“New Year; New Start” reblogged from 4myGodsGlory


This was just too Beautiful NOT to share it


New Year, New Start!

by 4mygodsglory



New Year equals new opportunities, new outlook, and new chances! I love the beginning of a new year as it provides a chance to start over with a clean slate and positive outlook!! Just as each day provides a clean slate, so too does each new year. This year…expect the best, prepare for the worst, love boldly, laugh out loud, cry deeply, hope eternally, and live fully!! You never know when your life or the life of a loved one will be taken for none of us are ever promised tomorrow! Each breath is a gift! Don’t waste this year spending your life in anger, envy, strife, conflict, blame, guilt, shame, anxiety, or bitterness for they take away the joy and beauty of each day and take a physical, spiritual, mental, and emotional toll on the quality of your life


  1. If you are angry, pray for peace and surrender to the Lord your anger.
    If you are envious, try being thankful for what you DO have, for many others have much less than you.
    3. If you are in strife or conflict with someone, apologize and make things right….even if you aren’t the one who made things wrong (after all God forgives and makes things right with you everyday, even when He was not the one who sinned or made things wrong!–just saying’).
    4. If you are spending time blaming others for where you are and who you have become, decide to take responsibility for yourself and the direction of your life for only you have the power to change it!!
    5. If you are stuck in a life filled with guilt and shame, pray, seek counsel, change your ways, and surrender it to God– it was Christ’s sacrifice that has covered ALL your guilt and shame with love, mercy, and grace at the cross!
    6. If you are filled with anxiety about whatever you are facing, be it finances, family struggles, employment, death, health, or anything else out of your control….rest in the arms of God. Cast all your cares on Him for He cares for you (more than you may ever know!!).
    7. If you hold bitterness towards someone who has wronged you…let it go!!
    It doesn’t hurt the other person, but it destroys you from the inside out! Forgive and find strength in God to show mercy and grace, just as he has so freely given it to you


Strive to make this year a GOD centered year, instead of a ME centered year and look forward to all the blessings that will flow forth! When your focus is love and peace, the world and everyone in it are so much better off….and so are YOU! END QUOTES

All my love


4mygodsglory | December 30, 2017 at 10:27 am | Categories: Uncategorized | URL: https://wp.me/p2adZ8-Hs

Where there is Faith; there is also Hope by Patrick Miron


[QUOTE[Dear Pat, First off thank you again for the book. I’ve been reading and rereading because I don’t like to just race through before having a handle on it. That is not to lay claim to perfectly understanding all I have gone through yet.

I also am hoping you have had and are continuing to enjoy this time of year with your family.

My quest for truth back in 2007 was really not something I set out on to prove my church’s correctness. [SDA] I simply made a list of what I believed in i.e. heaven, hell, death etc. and had to honestly assess the basis of that belief. The simple question I asked was, do I believe as I do because that’s what the preacher taught or have I seen these things for myself through the Scripture under the tutelage of God’s Spirit. It was by no means to bolster any particular church’s teaching. However, the one unshakable unwavering belief was that the Scripture is God’s inerrant revelation of Himself to us.

Much of what I see you believe is what I believe. But there are still differences. What I find incredibly and amazingly refreshing about your church is the devotion that is shining. I have come to a whole new appreciation if that is the proper word for Mary. She truly is a special one of a kind lady. Something I never really and still don’t fully grasp. And I find the way that many outside Catholicism reference the respect she holds among Catholics to be quite repugnant.

I also have a question concerning the Eucharist. Catholic teaching is that Jesus is literally present in the bread and wine. That is beyond my comprehension and I by no means mean that in a negative sense. It is thrilling and makes the idea of going to mass something thrilling. But God’s word is His living Word and is it not as much being in His real presence when you open the Scriptures? The Word is truly amazing!!!

Anyway, I continue to study your book, my Bible (a Catholic version by the way) and have been loving John Riccardo out of Plymouth MI doing RCIA classes on you tube. He is really phenomenal.

I’m not Catholic, but I may be more Catholic than you or I realize. And it all started by getting my hands on a missal, then meeting you on the boards.

My biggest struggle is the Sabbath and holidays. BTW I am ostracized by many of my SDA church members and family because of the holiday thing. Most Adventists think nothing of the roots of trees, mistletoe, yule logs and Santa.

Well, that’s where I am at present. Still have a lot to work through. I love truth and want to be in His kingdom. I have no doubt He will bring us (me and truth) together. God bless![/QUOTE]



 My dear friend …

I have given much thought to your latest Mail to me. And frankly I am deeply concerned; and at the same time grateful for your candor, and still hopeful that the Holy Spirit will grant you His Seven Gifts to enable you to grasp the Mysterious Truths of His One True Church and Faith.

Please pray daily for these Seven gifts of the Holy Spirit; without which right understanding is very unlikely, if not truly impossible.


… PLEASE check out this site:


 Everyone ought to pray daily, for all of these gifts; I have done so for a long time.

 I stated correctly that one cannot [impossible], be a Christian, much less a Catholic without of embracing the Birth of Jesus Christ, and just as importantly; His Death and Resurrection. … WHY is this?

 This is true Jim, because not doing so would mean that such a person would then be following a False-god; a self-made-deity; but not the One True God; and as such it is at best doubtful, such a belief could get one to the Beatific Vision. Simply accepting the terminology of Christianity; but with limited Right understanding of the terms: God; Jesus; the Trinity; is a wrong and even a misleading path to GOD’S Truths.

Jim, it seems to ME, that all of your efforts thus far are focused on self-reliance; not on Divine intervention; hence these efforts are futile. … Rereading without first in humility seeking the Divine Intervention of the Holy Spirit, can only result in further frustrations. … WHY is this?

 What is the Moral significance and demands of TRUTH?

Father John A. Hardon S.J., one of the 20th Centuries most esteemed Theologians, explains it clearly and precisely:

Truth is [1] the condition for grace [2] it is the source of grace [3] it is the channel of grace [4] it is the Divinely Ordained requirement of grace.” End Quotes


Benedict says: “If we omit the truth, what do we do anything for?”

Their cannot be your truth and my truth or there would be no truth”

INCARNATION. The union of the divine nature of the Son of God with human nature in the person of Jesus Christ. The Son of God assumed our flesh, body, and soul, and dwelled among us like one of us in order to redeem us. His divine nature was substantially united to our human nature. Formerly the Feast of the Annunciation was called the Feast of the Incarnation. In the Eastern Churches the mystery is commemorated by a special feast on December 26. (Etym. Latin incarnatio; from in-, in + caro, flesh: incarnare, to make flesh.)

Father Hardon’s Catholic Dictionary

…, “TRUTH” would seem to be the ghost that you’re still chasing. Most often it cannot be found solely on one’s own efforts. Isaiah 55: 6-9  

[6] “Seek ye the Lord, while he may be found: call upon him, while he is near[7] Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unjust man his thoughts, and let him return to the Lord, and he will have mercy on him, and to our God: for he is bountiful to forgive. [8] For my thoughts are not your thoughts: nor your ways my ways, saith the Lord. [9] For as the heavens are exalted above the earth, so are my ways exalted above your ways, and my thoughts above your thoughts.”

 It is the incontrovertible reality of GOD assuming a second; a human nature like US in every way except sin that makes possible the HOPE in Faith because of LOVE our Eternal Life. It is impossible to “love” God and NOT at the same time accept all of His teachings. God has zero interest in OUR opinions; and expects and demands that we accept; even if we can only do so in the FAITH< that He alone can grant unto each of us.


