The Snake and the Rosary: The Dreams of St. John Bosco BRIAN KRANICK: re blogged … Because I attended an All Boy’s Catholic Boarding-HS, this Saint is special to me, and I have prayed the Rosary for many years…PJM

The Snake and the Rosary: The Dreams of St. John Bosco

Dreams are a product of our unconscious mind and imagination. To pay too much attention to them is foolhardy. The inspired writer Sirach wrote “dreams give wings to fools.” (Sir. 34:1) But, not all dreams are created equal. Some dreams are more than just unconscious renderings of our conscious lives.  In some rare cases, dreams are inspired visions from heaven. Mary and Joseph were “warned in a dream” not to return to Herod. The wife of Pilate warned him to release Jesus “for I have suffered much over him today in a dream.” It is of this latter version, that of prophetic dreams, that filled the life of St. John Bosco. The Forty Dreams of St. John Bosco details some of these dream-visions that he experienced.

St. John Bosco was an Italian priest who lived in the 19th century helping and educating youth, particularly disadvantaged young boys. Many of the vision-like dreams revolved around the state of the boys’ souls in his Oratory. The dreams often involved the boys with weapons in fierce battles against gruesome animals and beasts. The weapons were metaphors for the sacraments and devotions, while the animals and beasts were various sins and vices.

The dreams were a sublime rendering of our internal struggles between virtue and vice, innocence and sin, heaven and hell. The prophetic nature of the dreams revealed the actual state of the boys’ souls.  They also revealed the hidden spiritual realities of the Catholic faith. These remain completely relevant to us too. Imagine if St. John Bosco were still alive today, how troubled would his dreams be by the state of our souls?

One of the prototypical dream-visions St. John Bosco had concerned “The Snake and the Rosary.” In it, he and the boys were in a meadow where a stranger took him to see “a huge, ugly snake, over twenty feet long.” The stranger impelled him to dangle a rope over the snake, which he was quite hesitant to do out of fear. He finally agreed to hold the rope over the menacing snake, and the snake leaped up and “ensnared itself as in a noose.”  The snake then furiously writhed to free itself but ended up tearing itself to pieces. The stranger then took the rope and put it in a box saying “watch carefully.” Then, opening the box he saw the rope had taken the shape of the words “Ave Maria” or “Hail Mary.”  The man then explained to him that the snake is a symbol of the devil and the Ave Maria rope stands for the Rosary — with which “we can strike, conquer, and destroy all of hell’s demons.”

The dream, however, was not done.  In the second part of the dream, the boys of the Oratory were now congregated around the remnants of flesh from the snake. Then, against St. John Bosco’s protests that it was poisonous, some of the boys began to pick up the snake flesh and eat it saying, “It’s delicious!”  They promptly crumpled to the ground, with their bodies swelled and hardened like stone.  The saint tried vigorously to keep them from eating the meat but they just kept eating it.  He questioned the stranger why do they keep eating the meat even though it will kill them?  The stranger replied, “Because the sensual man does not perceive the things that are of God!”  He pleaded to the stranger that there must be some way to save them.  To which, the stranger said there is, by “anvil and hammer.”  St. John Bosco then put the boys on an anvil and hit them with a hammer.  With that, most of the boys were “restored to life and recovered.”  The stranger then explained to him that the anvil and hammer are symbols respectively for Holy Communion and Confession.  By Confession we strike away at sin, and by Holy Communion we are sustained.

St. John Bosco constantly stressed this theme, “Frequent and sincere Confession, frequent and devout Communion.”  This was reflected in many dreams.  For example, in another dream, the boys fought with two-pronged pitchforks against ferocious animals.  He was shown that the two-prongs symbolized a “good Confession and a good Communion.”  In yet another terrifying dream, St. John Bosco saw boys running down a road and being caught in traps and pulled into hell.  God, however, left implements next to the traps so the boys could cut themselves free.  There were two swords symbolizing a “devotion to the Blessed Sacrament – especially through frequent Holy Communion – and to the Blessed Virgin.”  There was also a hammer “symbolizing Confession,” and knives symbolizing devotions to St. Joseph and various saints.

In perhaps his most famous dream, he saw a large ship, representing the Church, in a violent storm and under attack.  The Pope guided the ship to two large columns, at which, the ship docked and was saved.  On the one column was a statue of the Virgin Mary with the title “the Help of Christians;” and, at the top of the other larger column was a Eucharist Host entitled “the Salvation of the Faithful.”  St. John Bosco explained: “Only two means are left to save her amidst the confusion: Devotion to Mary Most Holy and frequent Communion.”

In our modernist era besieged by materialist confusion, the dreams of St. John Bosco are all the more urgent.  The attacks are particularly diabolical against young people, seducing them to believe that there is no God or absolute morality, and no eternal consequences.  Anything goes!  The devil lies hidden before our secular eyes.  This makes the risk of succumbing to mortal sin, and potentially damnation, all the more terrifyingly ominous.  Sadly, as the percentage of Catholics decrease, the number of those without religious affiliation expands (the so-called “rise of the nones”).  If youth were so imperiled in the 19th century, how much more endangered are souls in the 21st century with the falling away en masse from the Church, the unmooring of morality, particularly in sexual promiscuity of all sorts, and so much more.  The monsters of St. John Bosco’s dreams are running wild today.

