Monthly Archives: April 2010

Saint Teresa of Avila on those who minimize the importance of prayer

“Should anyone tell you that prayer is dangerous, consider him the real danger and run from him” (Way of Perfection, Ch. 21, para. 7).

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“I’ve bought your soul for God.”

I originally heard this joke in early 2008, so I’m changing the names.

Nancy Pelosi and Ron Paul are walking down the streets of DC. They see a homeless man. Ron Paul walks over, hands the guy $20, and says, “I’m Representative Ron Paul, MD. Here’s my card. Meet me in my office tomorrow at 2 PM, and I’ll help you find a job.”

Pelosi says, “That’s a great idea!”

So, a little while later, they pass another homeless man, and Pelosi walks up and says, “Hi! I’m Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi! Here’s a brochure about welfare!” Then she pulls $20 out of Ron Paul’s pocket and gives it to the homeless man.

Last week, our parish had a mission given by a Fransican priest, Fr. Roderic Petri, and I bought one of his books, a meditation on the Gospel of Matthew. In the passage on “Build up your treasure in Heaven,” he told the following story:

A woman came to Heaven. St. Peter said, “Let me show you to your house.” They walked all through Heaven and passed many glorious mansions and palaces. At the end of Heaven, they came to a small hovel. “Here you go!” Said St. Peter.
“This is it?” The woman asked.

“That’s all we can do with the money you gave us over the years.”

True story I read somewhere told by Douglas Gresham:
C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkein were walking through the streets of Oxford. They passed a beggar. Lewis pulled all the cash he had out of his pocket and gave it to the beggar.

“Why’d you do that?” Tolkein asked. “The man is just going to spend it on drink!”
Lewis shrugged his shoulders and said, “That’s all I was going to spend it on!”

“I sometimes get tired of answering the door, knowing that the they’re just going to take the money and spend it on booze. But I know the one day I don’t answer the door, it’s going to be Jesus.”
–Rev. Fr. Gregory Kirsch, JCL, VF, in the 1980s.

Scott Hahn once told a story on _Mother Angelica Live_ that a priest friend told him. This priest had visited Rome, and had a “private” dinner with John Paul II. Between visits to St. Peter’s Basilica, he passed a beggar who looked familiar. So he approached the beggar. They got to talking, and it turned out they had gone to seminary together. This beggar had fallen away from the Church.

So the priest said, “Come with me. You’re going with me to see the Pope.”
The beggar protested. The priest said, “I’m not going to dinner with the Pope without you.”
They went to the priest’s hotel room, where the beggar showered, and his former classmate gave him some fresh clothes.
They went to dinner with the Pope. The priest explained his friend’s story. The Pope asked for privacy [the cable fizzled out when he said whether they left the room or sent everyone else out]. John Paul II fell down on his knees before the beggar and said, “Bless me, Father, for I have sinned. . . . . ”

The beggar said, “Holy Father, I am no longer a priest! And you would have me hear your confession?”

“‘You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek!'”

“But I’m not in good standing with the Church!”
“I’m the Pope! If I say you’re in good standing, you’re in good standing!”
So this beggar heard the confession of the Pope. Then the Pope heard *his* confession. Then they returned to the dinner party.
“Father,” said JPII. “Tomorrow I want you to report to Fr. X at St. Y parish, and start a ministry to your fellow beggars.”

Mary just read a similar story tonight in abook regarding a man who helped a beggar who turned out to be a Johns Hopkins surgeon who had fallen on hard times. The man not only helped him materially, but shared God’s love with the man. He said it was the first time in years anyone had shown him human affection. The narrator even checked up with Hopkins to see if this fellow was a real doctor. Sometime later, he got a message from the former beggar, who had been able to get his life in order and return to his medical practice.

One Saturday morning, my dad came home from morning Mass with a couple he had met in the parking lot. They lived in North Carolina and had run out of money. They’d come to the parish for help.

My parents welcomed them in, served them breakfast, conversed with them, and then paid for their gas back to North Carolina and helped them find their way to the highway. Several months later, they received a Christmas card from this couple.

Another time, we were having a party, and a fellow came to the gate, asking for help. He had a very unlikely story, but my dad helped him. Everyone said Dad was being foolish, that the guy was probably a con artist.

“So what?” Dad said. “Why should that destroy my act of charity?”
Later that evening, the guy came *back*. Dad said, “Listen, this is all the cash I have in the house, so please don’t come back again . I don’t know if you’re lying to me or not, but I’m a Christian, and I’m doing this for Christ.”

A few days later, that very guy was arrested for grift, and his picture was in the paper. The police offered to give back money to the guy’s victims. People asked dad if he was going to claim his money.
“Why would I cancel out my act of charity?”

