Category Archives: Eucharist

On Obligation versus Obligation

I don’t know about you, but I don’t like “obligation.”  It’s my Asperger.  It’s my Americanism.  It’s my modernism.  But I balk at being required to do something.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the idea of “obligation” and the faith, and I thought I’d look up what the word actually means.  While today it means more a “requirement” or “responsibility,” it originally meant “pledge.”  Before that, it came from a Latin word for “binding.”  In one sense, an “obligation” binds the person to do it, but also binds one party to another.
St. Augustine’s oft-misquoted “dilige et quod vis fac” comes into play here.  “Dilige” is the root word for “delight” or “delicious,” but it’s also the root for “diligence.”  So while St. Augustine is misquoted as saying “Love and do as you will,” with “love” here meaning “follow your delights” (something St. Augustine quite obviously would not endorse), he really means “Love your duty from that that do as you will.”
This is really a functional definition of “obligation.”  It is always an act of love.  Socrates says he accepts the death penalty because he loves Athens too much to be exiled.  The patriot loves his country so much he offers his life in military service, which involves obligations.  The student has an obligation to study, but if she loves learning, the obligation is easier.
I have obligations to my body.  I have had to drastically adjust my diet and lifestyle since epilepsy was added to my list of ailments last month.  Out of love for my family, I fulfill the obligations of my new condition, whether I really desire them or not.
I have obligations to my children.  Some are difficult.  Some are enjoyable, but I do all of them because I love my children.
I have obligations to my wife.  I keep those obligations because I love her.  Some of those obligations are tedious, like chores, while others are more pleasurable.  But they’re still obligations.  One of the things Natural Family Planning teaches about marriage is how to make love when one doesn’t feel like it: it’s an obligation.
Thus, when we speak of obligations in the Church, or even not obligations but “requirements” of devotions, the purpose is not to be legalistic as such: it’s to provide a tried and true guideline for building a relationship with Christ.  Just as hugging and kissing daily strengthen a marriage, so prayer and certain practices strengthen our relationship with God.  Sure, I could skip checking for discount flowers at the grocery store, but when I bring my wife flowers, she feels loved and I grow in love for her from that appreciation.  Sure, I can skip my Rosary, but when I give Jesus and His Mother that spiritual bouquet, they feel loved, and I grow in love for them.
Studies show that married couples should make love at least once a week, on average, to feel happy and fulfilled in their marriages.  That, again, can be an “obligation” if one or both isn’t “in the mood,” or especially if they have to schedule a time, and if legitimate impediments exist, they are usually stressful situations that will either strengthen or weaken the marriage depending on how they’re handled: do the couple turn to each other or away from each other?.
Similarly, frequency of Confession and Communion builds our bonds to Jesus Christ.  It’s an “obligation” because it binds us to Him.  We should receive the Sacraments because we love Jesus.  Sometimes, the experience can be full of spiritual consolation.  Sometimes, it can be dry.  Sometimes, we receive indicators that we need to improve our relationship with Christ.  And as with marriage, when crises, however frequent or infrequent, impede us from coming to Him Sacramentally, do we turn to Him for help or away from Him?

Vegetables and Grace

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Grace is received according to the mode of the receiver.

So are vegetables.

Some people naturally love vegetables. Most people don’t.

Most people love a few particular vegetables. For me, my favorites are broccoli and spinach, which I’d eat an entire package of on my own if I could but I take Coumadin so I’m only allowed to eat small amounts of them. Ironically, a few months ago I ate a whole bag of broccoli by myself and sent myself to the ER with a clot.

If we don’t have any desire to eat vegetables, we need to have our desires adjusted before we can eat them.

If we grow up eating vegetables, it is easier to love them as an adult. Often, if we grow up eating both, or having our vegetables coated in twinkies, as someone recently suggested, then we are really being taught that vegetables are not desirable.

If we have a desire to eat vegetables but a greater desire to eat junk food, we might eat *some* vegetables but not all the vegetables that are being served to us because we spoiled our dinner by filling up on junk food.

If we fill up completely on junk food, we have no room for vegetables.

So it is with grace.

Our Father in Heaven is offering us a smorgasbord of spiritual vegetables. Our Lady of Victory told St. Catherine Laboure that the precious stones falling from her hands on the Miraculous Medal–the stones which Mel Gibson symbolically has her casting to the earth in The Passion of the Christ, are the graces that go to waste because people aren’t willing to receive them.

Original sin and concupiscence are such that most of us are disinclined to accept His Grace.

Some people are born more naturally receptive to grace.

Some people are born with an inclination to particular graces from God, rather than having a well-balanced spiritual diet, gorge themselves on one kind of grace to the detriment of their overall spiritual life (such as a preference for Scripture or a particular devotion, a scrupulous devotion to COnfession, fasting excessively, doing charitable works without prayer, etc.).

Some people are raised in holy homes and taught to shun the world.

Some people are raised by holy parents who try to teach them the right way, but the enemy sows his seeds of spiritual junk food anyway, and the parents themselves don’t realize the subtle ways they’re teaching that God is second in their lives or that faith is not desirable in itself.

Most people don’t even try to accept God’s grace, and if they try, they get their souls so full of sin that they can’t, and they need to get that out of their systems, one way or the other, before they can take in the graces God is trying to offer them.

How can anyone accept the Gospels and not be Catholic?

How can anyone read the Gospels and not be a Catholic?
Where does “The BIble” come from? The Catholic Church.
Where do the titles of the Biblical books and authorship assignation come from? The Catholic Church.
Where do Bible verses come from? Medieval Catholic monks.
Matthew 7:21 kills “sola fide”
John 20:30-31 and 21:24-25 not only kill “sola Scriptura” but tell us that the things John tells us about Jesus are particularly important.
Matthew 16:18, Luke 22:32 and John 21:15-19 establish the role of Simon Peter (Greek “Petros,” Aramaic “Cephas,” meaning “bedrock”; first recorded use of Petra/Petros or the gender neutral Cephas as a proper noun in either language).
Genesis 3:15: God promises “enmity” between Satan and the Woman, whose seed will destroy him.
Luke 1:28: Gabriel greets Mary, the Ark of the New Covenant (Rev 11:19-12:1; remember how those pesky chapters and verses were inserted by medieval Catholic scholars? The original Greek runs together) as “full of grace,” something impossible if she had the stain of sin. Until a few centuries ago, all Christians agreed that Mary was free from personal sin; they only disagreed on questions of original sin, when the soul is created, and whether Mary was free from original sin. Under the Old Law, anyone with sin who touched the Ark of the Covenant would die. If Mary had sin, how could she bear God Incarnate in her own body?
Luke 1:43: Elizabeth calls Mary ‘Mother of my LORD,” “Mother of God.”
Luke 1:45: Elizabeth says Mary is blessed for trusting in God’s word, a blessing Our Lord repeats in Luke 11:28, saying that Mary’s blessing is more than just biological
Luke 1:48: Mary predicts that all generations will call her blessed
Luke 2:35: Simeon predicts that Mary will participate in Christ’s redemptive suffering “that the secret thoughts of many may be laid bare.”
John 2:4-5: Jesus, echoing Gen 3:15, calls His Mother Woman, and says His time has not come, referring both to her need to act first and to His “time” in John being His glorification on the Cross.
John 19:26: Echoing His earlier statement (cf. Luke 8:21) that anyone who hears His Word is His “Mother and Brother”, He assigns His Mother to John, in front of John’s biological mother, making John His Brother and Mary the Mother of all who believe in Him, ,so that those who were “servants” and “friends” (Jn 15:15) can now be “brothers” (Jn 20:17).
Thus, when He asks Peter, in the Greek translation, if Peter has the Agape love of a Servant (Jn 21:15) Peter replies that he has the philos love of a brother, and after asking three times to help Peter repent of his sin, Jesus tells Peter that if he loves Jesus as a brother, he will die for him (Jn 21:18).
At the Resurrection, Jesus commissions the Apostles to forgive sins (Jn 20:23).
Then there’s John 6, 1 Cor 11; Mt 26; Mk 14 and Lk 22. As someone put it, when Jesus says, “This is the New Testament,” He isn’t holding a book; He’s holding a Chalice. 1 Cor 11, by the way, is the only time St. Paul in any of his letters tells a Gospel story in detail.

