An Early Christmas Gift:”Bringing your Guardian Angel into your everyday life” Reblogged

 

 

Our spiritual protectors do not fly from our sides when we reach adulthood; in fact, that’s when we need them more than ever.

Dear Katrina,

How can I develop a relationship with my Guardian Angel? We have this powerful intercessor so close to us it seems like a waste not to build that relationship. What do you recommend?

Beth

—————————————–

Dear Beth,

Our Guardians Angels are great. It’s a shame they’ve come to be thought of as a childhood devotion. You’re hard-pressed to find imagery or iconography of these helpers that does not also feature a small child, but our spiritual protectors don’t fly from our side the minute we reach adulthood, so you’re very smart to want to develop a relationship with yours.

And they are mighty! Guardian Angels are fierce heavenly creatures. Remember that when angels were referenced in the Bible it was noted that their appearance brought a reaction of fear and awe from people.

Children are almost inherently faith-filled and born with the capacity for belief. Adults struggle with belief when their views have been clouded by cynicism and doubt. You could argue that it’s in our adult lives that we need our Guardian Angels’ heavenly aid most, to protect us from ourselves.

Treat your relationship with your Guardian Angel like you would with anyone else. That means, Communicate! When we tell people that want to grow in holiness and become closer to God we ask them to pray, which is a supernatural form of communication. Your angel is simultaneously with you and before God, so yes, ask for angelic prayers to help you grow in holiness. There are plenty of prayers out there to use and plenty of ways in which our Guardian Angels can assist us.
But you don’t need formal prayers. Just talk to your angel. I often head into a meeting asking my Guardian Angel to nudge me if I’m about to say something stupid, or I ask my angel to meet with the angel of a co-worker if we’re having disagreements, in order to assist us in working together in peace.

Read more: St. Padre Pio on Listening to Your Guardian Angel

Many people think of Guardian Angels as only (only!) the beings that keep us protected from physical harm and out of trouble, but they are also guardians of our spirituality and can help us fight off temptations. When I think of the word “guardian” and “angel” I have to remember that there’s strength and might in their very definitions.

To get a fuller understanding of the capacity of their might and the range of their supernatural abilities examine the Novena to the Guardian Angels. They comfort us, protect from evil, console us in Purgatory, and carry our prayers to the Throne of God.

My Abuelita said that mothers would often send their own Guardian Angels after their children’s angel to carry prayers and messages. She believed the angels talked to each other, too, and why not? Some people even say that they will finish our prayers and rosaries if we fall asleep mid-prayer, if we ask them to.

I like to ask for my Guardian Angel’s help before confession while making my examen. When I feel particularly tempted toward sin I ask my Guardian Angel for help. I often ask my Guardian Angel to look after my son or tell my son’s Guardian Angel thank you for watching him. On my small altar at home sit Mary, Jesus, Joseph, my patron saint, my son’s patron saint, and a icon of a Guardian Angel.

I don’t always remember the exact prayers dedicated to them or remember to pull up the full litany or novena on my phone, but I can remember to acknowledge their role in my physical and spiritual life and thank them for their assistance. It’s in those small ways that our  relationships with our  Guardian Angels become more intimate. END QUOTES

 

What Does Our Guardian Angel Do after We Die?

 Fr. Antonio Maria Cardenas, ORC |

 

A guardian angel’s mission does not end with death; it continues until we achieve union with God

Regarding guardian angels, the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches in number 336 that “from infancy to death, human life is surrounded by their watchful care and intercession.”

It is clear from this text that we enjoy the protection and vigilance of our guardian angels even at the moment of death. These angels don’t only accompany us in this earthly life; their action extends into the next life.

In order to understand the relationship that continues to exist between angels and human beings during our passing from this life to the next, we must understand that angels have been “sent to serve, for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation” (Hebrews 1:14). Similarly, Saint Basil the Great teaches that no one can deny that “beside each believer stands an angel as protector and shepherd leading him to life” (CCC 336).

That is to say the primary mission of guardian angels is the salvation of mankind: that each of us enters the life of union with God. This mission includes the assistance that guardian angels give to souls at the moment when they present themselves before God.

The Fathers of the Church speak of this mission when they say that guardian angels are present with the soul at the moment of death, and protect it from the last attacks of demons.

Saint Aloysius Gonzaga (1568–1591) taught that at the moment when the soul leaves the body, it is accompanied and consoled by its guardian angel so that the soul can present itself confidently before the Judgment Seat of God. The angel, according to this saint, presents the merits of Christ so that the soul can find support in them at the moment of its particular judgment. Once the Divine Judge has pronounced his sentence, if the soul is sent to purgatory, it will be visited frequently by its guardian, who will comfort and console it, bringing the prayers that have been offered for it, and assuring the soul of its future liberation.

In this way it is understandable that the help and mission of the guardian angel does not end with the death of those the angels protect. This mission continues until the soul reaches union with God.

Nonetheless, we must remember that after death we must face a particular judgment in which the soul in God’s presence may choose between opening itself to God’s love or definitively rejecting his love and forgiveness, thus renouncing joyful communion with him forever (see John Paul II, General Audience, August 4, 1999).

If the soul decides to enter communion with God, it joins its angel in praising the One and Triune God for all eternity.

Nonetheless, if it happens that the soul is “in a condition of being open to God, but still imperfectly, the journey toward full beatitude requires a purification, which the faith of the Church illustrates in the doctrine of ‘purgatory’” (John Paul II, General Audience, August 4, 1999).

In this case the angel, which is holy and pure and lives in the presence of God, neither needs nor can participate in the purification of its ward’s soul. What the guardian angel can and does do is intercede for its protected soul before the throne of God and seek help among the people on earth so as to bring prayers to its ward, in order that it may thus leave purgatory.

Those souls who decide to reject definitively the love and forgiveness of God, thus renouncing joyful communion with him for all time (John Paul II, General Audience, July 21, 1999), also renounce and reject the joyful friendship with their guardian angel. In this terrible situation the angel praises God’s divine justice and holiness.

In any of these three possible scenarios (heaven, purgatory or hell) the holy angel will always rejoice at God’s judgment, because the angel is perfectly and totally united to the divine will.

During these days, let us remember that we can join the guardian angels of those we love who have died, so the angels may take our prayers to God, and he may show his mercy. END QUOTES

 

5 Amazing facts about Guardian Angels

We owe much to our Guardian Angels, wh1o most of the time guard and protect us without our knowledge

“See that you despise not one of these little ones: for I say to you, that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 18:10).

October 2 is observed in the Catholic Church as the feast of the Holy Guardian Angels. In 1670, Pope Clement X established this day in the universal calendar as a day to honor the angels who protect us each day.

While most of the attention this day is given to personal Guardian Angels, it is a tradition in the Church (taught by theologians such as Saint Thomas Aquinas) that all countries, cities, dioceses, and parishes have their own Guardian Angel.

They are fascinating creatures of God, shrouded with great mystery. On occasion newspapers will report on miracles when someone is saved from an accident by a mysterious figure, often never seen again.

We owe much to our Guardian Angels, who most of the time guard and protect us without our knowledge. They intervene quietly, fulfilling their task as humbly as possible.

To help us appreciate these “heavenly helpers,” here are 5 amazing facts about our Guardian Angels:

1) Every person in the world has a Guardian Angel (whether Christian or not)

It is believed by theologians and is confirmed in the YOUCAT that “Every person receives from God a Guardian Angel” (n. 55). This is consistent with Sacred Scripture, the teachings of Saints Thomas Aquinas, Basil and Jerome as well as experiences from non-Christians who believe they were helped by a Guardian Angel.

Mike Aquilina writes about such an experience from a friend he knew in his book Angels of God:

“A friend of mine, a noted Harvard-trained philosopher, was an unbeliever as a young man. One day he was swimming in the ocean, and the undertow swept him away. He knew he was drowning, with no hope of rescue, when suddenly a strong arm grabbed him and towed him to shore. His rescuer was a big muscle-bound guy. When my sputtering friend tried to thank him, the guy laughed at him—and then vanished. This marked a milestone on my friend’s road to conversion.”

2) Guardian Angels are appointed at the beginning of life

As the Catechism explains, “From its beginning until death, human life is surrounded by their watchful care and intercession” (CCC 336). This statement leads some to believe (Saint Anselm for example) that angels are appointed at the very moment of the union of body and soul in the womb. If true (it is not dogmatically declared and is therefore up for debate), it would follow that women who are pregnant have two Guardian Angels watching over them and their child.

Read more: Padre Pio on listening to your guardian angel

3) Guardian Angels have names, but God gives those names to them

The Catholic Church has instructed us that,

“The practice of assigning names to the Holy Angels should be discouraged, except in the cases of Gabriel, Raphael and Michael whose names are contained in Holy Scripture.” (Congregation of Divine Worship and the Sacraments, The Directory of Popular Piety, n. 217, 2001)

The reasoning behind this is that a name contains a certain amount of authority over another person. If I know your name I can call you whenever I want and can feel a certain amount of authority over you. We do not have authority over our Guardian Angels. They only report to one commander: God Himself. We can ask for their assistance or help, but we should not feel like they are at our beck and call.