The Church, however, is here to aid us in the battle.  It is our field hospital, present on the battlefield to heal our wounds and save our souls.  She helps us grow in virtue and slay the beasts.  The saint’s solution for us was simple: innocence preserved in penance.  He said one good Confession could restore us to our title “of Son of God.”  As the dreams of St. John Bosco reveal, our salvation is found in prayer, frequent Confession and Communion, Adoration, and recourse to Mary and the Rosary. END QUOTES [emphasis mine]

Who Is God? a brief reflection by Patrick Miron


Who is God?

A Brief reflection by Patrick Miron

If I were to ask ‘Who is God”, undoubtedly every person reading this could in their own words, without reflection share a correct response.

But what if I changed the question to: Who is GOD for YOU?  … This question ought to cause pause for reflection.

FROM Father John A. Hardon’s S.J. Catholic Dictionary

GOD. The one absolutely and infinitely perfect spirit who is the Creator of all. In the definition of the First Vatican Council, fifteen internal attributes of God are affirmed, besides his role as Creator of the universe: “The holy, Catholic, apostolic Roman Church believes and professes that there is one true, living God, the Creator and Lord of heaven and earth. He is almighty, eternal, beyond measure, incomprehensible, and infinite in intellect, will and in every perfection. Since He is one unique spiritual substance, entirely simple and unchangeable, He must be declared really and essentially distinct from the world, perfectly happy in Himself and by his very nature, and inexpressibly exalted over all things that exist or can be conceived other than Himself” (Denzinger 3001).

Reflecting on the nature of God, theology has variously identified what may be called his metaphysical essence, i.e., what is God. It is commonly said to be his self-subsistence. God is Being Itself. In God essence and existence coincide. He is the Being who cannot not exist. God alone must be. All other beings exist only because of the will of God End quotes

So Father Hardon has shared “Who God is”; but leaves unanswered “Who is God for ME?”

From time to time, [not nearly often enough], I pause to contemplate that the God of the Universe; Thee GOD of the BILLIONS of stars, planets and galaxies; the inexplicable Order of the Universe, the very initiator and sustainer of life in all forms; but most remarkably; the cause of MY life. Prompts me to ask:

Why ME?

Why Now?

Why Here?

Each time I ask this, I come up with different answers. I puzzle how God can use me, an under educated, far from perfect person. Then I smile. God choose folks like ME to be His Apostles. Fishermen, tax collectors and common folks. So I marvel at God’s Wisdom. Being less educated, even less intelligent, means GOD gets the credit for all that I do and all the He is able to accomplish through me; and through you. I am but a conduit for the Holy Spirit.  That same Holy Spirit longs to use each of us if we are open to His promptings.

That this GOD, the God of every good thing can use me; and desires to be VERY Personally involved in my life; little ol’ ME; and in Our lives too when permitted is incomprehensible to me; but then I realize …. I don’t need to understand it; I merely have to acknowledge it with Great Gratitude and thanksgiving. To accept the reality that as unworthty as I am; I AM still a child of God, Created in His Image. I have worth only to the degree that I know, love, obey and serve Him and acknowledge His Sovereign right to be in control of all that I do.

Who is God for me? Everything!

May the Holy Spirit take control of your lives as well


Exploring the meaning of: “Church” … a reflection by Patrick Miron

I’m Catholic

by Pat Miron

Our Catholic “Church”

Exploring the meaning of: “Church” …


It is common these day’s to hear Catholics Laity referred to as “the church.” The Biblical reference for this is from: 1st. Peter 2: 5 “and like living stones be yourselves built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”

Some have taken this passage too literally; and have used this message-platform to usurp power and positions rightly reserved to the ordained Clergy. The Church, and therefore; “we“, are better served by understanding that we are “The Mystical Body;” [Spirit of the Church]  and “The Church Militant.” [Defenders of the Church and our Faith.] We represent our Faith by our visible practice of it; and our visible Godly commitment; by knowing our Faith; living it and defending it in truth and charity, when called to do so. If a non-catholic or a non-Christian came into our church; would they even suspect that Christ is Present?…. In many, Not likely,…. No, we can’t do it “all;”….  but are we part of the problem; or part of the solution?

 In truth; “we are the church” ONLY when we represent her holiness, Her Goodness and manifest Her charity. QUOTE: “The Church’s Eucharistic faith“: SACRAMENTUM CARITATIS; [Sacrament of Love] OF THE HOLY FATHER BENEDICT XVI …

  1. “The mystery of faith!” With these words, spoken immediately after the words of consecration, the priest proclaims the mystery being celebrated and expresses his wonder before the substantial change of bread and wine into the body and blood of the Lord Jesus, a reality which surpasses all human understanding. The Eucharist is a “mystery of faith” par excellence: “the sum and summary of our faith.” The Church’s faith is essentially a Eucharistic faith, and it is with the Risen Lord which takes place in the sacraments: “faith is expressed in the rite, while the rite reinforces and strengthens faith.” For this reason, the Sacrament of the Altar is always at the heart of the Church’s life: “thanks to the Eucharist, the Church is reborn ever anew!” The more lively the Eucharistic faith of the People of God, the deeper is its sharing in ecclesial life in steadfast commitment to the mission entrusted by Christ to his disciples. The Church’s very history bears witness to this. Every great reform has in some way been linked to the rediscovery of belief in the Lord’s Eucharistic presence among his people.” …. END QUOTE Precisely because of this reality; Catholics; similar to the Apostles are personally called by God; and are given a mission and the grace to fulfill it. “Seek and you shall find” it. Mark.4: 24-25 “And he said to them, “Take heed what you hear; the measure you give will be the measure you get, and still more will be given you. For to him who has will more be given; and from him who has not, even what he has will be taken away.”