One must get past the “self” and get fully into Faith and Hope, in order to find GOD’S Love. GOD’S TRUTH is very often a Mystery precisely to require His Faith. Which can only be had through very much prayer and reliance on God’s love for US.

FAITH. The acceptance of the word of another, trusting that one knows what the other is saying and is honest in telling the truth. The basic motive of all faith is the authority (or right to be believed) of someone who is speaking. This authority is an adequate knowledge of what he or she is talking about, and integrity in not wanting to deceive. It is called divine faith when the one believed is God, and human faith when the persons believed are human beings. (Etym. Latin fides, belief; habit of faith; object of faith.)   Father Hardon’s Catholic Dictionary

HOPEThe confident desire of obtaining a future good that is difficult to attain. It is therefore a desire, which implies seeking and pursuing; some future good that is not yet possessed but wanted, unlike fear that shrinks from a future evil. This future good draws out a person’s volition. Hope is confident that what is desired will certainly be attained. It is the opposite of despair. Yet it recognizes that the object wanted is not easily obtained and that it requires effort to overcome whatever obstacles stand in the way. (Etym. Latin spes, hope.)

EASTER. The day commemorating Christ’s Resurrection from the dead. It is the greatest of all Christian festivals, having the central place in the liturgical year. It is the Christian feast linked with the Jewish Pasch. The exultant Alleluia is constantly repeated in the Mass and Divine Office, the Vidi Aquam replaces the Asperges, and the Regina Coeli the Angelus. The Easter season continues from Easter Sunday to Trinity Sunday inclusive. (Etym. Anglo-Saxon Eastre, Teutonic goddess of dawn and spring.)  Father Hardon’s Catholic Dictionary

The SIGNIFICANCE of Easter is that it is precisely & exclusively because Christ DID Rise from the Dead; that we too can HOPE [and believe] in our own resurrection; in an Eternal Life of OUR choosing: either Heaven or Hell.

A primary effect [benefit] of Easter is that without Christ resurrection attaining HEAVEN would still be an impossibility, as a critical result of Adam & Eves Original sin was a TOTAL Lockout of Heaven:

Genesis 3: 21-24 [21]” And the Lord God made for Adam and his wife, garments of skins, and clothed them. [22] And he said: Behold Adam is become as one of us, knowing good and evil: now, therefore, lest perhaps he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever. [23] And the Lord God sent him out of the paradise of pleasure, to till the earth from which he was taken. [24] And he cast out Adam; and placed before the paradise of pleasure Cherubims, and a flaming sword, turning every way, to keep the way of the tree of life

 So Jim, the Incarnation; The BIRTH of our SAVIOR Jesus the Christ, and the Passion, Death and Easter- RESSURECTION of Jesus are the essential elements of the Christian and most certainly the CATHOLIC Faith; because without which there CAN BE NO Beatific Vision. PERIOD!

BEATIFIC VISION. The intuitive knowledge of God which produces heavenly beatitude. As defined by the Church, the souls of the just “see the divine essence by an intuitive vision and face to face, so that the divine essence is known immediately, showing itself plainly, clearly and openly, and not mediately through any creature” (Denzinger 1000-2). Moreover, the souls of the saints “clearly behold God, one and triune, as He is” (Denzinger 1304-6). It is called vision in the mind by analogy with bodily sight, which is the most comprehensive of human sense faculties; it is called beatific because it produces happiness in the will and the whole being. As a result of this immediate vision of God, the blessed share in the divine happiness, where the beatitude of the Trinity is (humanly speaking) the consequence of God’s perfect knowledge of his infinite goodness. The beatific vision is also enjoyed by the angels, and was possessed by Christ in his human nature even while he was in his mortal life on earth. (Etym. Latin beatificus, beatific, blissful, imparting great happiness or blessedness; from beatus, happy.)

Father Hardon’s Catholic Dictionary

 In conclusion Jim, for Catholics & Christmas NOT to celebrate Religiously, in Awe and Wonder, these two Christian FOUNDATIONAL Feast seems not merely unworthy; but insane; LACKING completely, Faith. Hope and Love.

Isaiah 43: 7-10 & 21

[7] And every one that calleth upon my name, I have created him for my glory, I have formed him, and made him[8] Bring forth the people that are blind, and have eyes: that are deaf, and have ears. [9] All the nations are assembled together, and the tribes are gathered: who among you can declare this, and shall make us hear the former things? let them bring forth their witnesses, let them be justified, and hear, and say: It is truth. [10] You are my witnesses, saith the Lord, and my servant whom I have chosen: that you may know, and believe me, and understand that I myself am. Before me there was no God formed, and after me there shall be none.

& verses 21-25

[21] “This people have I formed for myself, they shall shew forth my praise[22] But thou hast not called upon me, O Jacob, neither hast thou laboured about me, O Israel. [23] Thou hast not offered me the ram of thy holocaust, nor hast thou glorified me with thy victims: I have not caused thee to serve with oblations, nor wearied thee with incense. [24] Thou hast bought me no sweet cane with money, neither hast thou filled me with the fat of thy victims. But thou hast made me to serve with thy sins, thou hast wearied me with thy iniquities. [25] I am, I am he that blot out thy iniquities for my own sake, and I will not remember thy sins.” [HIGHLY CONDITIONALLY]

MY recommendation my FRIEND, is that you put down my book and all other materials; fall on your knees and PRAY very much for God’s Merciful help and essential guidance.

 Until and unless you are granted the graces to Understand and accept Christmas and Easter; you will never be ab le to grasp the Reality of the Eucharist; the REAL Presence of our God in Person.

May the Holy Spirit guide your path my FRIEND. Know that ypu remain in my daily thoughts and prayers.

My friend I have addressed with you, the Sabbath, Holidays and the Eucharist in prior communication. IF I can do any more for you; PLEASE let me know, but it seems to me that you must first TURN to God in humility and seek His essential assistance in order to be able to grasp all and the Truths I have already shared and ecplained.

 With prayers, Faith and Hope in your being able to grasp GODS TRUTHS,


The Altar as Threshold: by ROMANO GUARDINI


The Altar as Threshold


The real God speaks in the plain, exact words of His messengers through the person, life, and death of Jesus Christ. He challenges the world, arousing it from its captivity, demanding that it recognize the truth and be converted.

The otherness of that conversion is stressed by the fact that the celebration of God’s mystery does not take place just anywhere: neither in the spaciousness of na­ture, nor in the intimacy of a home, but in the unique, clearly circumscribed area of the church. Thus we find the constantly repeated procedure: the believer goes to the house of God, crosses the threshold, and enters the sacred room within. This is an important part of genuine piety. He remains present, listens, speaks, acts, serves.

There is also a special order established within the sacred interior. It is essential to the Liturgy that the important acts of which it is composed are not left to chance or to the momentary spiritual situation, but are arranged and specified with the greatest care. The Lord’s memorial sacrifice cannot take place anywhere in the church, but only at one particular spot: the altar.


The altar is a great mystery. Its religious archetype is to be found in almost all faiths; indeed, I doubt that it is fundamentally absent from any. It appears in the Old Testament. In the catacombs we find it in its earliest form. What then is the altar? Its meaning is probably most clearly suggested by two images: it is threshold and it is table.