The Church then discourages us from naming our Guardian Angels as we may receive a name in prayer, but it may not be divinely inspired. It could be influenced by the devil or by our own human thoughts. We have only three names of angels confirmed in Scripture and so any other name we receive is difficult to confirm as inspired by God.

4) We do not become Guardian Angels when we die

Contrary to popular belief, there is no way for us to transform into an angel after death. When we die, we may be separated from our bodies for the moment, but will be reunited with them at the end of time. We don’t become an angel while we wait. All Guardian Angels were created at the beginning of time in a single moment of creation.

Remember the words of God to the prophet Jeremiah, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you” (Jeremiah 1:5).

God had a Guardian Angel in mind for you when he created the world.

5) Guardian Angels are here to help us

The Catechism describes a Guardian Angel as a “shepherd” who is meant to protect us and lead us into everlasting life. Their chief goal is to help us get to heaven, and we are encouraged to pray to them on a daily basis, asking their help in every need.

The Church provides an excellent prayer that can be prayed by the young and the old:

Angel of God,
my guardian dear,
To whom God’s love
commits me here,
Ever this day,
be at my side,
To light and guard,
Rule and guide.
Amen.
END QUOTES

 

 

 

Wrestling With Grief At Christmas CATHERINE HIERONYMUS

 

Wrestling With Grief At Christmas

Losing someone is tough. Losing someone close is tougher. Facing the holidays for the first time without them is the worst. This past month, the thought of the upcoming holidays has brought many tears and anxious nights lying awake, wishing I could just fast forward to June. How can I be happy for Christmas? How can anyone in my family be happy? Questions like this have stuck in my head, circling around endlessly at times. But I’ve come to a few resolutions as I head into this holiday season for dealing with my grief, accepting it, and even embracing it.

I lost my mom this past August, and I never fully realized how much she played a part in even the most mundane details of my life. It’s amazing how many times a day I’m faced with some question that I need to ask her: “How do I cook chicken?” “What am I doing with my life?”  “Can I hem a dress without sewing?” Mom! Help! She was the type of mom who literally could do and did do everything.

I’m not going to lie, Thanksgiving this year was “difficult” to put it politely. There were times when siblings were frazzled by organizing meals and who was using the oven at what time. There were times when people wanted to talk about mom, but instead didn’t. Grace before we ate was a choking, awkward pause in which we all wanted to say something but just couldn’t find the words. And to be brutally honest, I wanted to hide outside on the porch for most of the night. I will say, of course, that our family was wonderfully successful in celebrating this holiday, and we all embraced each other with love and comfort in a way only a family with shared grief can.

So as the days of Advent continue onwards towards the birth of Our Lord, I’ve turned to him countless times in prayer to ask Him how we are meant to deal with grief. More particularly, I bring him my anxieties about Christmas. Here are just a few thoughts and resolutions I have made to help.

Tradition is important, but be open to new changes

I can remember a time when I would throw a tantrum if any tiny detail about our family’s Christmas tradition was altered. The tree had to go in a certain room, we had to have poppers on our plates, midnight Mass was the only option, and Heaven help us if we ever didn’t have mini wieners as an hors d’oeuvres!……When you lose someone so important, you realize just how little all of those details matter.

Family traditions are a wonderful thing to hold on to, but the key thing to remember is family. Although it may help to hold on to as many traditions as possible, because they truly are special, also be willing to let some of them go. Be positive and open this year to trying something new, perhaps even starting new traditions. Remember that you are entering into a new time. Embrace life, the holidays, and forming new family traditions together.

Drink only for camaraderie, never escape, and only in moderation.

This is a subject perhaps only some will relate to, but it is something I know I have learned. It’s a habit that can be entered into lightly, but have such negative consequences. So often I’ve gone towards an event with the mentality of “booze will make it more bearable.” Wrong! Wrong, wrong, wrong. Using alcohol as a means to pass time or “make things more fun” can be fun, but often backfires.

Excessive alcohol, at least in my experience, leads to periodic memory loss, temperamental behavior, and often finished off with a full serving of hot regret. Here are the reasons to avoid those things; one often likes to remember family parties, fighting with people is generally frowned upon, and I for one would prefer to live my life with no regrets. So here is my suggestion instead. Alcohol is an occasion to share with others in camaraderie and toast companionship. Use it as an occasion to show that brother the new beer from a brewery that just opened in your town, or to bring your dad a nice bottle of wine he would never buy for himself. Celebrate the birth of our Savior, ring in the New Year! But do it wisely; make memories you don’t want to regret.

It’s okay to just be sad

One of the most difficult things to accept is this — when you are grieving you will be sad, and your loved ones will be sad too. I’ve asked myself again and again and again, “How can we distract ourselves this Christmas?” “How can we fill every quiet time with distraction?” “What if it gets too quiet or there aren’t enough people around to keep us busy?”…..The very simple answer is, those are not the right questions to ask or worry about. Saint Mother Teresa said, “True love hurts.” We hurt because we love and that cannot be bad for it is one of the things that makes us human. Instead of finding distractions from sadness, embrace sadness.

I’ve always been afraid to show sadness, but I am slowly learning that it is good to express feelings. It allows you to be vulnerable to the love of those around you, whether they are family, friends or colleagues. This holiday I know one of the greatest difficulties will be to see my family’s sadness. But let them be sad and let them ask you for help. They need you as much as you need them. No matter what, it will all be alright for “Earth hath no sorrow that Heaven cannot heal” (St. Thomas More).

Take any opportunity to help someone else this Christmas

During my college days, I developed some moderate depression with periodic anxiety attacks. It even got to the point where I had to take a semester off from school. During that difficult time my mom told me something I will never forget; I even had her words written on a post-it that I kept next to my bed in my dorm room. She said, “Whenever you feel sad, go find someone to help.”

To paraphrase her explanation of this, she said that we all have things that make us sad, scared or depressed in life. But the only thing that will make us feel better is not to dwell on those things. Instead, we should take our suffering and put it to good use by serving others. It’s the only way to give our suffering purpose and meaning.

To this day, that advice from my mom has stayed with me. She lived every day of her life helping others. Over the holidays, and for the rest of my life even, I hope to always follow her advice and mimic her in any way I can. It doesn’t matter how big or small the act is: volunteering at your parish, helping someone load groceries, visiting a friend who also may be suffering a personal tragedy; helping someone else will help to get outside of personal grief by turning towards others with love.

So have all of my anxieties about Christmas gone away? Not exactly; I still have my moments. But I know now that there are certain things you just shouldn’t be anxious about. I have so many blessings in my life. And what is the only thing that worrying will do? It might make you miss out on something you’ll never want to. Grief is a long road with lots of bad turns. But there are good times out there still. The holidays are a time to create the good times. Fill the holidays with love, hope, joy, prayer, and plenty of the good memories you shared with the one you have lost, because they are still alive in your heart.END QUOTES

image: Roman Winter Blizzard by Province of St. Joseph / Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

The pagan roots of Christmas? Re-blogged

 

THE PAGAN ROOTS OF CHRISTMAS

https://www.catholic.com/magazine/online-edition/refuting-the-pagan-roots-of-christmas-claim

ONE OF THE FIRST SHOWS about Christmas I watched as a kid was A Charlie Brown Christmas. I haven’t watched it in years, but I haven’t forgotten the culminating scene where Charlie Brown shouts above the noise to demand an answer to a question he’s struggling with: What is Christmas all about? As we all know, Linus steps forward and proclaims the birth of Christ.

The scene is interesting to me as a Catholic. It’s reminiscent of the Council of Jerusalem in Acts 15, where, after much debate among the apostles, Peter rises and puts the debate on circumcision to rest. Linus was, of course, our second pope, and it seems no small coincidence that, amid all the noise, it was Linus who delivered the truth of Christmas to Charlie Brown and his friends.

The show first aired in 1965, and it became a holiday favorite for many, but modern critics dislike the show for its Christian sentiment. It’s a lot more than sentiment—it’s catechesis! I can’t name another Christmas movie that goes so far as to recite an entire section of the Bible to discuss the reason we celebrate the birth of Christ (see Luke 2:8-14).

 

{INSERTED BY {PJM} FROM THE DOUAY CATHOLIC BIBLE

 [8] And there were in the same country shepherds watching, and keeping the night watches over their flock. [9] And behold an angel of the Lord stood by them, and the brightness of God shone round about them; and they feared with a great fear. [10] And the angel said to them: Fear not; for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, that shall be to all the people:

[7] “Her firstborn”: The meaning is, not that she had afterward any other child; but it is a way of speech among the Hebrews, to call them also the firstborn, who are the only children. See annotation Matt. 1. 25.

[11] For, this day, is born to you a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord, in the city of David. [12] And this shall be a sign unto you. You shall find the infant wrapped in swaddling clothes, and laid in a manger. [13] And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly army, praising God, and saying: [14] Glory to God in the highest; and on earth peace to men of good will.”

