were tending their sheep in a field called the Cova da Iria. She told them she was from heaven and asked them to come to this same place for six months on the 13th day of each month.

When our Blessed Mother appeared to the children she asked them, “Do you wish to offer yourselves to God, to endure all the suffering that He may please to send you, as an act of reparation for the sins by which He is offended, and to ask for the conversion of sinners?… Then you will have much to suffer. But the grace of God will be your comfort.”

“…Do you suffer a great deal? Don’t be discouraged. I will never forsake you. My Immaculate Heart will be your refuge and the road that will conduct you to God. Sacrifice yourself for sinners and say many times, especially when you make some sacrifice, ‘O my Jesus, it is for love of Thee, in reparation for the offenses committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and for the conversion of poor sinners.’

“Say the Rosary every day to obtain peace for the world and the end of the war… If they do what I tell you, many souls will be saved, and there will be peace. The war is going to end [World War I]. But if they do not stop offending God, another and worse one will begin in the reign of Pius XI… When you see a night illumined by an unknown light, know that it is the great sign that God gives you that He is going to punish the world for its crimes by means of war, of hunger, and of persecution of the Church and of the Holy Father.

Our Lady’s message that men “must amend their lives and ask forgiveness for their sins,” and that they “offend the Lord God no more, for He is already much offended” is meant for all of us, whether we are religious or lay. It is this message that our Congregation acts to promote, so that all people can, by praying the daily Rosary, by offering up their prayers and the sacrifices demanded by their daily duty, restore the temporal order in Christ.

Mary asks for our prayers, our repentance, and our desire to grow closer to her Son, so sinners mat be saved.

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