 My comments will include a few quotes from This Months “Adoremus Bulletin” [March 2011]]; from an article entitled: “Sacred Architecture: Encountering the Beauty and Mystery of God:” By his Eminence, Cardinal Justin Rigali.  Currently Archbishop of Philadelphia.   In addition, he is a member of several Roman- Curia departments; including the “Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.” I will show his quotes in Bold Print.

 I’d like to begin with a quote intended for “The Church Building,” but very much inline with our first category: “Church.” …“The mystery which we gather to reflect upon today is at once timely and timeless. Timely,  as Aime’-Georges Martimort has noted, “In our day the faithful have greater difficulty in achieving prayerful recollection and a sense of God’s presence.” At the root of this difficulty is a crisis, a contemporary crisis that surrounds the sacred. …”

 While the reference is specifically applied to “church buildings,” I think it is far more than just church architecture that is greatly influenced in the realm of all that touches us, and the practice of our Catholic Faith. “Secular – Humanism“, founded on Pride, [“I know more and or; I know better”] is manifested in many evil ways proving that Satan is real; is present; and is effective in turning a great many away from God. Even the Faithful are under constant attack. In the past fifty years; “Fallen away Catholics” have blossomed into the second largest “religious” group in America.

 Lev.11: 44 …“For I am the LORD your God; consecrate yourselves therefore, and be holy, for I am holy” … Mt. 5:48 “Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect“.

In this one verse; we are taught the entire “Spiritual Message” of the entire bible. 1. ‘I AM God [there is no other: Exo. 34-14]  2. Dedicate yourself’ to Me 3. Be holy because I am Holy. This is impossible without confronting God, and  also, permitting God to confront you!

 Few if any of us have not heard about the necessity of having a “personal relationship with God.” But are you aware that God desires this far more than the most ardent believer? This fact is proven by our being a Creation of God; “in God‘s Image“ [Gen. 1:26]. To this possible end, God gives us [and only humanity] the attributes necessary to accomplish this. A Mind; a Intellect; a FREEWILL, and all these are intricately and permanently connected to our Souls. We are able to “love,” which no other creation of God can do. …Isaiah 43: 7-8 “every one who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.” “Bring forth the people who are blind, yet have eyes, who are deaf, yet have ears!” and … Isaiah 43:21” the people whom I formed for myself that they might declare my praise“.

 Catholic Catechism:

 1844 “By charity, we love God above all things and our neighbor as ourselves for love of God. Charity, the form of all the virtues, “binds everything together in perfect harmony” (Col 3:14).”

2658 “Hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” Prayer, formed by the liturgical life, draws everything into the love by which we are loved in Christ and which enables us to respond to him by loving as he has loved us. Love is the source of prayer; whoever draws from it reaches the summit of prayer. In the words of the Cure of Ars

“ I  love you oh my God, and my only desire to love you with every breath of my life.

my infinitely lovable God I would rather die loving you, than live without loving you.

I love you, Lord, and the only grace I ask is to love you eternally …. God, if my tongue cannot say in every moment that I love you, I want my heart to repeat it to you as often as I draw breath.”

 In an Absolute Sense each of us must confront God, both on His Terms; and in a manner suitable to who we are; what we are, and where we are. What this means is that as a first step, we must do a “self-inventory” on our spiritual status. Where am I now? What areas can I make improvement in? What do I need to do to grow closer to my God? The second step is to “write a plan of action.”  Start small; when you have accomplished your goal; then set another one. ONE ATTAINABLE goal at a time. Take it seriously, and WORK at it. It would be a mistake to commit to something you can’t or would not do for a very long time. The key is to BE SUCCESSFUL and accomplish the goals you set for yourself. If you fail; ask God for more help and try again…. Small goals, build success; and success builds spiritual character …. Rom.5: 1-5  “Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in our hope of sharing the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit which has been given to us“. Putting it in writing tends to cement the obligation..

 Not only must we confront our God; but we must also confront ourselves. This self-evaluation MUST be candid, frank and sincere; if we are to benefit from the experience and Grow Closer to our God. SMALL steps will get us there much quicker than jumping around. Expect no improvement, no spiritual growth without prayer and without occasional personal sacrifices. When you hear of Catholics being referred to As “the church;” think about this as “what we ought to be perceived as being, by the way we live our life’s,” … we are to be the “light on the hillside for all to see.”

 It is always best to “meet God; where God Is.”…. spend some time in adoration on a set basis. But God is also where “we-are;“ when we are in the state of Grace. A more regular use of the Sacraments would be a GREAT benefit to your Spiritual growth. Regular Confession, daily Mass if possible for you [even once a week], and Adoration of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. A disciplined prayer life is also critical. One of my favorite Saints: Saint Peter Julian Eymard has this to share about prayer: “PRAYER is the distinguishing characteristic of the Catholic Religion; it is the sign of the soul’s holiness; indeed it is its holiness. It both makes holy and is the first evidence of holiness. When you see someone living a life of prayer, you may say: “THERE GOES A SAINT”. “

 One additional thing we all might be mindful of is: What kind and how much light is my personal living -witness  giving to those who know that “I am a Catholic”, and those who might guess that we Love Jesus, by the way we live our life, and our faith?…..Matt.5: 15 Nor do men light a lamp and put it under a bushel, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house…. Matt.6: 22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is sound, your whole body will be full of light;

 What and where we are currently is of far less important than where we choose to be and are willing to pay the price necessary to attain….. Ps.17: 13 “Arise, O LORD! confront them, overthrow them! Deliver my life from the wicked by thy sword,” [Grace.].