 

Unfortunately, times have changed, and fewer people are willing to recognize that Christmas is a Christian celebration. If Charlie Brown entered a crowded room today to ask what Christmas is all about, he’d get mixed answers. Perhaps out of a desire to further secularize Christmas, many claim that it is not Christian at all, that it was “invented.”

The modern Catholic has many fronts to defend, one of them being the so-called “pagan roots” of Christmas. Around Christmastime you are likely to hear the objection that Christmas is a Christo-pagan holiday, a mash-up of pagan beliefs and Christian celebration. Here are two of the objections you might meet, and a helpful way to respond to each.

“Christians coopted Christmas from the winter solstice celebration of Sol Invictus.”

Yes, there were mid-winter celebrations in religions outside Christianity during the time of the early Church. In fact, as with Easter, the Eastern and the Western churches observed Christmas differently, while, until recently, the Armenians didn’t celebrate it at all. The West led the way with a distinctive nativity-based celebration, concluding with the holy Mass. Christmas was not an assimilated celebration until the fourth century.

Does that mean that the apostle John, and Sts. Polycarp and Irenaeus—three men who were apostolically connected—did not celebrate Christmas? Probably not. But there is nothing wrong with this. There was never a debate about the birth of Christ, but the celebration of it as Christmas took time to develop.

The person who maintains Christmas’s “pagan roots” has to ask himself the following questions:

  1. After centuries of the Church’s persecution for not observing pagan holidays, where is the proof of influence?
  2. Who influenced whom? Did Christianity influence pagans to begin to adopt a more public and concrete celebration, or did they “Christianize” a pagan event? We can observe historically that the two celebrations were present at the time, but neither scenario is a problem for the Christian, because the Church has the ability to Christianize people andcelebrations alike. Light overcame darkness at the celebration of Sol Invictus, and, in Christ, darkness was defeated by the realluminousness of Christ. Paganism had a hint, but Christianity had the fulfillment.

Remiond your objector of what Paul said to the Greeks at the Areopagus:

“For as I passed along, and observed the object of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription, ‘to an unknown god.’ What therefore your worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you . . . that [every nation of men] should seek God, in the hope that they might feel after him and find him” (Acts 17:23, 27)

A desire for the “unknown God” is written on the hearts of all men. The Catechism of the Catholic Church puts it this way:

The desire for God is written in the human heart, because man is created by God and for God; and God never ceases to draw man to himself. Only in God will he find the truth and happiness he never stops searching for. (CCC 27).

“The Christmas tree comes from pagan origins and is condemned in the Bible.”

The objector can have a field day with this one. Evergreens are a near-universal symbol of hope in the winter season. They represented resurrection (triumph of life over death) for the Egyptians, everlasting life for the Scandinavians and Druids, and agricultural anticipation (to the god Saturnalia) for the Greeks and Romans. But the tree is not recognized as a use of Christmas celebration until the time of the Reformation.

More closely connected to the ancient church is the use of evergreen wreaths. Your objector might say that it came around the same time as the popularity of the pagan celebration Saturnalia. The truth is, Tertullian wrote as early as A.D. 190-220 that Christians hang more “wreaths and laurels” than the pagans (who hang it for the “gate gods”) at their doors.

In this letter, Tertullian condemned the wreath as something into which to put hope as did the pagans with their temples, over that of Jesus who is the true Light in which we are the actual temples of the Spirit. He wasn’t condemning the décor! He ends with, “You are a light of the world, and a tree ever green. If you have renounced temples, make not your own gate a temple.” There’s little evidence that the Church adopted the practice from the pagans they were trying to convert.

The passage in the Bible your objector likely is referring is Jeremiah 10:3-4.

“Thus says the LORD: Learn not the customs of the nations, and have no fear of the signs of the heavens, though the nations fear them. For the cult idols of the nations are nothing, wood cut from the forest, wrought by craftsmen with the adze, adorned with silver and gold. With nails and hammers they are fastened, that they may not totter”(NAB).

Let’s get one thing straight: Jeremiah was not talking about Christmas trees. He was writing hundreds of years before Christmas became a celebration. He was pointing out the idolatry of the people of that day and, like Tertullian, was warning against the idolatry of those who put their hope in earthly gods and things.

Near to this, the objector must understand that Christians are not intent on worshiping their trees and are certainly not putting them in their entryways to deter spirits—perhaps for some carolers and eggnog, but not for protection.

Conclusion

There is nothing wrong with the Church baptizing certain practices of other religions. The objector is claiming the Church derived its beliefs from these celebrations when it only assimilated such seasonal celebrations and symbols. St. Patrick did the same with the clover to illuminate and demonstrate the reality of the Trinity. As did St. Paul in explaining the “unknown god” at the Areopagus. Paul did not derive the idea of God from the Greeks that day, and Patrick did not derive the Trinity from a leaf.

We don’t believe that Christians hold the patent on truth. Instead, we believe that God has allowed hints of himself in other religions. In other words, just because a specific religion does not contain the whole truth does not mean it contains no truth. If you witness to a pagan who believes a wreath will save him, maybe you can show him how Jesus is the fulfillment of that promise of everlasting life. Then, like the cross that hangs from our necks, we can display a wreath to remind us what is true. In this way, Christianity has the distinct ability to assimilate the “hints” of other religions.

I find the following passage from Vatican II’s Declaration on the Relation of the Church to Non-Christian Religions especially enlightening:

The Catholic Church rejects nothing that is true and holy in these religions. She regards with sincere reverence those ways of conduct and of life, those precepts and teachings which, though differing in many aspects from the ones she holds and sets forth, nonetheless often reflect a ray of that truth which enlightens all men. Indeed, she proclaims, and ever must proclaim Christ “the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6), in whom men may find the fullness of religious life, in whom God has reconciled all things to himself (Nostra Aetate 4).  END QUOTES

Have a Grace-Filled Christmas dear friends,

Patrick

Does Mary Crush Satan’s Head? By: JP NUNEZ

 

Does Mary Crush Satan’s Head?

JP NUNEZ

Protestants often accuse us of worshipping Mary. They think we put her on an equal footing with Jesus and essentially exalt her to the level of a goddess. We Catholics obviously deny these charges, but it’s not always easy to see how we can escape them. On the surface, some of our beliefs about Mary do seem difficult to reconcile with her status as a created being, so it is understandable why our separated brethren would have trouble with them.

In this article, I want to look at one of these troubling Marian beliefs, one that at first glance may seem inescapably idolatrous. I want to examine the Catholic tradition of portraying Mary crushing the head of a snake and the belief it expresses. This tradition draws on a key biblical image for God’s victory over evil, so it looks like we are attributing that victory to Mary rather than to God. Nevertheless, this motif actually has a very solid basis in Scripture. The Bible itself tells us that Mary played a key role in God’s defeat of evil, so there is nothing wrong with depicting her in this role.

The First Gospel

To understand what I mean, we have to go to the source of the image, the opening chapters of Genesis. Right after Adam and Eve committed the world’s first sin, God pronounced a punishment on the snake that tempted them:

“And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.” (Genesis 3:15)

We learn in Revelation that this snake was actually the devil (Revelation 12:9), so these words foretell mankind’s perpetual enmity with the devil and his minions. At first glance, it looks like this struggle will last forever, but if we look closely, God was actually implying that humanity would eventually emerge victorious. For one, the fact that this is a curse on the snake rather than on Adam and Eve suggests that the devil will get the worst of it. Secondly, the blows they will strike also indicate this. Mankind will crush the snake’s head, but the snake will simply strike humanity’s heel. Again, we see the devil getting the worst of it. In fact, having your head crushed is fatal, so God is actually saying that the snake will be killed. Now, the devil can’t literally die, so this must mean that humanity will eventually win its fight against him and defeat him entirely.

More specifically, by using the image of crushing a snake’s head, God’s words subtly imply that he will send a single representative of the human race to strike the final, crushing blow to the devil and his minions. See, it doesn’t take an entire race to crush a snake’s head. No, it just takes one person to do that, and after the snake is dead, there is no need for other people to continue stepping on it. Consequently, this text doesn’t simply foretell the redemption of the human race; more specifically, it prophesies a savior who will defeat the devil and his minions on behalf of us all. As you can probably figure out, that savior is Jesus. In a nutshell, God’s punishment on the snake in Genesis foretells the redemption later won for us by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Jesus’ Co-Crushers

Now, this raises an obvious question. If the motif of crushing a snake’s head draws on a prophecy about Jesus, why do we apply it to Mary? This doesn’t seem to help our case at all. If anything, it seems to prove that we Catholics do in fact put Mary on an equal footing with Jesus. However, the issue is not quite so simple. The image of crushing an enemy’s head extends well beyond the first few chapters of the Bible. Specifically, there are two other passages in Scripture that make it perfectly legitimate to depict Mary this way. First, let’s look at a text from one of St. Paul’s letters:

“For while your obedience is known to all, so that I rejoice over you, I would have you wise as to what is good and guileless as to what is evil; then the God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet.” (Romans 16:19-20)

In this passage, St. Paul is clearly drawing on God’s punishment of the snake in Genesis, but he puts a new twist on it: he applies it to all Christians, not just Jesus. By doing this, he is teaching us that we can all participate in Jesus’ victory over Satan. Even though Jesus struck the definitive blow 2,000 years ago, we all have to defeat the devil in our own individual battles. We all need to conquer sin in our own lives, and when we do that, we participate in Jesus’ victory over evil and crush the head of the snake with him. As a result, it is not wrong to depict Mary or anyone else standing on top of a snake. Like all Christians, she too participated in Jesus’ defeat of the devil, so it’s perfectly legitimate to represent that participation in our religious art.