A Question for Pastors

I have a serious question to ask to any priests who may happen to read this, but first, I’d like to begin with an example.
Arguably, the worst pope in history was Alexander VI, aka Rodrigo Borgia: we say “Borgia Popes” when there was really only one, but his reputation defined an era; his daughter(!) Lucretia is ranked in history and myth with the likes of Jezebel and Medea; his son(!) is believed to be the model for the behaviors Machiavelli describes in _The Prince_.
During an era when women were forbidden, both in canonical and civil law, from preaching, a woman who claimed to be a locutionary and prophetess was brought before the throne of Alexander VI on charges of witchcraft.  She began to recite and denounce the sins of Rodrigo Borgia.  The Pope, not known for any particular respect for human life, could have publically or privately ordered her tortured or killed in any way he wanted, but he acknowledge the truth of her words and ordered that she be released.
I have known few local pastors willing to demonstrate such humility when laity have even so much as questioned their decisions on morally neutral matters, much less challenged them for setting a bad example or being outright cruel.  13 years after the so-called “scandals,”  which were really for some reason a sudden media outburst about problems long known and rumored, have we learned nothing?
While the Church has addressed child sexual abuse nominally by targeting parents and making up draconian policies based more on legal, insurance and PR concerns than morality–which was the problem to begin with–and while some reports suggest the cases of sexual abuse have gone down, verbal and emotional abuse by pastors goes on unabated.
When a few lay organizations perhaps go overboard in their zeal for prophetic witness, they are dismissed as “causing division,” while the average Catholic who cares about the Church is still ignored or dismissed or even banned.
The Holy Father worries about pastors “obsessing” in homilies about a “few disjointed moral issues,” yet most of us have rarely, if ever, heard those moral issues addressed from the pulpit, except by priests who preach of “tolerance” and “more important issues,” and the ones who do preach about them tend to “disappear,” get  passed up for pastoral appointments, or suddenly adopt a softer tone.
You see, if a rich liberal Catholic writes an angry letter to the bishop, that letter gets heard, but if a traditionalist, whether rich or not (but usually we have less disposable income because we actually have kids) writes to the bishop, in that case the letter-writer gets ignored or worse.

Poll after poll shows that most Catholics don’t believe in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, the Source and Summit of Our Faith, and it’s not preached about, even when we have the Bread of Life discourse every three years.  Poll after poll shows that only a small percentage, if only a fraction of a percent, of Catholics are using NFP.
We’re told, if we point to the lack of children in the pews as a cause for pastoral concern, that we’re “being judgemental” and that maybe all those people are suffering infertility.  If that’s the case, then priests should be preaching about adoption or about how the birth control hormones polluting our water supply are causing rising infertility rates.

Yet, when the saints, and the Popes (including Pope Francis) suggest avoiding preaching against sin, they usually do it with the alternative of preaching prayer.  St. Louis de Montfort and St. Teresa of Avila both call on priests to teach prayer and devotion to Our Lady, that sinners want to know how to repent, and God will open the truth to them in prayer.

We’re told about the Pope’s admonitions against using air conditioning, but not his admonitions against priests living in luxury and his calls for pastors to “smell like the sheep” and go out among the poor.

And the question that I always come back to is: Father(s), do you care more about saving souls or about saving money?

Do you care that the majority of your flock are likely to go to Hell?  Why don’t you warn them?   Do you understand that, when you don’t encourage families to be in the church, when you tear down playgrounds or forbid people from using them, you’re telling people “children aren’t welcome”?  Do you care about the souls of people you push away?  St. Alphonsus warns that pastors will be held accountable for every soul lost to Hell because of their sins of deed or omission.  Even St. John Bosco had a vision, late in life, where St. Dominic Savio admonished him for permitting too many boys to be lost to Hell because he lacked enough faith!

If you find yourself wishing that the most fervent of your followers would die off or get over the alleged “fad” of Tradition, think about it.
If you find yourself suggesting you’d leave the priesthood rather than following Pope Benedict’s call to offer the Extraordinary Form to any group who requests it, or St. John Paul’s call to say part of every Mass in Latin, think about it.
If you find yourself saying things like a hole in one is the greatest moment in your life, think about it.
If you’re more concerned about money issues than whether children or families with children feel welcome in your parish, think about it.
If you find yourself too proud to read something like this and take fraternal correction in humility the way even Rodrigo Borgia was able to do, think about it.

And when you’ve thought about it, I invite you to make or renew a total consecration to Our Lady.  Start today.  Even if it’s not 33 days from a Marian feast, there’s no time like the present.

A guide to St. Louis de Montfort’s Consecration
A guide to St. Maximilian Kolbe’s Consecration
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Please, Father, whoever you are reading this, please act now.

To the Baptists who came to our yard sale this morning

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Dear missionaries of Lighthouse Baptist:

First, let me say, I commend your faith. I commend your courage and bravery in coming to strangers’ homes and trying to win them over to Jesus.
Further, compared to others like yourselves, I commend you for accepting that I am already a Christian. Too often, when I’ve been approached by evangelicals, if I say, “I’m already a Christian” or “I already have a church,” there is a certain kind of anger that bubbles up. A “transitional” deacon friend who was my Catholic hospital chaplain when I was in cardiac rehab 2 years ago described the same when he visited some non-Catholic patients on the floor.
I hope that, if I had my voice and had spoken the words, “I’m a Catholic,” you would have kept that smile and “we’re brothers in the Lord” attitude.

2 and a half years ago, before I lost my left vocal cord, I would have welcomed a conversation. Hopefully, it would have proceeded in mutually respectful dialogue.

However, I’d like to point out a few things:
1. Jumping in with “You have to believe in Jesus because there’s a judgment coming” isn’t the best way to approach people.
2. You handed me a pamphlet and said it had “All the verses you need to know.” I had intended to look at your pamphlet but misplaced it, so I dug around your website, and found a list. Assuming it’s the same list, I have a few questions, which I might have asked had the conversation proceeded in such manner.
a) If I had been a nonbeliever, why would I care what the Bible says at all?
b) As I am a believer, where in the Bible does the Bible speak of “verses”? Why must I only “need to know” a few out of context verses? Are you aware that “verse numbers” were added to the Bible by Medieval Catholic theologians to help make it easier to reference?
I know that ” All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (2 Tim 3:16). I know that St. Paul says, “Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle.” (2 Thess 2:15), and that Peter says: “19 We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: 20 Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.” (2 Peter 1:19-20).
So how can it be “just me and Jesus,” when Jesus said, “This is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many.” (Mark 14:24). Yes, He knew Me from before time, and yes, if I had been the only sinner ever, Christ would have still died for me, but He died for many, including me, not just me.
c) If all I have to is confess faith in Jesus, why bother coming to your church?
And what about where Jesus Himself says, “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 7:21).

3. I would hope that, having shared your verses with me, you would be interested in hearing some of the verses upon which I base my life and faith. For example, one of my favorites is Gen 3:15, which is also on your list. I suppose then, that you honor the Woman (Jn 2:3) whom the beloved disciple must take as his mother? (Jn 19:26-27).

Another verse I find interesting is John 20:30-31:
“30 And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: 31 But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.”

Interesting that the Gospel which my evangelical brethren seem most ready to dismiss and most ready to downplay (other than John 1 and 3:16) is the one in which Jesus says the above words from the Cross to the author of the Gospel.

One of the things I have learned from having vocal cord paralysis is how painful it is to speak when you can’t breathe. I cannot breathe and speak at the same time. When I speak too long, it becomes deathly painful because I asphyxiate a bit. Every word I speak these days is deliberate. Someone being crucified asphyxiates. Jesus was asphyxiating on the Cross, and took the time to say, “Woman, behold your son,” and “Man, behold your mother,” and the disciple who calls himself the beloved, who tells us that his Gospel only includes Jesus’s most important sayings, tells us he took her into his home. In that context, was the Man who said, “Let the dead bury their dead,” and Who knew fully well His death was coming and could have done it before, *really* just tending to His mother’s temporal care, especially by putting her into the care of a non-related apostle when He had, as the Scriptures tell us, “brothers”?

Oh, speaking of “brothers,” Jesus and His followers spoke Aramaic. We know they were not multilingual since, on the day of Pentecost, the Apostles astonished everyone by suddenly being not just multilingual, but people of different languages were hearing their own tongues when the Apostles spoke.

So, while the Gospels were originally written in Greek, they were written by people whose native tongue was Aramaic, recounting stories they’d heard or witnessed that originally *happened* in Aramaic.

So in Aramaic, there is one word for “kinsmen” or “brethren.” When the Apostles wrote their accounts in “Greek,” they translated the Aramaic for “brethren” as the Greek for “brothers,” identifying James, Simon, Joseph, and as “Jesus’ brothers.” Note there are no “brothers” mentioned in the Finding in the Temple. Note that they never identify “James, Simon,” etc. as “Mary’s children.”  If James, Simon and Jude were Mary’s biological sons, why would Jesus have given her to John to take care of, especially when John’s own mother was standing by the Cross, as well? (John 20:20). Also note that Jews do not name babies after their fathers, but only after deceased family members: St. Joseph could not have had a son named “Joseph” and been the just law-abiding Jew that Scripture tells he was!

Surely, there must be something to the fact that the early Church decided that she whom Elizabeth identified as Mother of the LORD (Lk 1:43).