Threshold is door, and it has a double significance: border and crossing over. It indicates where one thing ends and another begins. The border that marks the end of the old makes possible entry into the new. As a threshold, the altar creates first of all the border between the realm of the world and the realm of God.

The altar reminds us of the remoteness in which He lives beyond the altar, as we might say (meaning “divine distance”) or above the altar (meaning “divine loftiness”), both of which are to be understood of course not spatially, but spiritually. They mean that God is the Intangible One, far removed from all approaching, from all grasping; that He is the all-powerful Majestic One immeasurably exalted above earthly things and earthly striving. Such breadth and height are founded not on measure, but on God’s essence: His holiness, to which man of himself has no access.

On the other hand, this is not to be understood merely spiritually, or rather, merely intellectually. In the Liturgy everything is symbolic. But symbol is more than a corporal form representing something incorporeal. Let us take, for example, a representation of justice: a woman, blindfolded and holding scales in her hands. The meaning of such a statue is not apparent. First one must be instructed that the bandaged eyes mean that a judge is no respecter of persons; and the scales mean that to each is to be measured out his exact due. This is allegory, whose meaning is not directly perceived.

The Liturgy also contains allegories, but its basic forms are symbols. Their meaning is actually hidden, yet it reveals itself in a particular thing or person, much as the human soul, itself invisible, becomes perceptible, approachable in the expression and movements of a face. So it is in the church. The altar is not an allegory, but a symbol. The thoughtful believer does not have to be taught that it is a border, that above it stretch inaccessible heights and beyond it the reaches of divine remoteness; somehow he is aware of this. To grasp the mystery all that is necessary on the part of the believer is intrinsic readiness and calm reflection; then his heart will respond with reverence.

It is essential for every one of us to experience at some time or another the fear of the Lord, to be repelled by Him from the sacred place, as Moses was at the burning bush (Exod. 3:2-5), that we may know with all our being that God is God and we are but man. Trust in God, nearness to Him, and security in Him remain thin and feeble when personal knowledge of God’s exclusive majesty and awful sanctity do not counterbalance them. We do well to pray God for this experience, and the place where it is most likely to be granted us is before His altar.

Threshold is not, however, only borderline; it is also crossing over. One can step over it into the adjacent room or, standing on it, receive Him who comes from the other side. It is something that unites, a place of contact and encounter. This too is contained in the symbol of the altar.

The essence of revelation is the news that God loves us. God’s love is not simply the love we find also in ourselves, infinitely intensified. Inconceivable mystery, it had to be revealed: an unheard-of act that we can begin to fathom only when it is clear to us who God is and who we are. Its real expression is to be found in the tremendous event of the Incarnation, when God abandoned His sacred reserve, came to us, became one of us, sharing with us human life and human destiny. Now He is with us, “on our side.” Such is His love, and it creates a nearness that man alone never could have conceived.

All this is expressed by the altar. It reminds us that God turns to us; from His heights He steps down to us; from His remoteness He approaches us. The altar is the sign of God’s presence among us, in us. The same altar also suggests that there is a way leading us — remote, iso­lated creatures that we are — back to our Creator; from the depths of our sin up to His holiness; that we can fol­low it — to be sure, not on our own strength, but on that which His grace supplies. We can cross the border only because God crossed it to come to us. His descent draws us upward. He Himself, the One-Who-Has-Come, is “the way, and the truth, and the life” (John 14:6).

Threshold really lies everywhere in the simple fact that God is Creator and man creature; and this fact is heightened by man’s sinfulness, which makes him unable to stand before the Holy God. Yet God has stooped to us in an act of saving love and laid out for us the road to Himself. Thus everywhere we are confronted by sacred barriers repelling us, but also by the possibility of their opening for us. What we call prayer is the mysterious process of that opening.

Every time we invoke God, we approach His threshold and pass over it. In the altar the barrier presents itself in a form symbolizing God’s revelation, for there in the mystery of the Mass it comes to its own in a very special way. Through Christ’s self-sacrifice in salutary death, a sacrifice that presupposed the Incarnation of God’s Son, the altar-threshold appears most clearly as the borderline that shows who Holy God is and what our sin is. But the altar-threshold is also the crossing-over par excellence, because God became man so that we might become “partakers of the divine nature” (2 Pet. 1:4). The altar is indeed the holy place before which we can say as we can nowhere else: “I am here, O Lord.” END QUOTES

Editor’s note: This article is from a chapter in Meditations Before Masswhich is available from Sophia Institute Press.

[This an excellent lesson for US] Christmas: Reality Incarnate: by FR. ROBERT JOHANSEN


Christmas: Reality Incarnate

On March 25, the Church celebrates the Feast of the Annunciation, commemorating the moment when Gabriel brought Mary the divine invitation to bear the Savior. Mary’s fiat allowed the Holy Spirit to overshadow her, and bring about the conception of Jesus. Now, at Christmas, nine months later, the work begun in Mary comes to its fruition, and the Christ child is born.

This interval of nine months may seem, and at a superficial level is, unremarkable. After all, everyone over the age of four or five years old knows that it takes nine months for a baby to develop in its mother’s womb before it is born. It looks as though the Church is simply giving the nod to elementary human biology. But this prosaic fact points toward a profound truth underlying our celebration: the reality of the Incarnate God entering the natural and historical order of creation.

I have written before  concerning Matthew’s genealogy of Jesus, the gospel passage for the Vigil Mass of Christmas, and how it presents to us God’s plan of salvation working out through human history. While the genealogy shows God’s saving plan manifested through the broad sweep of 42 generations, the Annunciation account in Luke zooms in for a close-up view of the particular moment and place in which salvation history comes to a point, and the person that God chooses as the instrument and agent of his saving act. From this moment on, the gospels become very specific and particular: In the Incarnation, birth, and life of Christ, the God of all time and all space closes in upon this particular time, this particular place, and this particular Person.

Salvation by an Incarnate Divinity could only come about in this way. Human beings are creatures of the particular; we each live in a particular time, a particular place, and among a particular nation or people. If Christ is truly “a man like us in all things but sin,” then he had, like us, to live a particular life. There is no such thing as a generic human being or a generic human life.

Which brings us back to Mary, and the celebrations of the Annunciation and Christmas. The nine months between these feasts underscores the reality of Mary’s real nine-month pregnancy, signaling to us that, yes, Christ was indeed carried in his mother’s womb like all of us, and born of his mother just as we are. Just like each of us, he was a particular Man of a particular family, dwelling in a particular place and living in a particular time.

We cannot be reminded too often or too emphatically of the reality of the Incarnation. History shows us that many cannot bear such a sublime reality very well. One of the earliest Christian heresies was that of Docetism. The docetists held that Jesus was not actually human, but only appeared or seemed human (the heresy takes its name from the Greek verb dokēo, “to seem”). But if Jesus was only a divine apparition in human form, then our humanity has not in fact been joined to divinity, and thus we are not saved. As St. Gregory Nazianzus (329-390 A.D.) wrote, “that which is not assumed is not redeemed.” Our salvation hinges upon the literal reality of God-become-man.

The liturgies of Christmas, coming nine months after the Annunciation, bear witness again to the reality of Christ’s humanity. The prayers of these liturgies are among the oldest that the Church possesses. They are the fruit of centuries of contemplation, debate, and even conflict. They reflect the mature judgment of the mind of the Church, after enduring the challenges of heresy and schism. As such they are prime examples of the principle lex orandi, lex credendi, “the rule of prayer is the rule of faith.”