 Go back now and reread that quote from 1st. Peter, above in the first paragraph, and take note of the fact that he speaks of a ‘”spiritual” house; not “Thee House / Thee church,” but a likeness of Her. Amen!

 Our Catholic Church is Know and distinguished by “Four Marks,” four independent but related charactaristics.

 She Is “One”, 2. She is “Holy” , 3. She is “Catholic” and 4. She is “Apostolic” What do these charisteristics actually mean?

 865 The Church is ultimately one, holy, catholic, and apostolic in her deepest and ultimate identity, because it is in her that “the Kingdom of heaven,” the “Reign of God,” already exists and will be fulfilled at the end of time. The kingdom has come in the person of Christ and grows mysteriously in the hearts of those incorporated into him, until its full eschatological manifestation. Then all those he has redeemed and made “holy and blameless before him in love,” will be gathered together as the one People of God, the “Bride of the Lamb,” “the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God, having the glory of God.” For “the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.”

 “One” Nowhere in the entire WORD of God, the Bible can we find a desire by Yahweh or Jesus Christ for belief in more than One God [Triune], One Faith [set of beliefs to be held and followed, and only One organization [Temple in the OT and “Church” in the NT]. … Mt. 16:18-19 “ And I [Jesus] tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, [SINGULAR] and the powers of death shall not prevail against it. I will give you [have now given you] the keys of the kingdom of heaven, [ALL access to heaven] and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” [This is the power to make, enforce or void laws and commands, and Teach with Authority.]

 “HOLY” we speak here of the Church “Herself” as a separate and living entity. The CHURCH CANNOT SIN, although her members can. She is the Bride of Christ, and like Christ is both Perfect* and Holy. “Perfect*” when ever she teaches on matters of Faith beliefs and or Morals. She [the Church is literally incapable of error in these TWO AREAS.] … John 14: 16-17 “ And I will pray the Father, and he will give you another Counselor, to be with you for ever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him; you know him, for he dwells with you, and will be in you.” … John 17:15-19 “ I [Jesus] do not pray that thou should take them out of the world, but that thou should keep them from the evil one.  Sanctify them in the truth; thy word is truth. As thou didst send me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be consecrated in truth.”  Later Christ would use these identical words to Initiate the Founding of the CC. Note the transfer f Godly power and authority. Then Note that Christ literally gives HIMSELF as warranty for Her Truths.  No other religion, faith or church is actually founded by God [Jesus Christ Himself] except for His Catholic Church. Nor has any other faith or church been promised the Holy Spirit as Guardian and protector of Her Truths. Only the Catholic Church.

 “Catholic” The Church as we know it today was first termed “The Way.” …. How and why the name: ‘The Way” came into use… Matt.22: 16 And they sent their disciples to him, along with the Hero’di-ans, saying, “Teacher, we know that you are true, and teach the way of God truthfully, and care for no man; for you do not regard the position of men. Mark.1: 3 “the voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight — ” … John 14: 6 “Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me.” ….  Acts.24: 14 But this I admit to you, that according to the Way, which they call a sect, I worship the God of our fathers, believing everything laid down by the law or written in the prophets,”

Next we were called “Christians” Acts.11: 26 “and when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. For a whole year they met with the church, and taught a large company of people; and in Antioch the disciples were for the first time called Christians” [around 80 to 90 A.D.], then in 110 AD the term ‘Catholic” was first used by Saint Ignatius of Antioch

The Word means “Universal.” And is necessary because of the mandate Jesus Gave to the Apostles. Matt. 28:19-20 “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age.”

 She is “Apostolic” [from our catholic catechism]

 857 “The Church is apostolic because she is founded on the apostles, in three ways:

– she was and remains built on “the foundation of the Apostles,” the witnesses chosen and sent on mission by Christ himself;

– with the help of the Spirit dwelling in her, the Church keeps and hands on the teaching, the “good deposit,” the salutary words she has heard from the apostles;

– she continues to be taught, sanctified, and guided by the apostles until Christ’s return, through their successors in pastoral office: the college of bishops, “assisted by priests, in union with the successor of Peter, the Church’s supreme pastor”:

You are the eternal Shepherd who never leaves his flock untended. Through the apostles you watch over us and protect us always. You made them shepherds of the flock to share in the work of your Son. . . .”

God Bless you,


The Catholic Mind JAMES DAY: re-blogged .. This was to good not to share it….PJM


The Catholic Mind


What is “the Catholic mind”? One of the leading lights of our time, James V. Schall, S.J., worked out this idea of what a Catholic mind is in a book of essays, “The Mind That Is Catholic.” Throughout this collection of philosophical and historical articles, Fr. Schall continually strove to reach the heart of the matter: what separates the Catholic mind from any other mind?