4. Another passage that struck me as conveniently out of context is your inclusion of Matthew 16:21-26, but not Matthew 16:13-20:

Matthew 16King James Version (KJV)

16 The Pharisees also with the Sadducees came, and tempting desired him that he would shew them a sign from heaven.

2 He answered and said unto them, When it is evening, ye say, It will be fair weather: for the sky is red.

3 And in the morning, It will be foul weather to day: for the sky is red and lowering. O ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky; but can ye not discern the signs of the times?

4 A wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given unto it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas. And he left them, and departed.

5 And when his disciples were come to the other side, they had forgotten to take bread.

6 Then Jesus said unto them, Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.

7 And they reasoned among themselves, saying, It is because we have taken no bread.

8 Which when Jesus perceived, he said unto them, O ye of little faith, why reason ye among yourselves, because ye have brought no bread?

9 Do ye not yet understand, neither remember the five loaves of the five thousand, and how many baskets ye took up?

10 Neither the seven loaves of the four thousand, and how many baskets ye took up?

11 How is it that ye do not understand that I spake it not to you concerning bread, that ye should beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees?

12 Then understood they how that he bade them not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.

13 When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?

14 And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets.

15 He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am?

16 And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.

17 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.

18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

19 And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

20 Then charged he his disciples that they should tell no man that he was Jesus the Christ.

This is another case where knowing that Jesus spoke Aramaic is important. The Aramaic Cephas, “bedrock,” is gender neutral. Greek “Petra” for bedrock is feminine, so Matthew translated “Cephas” to “Petros,” masculine, the first ever occurrence of that name in Greek, and the first ever use of “Cephas” as a name in Hebrew. Elsewhere in Scripture, it is rendered “Cephas,” rather than Peter, though I’ve encountered people who insist that the Cephas St. Paul refers to is someone else.

Thus, Jesus, who promised to raise up descendents to Abraham from the stones told Simon that he was to be called stone and on this stone Jesus would build His Church.

21. Lastly, in John the Gospel which only told us the important stuff, Jesus gave us the “Bread of Life” discourse (John 6; whole chapter)

53 Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you.

54 Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.

55 For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed.

56 He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him.

When the people take offense, Jesus “doubles down,” as they say. When the Apostles take offense, Jesus points to Judas as a “Devil.”

Then, in 1 Corinthians 10 and 11, St. Paul tells us the importance of the Eucharistic meal. “The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ?” (1 Cor 10:16). This is no mere community pot luck, he tells us, for we can eat at home (1 (Cor 11:22).

For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, that the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread:

24 And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me.

25 After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, this cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me.

26 For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come.

27 Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.

28 But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup.

29 For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body.

1 Cor 11:23-29

5. One other passage I find that my evangelical brethren love to cite, which is on your website, is some variant of Romans 3 (23-25, in this case), to try to emphasize “sola fide,” yet I never hear anyone cite Romans 3:31: “Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law,” and Our Lord Himself says,
“17 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.

18 For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.” (Matthew 5:17-18).

5. Thank you for taking the time to consider these passages as I have considered the passages you sent me, many times in fact, as I’ve made a point since I was a young boy of being familiar with the Scriptures. God bless you in your ministry. I pray you find the fullness of Christ’s truth.

I would like to reciprocate your invitation: come experience the Real Presence of Jesus. If you’re not ready for Mass yet, come visit one of our local churches during Adoration and just spend time in silent prayer. See what the Holy Spirit can do:

St. Mary Help of Christians, Aiken, SC

St. Gerard, Aiken

Our Lady of the Valley, Gloverville

Our Lady of Peace, North Augusta

St. Edward, Murphy Village

The Most Holy Trinity, Augusta, GA

St. Mary on the Hill, Augusta

St. Ignatios

Or else, enter your zip code into http://masstimes.org/

Would you do it?

Two pairs of brothers, the J’s and the Z’s, are business partners. One day, the two younger brothers go to listen to some popular speaker and come back talking about some new guy that the other one says is even better, and how they want to drop everything and join his cult. Their business requires working at night, and things haven’t been going well. The older brothers think they’re too stressed and going kind of nuts. All night long, they work hard but get no sales. The younger brothers keep harping all shift about this new preacher, and then, in the morning, when they’re tired, and ready to go home, the guy shows up at their *office*.
And he has a bunch of people with him. And he stands their preaching. Then he tells the four salesmen to work a bit longer. Suddenly, they get a wave of sales that crash their servers! The Z brothers try to get the servers back online, while the preacher talks to the older J Brother. “Follow me,” he says, “And I will change your life and your name.”
So the four men literally drop everything to go follow the preacher. They occasionally return to work to pay the bills, but it’s not as important.

Would you do it? Peter and Andrew, the sons of Jonah, and James and John, the sons of Zebedee, did:

38 Jesus turned and saw them following him and said to them, “What are you looking for?” They said to him, “Rabbi” (which translated means Teacher), “where are you staying?” 39 He said to them, “Come, and you will see.” So they went and saw where he was staying, and they stayed with him that day. It was about four in the afternoon.* 40 Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, was one of the two who heard John and followed Jesus. 41 He first found his own brother Simon and told him, “We have found the Messiah”* (which is translated Anointed). 42 Then he brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon the son of John;* you will be called Cephas” (which is translated Peter).(Jn 1:38-42)

1 While the crowd was pressing in on Jesus and listening to the word of God, he was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret.
2 He saw two boats there alongside the lake; the fishermen had disembarked and were washing their nets.
3 Getting into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, he asked him to put out a short distance from the shore. Then he sat down and taught the crowds from the boat. 4 After he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water and lower your nets for a catch.”
5 Simon said in reply, “Master, we have worked hard all night and have caught nothing, but at your command I will lower the nets.”
6 When they had done this, they caught a great number of fish and their nets were tearing.
7 They signaled to their partners in the other boat to come to help them. They came and filled both boats so that they were in danger of sinking. 8 When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at the knees of Jesus and said, “Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man.”
9For astonishment at the catch of fish they had made seized him and all those with him, 10 and likewise James and John, the sons of Zebedee, who were partners of Simon. Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.” 11 When they brought their boats to the shore, they left everything* and followed him. (Luke 5:1-11)

People fret about alleged “contradictions” between the accounts, but, like all attempts to challenge the “historical authenticity” of the Bible, they do so because the truth, faced head-on, is too overwhelming. Would you, if faced with Christ’s call, drop everything–or even anything–to follow Him?
Would I?
I know when I have done so, I’ve been far happier then when I haven’t.

He is here, today, waiting for us. He waits for us in the Scriptures and in the Blessed Sacrament. He waits for us in the poor, the sick and the imprisoned. He wants us to follow Him and visit Him. Will we answer the call?

Go to and type in your zipcode. Find out when you have daily Mass or adoration available to you, and please make time to visit Him.

Will the real Fatima.please stand up?

It dawned on that, everywhere I look, I see people who need Fatima’s message, yet even most who “promote” it get it wrong.
For many, Fatima is “about Vatican II,” when, if anything, Vatican II was about Fatima.
For many, it was and is about a magical formula for the “consecration of Russia” that will lead to the magical “conversion of Russia,” and in turn to an “era of Peace.” Those prophecies are open to interpretation until they can be seen through the lens of history. Sr. Lucia said St. John Paul fulfilled it. If he didn’t, it’s too late, anyway.
Russia’s errors have spread through the world: not just the Communism that is encroaching on the US thanks to so many money-hungry “Catholics” voting for Obama, but also abortion (the USSR was the first country to legalize it).
The reason we have not seen mass conversions and world peace is not because the Pope failed to say the right words at the right place and time with the right bishops. It’s because laity, priests and religious fail to answer Our Lady’s call to conversion of heart:
sacrifices (in the manner of the Little Way);
true contrition and monthly (at least) Confession;
Frequent, sincere and meditative praying of the Rosary;
Devotion to and respect for the holy Eucharist
Wearing the Scapular or Miraculous Medal.
How many people do these practices at all, much less with the depth and sincerity Our Lady called for.
Francisco didn’t see her the first few times. He was below the age of reason and yet she still said he was guilty of too many sins and needed to say many Rosaries to see her and to avoid Purgatory. Yet we presume we’ll all be instant Saints.
She showed them souls falling into Hell like snowflakes, yet we hold to a watered-down universalism.
She said souls go to Hell mostly for sins of the flesh, which are as disgusting to the Devil as they are to God, and that, “Fashions will be introduced that will offend my Son greatly.” Yet we fall right into the filth with the rest of the Culture of Death.