Blessed Among Women

Nevertheless, this still leaves us with some questions. We do not normally depict anybody else crushing a snake’s head, so why do we depict Mary this way? What makes her so special? The answer involves another Bible passage, this time from the Gospels:

“Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.” (Luke 1:42)

These words, familiar to most of us from the “Hail Mary,” were spoken to Mary by her cousin Elizabeth. At first glance, they do not seem to have any relevance whatsoever to our topic, but let’s delve a bit deeper. This verse calls to mind some passages from the Old Testament in which other women were given similar acclaim (I’ve highlighted the key phrases in them):

“Most blessed of women be Jael,
the wife of Heber the Kenite,
of tent-dwelling women most blessed.
He asked water and she gave him milk,
she brought him curds in a lordly bowl.
She put her hand to the tent peg
and her right hand to the workmen’s mallet;
she struck Sisera a blow,
    she crushed his head,
    she shattered and pierced his temple.
He sank, he fell,
he lay still at her feet;
at her feet he sank, he fell;
where he sank, there he fell dead.” (Judges 5:24-27)

“O daughter, you are blessed by the Most High God above all women on earth; and blessed be the Lord God, who created the heavens and the earth, who has guided you to strike the head of the leader of our enemies.” (Judith 13:18)

In both of these texts, a woman is proclaimed most blessed because she killed an enemy of Israel by striking his head, and when read in the context of the entire Bible, they clearly call to mind both God’s curse on the snake and Elizabeth’s words to Mary. Just as these men had their heads crushed, so too was the snake to suffer the same fate, and just as these women were praised as most blessed of all, so too did Mary receive the same acclaim. Once we realize this, we can see that these passages form a bridge between Elizabeth’s words in Luke and God’s words in Genesis.

These two women foreshadowed Mary, and they did so precisely because they crushed their enemies’ heads, which implies that Mary must have done the same. Now, Mary was called most blessed because she was Jesus’ mother, so it stands to reason that this is how she crushed her enemy’s head. More specifically, as the mother of our savior, she participated in his crushing of the snake’s head in a unique way. She gave the world its savior and made his victory over Satan possible, something that nobody else ever did or will do again.

Mary Crushes the Snake’s Head

Once we understand that, we can see why we often portray Mary standing on top of a snake. It does not mean that she defeated evil by herself or that she usurped Jesus’ role as our savior. No, it is simply a recognition of her singular, unrepeatable contribution to our redemption. We all participate in Jesus’ victory over evil when we defeat sin in our own lives, but Mary did more than that (although she definitely did that too). She was the mother of the savior, so she played a unique and crucial role in that victory. Because of that, it’s entirely fitting that our religious art express that special role by depicting her crushing the head of a snake. END QUOTES

 

By JP Nunez

JP Nunez has been a theology nerd since high school. He has master’s degrees in both theology and philosophy (with a concentration in bioethics) from Franciscan University of Steubenville, and he spent three years in Catholic University of America’s doctoral program in biblical studies before realizing that academia isn’t where he wants to be. During his time in Steubenville, he worked for two years as an intern at the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology, where his responsibilities included answering theological questions and helping to format and edit their Journey Through Scripture Bible studies. He blogs at JP Nunez: Understanding the Faith Through

The Healing Grace of Sacramental Confession by MAURA ROAN MCKEEGAN

 

The Healing Grace of Sacramental Confession

An engineer with a serious knee condition once went to confession to Padre Pio merely out of curiosity, but not out of any religious desire to receive the sacrament. He was an intellectual, he told Padre Pio. He believed in God, but the idea of going to confession was rather too simplistic for him. He only wanted to meet the famous priest he had heard so much about.

Padre Pio looked at the man silently for some time, and then scolded, “Suppose you stop all this chatter and begin by telling me that it is now twenty years since your last confession and that, since the day when you were married, you have never again received the Blessed Sacrament.”

Padre Pio had never met this man before, but he had received a prophetic word of knowledge about the state of his soul. The man was so taken by surprise, Clarice Bruno writes in her book Roads to Padre Pio, that he made a good confession. Later, walking home, he realized that he no longer needed to walk with a cane. His knee had been healed. Later, he became one of Padre Pio’s most faithful spiritual sons.

Echoing the Gospel story of the paralytic whose friends lowered him to Jesus through the roof, the engineer’s physical healing was an outward sign of the deeper reality that, in Jesus’ words, “the Son of man has authority on earth to forgive sins” (Luke 5:24).

An Indefinable Sense of Well-Being

St. Pio was known for having the gift of reading souls — a mystical knowledge of a person’s heart and conscience that the Holy Spirit grants for the benefit of the person’s soul. Many other saints, such as St. John Vianney and St. John Bosco, had the same gift.

An unbeliever once came with friends to see St. John Vianney. The man had no intention of going to confession, Leon Cristiani writes in the book Saint John Vianney: The Village Priest Who Fought God’s Battles. But on seeing the man, the saintly priest beckoned him to come speak with him in private.

“It’s been a long time since you’ve been to confession,” Fr. Vianney said, shaking his hand.

“My good Father,” the man said, “it’s something like thirty years, I think.”

“Thirty years, my friend?” the saint replied. “Think again. Thirty-three years ago, you were in such a place!” The man admitted that this was true. “Then,” the priest said, “we are ready for confession now, aren’t we?”

Overcome with repentance, the man humbly made his confession. Afterward, he immediately experienced what he called an “indefinable sense of well-being.”

The Battle for Souls

More than two centuries later, his words ring true in my own life. Every time I leave the confessional, I feel that same “indefinable sense of well-being.”  The lightness I feel after receiving the sacrament of reconciliation makes me feel like I’m walking on air.

On the other hand, before I go to confession, it often feels like the opposite of walking on air. The weight of a ton of bricks presses on my shoulders. Everything in my life feels too hard, too much, too heavy. I know I should go to confession, but I don’t feel like going. I don’t have the strength, the energy, the stamina I need in order to get there.

In the world of spiritual warfare, this is oppression—and when I recognize it, I know I must fight it. The enemy prowls about the world seeking the ruin of souls, as the St. Michael prayer says, and he certainly does not want me going to confession. If I remember to invoke St. Michael’s intercession, the archangel will give me the heavenly protection I need in order to make it to confession.

It makes sense, of course, that the enemy would want to keep souls away from the confessional. After all, as Patti Maguire Armstrong wrote in an excellent articleabout things she learned from exorcists, “Confession is more powerful than exorcism. One confession is worth 100 exorcisms. …If people want to decrease the work of Satan, they should increase the use of confession.”

The battle in which I find myself before going to confession is a battle for my soul. No wonder so many people stay away from confession for so long: They are in the grip of a powerful force pulling them in the opposite direction!

But the power of the sacrament is stronger and will never be vanquished. “The light shines in the darkness,” St. John the Evangelist tells us, “and the darkness has not overcome it” (John 1:5).

When Souls Need Extra Help

The Lord sends holy priests, such as St. Pio and St. John Vianney, to bring people back to the sacrament. If the Holy Spirit grants them words of knowledge, it is for the good of the souls to whom they minister.

Yet it is not only in the biographies of saints that such stories abound.

Years ago, when my husband was in high school, he visited Medjugorje on pilgrimage. As a teenager, he had been in the habit of making bad confessions. However, a powerful conversion experience in Medjugorje had convicted him, and he wanted to make a good confession. He was nervous about it, though, so, having the advantage of being in a foreign country, he decided to go to a priest who spoke a different language and wouldn’t understand the sins he confessed. (My husband tells this story with much humor, and he is glad to have me share it here, in praise of God’s mercy.)

He was caught off guard, however, when the foreign priest spoke English after all. Flustered, he reverted back to his former pattern of omitting sins.

“Is that all?” the priest asked.

“Yes,” the teenage version of my husband answered.

The priest was silent, put his head down, and then looked up again.

“Well,” the priest said slowly, “what about this…? And this…?” He proceeded to name the exact sins my husband had omitted.

The priest was just as surprised as my husband was; he said this was not something that usually happened to him. But the Holy Spirit was in control; He knew exactly what my husband had intended and needed to say, and provided the way for him to make a good confession.

Frequent and Sincere Confession

The gift of reading souls is fascinating, but it is the sacrament itself that unites us with the God who made us. Whether or not a priest has a mystical knowledge of souls, the actual grace of the sacrament is the real prize.