Victor Hugo wrote _Les Miserables_ because he was inspired by a true story he read in the paper: how the Bishop of Digne had entertained a known thief in his home, and, when the thief robbed him, the bishop came to the thief’s defense and said he had given the silver as a gift.

“I have bought your soul for God,” says the bishop in Hugo’s fictionalized account of the event.

I take very seriously Jesus’ words about almsgiving, both about doing it and about keeping it secret, unless we need to pay by card or check. Even If I won the lottery, I’d still put my $1000 in the collection basket as cash, with no enveloped. I don’t like the idea of saying you’re a “Catholic in good standing” if the Church can keep track of your donations in an envelope. That just doesn’t seem right to me.

So I don’t like talking or writing about the charity I do, except to say that I always find that, a) if I pray for a chance to help someone (e.g., it’s a Friday, and I want to eat meat), God grants the opportunity; or b) if I happen to see someone in need at the time I’m praying for some particular intention, I usually get the prayer answered.

The most blatant example was when I’d been waiting to hear about getting my first and only full time job, as an admissions officer at Strayer University online. I was supposed to start on Monday, and it was Friday, and I knew this was my last chance. We passed a beggar on the road, and bought him lunch. No sooner had we handed the guy the bag, than the phone rang, and I got the job.

So, this evening, we had a profound opportunity to help some people. These people were either totally sincere, or else they were the best con artists in the world and deserve the money for their fine performance.

I mean, we’ve been where they were-not quite as bad, but we have had to seek help from people plenty of times in our lives. And where would we be if they thought we were just con artists telling an elaborate made-up story?

Indeed, to make a political point and round out a bit, we’ve received a great deal of help from friends who are Ron Paul supporters.

So we helped these folks, but we did more than that. I took time to tell them *our* story, to tell them we were helping from our own limited resources, and that we were performing an act of self-sacrificing love. And I told them some of the stories I’ve recounted in this post, and I told them my beliefs about prayer and providence, and about the powerful miracles I’ve experienced in my life.

Then, as we were parting, I took of the San Damiano crucifix I was wearing (We have a bunch of them–Mary bought them for her first Catholic school class and never passed them out), and gave it to the guy. I pulled out the copy of Hide Me In Your Wounds I keep in the van to pray to, and handed it to him.

I said, “Don’t worry about paying me back. Here’s what I want you to do. Wear this crucifix. Do you have a CD player?” He said they did. I said, “Listen to this CD *every day* for a year.”
“I will,” he said.
“And lastly, over the next few days, please pray very intensely for me to get get a good full time job.”

Attacking a person’s chastity through cursing: the evils of the F-word.

`I read somewhere recently that the MPAA decided it’s OK to have the “F-word” in PG-13 films if it’s not used in a sexual context. Then, the other day, a friend mentioned in a Facebook status how an internet discussion had devolved to someone telling him to go “F—” himself, and I got to thinking about this word in the context of blasphemy and cursing.

Let’s first consider the word itself. Literally, the word is a verb referring to the human sexual act. So far as I know, it is the only verb in English that specifically refers to this act. There are many nouns that refer to the sexual act, and many of them are quite polite: the sexual act, intercourse, coitus, and so forth. Yet there is no verb. Every other verb is a metaphor. The word that comes closest, often used interchangeably with the “F-Word”, is itself a metaphor and even in its pejorative meaning does not necessarily refer to anything sexual.

Indeed, this convergeance of the two words adds to the offense of the “F-word,” because it is often used in a manner that degrades sexuality.

The sexual act is referred to mostly by metaphor or euphemism for several reasons, which are the same reasons we clothe our private parts. One is, of course, to protect purity, particularly the purity of children, but of other adults as well. It is also done to avoid vulgarity-speaking of common things that are a little gross (i.e., it is polite to speak of food and eating, but it is not generally polite to speak of chewing or digesting). Thirdly, it is to guard the sanctity of sexuality.

There is little need in polite conversation to refer to sexuality with a verb. For those situations, the common use of a helper verb and noun form will do: “to have sexual relations,” for example, or just “to have sex.” The shorthand of an active verb is unnecessary in any context other than marriage itself.

So, under those considerations alone, and focusing on the MPAA ruling, it would seem to be the opposite. To use the “F word” as a sexual verb is to use it in its proper context. For the MPAA to keep that usage under an “R” limitation is to admit that it’s wrong to talk explicitly of sex in a film, and thus verify my greatest complaint against the Transformers films, that the explicit terms used in those films should not be in PG-13 movies.

Instead, the MPAA has said it’s OK to use this word merely as an expletive.