IMG_1666.JPG

Two Things I know I need Most

If I’ve learned anything in life, it’s that things work better with the Sacrament of Reconciliation and Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.
I am a sinner. My worst sins have been hypocrisy, pride, presumption and sacrilege, justifying and excusing my bad habits. I need Confession, even when I don’t “need” it. I need to confess every two weeks, preferably to the same priest, to avoid falling back into my bad habits. While I prefer to kneel and use the veil, for formality, my vocal cord paralysis has necessitated face-to-face. The knowledge that I am going to Confession, and that I am going to have to Confess it to the priest who’s followed my progress, helps me use that pride to my advantage, and I don’t sin as much. Not only do I feel better spiritually and psychologically, but my life works better.
The same goes for Adoration. In combination, weekly Adoration and biweekly Confession are crucial. I say yo my shame that I live in an area where multiple churches have weekly, daily or even perpetual Adoration, and I don’t avail myself of it. There are several reasons, mostly health related, but every day I think about figuring out how we can work it out.
Again, when I’ve been signed up for a Holy Hour and thus obligated, or else just made a point of going after work at night, things have gone a lot better for me and ny family. Add in daily Mass, and it’s amazing.

Why do I stop, then? Inevitably, the Devil attacks, first with the easily dismissed “scare tactics,” and eventually through personal attacks and phenomena that require moving.

Again, at our last move (which will hopefully be our last change of region), We chose an area with a lot of good parishes. We have, cumulatively and at various times, daily Mass, Confession, Adoration, Divine Mercy Chaplet, a Rosary, Confession, Morning Prayer, Vespers (both Roman and Byzantine), and public Novenas. What happened after we moved here? I didn’t get the job I moved for, and I suffered an aortic dissection. I write this in part not only to encourage you, gentle reader, to improve your life by Confession and Adoration, but also for the same reason I need Confession: to shame myself into better behavior.

Why Kenny Rogers and John Lennon were wrong

“The best that you can hope for is to die in your sleep,” said one.
“Imagine all the people living for today,” said the other.

Our neighbors like to have bonfires on the weekends and play the radio.  Usually, they do it in fall and our relatively mild winters, but, given the bad winter we’ve had, coupled with yard debris, they’ve been having them the last several weekends.  When we were leaving for Mass, the repulsive “Imagine” started playing on the radio at the neighbors’.  I quickly started the car engine, knowing it was on Casting Crowns.  I thought about switching to Fr. Antonio Vivaldi’s _Four Seasons_, but figured I’d rather hear content to get Lennon’s book of Marx out of my head (so to speak; “Imagine” came out nearly a year after “American Pie”).  I didn’t, and it fit in with the weekend’s meditations.

“Imagine all the people living for today”??
That’s exactly why we’re in the mess we’re in.  That’s what Thomas Hobbes famously describes as the state of nature: the war of “all against all” because everyone is “living for the moment,” and “the life of man [is] solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.”

"YOLO? No, bro"

Living for today is a good thing if you’re focused on the eternal “today” that is our destiny.

In his address at the 1998 Seattle C. S. Lewis Institute, Peter Kreeft quoted Voltaire saying that too many people had their minds on Heaven and Hell and not on France.  “I don’t know where Voltaire is now,” said Kreeft, “but, wherever he is, he’s not in France.”

Me with Peter Kreeft and Tom Howard

Me with Peter Kreeft and Tom Howard

Liturgically, this weekend’s theme of course was resurrection in anticipation of the upcoming Easter.  Saturday, we also celebrated the Memorial of St. Vincent Ferrer, known for his preaching on the Last Things, for promoting the following:

Prayer of St. Vincent Ferrer to be Sinless at the Hour of Death

Lord Jesus Christ, who willest that no man should perish, and to whom supplication is never made without the hope of mercy, for Thou saidst with Thine own holy and blessed lips: “All things whatsoever ye shall ask in My name, shall be done unto you”; I ask of Thee, O Lord, for Thy holy name’s sake, to grant me at the hour of my death full consciousness and the power of speech, sincere contrition for my sins, true faith, firm hope and perfect charity, that I may be able to say unto Thee with a clean heart: Into Thy hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit: Thou hast redeemed me, O God of truth, who art blessed forever and ever. Amen. 

As we usually do, ironically, when I actually make it to Mass with my family, we went to the “last chance” college Mass, with a very kindly priest of the Holy Father’s generation who tends to overemphasize, as it were, “Niceness.”  He gives pleasant, uplifting homilies but never really challenges people.   He has a lot of good qualities, but I found his homily a bit lacking in the caution that should come with these themes.

“I am one of those who believe this life isn’t all there is.”
I should hope so.
He emphasized, “But if Christ is in you,
although the body is dead because of sin,
the spirit is alive because of righteousness.” (Rom 8:10).

He kind of left out the conditions “if” and “because of righteousness” and went with, “Christ is in all of us, so we’re all going to be together.”  He phrased it in that “ambiguous” manner that typifies his era, but he definitely promoted presumption.
I don’t know if it was posted because of St. Vincent, or the Sunday liturgy, or just an act of Divine Inspiration, but a blogger who goes by Tantamergo at “Dallas Area Catholics” posted a great piece on praying for a Happy Death, particularly praying for the opportunity to be conscious, as St. Vincent recommends above, so we can invoke Our Lady in our dying days, with various examples from Saints to that effect.
Thus, it was dismaying coming into Mass with those things in mind to hear Father say how most of his family were dead, and they’d all died of cancer, and he hoped to be fortunate enough to die in his sleep or suddenly!
No, the best we can hope for is not to die in our sleep; it is to die fully aware so that we’re not further punished for putting off our repentance.

Reports claim that Yellowstone is getting closer to eruption, and the animals are fleeing.   Others say that the supervolcano theory hasn’t been proven, that the animals are just engaging in normal migration, etc.  I say that, obviously, if they knew it was going to happen, they wouldn’t want to trigger mass chaos by saying that a mass extinction event is coming.  Either way, whether it’s Yellowstone, cancer, a heart attack, a gang playing the “knock out game,” or the proverbial bus, we must all heed Our Lord’s warning to store up treasure in Heaven, not on Earth.  Whether we die tomorrow or 90 years from now, we’ll still face the same personal judgement and the same two options for Eternity.  We worry so much about preparing for “retirement,” or how to survive various disasters, but do we worry about what will happen if we die a sudden and unprovided death?

Daily examination of conscience
Daily devotion to Our Lady and to Our Lord’s Passion
Self-sacrifice and almsgiving
Frequent recourse to the Sacraments
and, most of all
Praying daily that we and our loved ones will experience a “Happy Death,” with complete Confession, the Anointing, Viaticum, and the Apostolic Blessing (collectively, “Last Rites”).

These must be everyone’s priorities.

Get thee to a Confessional

“He chose poorly”:

“Therefore whosoever shall eat this bread, or drink the chalice of the Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and of the blood of the Lord.” (1 Cor 11:27)

On this feast of Corpus Christi, we should do penance for all the sacrilegious communions that take place, particularly in this country, my own included.  Every Catholic should *at least* go to Confession once a month (the concept of “obligation to go once a year” is based upon the Easter Communion obligation, and the presumption that reception of Communion is preceded by Confession, particularly from those who’ve been away).  As Mother Angelica would say, we take baths or showers every day, even if we’re not that dirty. It’s just spiritual hygiene, and I daresay most of us commit at least one mortal sin per month (I know I do).  So please get thee to the Confessional, and make a frequent habit of it–even the Pope goes every week.

Confession
“Unless you change and become as little children, you shall not enter the Kingdom of Heaven.” (Matthew 18:3)

Think yourself free from sin?

If we say, “We are without sin,” we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we acknowledge our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from every wrongdoing. If we say, “We have not sinned,” we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. (1 John 1:8-10)

Start with these:
http://www.usccb.org/prayer-and-worship/sacraments/penance/upload/Examination-of-Conscience.pdf

And since there’s a Plenary Indulgence attached to studying the Catechism of the Catholic Church this year, a good place to start would be the section on the Commandments.

Pope Francis Holding a Monstrance

Fr. Guzman Speaks Out

Fr. Marcel Guzman, the founder of Aid to the Church in Russia who was recently “suspended” for charges of “intimidating behavior” after he refused Communion to a Buddhist Lesbian at a funeral (who proceeded to receive from the EMC, which shows her lack of respect for the Eucharist and the reason we should not be using lay EMCs), has issued a statement in his self-defense.
Now, here’s the situation as Fr. Guzman explains it:
1. He heard Confessions for an hour before the funeral.
2. After he was done hearing Confessions, but while he was vesting in the sacristy, Barbara Johnson, the decedent’s daughter, introduced herself to him and introduced another woman with her as her “lover.” He began to say something, and Johnson immediately turned and left. He tried to follow, but her “lover” positioned herself in the door way so he couldn’t get by (who’s engaging in “intimidating behavior”?).
3. Johnson came up for Communion. He put his hand over the paten and very quietly refused her communion–contrary to statements that he publicly proclaimed her sins to everyone–so quietly that even the EMC standing next to him did not hear. Johnson went over to the EMC and took Communion sacrilegiously.
4. During 25 minutes of eulogies (which, of course, shouldn’t be happening at Catholic funerals), Fr. Guzman left for a few moments to take some migraine medicine because he felt a migraine coming on.
5. He finished the funeral and accompanied the body to the hearse, but he felt the migraine coming on full force, so he asked another priest to cover for him at the grave site.
6. He says that while people keep arguing Canon 915, Canon 915 has nothing to do with this situation. As I’ve argued regarding this case and regarding the Archdiocese of Washington “policy” in general (discussed below), there are other situations about Communion that have nothing to do with Canon 915: such as when a person comes to Communion drunk or immodestly dressed or high on drugs or something. He said this was that sort of situation.
7. Contrary to reports (and the claims of the aux. bishop of Washington, Barry Knestout) that there were “long-standing” reports of “intimidating behavior,” Fr. Guzman says that the bishop told him directly that the “accusations” came from two conversations with participants in the funeral, and Fr. remembers both conversations being civil. Bishop Knestout had the letter signed on his desk when Fr. Guzman came to meet him to “discuss” the matter. This sounds more and more like Bishop Loverde’s treatment of Fr. Haley and Fr. Clark (the latter of whom sucessfully appealed his case to the Vatican).