Though these stories intrigue me, I have never had such a thing happen to me, and I think most people would say the same. The standard confession does not involve the reading of souls. Yet the power of the sacrament is in no way lessened by its ordinariness. I feel its supernatural strength just the same. When the priest says the prayer of absolution—“God, the Father of mercies…”—I close my eyes and rest in its beauty; the words wash over me, and I feel the Living Water restoring my weary, tired, thirsty soul.

How generously Our Lord lavishes us with graces in the sacrament of reconciliation! He calls us back to Himself, gives us a fresh slate, and washes us clean. He dispels the spirits that attack us, the temptations that assail us. He gives us “an indefinable sense of well-being.”

St. John Bosco once had a vision in which he was able to see the state of the souls of the boys whom he taught. As told in Peter Lappin’s book Stories of Don Bosco, the saint summed up the vision’s most important message—and the antidote to the many sins that threatened his boys—in these words:

“The motto I give you is this: Frequent and sincere confession; frequent and devout Communion.

What holds us back?

May God grant us the grace to partake frequently and sincerely of the sacrament of reconciliation, where the Divine Physician waits to heal the brokenness of every precious soul who comes to meet Him there.

image: By P.poschadel (Own work) [GFDL or CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Maura Roan McKeegan

By 

Maura Roan McKeegan lives in Steubenville, Ohio, with her husband, Shaun, and their four children. She is the author of the children’s picture books Into the Sea, Out of the Tomb: Jonah and Jesus (Emmaus Road Publishing, 2016), and The End of the Fiery Sword: Adam & Eve and Jesus & Mary (Emmaus Road Publishing, 2014), which are the first two books in a series introducing children to biblical typology. Her articles have appeared in publications such as Catholic DigestCrisisGuidepostsFranciscan WayLay Witness, and My Daily Visitor.

Christmas is for Believers & Non-Believers, who choose to pretend that GOD does not; cannot exist: Evidence of GOD by Patrick & friend

[QUOTE]God, our Creator and Lord, can be known with certainty, by the natural light of reason from created things.

This is the very first dogma listed by Ott.

I’m somewhat apprehensive about this and kind of concerns me. This is infallibly saying that we can know God with certainty. This seems to contradict the fact that we have to live by faith. While the evidence for God is VERY strong, I’m not sure if it is certain. While I believe God exists, I can never find certainty that he does. There are always little doubts that can pop into one’s head (maybe I have faulty logic, maybe the Bible was distorted, maybe the Church really isn’t infallible, etc. etc.)

So what exactly is meant by certain here? Because if it is anything less than being certain, then it’s not certain and this would mean this dogma is incorrect…which would mean the Church is incorrect…and I find this worrisome. [/QUOTE]

Can GOD Exist [with evidence]?

By Patrick Miron AND special guest

Permit me my friend to provide evidence of God that is [1] logical [2] provable and [3] and understandable.

 God can accurately described as “ALL GOOD-things Perfected”

Hence everything GOOD comes from or through GOD

May I suggest my friend that every time you look into a mirror you ARE seeing mirror-image evidence of GOD.

Did you choose what you’re wearing today?

If you did I can show evidence of God to you.

Genesis, 1: 26 & 27 we are taught that we are made in the image & likeness of God.

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness; … So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them

John 4: 23-24, tells us that {our} God is “A SPIRIT}

“But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for such the Father seeks to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”

If God is a Spirit and man is made in His Image; how can that be? “Man” is physical & mortal; God is a SPIRIT & immortal.

[1] In all of the Universes BILLIONS of stars, galaxies and planets, only ONE can be proven to be able to support ALL of the Life-Forms that we are aware of. Planet Earth

[2] On Planet Earth with its hundreds of MILLIONS of living things; only ONE, only Man can choose to love or hate, only Man, is Rational.

[3] In order for Man to be able to love, hate & rationalize require in an absolute sense:

A mind {not meaning our brain}

A Intellect {not meaning “I.Q.} &

A Freewill

[4] Each of these attributes, are similar to God: Spiritual realities & immortal. Meaning that they can’t be killed & don’t die. At the Instant of conception, GOD attaches to every Human Soul, a mind, intellect & Freewill. Similar to GOD these attributes are spiritual and immortal, and can only come FROM GOD.

[5] If you’re doubtful? Define for me your “FREEWILL” What is its size, weight, color & shape?

It can’t be done but only a foolish person would claim that it does not exist.

[6] Science tells us that like things originate from other “like-things.”

[7]These “Spiritual Realities” have to have a source, other than our parents, who transmit our physical attributes & bodies; but cannot transmit “spiritual {invisible/ non-physical} things”.

[8} further evidence of a Power, a Source greater than man is evidenced in the Natural Laws: Motion & gravity for example.  … The Sun & the Moon are essential in sustaining Earths life forms. With many BILLIONS of stars and planets the odds that they exist in the forms NECESSARY to sustain life, and then BE in OUR Galaxy is many BILLIUONS to One. {Impossible!} By luck or coincidence.

[8] The existence of Moral Laws: Goodness & Morality are evidence of God’s very shared nature and evil proves the Power of God’s gifts to humanity who alone are RATIONAL creatures, able to love or hate God; and charged with the responsibility to choose for themselves, Eternal Hell or Heaven.

So every time you look into a mirror, if you’re able to recognize yourself; it is because GOD has enabled you too. Amen!

 

 For THOSE seeking even more evidence I share Aquinas’ “5 ways”

 

 

St. Thomas Aquinas:
The Existence of God can be proved in five ways.

Argument Analysis of the Five Ways

http://web.mnstate.edu/gracyk/courses/web%20publishing/aquinasFiveWays_ArgumentAnalysis.htm

The above is too large to cut & paste, but can also be used.

God Bless,

PJM

St. Thomas Aquinas:
The Existence of God can be proved in five ways.
 
Argument Analysis of the Five Ways         © 2016 Theodore Gracyk  
The First Way: Argument from Motion

1.   Our senses prove that some things are in motion.

2.   Things move when potential motion becomes actual motion.

3.   Only an actual motion can convert a potential motion into an actual motion.

4.   Nothing can be at once in both actuality and potentiality in the same respect (i.e., if both actual and potential, it is actual in one respect and potential in another).

5.   Therefore nothing can move itself.

6.   Therefore each thing in motion is moved by something else.

7.   The sequence of motion cannot extend ad infinitum.

8.   Therefore it is necessary to arrive at a first mover, put in motion by no other; and this everyone understands to be God.

The Second Way: Argument from Efficient Causes

1.   We perceive a series of efficient causes of things in the world.

2.   Nothing exists prior to itself.

3.   Therefore nothing [in the world of things we perceive] is the efficient cause of itself.

4.   If a previous efficient cause does not exist, neither does the thing that results (the effect).

5.   Therefore if the first thing in a series does not exist, nothing in the series exists.

6.   If the series of efficient causes extends ad infinitum into the past, for then there would be no things existing now.

7.   That is plainly false (i.e., there are things existing now that came about through efficient causes).

8.   Therefore efficient causes do not extend ad infinitum into the past.

9.   Therefore it is necessary to admit a first efficient cause, to which everyone gives the name of God.

The Third Way: Argument from Possibility and Necessity (Reductio argument)

1.   We find in nature things that are possible to be and not to be, that come into being and go out of being i.e., contingent beings.

2.   Assume that every being is a contingent being.

3.   For each contingent being, there is a time it does not exist.

4.   Therefore it is impossible for these always to exist.

5.   Therefore there could have been a time when no things existed.

6.   Therefore at that time there would have been nothing to bring the currently existing contingent beings into existence.

7.   Therefore, nothing would be in existence now.

8.   We have reached an absurd result from assuming that every being is a contingent being.

9.   Therefore not every being is a contingent being.

10.                   Therefore some being exists of its own necessity, and does not receive its existence from another being, but rather causes them. This all men speak of as God.

The Fourth Way: Argument from Gradation of Being

1.   There is a gradation to be found in things: some are better or worse than others.

2.   Predications of degree require reference to the “uttermost” case (e.g., a thing is said to be hotter according as it more nearly resembles that which is hottest).

3.   The maximum in any genus is the cause of all in that genus.

4.   Therefore there must also be something which is to all beings the cause of their being, goodness, and every other perfection; and this we call God.

The Fifth Way: Argument from Design

1.   We see that natural bodies work toward some goal, and do not do so by chance.

2.   Most natural things lack knowledge.

3.   But as an arrow reaches its target because it is directed by an archer, what lacks intelligence achieves goals by being directed by something intelligence.