Now, let’s stop to consider something else. Think about the formulation, “Oh, $@#%”–insert word here. If this expression were listed in a thesaurus, the thesaurus would provide a list of “synonyms” which could be used in place of the symbols. Among those synonyms would be a word referring to human sexuality, a list of names and titles of God, and at least two words referring to excrement. It is hoped that the use of the Lord’s Name in such situations is at least partially meant as a prayer. But in literal usage, the expression, with its interchangeability, equates the Lord’s Name and the sexual act with excrement.

That in an of itself would seem to be a far worse usage of the word than to use it in its literal meaning.

Now, with these considerations in mind, let us consider the sinfulness of the use of this word, particularly in the other context I mentioned above.

The word refers to the sexual act. At its best, the use of the word violates the privacy and intimacy of the act. In most usages, it disparages and cheapens the act, and at its worst, it refers to the act as something negative.

So, in all those senses, the use of the word, except possibly in a marital context (and even then it seems inappropriate), is a violation of the Sixth Commandment.

Secondly, the word is referring disparagingly of the human body and could be interpreted, in that sense alone, as a violation of the Fifth Commandment.

Yet the violation is more direct when the word is used against another person in an act of name calling or cursing.

Our Dear Lord is very clear in Matthew 5:22 that to curse someone, to verbally abuse someone, is to violate the fifth commandment. It’s spiritual assault. In some ways, it can be worse than physical assault or even murder, as it can do great damage to the soul.

And, of course, as I’ve said many times. Fr. Gabriel Amorth says the most common cause of demonic possession is people using the words “damn” and “hell” in the wrong ways (or, worse, the right ones), literally invoking Satan to curse the person, object, place, situation or action.

To curse is literally to curse, and it violates both the first commandment (by paying worship to Satan rather than God, and by claiming God’s right to judge), as well as the third.

I find it puzzling that people will say, when they use the name or title of God, or use the “h” word or the “d” word as expletives, “I didn’t mean anything by it.” Well, of course, and that’s what it means to “Take the Lord’s name in vain.”

Of course, personal intention is a key factor in whether a sin is mortal or venial, but that’s not the issue right now.

So, to use the “F” word as an assault against the person, either in the form my friend experienced, or else in the form of some kind of name calling, is really to violate at least four commandments in some respects, and to violate one of them in two respects. It is, precisely, to curse someone, and to curse that person in a very specific way, by attacking his or her chastity. In short, it’s

There is no such thing as a priest shortage; just an overabundance of false Catholics

A kind commentor replied to a post from over a year ago, and I kind of like what I wrote in it (slightly modified):

You see, our hedonistic culture is not producing enough priests to staff many inner city parishes, and our money-grubbing laity aren’t giving enough money to support these parishes and ‘necessary social services.’ So, the bishops have no choice but to consolidate them. This is seen as entirely the fault of ‘the Church’–yet the liberal laity who like to say ‘We are Church’ won’t take any of the blame.

. . .
The reason why these Churches are closing is that “Catholic” laity have adopted the heresy of Americanism, and are choosing materialism and social acceptance over their faith. They treat the Church as a matter of culture and family tradition, and nothing more. They have no interest in an actual relationship with Jesus. They’re not encouraging their sons to be priests; they’re not even having kids. They fornicate, contracept, vote for anti-family politicians, shop and watch football and play golf on Sundays, curse like sailors, fill their minds with the filth of our culture, then come to church every now and then to listen to the Peter, Paul and Mary impersonators put on a concert. Before, during and after the ‘performance,’ they walk around and get reacquainted with their ‘good friends’ they haven’t seen since the last time they came to church, and they give dirty looks to those of us who have more than 2.5 kids and/or are actually trying to revere the Blessed Sacrament.

Want Kumbaya and Contraceptive Catholicism? Then expect Closed Churches.

More lies from Yahoo

Just checked my mail and saw the following blurb under a headline:

“The Vatican responded Monday to allegations that it had concealed years of clerical sex abuse by making it clear for the first time that bishops and other high-ranking clerics should report such crimes to police if required by law.”

Uh, no. This is *not* the first time this has been said. In 1566, Pope St. Pius V, in one of his very first actions as Pope, called for sodomite priests to be laicized and handed over to secular authorities.

Also interesting is that this Yahoo article had apparently only been up for a few minutes but already had over 14000 “comments”, mostly of the generic kind by anti-Catholic bigots, divorcees, contraception users, homosexualis and atheists who didn’t actually read the article but just wanted to spew their Satanic venom.

St. Teresa of Avila on what books to read

“I have always been fond of the words of the Gospels [that have come from that most sacred mouth in the way they were said] and found more recollection in them than in very cleverly written books. I especially had no desire to read these books if the author was not well approved” (Way of Perfection, Ch. 21, para. 4).

Trend Setting?

It looks like Allie and I may be starting a trend. It may just be because of Spring Break, but when we arrived at Adoration at midnight on Thursday, the 11 o’clock lady had her teenaged son with her.