Now, here’s what we knew about the case before Fr. Guzman’s statement:
8. Johnson didn’t say it to him, but she’s a practicing Buddhist, and not even Catholic.
9. Bishop Knestout says that the official policy of the Archdiocese is never to deny anyone Communion (even in the cases like someone who’s visibly drunk?) A priest, according to the Archdiocese of Washington, should privately advise people who are unworthy not to receive, but never refuse someone who presents himself/herself. This policy was established by Theodore Cardinal McCarrick and apparently not rescinded by Cardinal Wuerl, who claimed he would at least honor the decisions of other bishops regarding politicians (i.e., the bishop of Kansas City, who has since been arrested on trumped-up charges, telling Kathleen Sebelius she’s not to present herself for Communion). McCarrick infamously said that he didn’t believe in turning Communion into a “fight.” This is presumably also the position of San Francisco’s Archbishop George Niederauer, who infamously gave Communion to members of the notorious “Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence,” claiming that he didn’t know who they were and just thought they were “oddly dressed.”
10. Barbara Johnson made all sorts of accusations about Fr. Guzman’s demeanor which he says aren’t true, and she implied that he made up the migraine just to snub her family.
11. Fr. Guzman’s situation is rather tricky. He’s founder of Aid to the Church in Russia. He was ordained in Russia and is incardinated as a priest in a Russian diocese; he is only officially a visiting priest in the Archdiocese of Washington, and he was only serving as a parochial vicar. He is not “suspended” as a priest; he is merely on “administrative leave” and has had his *faculties* suspended in that Archdiocese (so, for example, he could get faculties from Bishop Loverde of Arlington–though I doubt Loverde would do it–and begin serving in that diocese). A canonical suspension would mean that he can’t serve as a priest, period, until the Archdiocese says otherwise, but he’d have to be incardinated in that diocese to have that happen. Any bishop in the US who wants to pick up a priest can grant Fr. Guzman faculties tomorrow.

Now, prior to this statement by Fr. Guzman, my “take” on the situation had been that I think this is a situation where both sides were a little right and a little wrong, though I thought it was clearly a hit job by a liberal Archdiocese against a conservative priest. I know someone who used to work for him at Aid to the Church in Russia and complained about how difficult he was to work for, but Fr. Guzman has now said that the Diocese didn’t say anything about long-standing disputes. On the other hand, as Fr. Dwight Longenecker has pointed out, accusations of “intimidating behavior” are made against priests all the time (esp. when they’re conservative), and are a great way for having a witch hunt.

Nothing triggers a migraine like anger or stress, and while I believe Fr. Guzman is sincere in saying he had one, I also believe he might have let Ms. Johnson’s intimidating behavior agitate him enough to give him a migraine. Even *if* the Archdiocese were acting on longstanding questions of Fr. Guzman’s temperament, this would be a horrible time to act on it, as it makes it look very much like the Archdiocese puts human respect above the sanctity of the Blessed Sacrament. In any case, my suggestion to Fr. Guzman would be to try and learn some relaxation techniques and study contemplative prayer to achieve some inner peace, so he can help prevent his migraines.

Regardless of whatever Fr. Guzman is or is not accused of doing, the Archdiocese’s policy of not denying anyone Communion is downright evil and needs to be overturned by the Vatican.

I also saw a comment somewhere by a Buddhist who said that Barbara Johnson’s actions were doubly offensive from a Buddhist standpoint. For one thing, she was being disruptive and making a show of herself to make a point, by forcing herself into a ceremony she did not belong in just to make a point and disrupt others’ peace (i.e., contrary to her claims about Fr. Guzman, *she* is the one who disrupted her mother’s funeral, and if her mother was at all deserving of a Catholic funeral, I’m sure her mother would agree). Secondly, she was engaging in the Buddhist equivalent of breaking the First Commandment: she claims to be a Buddhist yet is engaging in another religion’s service that symbolizes unity–either she’s a Buddhist or a Catholic; she can’t be both.

HOWEVER, having read Fr. Guzman’s statement, I have several observations about why I think Fr. Guzman’s self-defense rings true, especially when contrasted with Fr. John Corapi’s public statements last year.

1. In the Fr. Corapi situation, I saw a comment from a police officer who said, “Innocent people talk.” Fr. Corapi’s statements were very selective. He selected very few facts to discuss, always the ones in his favor, and totally ignored complete claims made by SOLT or others he was supposedly responding to. Instead, Fr. Corapi’s statements focused on deflection, attacking his accusers or critics. This police officer was saying that Fr. Corapi’s statements had all the tell-tale signs of someone lying, whereas an innocent person will give great detail about the facts and try to be as polite as possible to the accuser.
In this case, Barbara Johnson has gone out of her way to say what a horrible person she thinks Fr. Guzman is–and, let’s face it, she’s a lesbian, which means she already has issues with men, authority, etc. I’ve never met a lesbian, or even a heterosexual feminist, who didn’t have a deep-set hatred of men or see all men as inherently intimidating (which probably comes from unfortunate histories of abuse in their own backgrounds, but it’s unjust of them to accuse all men of abusive behavior because of whatever happened to them). Her mother’s Catholic, and she’s a Buddhist, which means she has nothing but antipathy towards the Catholic Faith. Fr. Guzman, however, never attacks Johnson in his statement, other than to mention the physically intimidating behavior engaged in by Johnson and her “lover.” He gives great detail on the day’s events, and the subsequent events from his perspective.
2. As an English teacher, I teach my students about critical reading techniques, and how to discern between two sources with contrary versions of events. Usually, we should presume both sources are manipulating the facts in their own favor, and I’m willing to grant that there may be a certain amount of that going on here.
However, the one with the agenda in this case, the one with the most to gain, is Barbara Johnson. Worst case scenario for Fr. Guzman is he goes back and serves his home diocese in Russia. Yes, he has a reputation to protect, but he doesn’t have the agenda that Johnson does. Everything Johnson has said and done in this situation is to push a radical homosexualist, anti-Catholic agenda. As one commenter noted, by not taking Fr. Guzman’s side, the Archdiocese of Washington has just given carte blanche for homosexualist protestors to do just what Johnson did: march into Catholic churches, whether they’re Catholic or not, present themselves for Communion and then try to get priests suspended for refusing them Communion.
Fr. Guzman’s worldly interests would be best served by acquiescing in the situation. Instead, he’s standing on principle. Again, a big difference from Fr. Corapi is that we’re talking about *principles*. No one is disputing the facts in this case, except for the question of Fr. Guzman’s demeanor and the question of his migraine. Fr. Guzman is not accused of any real wrongdoing. He’s being accused of being “mean.” He’s being accused of violating a diocesan policy that is itself unjust and sacrilegious. So it’s not the same thing as a priest refusing to comply with a legitimate investigation in to allegations of wrongdoing.
Further, in the “he said/she said” aspect of it, his description of events perfectly conforms with what she said–she’s just making allegations about his motives and attitude.

I think Fr. Guzman’s best call is to seek out a friendly bishop who will take him in–I’m sure there are at least a few, maybe Vasa or Jurgis or someone like that–and shake the dust of Washington, DC, off his feet.

My Funeral, and thereabouts.

Basics of what I want for my funeral, when the time comes:
1. Somewhere in the mix, I want the following hymns:
Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring
Now We Remain
On Eagle’s Wings
I am the Bread of Life
excerpts from Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Requiem (or the whole thing, if in the usus antiquor).