4.   Therefore some intelligent being exists by whom all natural things are directed to their end; and this being we call God.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Priest Tells the Powerful Truth About What His REAL Job Is: by Fr. Bill Peckman – 

A Priest Tells the Powerful Truth About What His REAL Job As a

by Fr. Bill Peckman –

Emilio Labrador, FlickrCC BY 2.0

I am your pastor…
You don’t need me to be your buddy but your shepherd.
You don’t need me on the barstool beside you but in the breach between you and the devil.
You don’t me to spout pious platitudes but to offer comfort and truth.
You don’t need me to be silent and turn a blind eye but to charitably correct and offer guidance.
You don’t need me to be ‘a regular person’ but a fearless leader and shepherd.
You don’t need me to tell you to be nice but to encourage you to be holy.
You don’t need me to set the bar low so you will like me but to set the bar high and then help you reach the goal.
You don’t need me to be hip, cool, or relevant by worldly standards but to be steadfast, accountable, and strong in the face of worldly standards.
You don’t need me to be entertaining but to point to the transcendent.
You don’t need me to be a Messiah…you need me to point to the Messiah.

I can be friendly, kind, charitable, empathetic to be sure. I can be bold, brave, and strong.

I know to do my job means you might get very mad at me. I can’t be so afraid of that that I leave you to destructive forces.

I have to love you more than myself.
I have to lead you to holiness, not popularity.

You need me to be forthright and charitable.
You need to be able to trust that I want what is good and holy for you.

It is not easy.
My job in the parish is very much like the role of a dad in a family. My job is to be in the breach between the flock and what would prey on the flock. My place is where Christ placed Himself.

Pray that I do this job well…that I lead where Christ would have us go.

I want to go to heaven.
I want you to go there too.
I know the way there is a narrow and winding path.
Pray for the strength and perseverance to make each step as it comes.

Originally posted on Facebook   END QUOTES

 

Joy and the Rosary: by PAUL KRAUSE

Joy and the Rosary

In this season of the Church calendar the Rosary should loom large for every Catholic. Nativity imagery will abound at all churches depicting the birth of Christ in the manger. But the importance of Mary within the story of the incarnation of Christ is something that is deeply important which is, of course, captured through the Rosary (as well as in Nativity imagery).

That Mary is included in the Creed is no little coincidence. Neither is it that all the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary are directly related with Mary in some fashion. From time to time even the professors at Yale stumble upon a kernel of truth. One of my very Protestant professors once lamented in class that by “getting rid of Mary” Protestants have been in search for a female model of faith ever since and have yet to find one. How true!

Prayer is one of the core essences of Christian life. The Mass is really a long and joyful prayer, and Catholics, most of all, should be aware of this fact. It is not just communion with God—although it most certainly is that—it is also a participatory prayer of praise. But in our age of disorder, the “dictatorship of noise,” and consumerist ethos, as David Bentley Hart once said, “prayer is the one thing you should not do in a truly good consumerist culture.” Prayer, after all, is a call to order. It is a call to dialogue. It is a call to the transcendent—to fix oneself, and one’s mind, to things other the hectic fury of day-to-day life.

To be made for joy and praise is to recognize where that joy emanates from, and where one’s right praise (orthodoxy) should be directed. “The angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph… And he came to her and said, ‘Hail O favored one, the Lord is with you.’” And how did the blessed Mother respond to the news? “May it be done unto me according to thy word!” Truly a woman of faith for any Catholic to emulate.

The Rosary, with all of its parts, captures the very spirit of the Catholic faith through the Apostle’s Creed, Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be, and Fatima Prayer, notwithstanding to call to mediate on the various mysteries of the day. Prayer is not just a call to order in a chaotic and disorderly world, it is a call to participate with God. And who better to be at the center as a model of participation than Mary herself? She was a vessel chosen by God to be sure, but her immediate compliance to God’s will stands in stark contrast to so many of the other great Biblical figures.

Solomon ignores the prescriptions established as part of the covenant for the monarchy, building foreign temples and worshiping Astarte instead. David should have answered God’s call to campaign but instead choose to stay at home and had Uriah killed so as to satisfy his temporary and carnal lusts. Jonah flees from God until he can flee no more, only then embracing his role as prophet after he could not run from God. Mary, on the other hand, is without blemish. From first annunciation to her presence at the Crucifixion and the Empty Tomb, to her eventual assumption, Mary was always with Jesus. That is also our calling too.

How much time do Catholics spend in prayer? Prayer is a great gift that one should find joy in. The cultivation of virtue—which is the outcome of habit (habitus)—requires striving. It requires time. It demands that we set aside time for God in the midst of our daily lives. To have an active prayer life is the result of the habit of prayer.

To this end the Rosary embodies the call to a virtuous prayer life better than most prayers because of the time it takes to pray the Rosary. Time is the one thing we can never get enough of according to some people. And the more time spent reading, praying, or contemplating God, the less time one is “making something of themselves” in the material world. For all the wonders that God has done for us it would be fitting of our appreciation and understanding of God’s wonders and love to devote time to him throughout the day. From small things greater things come.

A friend of mine, who has joined the RCIA, was somewhat taken aback when the Dominican priest he met bluntly said that if he did not have an active prayer life he shouldn’t be in his office (and at the same time he conferred to me that it was refreshing to have the priest say this to him). When we pray we should pray to love Christ more and to know Christ better. Furthermore, through prayer we may hopefully grow in our faith and find joy in the embodiment of our faith. The greatest of saints had the most active and ardent of devotional lives. But prayer can be daunting and even intimidating at times (if not simply too “time consuming”). It is in that daunting and intimidated state that Mary always lights a special path for us.

Mary could have been overwhelmed and intimated by the news Gabriel bestowed upon her. She could have felt unworthy to bear the Son of Redemption. But rather than running from God she whole-heartedly embraced God. “May it be done unto me according to thy word.”

It goes without saying that we should be engaged in prayer daily. It goes without saying that in this season of the Church we should be ever more cognizant of joyful prayer. And given the joyful mysteries, the great joy of the Christian life found in the coming of Our Lord in the flesh, we should meditate on the mysteries by asking Our Lady to help discover the joy she had—a joy that is available to all of us; the joy that brings our restless heart to serenity. Hail, holy Queen, indeed.

Editor’s note: Pictured above is “The Annunciation” painted by Fra Angelico in 1437-46.

Paul KrauseBy Paul Krause is an M.A. student in theology at Yale University’s Divinity School. He holds a B.A. in economics, history, and philosophy from Baldwin Wallace University.

The Greater Good; by Pat Miron AND friends

 Dear friends in Christ,

Grave deficiency in Catholic AND Christian Moral Conscience formation; no doubt heavily weighted by emotions, more than moral logic factored profoundly in the election of Pro-Abortion & Gay “Marriage” National Democratic advocate Candidate Doug Jones.

On the surface the choice seems difficult or at least muddied by the fact that the Republican candidate Roy Moore, was accused of being a sexual pervert. Doug Jones got 49.9% of the vote, while Roy Moore, the Republican Candidate received 48.4% of the vote in a State that is normally heavily Republican.

So it would seem that many voted outside of their “normal” Party-affiliation preference based upon Mr. Moore’s moral {sexual} indiscretion [s?], over the known Pro Abortion advocacy of Mr. Jones.

 

The GREATER GOOD Teaching

Admittedly both adultery and Murder are “intrinsic evils”; that is gravely moral [a Mortal sin]; evils very time regardless of the surrounding circumstances. The recent avalanche exposition of many well-known, and heavily publicized people, and the emotions raised by these notoriously bad examples, seemingly influenced many of the votes.

So this election was a choice between two BAD options. So what is a Christian to do? The answer is we must choose the Lesser Evil, or related positively; the GREATER GOOD.

The MURDER of the defenseless babies in the womb, placed there directly by Godly intervention, as the Soul gifted there by GOD at the instant of conception, being that which actually animates LIFE, is deprived of the opportunity to fulfill its purpose. So Abortion is a far graver Evil, than the gravely evil sexual wrong doings. We therefore must choose to support Life, as it is the Greater Good.

Pray very much,

Patrick

 

Moral Conscience: Catholic Teaching for a Strong Faith

“Understanding conscience is essential for the life of faith. A solid grasp of Catholic teaching about conscience makes it possible to live a moral life. And sadly…

…a defective understanding can destroy your moral life.

This is important! For the beginning Catholic, this is an essential issue to understand properly.

And I’ll tell you plainly: conscience may be the single most misunderstood issue among Catholics today!

This article will give you a brief, understandable description of conscience in plain English. You’ll gain a sound grasp of the topic.

This topic is so important that you should read this article, and then carefully study the Catechism’s section on conscience.

1783 Conscience must be informed and moral judgment enlightened. A well-formed conscience is upright and truthful. It formulates its judgments according to reason, in conformity with the true good willed by the wisdom of the Creator. The education of conscience is indispensable for human beings who are subjected to negative influences and tempted by sin to prefer their own judgment and to reject authoritative teachings.

 1794 A good and pure conscience is enlightened by true faith, for charity proceeds at the same time “from a pure heart and a good conscience and sincere faith.”

The more a correct conscience prevails, the more do persons and groups turn aside from blind choice and try to be guided by objective standards of moral conduct.

 1755 morally good act requires the goodness of the object, of the end, and of the circumstances together. An evil end corrupts the action, even if the object is good in itself (such as praying and fasting “in order to be seen by men”).

The object of the choice can by itself vitiate an act in its entirety. There are some concrete acts – such as fornication – that it is always wrong to choose, because choosing them entails a disorder of the will, that is, a moral evil.