In an excellent 2009 interview with ZENIT discussing the book, Fr. Schall stated, “The mind that is Catholic is open to all sources of information, including what comes from Revelation.” He also points out differences from a secular, atheistic, or Protestant mind, for example, to what it means to be a Catholic mind.

Fr. Schall is suggesting that the Catholic mind does not enclose itself in limited thinking or superstition, as if Catholicism is a mere religion of rigidity and narrowness, but through an openness toward both faith and reason this mind is led to a new, exciting direction, a direction leading upwards to something greater than the individual—God.

“The ‘primary’ source of the Catholic mind is reality itself, including the reality of revelation,” Fr. Schall said. Any student, then, of Pope Benedict XVI, would know what reality itself is, none other than Jesus Christ. Benedict posited the fundamental question in Jesus of Nazareth, “Is He real, reality itself, or isn’t He?”

In the Catholic mind, the purpose of existence thus becomes crystalized: reality, then, is not just the sole existence of the universe, but a Christocentric, Trinitarian perspective on that universe—as well as every thing and person within it. If reality is God, we live in that reality to know, love, and serve God. Every thought, decision, word, and action from the Catholic mind is from that perspective.

This is why the Catholic mind is so bountiful in curiosity and demanding of knowledge; why it’s so adept in so many different vocational callings and careers; why it embraces the beauty of the world while knowing its goal is in the eternal hereafter with the Beatific Vision. “What is peculiar to Catholicism, I have always thought,” Fr. Schall mused, “is its refusal to leave anything out.”

This is why the Catholic mind is one, when in its state of grace, of living not for itself, but the other. Fr. Schall uses an example to make this point, speaking of the Church’s great spiritual minds, “I read with great profit everyone from Justin Martyr to Aquinas and Benedict. But they take me not to themselves but to the truth.”

“They take me not to themselves but to the truth.”

Such is the great dilemma of our time. How to balance the demands and joys of everyday with the greater task of enduring life’s trials in the quest to become saints? Basically, how to be Catholic in such a world as today?

It is a difficult needle to thread. The war may have been won by Christ on the Cross, but engaging in our own battles remain. As such, there is little doubt “lapsed” or “recovering” Catholics comprise a large part of society. To some, the Catholic perspective, the Catholic mind, may seem unrealistic, antiquated, or downright dangerous. On the other hand, one may see secularization as assaulting the Catholic mind to the point of capitulation. Should the Catholic mind continue to succumb to the homogenization of secularism, what becomes of the endurance of the great Catholic tradition that has defined cultures and shaped civilizations?

“Much will be required of the person entrusted with much,” Jesus in Luke 12:48 warns, “and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more.”

What exactly separates the Catholic mind from any another kind of mind?

Fr. Schall, the good Jesuit that he is, understands inherently the Jesuit adage of “finding God in all things” and the Jesuit directive of being “men and women for others.” These also describe the mission of the Catholic mind.

The Catholic mind has:

  • Access to the Sacraments, and is expected to live and think accordingly to the graces prompted by reception of those sacraments
  • A spiritual treasure trove from Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition and prayers
  • Intimate knowledge of the Mother of God
  • Appreciation for both fides et ratio, faith and reason. Pope St. John Paul II’s 1998 encyclical on the subject quotes Gaudium et Spes: “[O]nly in the mystery of the incarnate Word does the mystery of man take on light.” The great pope continues, “Seen in any other terms, the mystery of personal existence remains an insoluble riddle.” The Catholic mind, therefore, demands not a wandering faithful, but a tireless flock, a church militant.
  • Capacity to grasp and articulate universal principles (see another Jesuit’s work, Fr. Spitzer’s Ten Universal Principles: A Brief Philosophy of the Life Issues)
  • Art, music and aesthetic beauty exemplifying the sensuous Catholic imagination
  • Unparalleled educational resources
  • A powerful bioethical tradition
  • A proud history of global charitable giving
  • The pantheon of saints
  • Appreciation for dynamic cultural traditions
  • The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass

Yet, given the Catholic mind’s identity struggles in the contemporary milieu, some of these gifts have not registered as they are intended. The greatest and most tragic loss visible today is a disassociation of a uniquely Catholic identity. Fr. Schall, a longtime philosophy professor, points out a large-scale failure in education, for instance. “Catholic institutions of higher learning, as they are called, simply gave up what was unique about themselves and the reasons for having Catholic universities in the first place,” he said. As a result, he believes, “In the modern world, we find no group more deprived of the glories of their own mind than young Catholics.”

It is the responsibility of the Catholic mind to no longer let that young Catholic be deprived of the eternal promises of the very faith that can separate them from the individualism of today’s world. Kowtowing and accommodation will not suffice; when the young Catholic wonders what is so great about her Catholic faith, how will we respond?

The Catholic mind cannot take for granted it will remain a robust mind—or even a wholly Catholic mind—if it fails to nurture itself as a mind directed towards God, and not the self, no matter whatever noble purpose it think it might be pursuing.

Back, for a moment, to Fr. Schall’s note about reading Catholic writers: “They take me not to themselves but to the truth.” It is a sacrifice to embrace a Christocentric perspective in today’s world. One sacrifices the illusory prospect of “fitting in” to what Fr. Spitzer has called the “in-crowd.” Catholic faithful, then, need to support each other, not unlike the kind of friendship expressed in the support system of Tolkien’s hobbits surrounding Frodo, as we together undergo the harrowing but ultimately salvific journey of authentic Catholic spirituality.