2. Readings, if the Eucharistic Liturgy is in the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite:
Sirach, Chapter 18:1-13
Psalm 15 or Psalm 127
1 John 1-10
John 6:48-64

3. Ideally, I’d like the liturgy to be according to the usus antiquor of the Roman Rite or according to the Byzantine Rite, which might obviate parts of 1 & 2. Regardless of Mass, I would like to have the Office of the Dead prayed in community for me the day of my funeral, as well as the Rosary (Luminous Mysteries), Divine Mercy Chaplet (at 3 PM) and Paraklesis

So, ideally:

Scenario 1:
In the morning, Office of the Dead–Office of Readings and Morning Prayer according to the modern Roman Rite, with “Now We Remain” as the opening hymn.
Just before Mass, “Jesu Joy of Man’s Desiring”.
Holy Mass in the usus antiquor of the Roman Rite, with Lloyd Webber’s settings.
“I Am the Bread of Life” for Communion.
At 3 in the Afternoon a Eucharistic Holy Hour (give or take) consisting of
O Salutaris/Exposition
Come, Holy Spirit
Divine Mercy Chaplet
Sirach, Chapter 18:1-13
Rosary (Luminous Mysteries)
1 John 1-10
Service of Paraklesis recited; chanted if possible, with John 6:48-64 as the Gospel
Vespers according to the modern Roman Rite, with “On Eagle’s Wings” as the opening hymn.
Benediction, with Tantum Ergo, the Te Deum and Flos Carmeli as the hymns. St. Michael Prayer.

Scenario 2:
Office of the Dead, Office of Readings and Morning prayer, according to the modern Roman Rite, with “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring” as the opening hymn.
Funeral according to the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom

At 3 o’clock, Eucharistic Exposition and Holy Hour (give or take):
O Salutaris
Divine Mercy Chaplet
“Now We Remain”
Rosary, Luminous Mysteries
“On Eagle’s Wings”
Sirach, Chapter 18:1-13
1 John 1-10
Andrew Lloyd Webber: Requiem, parts 1-4
John 6:48-64
Andrew Lloyd Webber: Requiem, parts 5-8
Evening Prayer from the modern Office of the Dead, “I Am the Bread of Life” as the hymn
Benediction, with Tantum Ergo, Te Deum, and Flos Carmeli as the hymns. St. Michael Prayer.

Scenario 3:

Office of the Dead, modern Roman Rite, combined with the funeral liturgy in the Ordinary Form.
Hymns:
Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring
Now We Remain
On Eagle’s Wings
I am the Bread of Life

Readings:
Sirach, Chapter 18:1-13
Psalm 15 or Psalm 127
1 John 1-10
John 6:48-64

At 3 o’clock:
Exposition, with O Salutaris
Divine Mercy Chaplet
Rosary (Luminous)
Lloyd Webber Requiem
Paraklesis
Evening Prayer from the Office of the Dead
Benediction, with Tantum Ergo, Te Deum, Flos Carmeli and St. Michael Prayer

Here is the text of the Byzantine Funeral Service

What Andy Warhol and Susan Lucci have to teach us about being Catholic.

I just learned from Father Joe’s blog that Andy Warhol was a practicing Byzantine Catholic his entire life.   As his personal life goes: he was raised Catholic, buried Catholic (with a prayer book in his hands), and reportedly attended Mass at both Byzantine and Roman Churches his entire life.
While people claim he was homosexual, those closest to him also say he was perfectly chaste.  His work was intended to draw out the hypocrisies of America’s blend of commercialism and faith; works which superficially seemed sacrilegious  were intended to show how much of our treatment of religion in America is sacrilegious.  Now, I don’t really know much about Warhol except the infamous Campbell’s Soup can and the “15 minutes of fame” quotation.  I’ve learned more abut him from this article than I’ve ever known.  Whether the article is correct about interpretation of his works, or whether Warhol was successful in what he tried to do, that’s a matter of opinion.  However, it strikes me that the article discusses how Warhol is often criticized for works that put Da Vinci’s _The Last Supper_ in secular contexts, which he intended as a symbol of how that’s done all the time in our culture.

In any case, it strikes me that it also gets to the relativism of what constitutes sacrilege.  Byzantines, after all, are very disdainful of Western religious art–not, as many Westerners think, because of iconoclasm but because they think Western art is not properly religious.  Iconography is a sophisticated code of theological meaning, and an Ikon has to follow a particular set of rules, or else it just isn’t an Ikon.  In Byzantine theology, the Ikon is itself a kind of “Real Presence.”  If we can equate  the Presence of the Host to being physically next to someone, and the Presence of the Bible to talking to someone on the phone, then the Presence of Ikons is that of a video conference.  Icons are Windows into Heaven.  Western religious art, by contrast, expresses an author’s perspective.  Increasingly, as Western art has diverged from iconography, it has come more and more to embody personal perspectives of artists, allowing their personality to skew the theology and prayer aspects of the work.  Put simply, to a Byzantine,
this
The Statue of "The Blessed Virgin" in Cardinal Mahony's Cathedral in LA

Is the natural result of this:

A cheapish picture of Our Lady of Grace

.  Whereas, this
Our Lady of Perpetual Help

is not just a “work of art,” not just an artist’s rendering of his subjective views but a theological lesson, a spiritual lesson, a prayer, *and* a very real means of accessing the Reality of Jesus and Mary.
So while Warhol  may have seen the Last Supper, for example, as worthy of reverence as a work of art, if he was a properly catechized Byzantine, he may not have seen it as particularly worthy of reverence as a work of religion (not saying I agree, just pointing this out).

 

That said, the keynote of the article is that Warhol remained a devout Catholic his whole life.  However, he did not advertise it, for fear that, while he intended his work to send a prophetic message, it might scandalize people if they knew he was Catholic, so he sat quietly in the back of church and didn’t go to Communion where he might be recognized.  While the latter is perhaps a bit extreme, it also gets into Western versus Eastern views of receiving Communion.

This all reminds me of an article I read recently about 40+ year _All My Children_ star Susan Lucci (Erica Kane).  She recently came out with an autobiography called _All My Life_.  In that memoir, and interviews related to it, she tells the story of what it was like in real life for her when she performed in the infamous story where her character had the first legal abortion on television.  (Interestingly, they’ve recently done a story where it turned it was a “botched abortion”, and the baby survived and recently returned as an adult–this inspired a column that argues how abortion is the cause of the death of the daytime drama, since not as many women are stay at home moms anymore.)  Anyway, Lucci says she performed in the story to show how horribly abortion hurts women, how she felt a certain level of guilt about it and confessed it sacramentally, and how people reacted to her.  Again, like Warhol, she began being discreet about her Catholicism because people were scandalized by the character she portrayed on television.  (I’ve also seen Lucci listed as a “pro-choice Catholic” today, but can’t find any corroboration of where that comes from).

In any case, it should be a sobering lesson that these celebrities tried so hard to reconcile their faith with their work, but also showed great humility in practicing their faith quietly given their potentially scandalous circumstances.

The Hour of Mercy

I don’t have my copy of Divine Mercy in My Soul (the diary of St. Faustina) in front of me, and I wouldn’t know where to look in it if I did, but Jesus, in His Mercy, keeps His demand for the “Hour of Mercy” rather general. While the Chaplet is recommended, He asks that we make some act of devotion to His Passion and/or His Mercy during that hour. Certainly, it’s an ideal time to make a Holy Hour: say the chaplet, say the rosary (particularly Sorrowful or Glorious Mysteries), stations of the Cross, etc. I like to say the Prayer before a Crucifix that hour, if I haven’t already, or to say the 15 Prayers of St. Bridget.

But another way I like to observe the Hour of Mercy, with or without the Chaplet, is to pray the Penitential Psalms. On Divine Mercy Sunday itself, I posted links to YouTube videos of all seven. In the modern day numbering, they are Psalms 6, 32, 38, 51, 102, 130 and 143. I also posted a YouTube video of each Psalm for each day of the past week at 3 PM.

If haven’t already, please scroll through the icons. I found some really cool videos. Some are classical settings of Psalms; some are “praise and worship” settings. At least one is in Latin. One is in Hebrew. Some are in other languages. Some are recited; some are sung. KJV and NAB are both represented. If the translation wasn’t provided in the video, I provided it below.

Now that I know how to advance post, I’m trying to set it so that there will be some special feature here for the Hour of Mercy every day. This week, I’m linking the Psalms in the New American Bible online (just click the title bar to get the Psalm), and posting an image of Jesus (three versions of Divine Mercy, and other images related to the Paschal Mystery) to reflect on as you pray the Psalm.

We’re entering into the Month of May. Time for the Thirty Days’ Devotion to Mary. From our brethren in the Eastern Lung, it’s also a great month for praying the Moleben to Mary.

Testimonies of the Apostolic Fathers to the Real Presence

References, from as early as 80 AD, to the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, From http://www.therealpresence.org/eucharst/father/a5.html:

THE DIDACHE

The Didache or “The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles” is a manuscript which was used by 2nd century bishops and priests for the instruction of catechumens. Many early Christian writers have referenced it making this document relatively easy to date.

“Let no one eat and drink of your Eucharist but those baptized in the name of the Lord; to this, too the saying of the Lord is applicable: ‘Do not give to dogs what is sacred'”.