A natural facility to judge

Conscience is a natural facility of our reason that does three things:

  1. Reminds us always to do good and avoid evil.
  2. Makes a judgmentabout the good and evil of particular choices in a specific situation.
  3. Bears witness after the fact to the good or evil that we have done. (I.e., having a guilty conscience.)

Conscience is a powerful and remarkable facility that is distinctly human.

Understand that conscience is a judgment of reason. It uses the objective principles of the moral law to judge the morality of acts in specific circumstances. Conscience is not itself the source of the moral law.

  • This is a common point of misunderstanding. Many who reject Church teaching will say, “I’m just following my conscience.” What they usually mean is that they’re looking to their conscience as the sourceof moral principles, which is a serious error.
  • I’ll be blunt: it’s likely that some other Catholics will challenge you on this point, and you’ll have to defend it. (I know, it’s not fair! It’s a long story, but a lot of people have been taught weak or bad doctrine for many years….)
    Use the Catechismto defend this point. This article will help you read the Catechism’s section on conscience accurately. Also see the excellent article on conscience on the Catholics United for the Faith (CUF) Web site. Beyond that, Pope John Paul II’s Veritatis Splendor contains a definitive discussion about conscience in sections 54-64; number 64 particularly speaks to this point.

Veritatis Splendor QUOTES

  • “Seeking what is true and good”
  • Conscience, as the judgment of an act, is not exempt from the possibility of error. As the Council puts it, “not infrequently conscience can be mistaken as a result of invincible ignorance, although it does not on that account forfeit its dignity; but this cannot be said when a man shows little concern for seeking what is true and good, and conscience gradually becomes almost blind from being accustomed to sin”.[107] In these brief words the Council sums up the doctrine which the Church down the centuries has developed with regard to the “erroneous conscience.”

Certainly, in order to have a “good conscience” (1 Tim 1:5), {[5] Now the end of the commandment is charity, from a pure heart, and a good conscience, and an unfeigned faith.} man must seek the truth and must make judgments in accordance with that same truth. As the Apostle Paul says, the conscience must be “confirmed by the Holy Spirit” (cf. Rom 9:1); it must be “clear” (2 Tim 1:3); it must not “practise cunning and tamper with God’s word”, but “openly state the truth” (cf. 2 Cor 4:2). On the other hand, the Apostle also warns Christians: “Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Rom 12:2).

  • Paul’s admonition urges us to be watchful, warning us that in the judgments of our conscience the possibility of error is always present. Conscience is “not an infallible judge;” it can make mistakes. However, error of conscience can be the result of an “invincible ignorance,” an ignorance of which the subject is not aware and which he is unable to overcome by himself.
  • The Council reminds us that in cases where such invincible ignorance is not culpable, conscience does not lose its dignity, because even when it directs us to act in a way not in conformity with the objective moral order, it continues to speak in the name of that truth about the good which the subject is called to seek sincerely.
  • In any event, it is always from the truth that the dignity of conscience derives. In the case of the correct conscience, it is a question of the “objective truth” received by man; in the case of the erroneous conscience, it is a question of what man, mistakenly, “subjectively” considers to be true. It is never acceptable to confuse a “subjective” error about moral good with the “objective” truth rationally proposed to man in virtue of his end, or to make the moral value of an act performed with a true and correct conscience equivalent to the moral value of an act performed by following the judgment of an erroneous conscience.[108] It is possible that the evil done as the result of invincible ignorance or a non-culpable error of judgment may not be imputable to the agent; but even in this case it does not cease to be an evil, a disorder in relation to the truth about the good. Furthermore, a good act which is not recognized as such does not contribute to the moral growth of the person who performs it; it does not perfect him and it does not help to dispose him for the supreme good. Thus, before feeling easily justified in the name of our conscience, we should reflect on the words of the Psalm: “Who can discern his errors? Clear me from hidden faults” (Ps 19:12). There are faults which we fail to see but which nevertheless remain faults, because we have refused to walk towards the light (cf. Jn 9:39-41).
  • Conscience, as the ultimate concrete judgment, compromises its dignity when it is “culpably erroneous,” that is to say, “when man shows little concern for seeking what is true and good, and conscience gradually becomes almost blind from being accustomed to sin“.[109] Jesus alludes to the danger of the conscience being deformed when he warns: “The eye is the lamp of the body. So if your eye is sound, your whole body will be full of light; but if your eye is not sound, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!” (Mt 6:22-23).
  • The words of Jesus just quoted also represent a call to “form our conscience,” to make it the object of a continuous conversion to what is true and to what is good. In the same vein, Saint Paul exhorts us not to be conformed to the mentality of this world, but to be transformed by the renewal of our mind (cf. Rom 12:2). It is the “heart” converted to the Lord and to the love of what is good which is really the source of “true” judgments of conscience. Indeed, in order to “prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Rom 12:2), knowledge of God’s law in general is certainly necessary, but it is not sufficient: what is essential is a sort of “‘connaturality’ between man and the true good.”[110] Such a connaturality is rooted in and develops through the virtuous attitudes of the individual himself: prudence and the other cardinal virtues, and even before these the theological virtues of faith, hope and charity. This is the meaning of Jesus’ saying: “He who does what is true comes to the light” (Jn 3:21).
  • Christians have a great help for the formation of conscience “in the Church and her Magisterium.” As the Council affirms: “In forming their consciences the Christian faithful must give careful attention to the sacred and certain teaching of the Church. For the Catholic Church is by the will of Christ the teacher of truth. Her charge is to announce and teach authentically that truth which is Christ, and at the same time with her authority to declare and confirm the principles of the moral order which derive from human nature itself”.[111] It follows that the authority of the Church, when she pronounces on moral questions, in no way undermines the freedom of conscience of Christians.
  • This is so not only because freedom of conscience is never freedom “from” the truth but always and only freedom “in” the truth, but also because the Magisterium does not bring to the Christian conscience truths which are extraneous to it; rather it brings to light the truths which it ought already to possess, developing them from the starting point of the primordial act of faith. The Church puts herself always and only at the “service of conscience,” helping it to avoid being tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine proposed by human deceit (cf. Eph 4:14), and helping it not to swerve from the truth about the good of man, but rather, especially in more difficult questions, to attain the truth with certainty and to abide in it.

Everyone has a duty to form their conscience. Formation of conscience simply means educating and training it. We do this by learning and taking to heart the objective moral law, as found in Scripture and the authoritative teachings of the Catholic Church. This forms conscience in objective moral truth as taught by Christ and his Church.

Practicing the virtues is another aspect of forming the conscience. This not only lets us do good acts, but it trains the will to desire to do good. In particular, the virtue of prudence affects the ability of conscience to judge rightly.

You must follow your conscience

A fundamental principle of Catholic morality is that you must follow your conscience.

But be careful: there’s a strong tendency for all of us to distort the full meaning of that principle! We tend to use it as a giant loophole for doing any old thing that we’d like.

A well-formed conscience will never contradict the objective moral law, as taught by Christ and his Church. (Catechism, 1783-5, 1792, 2039)

 1783 Conscience must be informed and moral judgment enlightened. A well-formed conscience is upright and truthful. It formulates its judgments according to reason, in conformity with the true good willed by the wisdom of the Creator. The education of conscience is indispensable for human beings who are subjected to negative influences and tempted by sin to prefer their own judgment and to reject authoritative teachings

1784 The education of the conscience is a lifelong task. From the earliest years, it awakens the child to the knowledge and practice of the interior law recognized by conscience. Prudent education teaches virtue; it prevents or cures fear, selfishness and pride, resentment arising from guilt, and feelings of complacency, born of human weakness and faults. The education of the conscience guarantees freedom and engenders peace of heart.

1785 In the formation of conscience the Word of God is the light for our path, we must assimilate it in faith and prayer and put it into practice. We must also examine our conscience before the Lord’s Cross. We are assisted by the gifts of the Holy Spirit, aided by the witness or advice of others and guided by the authoritative teaching of the Church.

1792 Ignorance of Christ and his Gospel, bad example given by others, enslavement to one’s passions, assertion of a mistaken notion of autonomy of conscience, rejection of the Church’s authority and her teaching, lack of conversion and of charity: these can be at the source of errors of judgment in moral conduct.

2039 Ministries should be exercised in a spirit of fraternal service and dedication to the Church, in the name of the Lord. At the same time the conscience of each person should avoid confining itself to individualistic considerations in its moral judgments of the person’s own acts. As far as possible conscience should take account of the good of all, as expressed in the moral law, natural and revealed, and consequently in the law of the Church and in the authoritative teaching of the Magisterium on moral questions. Personal conscience and reason should not be set in opposition to the moral law or the Magisterium of the Church.

A safe way to read this principle is: if your conscience is well-formed, and you are being careful to reason clearly and objectively from true moral principles, then you must follow the reasoned judgment of your conscience about the morality of a specific act. Otherwise, seek reliable guidance in forming your conscience.

The principle that we must follow our conscience derives from…

The dignity of conscience

The authority of conscience, and our need to follow it, come from its dignity.