One such prayer is the Collect, or opening prayer, of the Mass of Christmas Day. This prayer is very ancient: it is found in the Gelasian sacramentary, which dates to about 750 A.D., and the Verona sacramentary, whose prayers date from 400 – 560 A.D. Thus, this prayer bears witness to the faith of the Church from within a century of the Council of Nicaea (325 A.D.), which gave us the Creed we recite at every Sunday and holy day Mass. The prayer reads:

O God, who wonderfully created the dignity of human nature
and still more wonderfully restored it,
grant, we pray,
that we may share in the divinity of Christ,
who humbled himself to share in our humanity.
Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

Note particularly the conclusion of the prayer: “…that we may share in the divinity of Christ, who humbled himself to share in our humanity.” That word, “share,” is of key importance; it translates the Latin word particeps. Our English words “participate” and “participant” are derived from this Latin word. Unfortunately, the English word “participate” has lost some of its strength in more recent times. We must not allow the contemporary weakness of the word (things like “participation awards” come to mind) to mislead us. “Participation” in the sense we find here connotes a complete involvement, a total identification between source and sharer. Used substantively, the word particeps meant “partner,” implying unity and equality of identity and purpose. In other words, to “share” in the sense we find here implies an identification so close that we cannot tell where one ends and the other begins. This comports well with what our theology tells us of Christ’s two natures: though Christ’s human nature and divine nature can be distinguished, nonetheless they cannot be separated. Christ is completely united to our human nature, and thus through him our humanity is united to Christ’s divine nature.

The collect for the Christmas Day Mass emphasizes the unity of human and divine natures in Christ from God’s point of view, as it were. The prayer over the offerings of the Mass during the Night (Midnight Mass) reverses the view, looking at the Incarnation from the human perspective. The prayer reads:

May the oblation of this day’s feast
be pleasing to you, O Lord, we pray,
that through this most holy exchange
we may be found in the likeness of Christ,
in whom our nature is united to you.
Who lives and reigns for ever and ever.

Again, the heart of the matter is found in the conclusion: “…we may be found in the likeness of Christ, in whom our nature is united to you.” This too is a very ancient prayer; it has a Latinate economy of language, and even terseness, that English cannot convey. The original Latin of this phrase is in quo tecum est nostra substantia, which literally means, “in whom our nature is with you.” But the sense of “with you” is not that of mere physical proximity or accompaniment. Rather, the sense is one of union or communion. Think of the dialogs of the Mass between priest and people: “The Lord be with you.” “And with your spirit.” When we use the word “with” in these statements, we are not expressing a prayer or wish that God is physically, or emotionally, or even morally close to us. We are expressing the prayer that we would be united with God. In this usage, we might think of the word “with” in the sense that we might say a husband and wife are “with” one another. When a man expresses the desire to be “with” his wife, we can be fairly confident that he wishes something more than just to have her in the same room as himself. In this light, the Missal’s translation “united to you” might seem barely to do justice to the original.

I have written before that the liturgy is both sacrament and prima theologia. As such, it embodies or brings into the here-and-now the realities it signifies. The prayers of the Masses of Christmas not only reveal to us the reality of the Incarnation, but they serve the liturgy’s purpose of making us present to the heavenly mysteries. The nine months between the Annunciation and Christmas point towards the reality of Mary’s motherhood and Christ’s truly human birth. The prayers of the Christmas liturgies not only point us towards, but allow us to be participants in, the mystery of God-become-man.

Editor’s note: Pictured above is “The Adoration of the Shepherds” painted by François Boucher in 1750.

The Ox, the Ass, and Us: by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger


The Ox, the Ass, and Us

One who has not grasped the mystery of Christmas has failed to grasp the decisive element in Christianity. One who has not accepted this cannot enter the kingdom of heaven – and this is what [St. Francis of Assisi] wished to recall anew to the Christians of his own day and of every succeeding generation.

Francis directed that an ox and an ass should be present [in the crèche] in the cave of Greccio on Christmas night. He had told the nobleman John: “I wish in full reality to awaken the remembrance of the child as he was born in Bethlehem and of all the hardship he had to endure in his childhood. I wish to see with my bodily eyes what it meant to lie in a manger and sleep on hay, between an ox and an ass.”

From then on, the ox and ass have had their place in every crib scene – but where do they actually come from? It is well known that the Christmas narratives of the New Testament do not mention them. When we investigate this question, we discover an important factor in all the customs associated with Christmas and, indeed, in all the Christmas and Easter piety of the Church in both liturgy and popular customs.

The ox and ass are not simply products of the pious imagination: the Church’s faith in the unity of the Old and New Testaments has given them their role as an accompaniment of the Christmas event. We read in Isaiah: “The ox knows its owner, and the ass its master’s crib; but Israel does not know, my people does not understand.” (1:3) The Fathers of the Church saw in these words a prophecy that pointed ahead to the new people of God, the Church consisting of both Jews and Gentiles.

Before God, all men, Jews and Gentiles, were like the ox and ass, without reason or knowledge. But the child in the crib has opened their eyes so that they now recognize the voice of their Master, the voice of their Lord. It is striking to note in the mediaeval pictures of Christmas how the artists give the two animals almost human faces and how they stand before the mystery of the child and bow down in awareness and reverence.

But after all, this was only logical, since the two animals were considered the prophetical symbol for the mystery of the Church – our own mystery, since we are but oxen and asses vis-à-vis the Eternal God, oxen and asses whose eyes are opened on Christmas night, so that they can recognize their Lord in the crib. Who recognized him, and who failed to recognize him? But do we really recognize him?


When we place the ox and ass beside the crib, we must remember the whole passage in Isaiah, which is not only good news – in the sense of the promise of a future knowledge – but also a judgment pronounced on contemporary blindness. The ox and ass have knowledge, “but Israel does not know, my people does not understand.”

Who is the ox and ass today, and who is “my people” without understanding? How can we recognize the ox and the ass? How can we recognize “my people”? And why does the lack of reason recognize, while reason is blind?

In order to discover the answer, we must return with the Fathers of the Church to the first Christmas. Who recognized him? And who failed to recognize him? And why was this so?

The one who failed to recognize him was Herod, who did not even understand when they told him about the child: instead, he was blinded all the more deeply by his lust for power and the accompanying paranoia. (Mt 2:3) Those who failed to recognize him were “all Jerusalem with him.” (ibid.) Those who failed to recognize him were the “people in soft garments” – those with a high social position. (Mt 11:8) Those who failed to recognize him were the learned masters who were experts in the Bible, the specialists in biblical interpretation who admittedly knew the correct passage in Scripture but still failed to understand anything. (Mt 2:6)

Those who recognized him were the “ox and the ass” (in comparison to these men of prestige): the shepherds, the Magi, Mary and Joseph. But could things have been otherwise? Those with a high social position are not in the stable where the child Jesus lies: that is where the ox and the ass have their home.

And what about us? Are we so far away from the stable because our garments are much too soft and we are much too clever? Do we get entangled to such an extent in learned exegesis of the Scriptures, in demonstrations of the inauthenticity or the historical accuracy of individual passages, that we become blind to the child himself and perceive nothing of him?

Are we so much “in Jerusalem,” in the palace, at home in ourselves and in our arrogance and our paranoia, that we cannot hear at night the voice of the angels and then set out to adore the child?