The Catholic mind must identify itself first and foremost as Catholic before any other adjective supplants it.


“The mind that is Catholic seeks the source of what is and to delight in it,” Fr. Schall concluded. “This is its glory.” End quotes

By James Day

James Day’s work has appeared in Crisis, Catholic World Report, and Catholic Exchange. He is the author of Father Benedict: The Spiritual and Intellectual Legacy of Pope Benedict XVI (November 2016, Sophia Institute Press).

The Biblical Quest to See the Face of God STEPHEN BEALE: re-blogged [this is excellent!]


The Biblical Quest to See the Face of God


One of the most extraordinary moments in the beginning of the Gospel of John is when Jesus attracts his first followers.

Unlike the other three gospels, where Jesus goes out looking for disciples, here the disciples take the initiative. Here is the account in John:

The next day John was there again with two of his disciples, and as he watched Jesus walk by, he said, “Behold, the Lamb of God.” The two disciples heard what he said and followed Jesus. Jesus turned and saw them following him and said to them, “What are you looking for?” They said to him, “Rabbi” (which translated means Teacher), “where are you staying?” He said to them, “Come, and you will see.” So they went and saw where he was staying, and they stayed with him that day. It was about four in the afternoon (John 1:35-39).

What is most striking about the above vignette is that Jesus asks them, What are you looking for? This seems surprising to us because it’s obvious what the men were seeking: Jesus! On one level, Jesus is interacting with them as any normal person would — if someone starts following you around, you would ask them what they’re doing. But we can also read his question on a deeper level: in following Jesus, were the two men looking for the right thing?* In other words, were they looking for a worldly messiah who would liberate Israel? Were they looking for a mere prophet? Were they even truly seeking?

What should we really be seeking?

As Christians, we know the answer is God.
But the Old Testament offered a more specific answer than this.

One of the most memorable expressions of this seeking is in Psalm 27:

One thing I ask of the Lord;
this I seek:
To dwell in the Lord’s house
all the days of my life,
To gaze on the Lord’s beauty,
to visit his temple.

“Come,” says my heart, “seek His face”;
Your face, Lord, do I seek!
Do not hide Your face from me;
do not repel Your servant in anger.
You are my salvation; do not cast me off;
do not forsake me, God my savior! (vv. 4, 8-9).

The psalms are full of variants of this plea for God to show His face to His people. For example, Psalm 4:7 states, “Many say, ‘May we see better times!/ Lord, show us the light of your face!’” And Psalm 44:25 says, “Why do you hide Your face;/ why forget our pain and misery?”

This petition to see the face of God is driven by a related set of desires and concerns. First, asking God to turn his face is another way of beseeching God to listen to him. Intriguingly, research has shown that for humans our inner ears move with our eardrums. Of course, God is a spirit, not a body, but the psalmist is speaking through metaphor.


Second, the turning of the face is a sign of favor. This is a universal fact of human interaction. Think about what happens when you do the opposite: what does it mean to turn your back on someone? It indicates that they have fallen out of your friendship — that you won’t share in fellowship with them or extend any favors.

Third, there are specific favors that are sought. Often the prayer to see the face of God is accompanied with a cry for redemption from sin or relief from some misery.

But, above all this, the yearning to see the face of God reflects the deep-seated desire to ‘behold the beauty of God,’ to experience His presence, to enter into communion with Him.

This seeking out of God’s face can be traced back to Moses’ encounter with God on Sinai:

Moses said, “Please let me see your glory!” The Lord answered: I will make all my goodness pass before you, and I will proclaim my name, “Lord,” before you; I who show favor to whom I will, I who grant mercy to whom I will. But you cannot see my face, for no one can see me and live (Exodus 33:18-20)

This veiling of God’s face can be traced back even further, to the Genesis account, after Adam and Eve had sinned. The description of God in the aftermath of this event is among the oddest of the Old Testament. According to Genesis 3:8, Adam and Even ‘heard the sound of the Lord God walking about in the garden.’ In fact, a more literal reading of the Hebrew is even stranger. It would go something like this: ‘They heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden.’ (This is how the Douay-Rheims Bible, among others, renders it.)


Here God’s presence is limited to His voice. Though God might appeared to Adam and Eve in some kind of pre-incarnate bodily form, such communion is no longer possible.† All that remains is His voice and the sound of His footprints.

In the Incarnation, this is all reversed. The voice of God, his Word, takes on flesh. Likewise, whereas Moses had only been permitted to see God’s glory from behind, Christ made His face visible to men.

Is this interpretation one that is actually grounded in the text?

I believe so. First, it is a reasonable and obvious inference from the text of John that Jesus turned around and faced the disciples. There is no other way to really construe the physical circumstances of their encounter. Second, a number of Church Fathersnoticed Jesus must have shown His face to them and attributed theological significance to this fact.


Third, the whole chapter seems arranged in such a way to bring us to just this conclusion. We tend to bracket off John 1 into three sections: the majestic prologue (vv. 1-18), John’s testimony (vv. 19-34), and the invitation to the first disciples (vv. 35-51). That’s how a typical Bible will break down the chapter—and it’s completely valid—but not at the expense of forgetting the beginning.

Listen again to the earlier verses, keeping in mind their potential bearing on our discussion.