Pope John Paul II tells us that conscience is an “interior dialog of man with himself” about right and wrong. It “is also a dialog of man with God”: it is “the witness of God himself” calling him to obey the moral law, and is a person’s “witness of his own faithfulness or unfaithfulness.” This is the basis of the great dignity of the conscience: it derives from its witness to objective moral truth. (Veritatis Splendor, 57-58, 60)

“The Judgment of conscience”

  1. The text of the Letter to the Romans which has helped us to grasp the essence of the natural law also indicates “the biblical understanding of conscience,” especially “in its specific connection with the law:” “When Gentiles who have not the law do by nature what the law requires, they are a law unto themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that what the law requires is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness and their conflicting thoughts accuse or perhaps excuse them” (Rom 2:14-15).

According to Saint Paul, conscience in a certain sense confronts man with the law, and thus becomes a “witness” for man:” a witness of his own faithfulness or unfaithfulness with regard to the law, of his essential moral rectitude or iniquity. Conscience is the only witness, since what takes place in the heart of the person is hidden from the eyes of everyone outside. Conscience makes its witness known only to the person himself. And, in turn, only the person himself knows what his own response is to the voice of conscience.

  1. The importance of this interior “dialogue of man with himself” can never be adequately appreciated. But it is also a “dialogue of man with God,” the author of the law, the primordial image and final end of man. Saint Bonaventure teaches that “conscience is like God’s herald and messenger; it does not command things on its own authority, but commands them as coming from God’s authority, like a herald when he proclaims the edict of the king. This is why conscience has binding force”.[103] Thus it can be said that conscience bears witness to man’s own rectitude or iniquity to man himself but, together with this and indeed even beforehand, conscience is “the witness of God himself;” whose voice and judgment penetrate the depths of man’s soul, calling him “fortiler et suaviter” to obedience. “Moral conscience does not close man within an insurmountable and impenetrable solitude, but opens him to the call, to the voice of God. In this, and not in anything else, lies the entire mystery and the dignity of the moral conscience: in being the place, the sacred place where God speaks to man”.[104]
  2. Like the natural law itself and all practical knowledge, the judgment of conscience also has an imperative character: man must act in accordance with it. If man acts against this judgment or, in a case where he lacks certainty about the rightness and goodness of a determined act, still performs that act, he stands condemned by his own conscience, “the proximate norm of personal morality.” The dignity of this rational forum and the authority of its voice and judgments derive from the “truth” about moral good and evil, which it is called to listen to and to express. This truth is indicated by the “divine law”, “the universal and objective norm of morality.” The judgment of conscience does not establish the law; rather it bears witness to the authority of the natural law and of the practical reason with reference to the supreme good, whose attractiveness the human person perceives and whose commandments he accepts. “Conscience is not an independent and exclusive capacity to decide what is good and what is evil. Rather there is profoundly imprinted upon it a principle of obedience vis- a-vis the objective norm which establishes and conditions the correspondence of its decisions with the commands and prohibitions which are at the basis of human behaviour”.[106] END QUOTES

Conscience is the means God has given us to make moral decisions. Our freedom demands that we use it: “When he listens to his conscience, the prudent man can hear God speaking.” (Catechism, 1777)

But we compromise this dignity of conscience if we haven’t formed our conscience well, or when we do not take care to reason clearly and objectively. Again, Pope John Paul II teaches:

Jesus alludes to the danger of the conscience being deformed when he warns: “The eye is the lamp of the body. So if your eye is sound, your whole body will be full of light; but if your eye is not sound, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!” (Mt 6:22-23). (Veritatis Splendor, 63)

Erroneous judgment

Conscience does not always judge properly. Out of ignorance or bad reasoning, it can judge wrongly.

Erroneous judgment is often our own fault, and can have many causes (from Catechism, 1791-2):

1791 This ignorance can often be imputed to personal responsibility. This is the case when a man “takes little trouble to find out what is true and good, or when conscience is by degrees almost blinded through the habit of committing sin.” In such cases, the person is culpable for the evil he commits.

1792 Ignorance of Christ and his Gospel, bad example given by others, enslavement to one’s passions, assertion of a mistaken notion of autonomy of conscience, rejection of the Church’s authority and her teaching, lack of conversion and of charity: these can be at the source of errors of judgment in moral conduct.

  • Lack of care in forming our conscience or our powers of reason
  • Misunderstanding conscience
  • Damage caused by repeated and habitual sin
  • Following the bad example of others
  • Rejection of Church teaching
  • Ignorance of Christ and the Gospels
  • Neglecting the work of our conversion to Christ
  • Neglect of charity

If our conscience errs and we’re responsible for the error, then we are guilty of the evil committed. We are not guilty for the evil if we’re not responsible for the error.

But even if the guilt is not imputable to us, it’s still an evil act. This greatly hinders our ability to advance in the moral life and live in union with God. As Pope John Paul II puts it:

…[T]he performance of good acts… constitutes the indispensable condition of and path to eternal blessedness…. Only the act in conformity with the good can be a path that leads to life…. If [an act is not good]…, the choice of that action makes our will and ourselves morally evil, thus putting us in conflict with our ultimate end, the supreme good, God himself. (Veritatis Splendor, 72, emphasis in the original)

The key to the moral life

The good or evil of specific acts shapes our whole life.

We choose God or reject him specifically in the morality of our actions. We must choose to do good in order to choose God, grow in freedom, sanctify ourselves, and let God’s grace work in us to make us “children of God, adoptive sons, partakers of the divine nature and of eternal life.” (Catechism, 1996)

Moral conscience is the key that makes this moral life possible: it is exactly how we know what the good is in specific cases, and it beckons us to always choose the good. And even when we choose wrongly, conscience calls us to seek God’s merciful forgiveness so that we can begin again.

Praise the Lord! Wonderful are his works. END QUOTES

RE-BLOGGED from Be Strong and Very Courageous

[New post] Living in Alzheimer’s World
Be Strong and Very Co

New post on Be Strong and Very Courageous

Living in Alzheimer’s World

by SR

This is the Christmas season, so instead of my St. Faustina post this week, I would like to share my experience with Alzheimer’s.  Hopefully this will help those going through it and help you if it ever happens to someone in your family.

People with Alzheimer’s can no longer live in your world.  You must live in theirs.  This for the most part includes living in and discussing the past.

Mama could always remember things when I was a baby, and could remember the same for my siblings.  She told me stories which I had never heard when we were kids, and Daddy confirmed they were true.  I always said, “She became the mother I did not remember.”  That right there, will help you to deal with it more than anything.

She could remember every movie from the 1940’s on.  Every actor and actress and what movie they were in.  So these are the things we discussed with her most of the time.  We would laugh and talk.  So never think you cannot communicate with a person with Alzheimer’s.  You can, it just has to be in their world and not yours.

The sundowners are awful.  When the sun goes down, people with Alzheimer’s react for some strange reason.  They can become belligerent, afraid, pace the floor, and arguing during these hours is their most favorite thing to do.

What we did with Mom was put her in the car and ride her around.  She loved malts and we would take her to Sonic and get her one.  We would ride her around town as it is small, and discuss who lived where.  See, she could remember who lived in those houses years ago.  Actually, I enjoyed all of those stories as I had never heard them before.  Diversion is key during these hours.

Locks on the doors.  People with Alzheimer’s will get up at any time and leave the house.  You must install locks which are too high for them to reach on the door.  We put those which slid down over the door.  We also had those which took a key to open the door from the inside and the outside.  Of course we hid the key.

During the start and middle of this disease jigsaw puzzles and hunt and find games were our saving source.  For one it kept her mind active, for another it kept her occupied.  They lose focus quickly with television and the like, but we could keep her focused on the games and puzzles.  Of course as the disease progresses nothing holds their attention long.

Holidays, we always brought Mom home.  She might not of known who was there, but she loved the babies and the grandkids.  We also brought Mom home during the week for a few hours at a time, when she was in the nursing home.  Please do not just stick them in there and leave them.  Though they will not remember those visits you will, and they enjoy them so much.

Be careful with the medications.  Some of those medications made Mama go absolutely crazy.  So we put her in the hospital for about two weeks and they tried different ones and monitored her.  I would recommend this before putting them on any medication.  They need to be in a safe and secure place where they can be watched 24/7.

You know it is time for a nursing home when they become a danger to themselves or to others.  Fire was our biggest concern.  She continually left the stove on, with things on top of it.  Also, she begin to hear people telling her they were going to blow the house up and at 4:00 in the morning she would be trying to get out of the house.  DO NOT ARGUE WITH THEM ABOUT THIS!  Again, divert them to something else.  With Mom, she was easily diverted.

Any Christian who wants to help someone, if you know someone who has this going on in their family, please give the caregiver a break, at least once a month.  Go visit these people in the nursing home for them, or stay with them for a few hours if the patient is at home.

A caregiver for Alzheimer’s is on call 24/7 for years!

If anyone is going through this, if you have any questions, I will help you all I can.  Please feel free to ask!  God Bless, SR