In this night, then, the faces of the ox and the ass look at us with a question: My people does not understand, but do you perceive the voice of your Lord? When we place the familiar figures in the crib scene, we ought to ask God to give our hearts the simplicity that discovers the Lord in the child – just as Francis once did in Greccio. For then we, too, might experience what [Thomas of Celano] relates about those who took part in Midnight Mass in Greccio – and his words echo closely Saint Luke’s words about the shepherds on the first Christmas night – each one went home full of joy.

Merry Christmas from all of us at The Catholic Thing: END QUOTES

Robert Royal, Brad Miner, Hannah Russo, and Emily Rowles.


Today’s column is excerpted from Joseph Ratzinger, The Blessing of Christmas, trans. Brian Harrison published by Ignatius Press.

**Image: The Nativity with the Prophets Isaiah and Ezekiel [center panel] by Duccio di Buoninsegna, c. 1310 [National Gallery, Washington, D.C.] The ox and the ass peer into the crib.


6 Ways Christmas changes everything we think about God: re-blogged


6 Ways Christmas changes everything we think about God

© Antoine Mekary / ALETEIA


The crèche, like the crucifix, tells a story so powerful that it turned the world upside down.

How many ways can you tell the Christmas story? On Netflix, the answer seems to be “countless.” But it has always been that way, from the Gospel of John to the Nutcracker, from Dickens to Seuss.

It is possible to tell the Christmas story so many ways because the crèche, like the crucifix, tells a story so powerful that it turned the world upside down.

Consider the ways Christmas changes everything.

Marlon E – cc

1) At Christmas, we are rich and God is poor.

There he is — the creator of everything, laying in a feeding trough. And there is your church or your house, decked out with decorations, cookies and presents. Even in Third World countries, Christians put out their best for Christmas. This is the paradox at the heart of the Nativity: God in Bethlehem gives everything and becomes utterly poor, calling on us to be poor at heart and extravagantly generous.

sabin paul croce – cc

2) God is quiet; we are noisy.

Did God bang the big bang? Maybe it happened that way. But we know from God’s appearance in a manger in an obscure corner of the globe shows that he isn’t showy or noisy. He is hidden and quiet. At Christmas, it is his creatures who are noisy — whether they be hosts of angels or caravans of Wise Men, carolers singing, or church bells ringing. God doesn’t draw attention to himself. So we do.

Maya-Anaïs Yataghène-cc

3) God is patient with us; we must be patient with God.

After Adam and Eve fell, God promised a Messiah. So they waited. And waited. And waited. For millennia. Then Christ came, with angels announced the king of kings who brought peace on earth. But Jesus was just a baby. It took decades for him to grow up — and it has taken millennia for his mission to spread. We are waiting still. This shouldn’t surprise us. God’s seven “days” of creation were eons long. God clearly wants us to be patient — with him, with ourselves, and with each other. Sooner than we think, we’ll find ourselves in the next life, where a thousand years are like a day.

Adrienne Alix – cc

4) For God, love means sacrifice.

For us, love means many things — strong feelings of attachment, intense pleasure, gratifying memories. We naturally think love means finding someone else to build us up. But we know from the crèche what love means to God. It means becoming small for others. He “decreased” so that we might increase. WE should return the favor.

Alexander Rabb-cc

5) God loses battles, but wins wars.

In our day, we see terrible atrocities and threats to Christians around the world, even to the pope. Our nation’s major institutions reject God. The Church in the West looks mortally wounded. It can seem like we face an insurmountable foe. It seemed that way for the baby Jesus, too. The only public acknowledgment of Jesus’ birth was Herod massacring infants to try to kill him. God didn’t fight back. He didn’t demand his rights. He simply remained a helpless infant, exuding holiness that couldn’t be ignored — and now his followers cover the earth.

Jeremy Tarling – cc

6) God loves a good story.

If we think of God as some kind of universal life-force or an Aura of Light, Christmas proves us wrong. He could have saved us anyway he wanted. He chose to be born in a stable, to a couple far from home, surrounded by animals, shepherds and wise men, and pursued by a wicked king. God knows we love a good story, and he loves us enough to communicate with us using the best story ever. And if God loves human stories, he loves each of our stories, too.

So, celebrate a raucous family Christmas, or a fairy-tale Christmas, or even a Joanna-Gaines-home-decor Christmas. But don’t forget to gather around the crèche, and, in the blinking light of the Christmas tree, sing Silent Night.

Or just hum it. The crèche will sing the whole song, without words.

The Day the World Changed by Patrick Miron


The Day the WORLD was Forever Changed

           BY an incomprehensible reality

Only with great imagination, and with Hope, & Faith & Love can we come even close to the grasping the Miracles of Christmas. And in this year of 2017, Miracles’ are what are desperately needed.

The most astounding thing to ME about the Birth of Christ, lies in the fact that God; GOD became a mortal man to be our Teacher, by WORDS; and by His Personal example. … As Bishop Sheen would say: “the shadow of his Cross was evident even from his birth” … Jesus entered into humanity with nothing; and then later exited our world with nothing [He was stripped of his clothing in the crucifixion,] teaching us that it is NOT what we have; but what we Believe and Live that matters to Him, and therefore to Us.

Take Up your [own] cross and Follow my example:

Matthew 16:24-26Take Up Your Cross and Follow Jesus. Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.  For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.  For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?

 So then my dear friends; what was Jesus modeling for us in His Birth, and more specifically, in the manner of His Birth as Ordained by Divine Providence?

In Justice we proclaim Him as “King of KINGS  & Lord of LORDS”; but would such a King; COULD such a King desire to be born in a cave-stable; whose only worshippers besides Mary & Joseph were a few shepherds & some smelly cattle and sheep? And yet that is precisely what God, the Creator of the Entire Universe, the sustainer of all life choose to do.

Why Would God do this?

Jesus, was modeling for each of us Humility; without which it is impossible for one to attain heaven.

God becoming human, might be considered in the light of placing Einstein’s mind, intellect & Freewill into an ordinary earth worm. And even that does not explain how restrictive; how limiting, how humiliating it was for God to become a mortal man like US, in every-way but sin.

Very much is said about God’s Words; although many of them are not rightly understood in the wider-Christian-community; but not much is said about His example. From His Birth, to His Life, and of course, by His Passion & Death, Jesus our “Christ” was teaching and modeling for us how we can attain heaven.

It begins with humility; proceeds to suffering and ends with perseverance.

 It is Better that OUR Christmas be Blessed than “merry”. Amen! The message of Christ’s Birth is that we must cling to His One True Faith & Church; and don’t get caught up with what we got, or didn’t get.

It is MY prayer for you and yours that all of you will have a grace –filled-Christmas,

Each of you will be remembered in my Christ-Mass









The Paradoxical Structure of the Kingdom By Father Mark A. Pilon


The Paradoxical Structure of the Kingdom

By Father Mark A. Pilon

Fr. Mark A. Pilon


In 1970, the noted Catholic philosopher Frederick Wilhelmsen published a little book entitled The Paradoxical Structure of Existence. Wilhelmsen was a great teacher and also a very clear writer who could make Thomistic metaphysics intelligible, even for us non-professionals. Following St. Thomas, Wilhelmsen glories in the transcendence of the principle of existence in both created and uncreated being, and thus he escapes the limited philosophical perspectives that have paralyzed our thinking for centuries now.