-Ch. 9:5

“On the Lord’s own day, assemble in common to break bread and offer thanks; but first confess your sins, so that your sacrifice may be pure. However, no one quarreling with his brother may join your meeting until they are reconciled; your sacrifice must not be defiled. For here we have the saying of the Lord: ‘In every place and time offer me a pure sacrifice; for I am a mighty King, says the Lord; and my name spreads terror among the nations.'”

-Ch 14


ST. CLEMENT OF ROME  (Alt)

St. Clement was the third successor of Peter as Bishop of Rome; otherwise known as the third Pope.

“Since then these things are manifest to us, and we have looked into the depths of the divine knowledge, we ought to do in order all things which the Master commanded us to perform at appointed times. He commanded us to celebrate sacrifices and services, and that it should not be thoughtlessly or disorderly, but at fixed times and hours. He has Himself fixed by His supreme will the places and persons whom He desires for these celebrations, in order that all things may be done piously according to His good pleasure, and be acceptable to His will. So then those who offer their oblations at the appointed seasons are acceptable and blessed, but they follow the laws of the Master and do not sin. For to the high priest his proper ministrations are allotted, and to the priests the proper place has been appointed, and on Levites their proper services have been imposed. The layman is bound by the ordinances for the laity.”

Source: St. Clement, bishop of Rome, 80 A.D., to the Corinthians

“Our sin will not be small if we eject from the episcopate those who blamelessly and holily have offered its Sacrifices.”

Source: Letter to the Corinthians, [44,4]


ST. IGNATIUS OF ANTIOCH  (Alt)

St. Ignatius became the third bishop of Antioch, succeeding St. Evodius, who was the immediate successor of St. Peter. He heard St. John preach when he was a boy and knew St. Polycarp, Bishop of Smyrna. Seven of his letters written to various Christian communities have been preserved. Eventually, he received the martyr’s crown as he was thrown to wild beasts in the arena.

“Consider how contrary to the mind of God are the heterodox in regard to the grace of God which has come to us. They have no regard for charity, none for the widow, the orphan, the oppressed, none for the man in prison, the hungry or the thirsty. They abstain from the Eucharist and from prayer, because they do not admit that the Eucharist is the flesh of our Savior Jesus Christ, the flesh which suffered for our sins and which the Father, in His graciousness, raised from the dead.”

“Letter to the Smyrnaeans”, paragraph 6. circa 80-110 A.D.

“Come together in common, one and all without exception in charity, in one faith and in one Jesus Christ, who is of the race of David according to the flesh, the son of man, and the Son of God, so that with undivided mind you may obey the bishop and the priests, and break one Bread which is the medicine of immortality and the antidote against death, enabling us to live forever in Jesus Christ.”

-“Letter to the Ephesians”, paragraph 20, c. 80-110 A.D.

“I have no taste for the food that perishes nor for the pleasures of this life. I want the Bread of God which is the Flesh of Christ, who was the seed of David; and for drink I desire His Blood which is love that cannot be destroyed.”

-“Letter to the Romans”, paragraph 7, circa 80-110 A.D.

“Take care, then who belong to God and to Jesus Christ – they are with the bishop. And those who repent and come to the unity of the Church – they too shall be of God, and will be living according to Jesus Christ. Do not err, my brethren: if anyone follow a schismatic, he will not inherit the Kingdom of God. If any man walk about with strange doctrine, he cannot lie down with the passion. Take care, then, to use one Eucharist, so that whatever you do, you do according to God: for there is one Flesh of our Lord Jesus Christ, and one cup in the union of His Blood; one altar, as there is one bishop with the presbytery and my fellow servants, the deacons.”

-Epistle to the Philadelphians, 3:2-4:1, 110 A.D.


ST. JUSTIN MARTYR  (Alt)

St. Justin Martyr was born a pagan but converted to Christianity after studying philosophy. He was a prolific writer and many Church scholars consider him the greatest apologist or defender of the faith from the 2nd century. He was beheaded with six of his companions some time between 163 and 167 A.D.

“This food we call the Eucharist, of which no one is allowed to partake except one who believes that the things we teach are true, and has received the washing for forgiveness of sins and for rebirth, and who lives as Christ handed down to us. For we do not receive these things as common bread or common drink; but as Jesus Christ our Savior being incarnate by God’s Word took flesh and blood for our salvation, so also we have been taught that the food consecrated by the Word of prayer which comes from him, from which our flesh and blood are nourished by transformation, is the flesh and blood of that incarnate Jesus.”

“First Apology”, Ch. 66, inter A.D. 148-155.

“God has therefore announced in advance that all the sacrifices offered in His name, which Jesus Christ offered, that is, in the Eucharist of the Bread and of the Chalice, which are offered by us Christians in every part of the world, are pleasing to Him.”

“Dialogue with Trypho”, Ch. 117, circa 130-160 A.D.

Moreover, as I said before, concerning the sacrifices which you at that time offered, God speaks through Malachias, one of the twelve, as follows: ‘I have no pleasure in you, says the Lord; and I will not accept your sacrifices from your hands; for from the rising of the sun until its setting, my name has been glorified among the gentiles; and in every place incense is offered to my name, and a clean offering: for great is my name among the gentiles, says the Lord; but you profane it.’ It is of the sacrifices offered to Him in every place by us, the gentiles, that is, of the Bread of the Eucharist and likewise of the cup of the Eucharist, that He speaks at that time; and He says that we glorify His name, while you profane it.”

-“Dialogue with Trypho”, [41: 8-10]


ST. IRENAEUS OF LYONS  (Alt)

St. Irenaeus succeeded St. Pothinus to become the second bishop of Lyons in 177 A.D. Earlier in his life he studied under St. Polycarp. Considered, one of the greatest theologians of the 2nd century, St. Irenaeus is best known for refuting the Gnostic heresies.

[Christ] has declared the cup, a part of creation, to be his own Blood, from which he causes our blood to flow; and the bread, a part of creation, he has established as his own Body, from which he gives increase to our bodies.”

Source: St. Irenaeus of Lyons, Against Heresies, 180 A.D.:

“So then, if the mixed cup and the manufactured bread receive the Word of God and become the Eucharist, that is to say, the Blood and Body of Christ, which fortify and build up the substance of our flesh, how can these people claim that the flesh is incapable of receiving God’s gift of eternal life, when it is nourished by Christ’s Blood and Body and is His member? As the blessed apostle says in his letter to the Ephesians, ‘For we are members of His Body, of His flesh and of His bones’ (Eph. 5:30). He is not talking about some kind of ‘spiritual’ and ‘invisible’ man, ‘for a spirit does not have flesh an bones’ (Lk. 24:39). No, he is talking of the organism possessed by a real human being, composed of flesh and nerves and bones. It is this which is nourished by the cup which is His Blood, and is fortified by the bread which is His Body. The stem of the vine takes root in the earth and eventually bears fruit, and ‘the grain of wheat falls into the earth’ (Jn. 12:24), dissolves, rises again, multiplied by the all-containing Spirit of God, and finally after skilled processing, is put to human use. These two then receive the Word of God and become the Eucharist, which is the Body and Blood of Christ.”

-“Five Books on the Unmasking and Refutation of the Falsely

Named Gnosis”. Book 5:2, 2-3, circa 180 A.D. “For just as the bread which comes from the earth, having received the invocation of God, is no longer ordinary bread, but the Eucharist, consisting of two realities, earthly and heavenly, so our bodies, having received the Eucharist, are no longer corruptible, because they have the hope of the resurrection.”

-“Five Books on the Unmasking and Refutation of the Falsely named Gnosis”. Book 4:18 4-5, circa 180 A.D.

Stunning Revelation in Biblical Exegesis!

Upon reflection of the convergence of April 1 and Holy Thursday in 2010, I had a thought that began nearly a year of research.

I hereby announce my conversion to the Baptist Church.

You see, I have spent the last year researching this question, and have found out that there are two words that appear in the earliest versions of Matthew 26:26-29 and related passages in Mark, Luke and 1 Corinthians which do not appear in the modern translations.

Further, I have determined that, in fact, the first Holy Thursday would have occurred on April 1 in 27 AD (accounting for the fact that we know Christ had to be born before 6 BC because Herod the Great died in 4 BC, so the most likely year for the death of Christ according to otherwise traditional rendering would be 27 AD).

Here is how the Matthew 26:26 passage reads in the RSV:

26 “Now, as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and broke it, and gave it to his disciples and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” 27 And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you; 28 for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. 29 I tell you I shall not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.

However, if these newly discovered manuscripts are any indication, there should be two words between verses 28 and 29; scholars are arguing that they should be declared verse 28.5:

“APRIL FOOL!”

Thus, I am becoming a Protestant, because they’ve been saying all along that the Last Supper is nothing more than an April Fool’s joke, and it appears they are right.

Rosary Crusade for Fred Phelps and Osama bin Ladin

People like to organize rosaries and novenas for the Pope, or Mother Angelica, or sick people, or for “causes,” but you never hear calls for prayer for the conversions of specific people.