First, there is John 1:14,

And the Word became flesh
and made his dwelling among us,
and we saw his glory,
the glory as of the Father’s only Son,
full of grace and truth.

In this reference to God’s glory, commentators see a particular allusion back to Moses’ story in the exodus. Pope Benedict XVI, for one, makes the connection, declaring that,


Something completely new happened, however, with the Incarnation. The search for God’s face was given an unimaginable turning-point, because this time this face could be seen: it is the face of Jesus, of the Son of God who became man.

(This is a major theme for Pope Benedict. He describes his book, Jesus of Nazareth, as “an expression of my personal search ‘for the face of the Lord.’”)

Indeed, John 1:18 reminds us that ‘no one has ever seen God’—to reinforce the extraordinary reality that through the Incarnation God can now be seen, even though in the past He could not. This is confirmed in John’s testimony which concludes with this statement, “Now I have seen and testified that he is the Son of God” (v. 34). We then go from this to reading about how the first disciples ‘beheld the Lamb of God’ as John the Baptist called them to do.


This truth—that Jesus makes manifest the face of God—is affirmed later in the Gospel of John, in chapter 14, when one disciple asks to see the Father. Jesus responds, “Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you for so long a time and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?” (verse 9).

Likewise, Colossian 1:15 declares that Jesus is the ‘the image of the invisible God.’ A lesser known verse, 2 Corinthians 4:6, is even more explicit, “For God who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,”’ has shone in our hearts to bring to light the knowledge of the glory of God on the face of Christ.”


Since the fall, the search for God had been a search for His face, His presence. It’s what Adam and Eve lost in the garden and it’s what Moses and the Israelites were ultimately seeking in the Promised Land. This quest was fulfilled by Jesus. When Jesus turned to the disciples and asked what they should seek, his question came with the answer and the answer was the light of his face as He turned to speak with them.

*I’m particularly indebted to the commentaries by Frederick Dale BrunerD.A. Carson, and the Greek Expositor’s New Testament for understanding how to interpret this portion of the verse. Carson also is another source who confirmed the connection between the exodus and the prologue to the Gospel of John.

†In exactly what manner that Adam and Eve previously enjoyed communion with God is an interesting question that seems largely unanswered. To be clear, I do not mean to suggest that they experienced something on a level with the Incarnation. A more likely view is the theory of many commentators that Christ appeared in the Old Testament in a ‘pre-incarnate’ form. For more, see here. And, for a commentator who says this about the Genesis account, see here. END QUOTES6


By Stephen Beale

Stephen Beale is a freelance writer based in Providence, Rhode Island. Raised as an evangelical Protestant, he is a convert to Catholicism. He is a former news editor at and was a correspondent for the New Hampshire Union Leader, where he covered the 2008 presidential primary. He has appeared on Fox News, C-SPAN and the Today Show and his writing has been published in the Washington Times, Providence Journal, the National Catholic Register and on and A native of Topsfield, Massachusetts, he graduated from Brown University in 2004 with a degree in classics and history. His areas of interest include Eastern Christianity, Marian and Eucharistic theology, medieval history, and the saints. He welcomes tips, suggestions, and any other feedback at bealenews at gmail dot com. Follow him on Twitter at

A PARODY OF ESSENTIAL TRUTH ……….. by Patrick Miron



by Patrick Miron

“How is my soil?” have you objectively checked yours lately?

The New Testament often finds Jesus teaching important, even critical truths is the form of parables. Among my favorites is this one from Mark’s GOSPEL [A Term Meaning: “good news”]

Christ here is teaching large group of yet unconverted to “the way” [Acts 24:14]

Mt. 7:13 “Enter ye in at the narrow gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way that leadeth to destruction, and many there are who go in threat.”

Gal. 3:2 “Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law, or by hearing with faith” Rom. 10:13 “ So faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes by the preaching of Christ”

Mk. 4: 1-10 “And again he began to teach by the sea side; and a great multitude was gathered together unto him, so that he went up into a ship, and sat in the sea; and all the multitude was upon the land by the sea side. And he taught them many things in parables, and said unto them in his doctrine: Hear ye: Behold, the sower went out to sow. And whilst he sowed, some fell by the way side, and the birds of the air came and ate it up. And other some fell upon stony ground, where it had not much earth; and it shot up immediately, because it had no depth of earth.

And when the sun was risen, it was scorched; and because it had no root, it withered away. And some fell among thorns; and the thorns grew up, and choked it, and it yielded no fruit. And some fell upon good ground; and brought forth fruit that grew up, and increased and yielded, one thirty, another sixty, and another a hundred. And he said: He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.

And when he was alone, the twelve that were with him asked him the parable.   And he said to them: To you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God: but to them that are without, all things are done in parable.  That seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand: lest at any time they should be converted, and their sins should be forgiven them [Mark 4:     13-20 explain it].

I suspect that nearly everyone’s “soil type” varies from time to time; going from ROCKY to Good, and others in between. What is Critical to salvation is where we “land and end up.”

Here are significant tips:

“Here ye”

“And it yielded no fruit”

“And some fell upon good ground; and brought forth fruit that grew up, and increased and yielded, one thirty, another sixty, and another a hundred. And he said: He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.”

Notice that there is only one type of good soil, BUT a variety of NOT so-good soils. And notice the final 3 words: “LET him [all] HEAR.”