My subject here, however, is not the paradoxical structure of existence, but rather the paradoxical structure of the Kingdom of God – established by God’s Word made Flesh. I am not a metaphysician and I struggle with deeper matters of theology. But it seems clear to me that this structure of the Kingdom follows quite Theo-logically from the principle of St. Thomas that grace always builds upon nature.

So, if the created order of being, the natural order, has a paradoxical structure inherent in its very being, then the Kingdom of God created by grace would be expected to have a similar paradoxical structure. And there is all kinds of evidence of this fact in the Gospels and the New Testament as a whole. But it all begins with the Incarnation itself, the first manifestation of which we are about to celebrate on Christmas.

What Christians believe about the Incarnation involves, perhaps, the greatest paradox of all. The infinite Son of God, the creative Word, has quite literally become a finite creature – not by a synthesis of opposites (divinity/humanity, creator/creature, as understood by Hegelian dialectics). That would have suppressed both the humanity and the divinity: and resulted in something else altogether. Instead, there is a transcendent synthesis, in which divinity and humanity are both perfectly preserved in the transcendence of the Divine Person who is made incarnate.

Paradox is the only literary vehicle we have even to begin to understand this great mystery. The infinite becomes finite without ceasing to be infinite. Because the divine person is pure existence, Ipsum Esse Subsistens, which transcends being itself, He does not become a human person but remains what He is, the perfect image of God the Father, and Creator.

Theologically, everything flows from this paradox of paradoxes. And thus many aspects of the Kingdom that He came to establish can only be described in paradoxical terms. For instance, in the Kingdom of God, you only find yourself if you lose yourself. We cannot understand who we really are nor become what we are meant to become unless we “lose” whatever there is in our “self” that contradicts the purpose for which God has created us. The “ego” that we have corrupted by our sins and self-aggrandizement, has to be “lost,” i.e., purified and transformed into the image of the perfect Image of God whom we call our Savior.

That’s just one wonderful example of this paradoxical structure, and there are many others. For instance, when Jesus says to St. Paul  (2 Corinthians 12:9), “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Surely, this paradoxical principle of the Christian life is traceable back to the Incarnation itself: God’s divine power was made perfect here in this world in the weakness of the human nature assumed by the Son. The full manifestation of this paradoxical truth takes place on Calvary, when the weakness of Jesus reaches its zenith, and the power of God brings about the redemption of the human race. But it was first manifested in that stable at Bethlehem where an infinite divine person was born into this world in all the weakness and vulnerability of an infant. Isn’t this what fills us with wonder and joy every Christmas, this ultimate paradox of paradoxes?

Certainly St. Paul learned a great lesson from this supreme paradox, necessary to help him grow stronger spiritually “in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake.” He learned to imitate Christ in His weakness, and thus he concludes with great confidence and even joy, “For when I am weak, then am I strong.”

A last example: this one from Luke 22. There Jesus teaches his disciples “let the greatest among you be as the youngest, and the leader as the servant.” This paradox echoes a similar text, earlier in the Gospels, “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” Jesus is speaking here specifically to those whom he is calling to lead the Church, his Apostles. They above all have to learn the lesson of this paradox.

In the Kingdom of God, where the order of grace fully operates, true greatness is the result of humility and service of the other, just as Christ humbled himself in obedience unto death and was Himself the Servant of the servants of God. How interesting, then, that these very words have been used, since the time of Gregory the Great, to describe the office of the pope.

How wonderful and joyful it is to meditate on the multiple paradoxes found in the Gospels. Let me repeat: all of them are grounded in that ultimate paradox of the Incarnation and lead us constantly back to that mystery.

And all of them help us to understand how this paradoxical Gospel teaching and the order of grace not only changed the perception of the dignity of the human person, but they enabled the human person to transcend the very limitations of his sinful nature in order to become a true child of God, in and through that order of grace.

Even the greatest pagan philosophers never really understood the true dignity of the individual human person. Only with God’s self-revelation in Jesus Christ, born of a virgin, was the transcendence and ultimate destiny of the human person made manifest. END QUOTES


© 2017 The Catholic Thing. All rights reserved. For reprint rights, write to: info@frinstitute.orgThe Catholic Thing is a forum for intelligent Catholic commentary. Opinions expressed by writers are solely their own.

Against Pharisees: by Bishop Atanazy Schneider… re-blogged


Against Pharisees

Against Pharisees

Bp Atanazy Schneider w Poznaniu. Fot. Piotr Łysakowski

The Church and the world do urgently need intrepid and candid witnesses of the whole truth of the commandment and of the will of God, of the whole truth of Christ’s words on marriage. Modern clerical Pharisees and Scribes, those bishops and cardinals who throw grains of incense to the neo-pagan idols of gender ideology and concubinage, will not convince anyone to either believe in Christ or to be ready to offer their lives for Christ – said + Athanasius Schneider Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Saint Mary in Astana, Kazakhstan in interview with Izabella Parowicz. 

Your Excellency, what is Your Excellency’s opinion about the Synod? What is its message to families?


During the Synod there had been moments of obvious manipulation on the part of some clerics who held key positions in the editorial and governing structure of the Synod. The interim report (Relatio post disceptationem) was clearly a prefabricated text with no reference to the actual statements of the Synod fathers. In the sections on homosexuality, sexuality and “divorced and remarried” with their admittance to the sacraments the text represents a radical neo-pagan ideology. This is the first time in Church history that such a heterodox text was actually published as a document of an official meeting of Catholic bishops under the guidance of a pope, even though the text only had a preliminary character. Thanks be to God and to the prayers of the faithful all over the world that a consistent number of Synod fathers resolutely rejected such an agenda; this agenda reflects the corrupt and pagan main stream morality of our time, which is being imposed globally by means of political pressure and through the almost all-powerful official mass media, which are loyal to the principles of the world gender ideology party. Such a synod document, even if only preliminary, is a real shame and an indication to the extent the spirit of the anti-Christian world has already penetrated such important levels of the life of the Church. This document will remain for the future generations and for the historians a black mark which has stained the honour of the Apostolic See. Fortunately the Message of the Synod Fathers is a real Catholic document which outlines the Divine truth on family without being silent about the deeper roots of the problems, i.e. about the reality of sin. It gives real courage and consolation to Catholic families. Some quotations: “We think of the burden imposed by life in the suffering that can arise with a child with special needs, with grave illness, in deterioration of old age, or in the death of a loved one. We admire the fidelity of so many families who endure these trials with courage, faith, and love. They see them not as a burden inflicted on them, but as something in which they themselves give, seeing the suffering Christ in the weakness of the flesh. … Conjugal love, which is unique and indissoluble, endures despite many difficulties. It is one of the most beautiful of all miracles and the most common. This love spreads through fertility and generativity, which involves not only the procreation of children but also the gift of divine life in baptism, their catechesis, and their education. … The presence of the family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph in their modest home hovers over you”.


Those groups of people who had been expecting a change in the Church’s teaching with regard to the moral issues (e.g. allowing divorced and remarried people to receive Holy Communion or granting any form of approval for homosexual unions) were probably disappointed by the content of the final Relatio. Isn’t there, however, a danger that questioning and discussing issues that are fundamental for the Church’s teaching may itself open doors for serious abuses and for similar attempts to revise this teaching in the future?