When conversions happen, we’re happy (Mary’s currently reading Abby Johnson’s _UnPlanned_), but we seem to doubt God’s power to do it when it comes to the challenge of hoping for it.

I’ve said it since 9/11: wouldn’t it be great if Osama bin Ladin (assuming he’s still alive) suddenly announced his conversion to Catholicism?

Or Barack Obama?

Or Fred Phelps?

Or whomever is currently president of Planned Parenthood?

Fred Phelps certainly doesn’t have much time left–the guy’s 72ish. It would be an amazing triumph for God to have that bastion of Satanic hate and misguided Fundamentalism suddenly soften his hardened heart and cross the Tiber.

We really need to start unleashing the power of the Rosary on the world. It’s been 94 years since Fatima, folks, and we still haven’t done it.

This year will be the 440th Annivesary of Lepanto. Think about what would have happened if the Catholics of Europe had kept it up past Oct. 7, 1571! Imagine if the Pope had called for a Rosary every day from everyone, for a different cause.

Back when I was in high school, I read a book on the power of the Rosary and the role of Mary. I forget its title or who wrote it. It had a chapter each on Judaism, Protestantism, Islam, and other religions and how the Blessed Virgin could be used both in prayer and in apologetics to convert each of those groups. The book also talked of the power of the Rosary, and it pointed out how lax Catholics are about our obligation to bring others to the Church.

It pointed out how simple it would be to convert the whole world to Catholicism if each and every Catholic took his or her faith seriously.

I’ve said it before about elections, and even more about conversions: look at how many Catholics there are. If even a significant fraction of us took our faith seriously, we could change the world. Only 24 percent of people who claim to be Catholic go to Mass weekly. Only 10%–if that–of those who attend Mass weekly go to Confession regularly. Much less engage in any serious form of daily prayer such as the Rosary or the Office or daily Mass or reading the Bible.

I used to feel rather alone in the world. Now, I’m surrounded by all sorts of wonderful Catholics on the Internet, in my Carmelite group, etc., but then I stick my feet slightly out of my comfort zone, and am reminded how superficially most people treat their faith and how badly catechized most people are.

And that’s not just because of Vatican II. After all, like I say, we should have achieved this centuries ago.

Judas was an Apostle. The bulk of St. Paul’s letters address all the corruption that was already rampant in the early church. We don’t read the passages at Mass where Paul is denouncing Christians for engaging in incestuous relationships and stuff. . . . Yet, at the same time, those early Christians were amazing. Even if the early Saints were as rare among the Christians of their times as today’s saints, back then you had Christians who said, “Hey! Let’s get ourselves arrested so we can be martyred and get to Heaven quickly!” You had martyrs who actually guided their executioners’ hands, cracked jokes from the scaffold or sang hymns of praise while being eaten alive.

Today, it’s “We don’t want to be martyrs because we have responsibilities” or “Being a martyr means you’re causing someone else to commit murder, so that’s wrong.” Even worse, it’s “We need to preserve our lives in this world” and “We don’t want to cause people embarrassment” or “We don’t want to lose money.”

Yet if every Catholic made a serious effort at both prayer and study, and if every Catholic made a serious effort at helping other people to the faith, and if every Catholic brought at least one person into the Church per year. . . . Imagine.

The book I’m talking about took it further: 3 converts a year per Catholic, and the world would be converted in 3 years. It’s that simple.

So, why not start with prayer. We’re supposed to be fishers of men, and the more “big fish” we bring in, the more “small ones” will get caught in the net as well. So let’s make a serious effort to pray specifically for the conversions of Westboro Baptist Church and its “pastor” Fred Phelps, and for the conversion of Osama bin Ladin and his al Qaeda people.

Remember: Jesus said to St. Faustina that, if a person in a state of grace prayed the following prayer sincerely for a person, that person would make it to Heaven, even if only by a deathbed conversion:

“O Blood and Water, which gushed forth from the Heart of Jesus as a Fount of Mercy for us, I trust in You!”

On having a Mother-in-law problem

Scott Hahn likes to say that Protestants have “mother-in-law” issues.

This is perhaps just a rephrasing of a basic thought, but an inspiration came to me on Ash Wednesday that I never thought of in exactly these terms before.

From the one angle, why would Jesus let anyone into Heaven who doesn’t like His Mother?
And, from the other angle, why would anyone want to go to Heaven who doesn’t like Jesus’ Mother? Whether they want to recognize her as Queen or not, she’s definitely there.

What do Protestants think Our Lord will say to them when they get to Heaven after spending a lifetime calling Him a liar?
“What part of ‘Verily, verily, I say unto you’ didn’t you understand?”

It’s kind of like Marge Simpson’s dream of Catholic Heaven versus Protestant Heaven (and Jesus, of course, was in Catholic Heaven in her dream).

We often speak in Pascal’s Wager-type terms of the mere practice of our lives and what it’s going to take to get into Heaven: that if Evangelicals are right, and all I have to do is confess Jesus, I’m covered. However, it’s more than that; it’s about who Jesus *is*.

One of the things converts on _The Journey Home_ consistently say is how they had to become Catholic because that was the best way to know and have a relationship with Jesus.

Because Jesus is real. Jimmy Akin answers the “how do Jews and Muslims worship the same god we do” question by analogy to Batman. Batman and Bruce Wayne are the same guy, but most people don’t know that. If Dick Grayson, or Alfred, or Superman, or James Gordon is talking to him, that person knows he’s talking to both Batman and Bruce Wayne at the same time, regardless of costume. However, if some other person is talking to Batman, he thinks he’s talking just to Batman, and not to Bruce Wayne. Then that same person talking to Bruce Wayne thinks he’s just talking to Bruce Wayne. However, he’s still talking to both Batman and Bruce Wayne; he just doesn’t know it.

I guess that works, but the fact is the person doesn’t know the whole person unless they know he’s both Bruce Wayne and Batman.

The point is that Protestants and Catholics worship Jesus, but the differences in our beliefs are not just differences in praxis or theory–they are differences in Who we think Jesus is, what we understand His personality to be like, etc. We don’t often think in those terms, but the Protestant Jesus runs the gamut from the Vengeful Judge to the Friendly Hippie Dude, and everything in between (Catholic views span the same spectrum, but the difference is that Protestants base their theologies on their “takes” on Jesus).

If the Protestants are right, I’m in for a bit of a surprise when I die-not that I’d be going to Hell, but because Jesus will turn out to have a completely different personality than what I expect Him to have. I’ve been reading the Gospels completely wrong my whole life; His words have a completely different meaning than what I thought, and for that to be true, His tone and everything else would have to be completely different from what I thought.

When it comes down to it, C. S. Lewis is right that our personal judgement, and perhaps Final Judgement, is “God in the Dock”: us judging God. When we see Jesus face to face, can we be ready to meet Him, and are we prepared for the fact that He may turn out to be different than we expect Him to be?

What part of “Nothing Positive” don’t you understand?

I don’t remember seeing this article before, although I may have used it in my series of reflections on Iraq last year. However, His Holiness, Benedict XVI, Pope of Rome, Servant of the Servants of God, etc., unequivocally condemned the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan in April 2007.

He said that nothing good has come from the violence in Iraq and Afghanistan. He condemned those who use God’s name to promote war, and he said that Christians are to be a people of peace.

I don’t understand how anyone who has faith in God can say the kinds of things that the Warhawks say. Prayer and fasting are the greatest weapons we could have. If all of America turned to the Eucharist, the Rosary, and the Bible. If all of America fell on our knees in penance and confessed our sins the way Jesus wants them confessed, imagine the ramifications that would have for the whole world.

The main weapon that atheists and Muslims have is not their lawyers or their bombs. It’s the hypocrisy of Christians.

Comments, Necons?

Hour of Mercy: Psalm 143 (New American Bible)

1
A psalm of David. LORD, hear my prayer; in your faithfulness listen to my pleading; answer me in your justice.
2
Do not enter into judgment with your servant; before you no living being can be just.
3
 The enemy has pursued me; they have crushed my life to the ground. They have left me in darkness like those long dead.
4
My spirit is faint within me; my heart is dismayed.
5
I remember the days of old; I ponder all your deeds; the works of your hands I recall.
6
I stretch out my hands to you; I thirst for you like a parched land. Selah
7
Hasten to answer me, LORD; for my spirit fails me. Do not hide your face from me, lest I become like those descending to the pit.
8
At dawn let me hear of your kindness, for in you I trust. Show me the path I should walk, for to you I entrust my life.
9
Rescue me, LORD, from my foes, for in you I hope.
10
Teach me to do your will, for you are my God. May your kind spirit guide me on ground that is level.
11
For your name’s sake, LORD, give me life; in your justice lead me out of distress.
12
In your kindness put an end to my foes; destroy all who attack me, for I am your servant. Psalm