In fact a Divine commandment, in our case the sixth commandment, the absolute indissolubility of the sacramental marriage, a Divinely established rule, means those in a state of grave sin cannot be admitted to Holy Communion. This is taught by Saint Paul in his letter inspired by the Holy Spirit in 1 Corinthians 11, 27-30, this cannot be put to the vote, just as the Divinity of Christ would never be put to a vote. A person who still has the indissoluble sacramental marriage bond and who in spite of this lives in a stable marital cohabitation with another person, by Divine law cannot be admitted to Holy Communion. To do so would be a public statement by the Church nefariously legitimizing a denial of the indissolubility of the Christian marriage and at the same time repealing the sixth commandment of God: “Thou shalt not commit adultery”. No human institution not even the Pope or an Ecumenical Council has the authority and the competency to invalidate even in the slightest or indirect manner one of the ten Divine commandments or the Divine words of Christ: “What therefore God has joined together, let man not separate (Math 19:6)”.Regardless of this lucid truth which was taught constantly and unchangingly – because unchangeable – through all the ages by the Magisterium of the Church up to our days as for instance in “Familiaris consortio” of Saint John Paul II, in the Catechism of the Catholic Church and by Pope Benedict XVI, the issue of the admissibility to Holy Communion of the so called “divorced and remarried” has been put to the vote in the Synod. This fact is in itself grievous and represents an attitude of clerical arrogance towards the Divine truth of the Word of God. The attempt to put the Divine truth and the Divine Word to a vote is unworthy of those who as representatives of the Magisterium have to hand over zealously as good and faithful rules (cf. Math 24, 45) the Divine deposit. By admitting the “divorced and remarried” to Holy Communion those bishops establish a new tradition on their own volition and transgressing thereby the commandment of God, as Christ once rebuked the Pharisees and Scribes (cf. Math 15: 3). And what is still aggravating, is the fact that such bishops try to legitimize their infidelity to Christ’s word by means of arguments such as “pastoral need”, “mercy”, “openness to the Holy Spirit”. Moreover they have no fear and no scruples to pervert in a Gnostic manner the real meaning of these words labeling at the same time those who oppose them and defend the immutable Divine commandment and the true non-human tradition as rigid, scrupulous or traditionalist. During the great Arian crisis in the IV century the defenders of the Divinity of the Son of God were labeled “intransigent” and “traditionalist” as well. Saint Athanasius was even excommunicated by Pope Liberius and the Pope justified this with the argument that Athanasius was not in communion with the Oriental bishops who were mostly heretics or semi-heretics. Saint Basil the Great stated in that situation the following: “Only one sin is nowadays severely punished: the attentive observance of the traditions of our Fathers. For that reason the good ones are thrown out of their places and brought to the desert” (Ep. 243).


In fact the bishops who support Holy Communion for “divorced remarried” are the new Pharisees and Scribes because they neglect the commandment of God, contributing to the fact that out of the body and of the heart of the “divorced remarried” continue to “proceed adulteries” (Math 15: 19), because they want an exteriorly “clean” solution and to appear “clean” as well in the eyes of those who have power (the social media, public opinion). However when they eventually appear at the tribunal of Christ, they will surely hear to their dismay these words of Christ: “Why are you declaring my statutes and taking my covenant in your mouth? Seeing you hate instruction, and cast my words behind you, … when you have been partaker with adulterers” (Ps 50 (49): 16-18).


The final Relatio of the Synod also unfortunately contains the paragraph with the vote on the issue of Holy Communion for “divorced remarried”. Even though it has not achieved the required two third of the votes, there remains nevertheless the worrying and astonishing fact that the absolute majority of the present bishops voted in favor of Holy Communion for the “divorced and remarried”,  a sad reflection on the spiritual quality of the catholic episcopacy in our days. It is moreover sad, that this paragraph which hasn’t got the required approval of the qualitative majority, remains nevertheless in the final text of the Relatio and will be sent to all dioceses for further discussion. It will surely only increase the doctrinal confusion among the priests and the faithful, being in the air, that Divine commandments and Divine words of Christ and those of the apostle Paul are put at the disposal of human decision making groups. One Cardinal who openly and strongly supported the issue of Holy Communion for “divorced and remarried” and even the shameful statements on homosexual “couples” in the preliminary Relatio, was dissatisfied with the final Relatio, and declared impudently: “The glass is half-full”, and analogously he said that one has to work that next year at the Synod it will be full. We must believe firmly that God will dissipate the plans of dishonesty, infidelity and betrayal. Christ holds infallibly the rudder of the boat of His Church in midst of such a big storm. We believe and trust in the very ruler of the Church, in Our Lord Jesus Christ, who is the truth.


We are currently experiencing a culmination of aggression against the family; this aggression is accompanied by a tremendous confusion in the area of science about human and human identity. Unfortunately, there are certain members of Church hierarchy who, while discussing these matters, express opinions that contradict the teaching of Our Lord. How should we talk with those people who become victims of this confusion in order to strengthen their faith and to help them towards salvation?


In this extraordinarily difficult time Christ is purifying our Catholic faith so that through this trial the Church will shine brighter and be really light and salt for the insipid neo-pagan world thanks to the fidelity and the pure and simple faith firstly of the faithful, of the little ones in the Church, of the “ecclesia docta” (the learning church), which in our days will strengthen the “ecclesia docens” (the teaching Church, i.e. the Magisterium), in a similar way as it was in the great crisis of the faith in the IV century as Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman stated: “This is a very remarkable fact: but there is a moral in it. Perhaps it was permitted, in order to impress upon the Church at that very time passing out of her state of persecution the great evangelical lesson, that, not the wise and powerful, but the obscure, the unlearned, and the weak constitute her real strength. It was mainly by the faithful people that Paganism was overthrown; it was by the faithful people, under the lead of Athanasius and the Egyptian bishops, and in some places supported by their Bishops or priests, that the worst of heresies was withstood and stamped out of the sacred territory. … In that time of immense confusion the divine dogma of our Lord’s divinity was proclaimed, enforced, maintained, and (humanly speaking) preserved, far more by the “Ecclesia docta” than by the “Ecclesia docens;” that the body of the Episcopate was unfaithful to its commission, while the body of the laity was faithful to its baptism; that at one time the pope, at other times a patriarchal, metropolitan, or other great see, at other times general councils, said what they should not have said, or did what obscured and compromised revealed truth; while, on the other hand, it was the Christian people, who, under Providence, were the ecclesiastical strength of Athanasius, Hilary, Eusebius of Vercellæ, and other great solitary confessors, who would have failed without them(Arians of the Fourth Century, pp. 446, 466).


We have to encourage ordinary Catholics to be faithful to the Catechism they have learned, to be faithful to the clear words of Christ in the Gospel, to be faithful to the faith their fathers and forefathers handed over to them. We have to organize circles of studies and conferences about the perennial teaching of the Church on the issue of marriage and chastity, inviting especially young people and married couples. We have to show the very beauty of a life in chastity, the very beauty of the Christian marriage and family, the great value of the Cross and of the sacrifice in our lives. We have to present ever more the examples of the Saints and of exemplary persons who demonstrated that in spite of the fact that they suffered the same temptations of the flesh, the same hostility and derision of the pagan world, they nevertheless with the grace of Christ led a happy life in chastity, in a Christian marriage and in family. The faith, the pure and integral Catholic and Apostolic faith will overcome the world (cf. 1 John 5: 4).


We have to found and promote youth groups of pure hearts, family groups, groups of Catholic spouses, who will be committed to the fidelity of their marriage vows. We have to organize groups which will help morally and materially broken families, single mothers, groups who will assist with prayer and with good counsel separated couples, groups and persons who will help “divorced and remarried” people to start a process of serious conversion, i.e. recognizing with humility their sinful situation and abandoning with the grace of God the sins which violate the commandment of God and the sanctity of the sacrament of marriage. We have to create groups who will carefully help persons with homosexual tendencies to enter the path of Christian conversion, the happy and beautiful path of a chaste life and to offer them eventually in a discrete manner a psychological cure. We have to show and preach to our contemporaries in the neo-pagan world the liberating Good News of the teaching of Christ: that the commandment of God, and even the sixth commandment is wise, is beauty: “The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple. The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes” (Ps 19(18): 7-8).


During the Synod, Archbishop Gądecki from Poznań and some other distinguished prelates were publicly expressing their disagreement with the fact that the results of the discussions departed from the perennial teaching of the Church. Is there a hope that, amid this confusion, there will be an awakening of members of clergy and those faithful who were so far unaware of the fact that, in the very Church’s bosom, there are people who undermine the teaching of Our Lord?


It is certainly an honor for Polish Catholicism that the President of the Catholic episcopate, His Excellency Archbishop Gądecki, defended with clarity and courage the truth of Christ about marriage and human sexuality, thus revealing himself to be a true spiritual son of Saint John Paul II. Cardinal George Pell characterized the liberal sexual agenda and the alleged merciful and pastoral support of Holy Communion for “divorced remarried” during the Synod very aptly, saying that this is only the tip of the iceberg and a kind of a Trojan horse in the Church.


That in the very bosom of the Church, there are people who undermine the teaching of Our Lord became an obvious fact and one for the whole world to see thanks to the internet and the work of some Catholic journalists who were not indifferent to what was happening to the Catholic faith which they consider to be the treasure of Christ. I was pleased to see that some Catholic journalists and internet bloggers behaved as good soldiers of Christ and drew attention to this clerical agenda of undermining the perennial teaching of Our Lord. Cardinals, bishops, priests, Catholic families, Catholic young people have to say to themselves: I refuse to conform to the neo-pagan spirit of this world, even when this spirit is spread by some bishops and cardinals; I will not accept their fallacious and perverse use of holy Divine mercy and of “new Pentecost”; I refuse to throw grains of incense before the statue of the idol of the gender ideology, before the idol of second marriages, of concubinage, even if my bishop would do so, I will not do so; with the grace of God I will choose to suffer rather than betray the whole truth of Christ on human sexuality and on marriage.


The witnesses will convince the world, not the teachers, said Blessed Paul VI in “Evangelii nuntiandi”. The Church and the world do urgently need intrepid and candid witnesses of the whole truth of the commandment and of the will of God, of the whole truth of Christ’s words on marriage. Modern clerical Pharisees and Scribes, those bishops and cardinals who throw grains of incense to the neo-pagan idols of gender ideology and concubinage, will not convince anyone to either believe in Christ or to be ready to offer their lives for Christ. Indeed “veritas Domini manet in aeternum” (Ps 116: the truth of the Lord remains forever) and “Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever” (Hebr 13: 8) and “the truth will set you free” (John 8: 32). This last phrase was one of the favorite biblical phrases of Saint John Paul II, the pope of the family.  We can add: the revealed and unchangeably transmitted Divine truth about human sexuality and marriage will bring true freedom to the souls inside and outside the Church. In midst of the crisis of the Church and the bad moral and doctrinal example of some bishops of his time Saint Augustine comforted the simple faithful with these words: “Whatsoever we bishops may be, you are safe, who have God for your Father and His Church for your mother“ (Contra litteras Petiliani III, 9, 10). END QUOTES



+ Athanasius Schneider, Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Saint Mary in Astana, Kazakhstan.


This interview was published in the latest issue of “Polonia Christiana” magazine.

Read more: http://www.pch24.pl/against-pharisees,31907,i.html#ixzz5234SyYEX

Advent Light: Blood of Mary, Blood of Christ by Elizabeth Scalia


Advent Light: Blood of Mary, Blood of Christ

A reflection and prayer for December 22, 2017, Day 20 of Advent

[Once he was weaned…]
Hannah brought Samuel with her,
along with a three-year-old bull,
an ephah of flour, and a skin of wine,
and presented him at the temple of the LORD in Shiloh.
After the boy’s father had sacrificed the young bull,
Hannah, his mother, approached Eli and said:
“Pardon, my lord!
As you live, my lord,
I am the woman who stood near you here, praying to the LORD.
I prayed for this child, and the LORD granted my request.
Now I, in turn, give him to the LORD;
as long as he lives, he shall be dedicated to the LORD.”
She left Samuel there. (1 Samuel 1:24-28)

It used to be a common thing to dedicate the firstborn to God. In fact, Luke reminds readers of that, when he tells of Jesus’ presentation in the Temple: … just as it is written in the law of the Lord, “Every male that opens the womb shall be consecrated to the Lord,” Luke 2:23, and Hannah, who had fervently prayed for the gift of a son, was obliging, but it could not have been easy to leave her beloved child behind. Among the offerings she brought to the temple, the greatest was the piece of her own flesh, cut from her and forever left behind, for the sake of her covenant with God.

Kind of like a maternal circumcision — the female’s portion of the blood covenant between Abraham and God.

Every covenant that involves God will, in the end, have something to do with blood. We beg for our babies, bear them in blood, and eventually we dedicate them (male and female) to God. If we don’t do it intentionally, at some point we will do it by accident, usually during a moment of high anxiety for the child, when we are at our most vulnerable: “Heal my child, and he is yours, if you want him, Lord.” “Only protect her, Lord, keep her safe and she is yours.”

Every covenant contains that component of blood and of the giving up of oneself, even the covenant of marriage — at least it did back when the hymen was considered something more than “a bit of meaningless tissue” as it is, today. Over the centuries, the meaning of blood within a marital bed has become perverted, reduced to human ideas of pride and “purity” and familiar honor. But it was never about those things. It was about the way a human marriage reflects (and helps to sustain) the blood covenant between heaven and earth, between humanity and the Bridegroom who redeems it.

It is an testament to enduring faithfulness, bound by nothing less than blood.

But in the Nativity of Christ the blood of the covenant is uniquely commingled. It is Mary’s own blood that nourished into life the Incarnation, that God’s own blood might be shed for us, to sustain and nourish us in return.

This is a great mystery; we shouldn’t shy away from it simply because the sight or subject of blood makes us uncomfortable.

The blood has been at the heart of our relationship to God, from the very beginning. It will be so, until the end. And one way or another, we all participate in its shedding and sharing.

A small bit of related trivia: In Traditional Chinese Medicine, when the blood is considered sluggish or stagnant, myrrh is used, because myrrh “moves the blood.” When myrrh was presented by the Magi, we might consider that it was part of what moved the blood covenant forward, into the era of this redemptive marriage between creature and Creator.

What a lot to think about, as Advent draws to a close.

Come, Lord Jesus, and instruct us in these mysteries; bring your Light to bear on them, that we may grow in Wisdom and understanding, in pursuit of our ever-deepening relationship with you. Amen.  END QUOTES

Aleteia is bringing you reflections — Advent Light — for each day of this 2017 liturgical season. Follow the series here.