READ Eph. 4:1-7 when checking your soil type.

Eph. 4: 1-7

[1] I therefore, a prisoner in the Lord, beseech you that you walk worthy of the vocation in which you are called, [2] With all humility and mildness, with patience, supporting one another in charity. [3] Careful to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. [4] One body and one Spirit; as you are called in one hope of your calling. [5] One Lord, one faith, one baptism. [6] One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in us all. [7] But to every one of us is given grace, according to the measure of the giving of Christ

God Bless you,


No two stories of Our Lady are ever the same: A mother’s individualized love  Ellen Mady: re-blogged |


No two stories of Our Lady are ever the same: A mother’s individualized love

 Ellen Mady |

Our Lady of Miracles of Caacupé is beloved in Paraguay.

As we hear stories of Marian devotions from different countries, we start to identify common elements. Our Lady often, for example, blesses countries with signs of her presence and closeness shortly after a nation or a people converts to Christianity, as a way of affirming their faith and introducing them to the power of her intercession. She frequently inspires images that depict her in a manner in keeping with the culture she is visiting: she truly looks like one of their own. The image and symbols of Our Lady of Guadalupe have particular significance to the locals of the Mexico, for example, and look culturally very distinct from the image of Our Lady of Fatima or of Our Lady of Kibeho in Rwanda.

Despite these similarities, no two apparitions or miracle stories associated with the Blessed Virgin are exactly the same. This is one of the reasons why we can read story after story about the Blessed Mother and never tire of hearing about her. Hearing about how Mary works in the lives of other individuals and peoples is ultimately a reminder to look for her presence in our own lives and be willing to share that story, whatever it might be: an answered prayer, a moment of peace, a renewal of faith.

Today, we turn to Paraguay.

In the 1500s, missionaries were new to Paraguay, and had been accepted by some tribes, like the Guarani, but rejected by others. The arrival of Christianity thus brought both hope and conflict.

One of the Guarani, a man named Jose, was asked to carve a statue of the Blessed Mother for a mission located in the city of Tobati. He went into the forest in search of an appropriate piece of wood to carve, and found himself surrounded by the violent and hostile Mbayo, who had opposed the Guarini conversions. John hid in the hollow of a tree and fervently begged Mary to protect him, promising to carve two images in her honor. According to legend, Our Lady appeared to him in a pillar of light and assured him that his life would be spared. After the Mbayo had passed and he had escaped, Jose carved the two images, giving one to the mission Tobati and keeping one in his home for personal devotion.

In 1603, a flood wiped out the entire area, destroying everything, including Jose’s house. As the waters receded, the small statue of Our Lady miraculously reappeared floating on a lake, undestroyed. The locals recognized this as a sign of Mary’s presence, and began venerating the statue as “Our Lady of Miracles.”

The statue has been housed in a succession of chapels and churches. It has been enshrined in the city of Caacupé, 10 miles south of Tobati, since the 16th century, and has been in the current church building since 1980. In 2015, during his visit to Paraguay, Pope Francis honored the shrine, celebrated Mass there and granted it the title of “minor basilica.”

Our Lady of Miracles of Caacupé, pray for us. END QUOTES



Mary will find her way into your life with creativity and persistence

 Ellen Mady |

Edwin del Valle | CC BY SA 4.0


The faithful of El Salvador are devoted to Our Lady as the Virgin of Peace.

Our Lady’s presence — in the life of Jesus, the life of the Church, and our life — is personal and persistent.

Mary wants us to be able to count on her. So much so, that if we don’t already know her and aren’t aware of her presence, she will come up with creative ways to enter our lives and make her love and protection felt.

In El Salvador, this meant mysteriously washing up on a beach shore.

It was 1692, and the country was rift with violent conflict. A few merchants traveling along the beach found a wooden box. They couldn’t open it, so they took it with them to the nearby city of San Miguel. Someone pried open the box, and found a statue of the Virgin Mary holding the Infant Jesus.

Based on the style of the statue, it has been speculated that it was of European, possibly Spanish origin. There was no way for the people to figure out where the statue had been going, or how it had gotten to their shore. It didn’t really matter, though. The unknown origins of the statue only made it clearer to the local people that Our Lady had freely chosen them. She wanted to make her presence known to them and had found a way to make it happen.

Shortly after the arrival of the statue, the civil strife inexplicably ended. The people attributed their peace to the Virgin’s presence, and began calling her Our Lady of Peace.

A century later, Our Lady again came to the rescue of San Miguel when a nearby volcano erupted in 1787. The lava flowed toward the city and threated to destroy the entire area. The people of San Miguel knew that Mary could help them. They took the image to the front door of the parish church and begged her to protect them. Right before entering the city, the lava changed directions and headed south instead.

After these signs and countless other favors bestowed on the region and its people, it is no wonder that Our Lady of Peace became so beloved to the El Salvadorians, who began asking for her to be made patron of their country.

Pope Benedict XV granted this request. Pope Paul VI later reaffirmed her status and assured the nation that Our Lady’s presence would be with them always by further elevating her status, naming her the primary patron of El Salvador in perpetuity.

Our Lady of Peace of San Miguel, pray for us! END QUOTES

Why is scripture called the “Bible”?  Philip Kosloski: re-blogged


Why is scripture called the “Bible”?

 Philip Kosloski |

Riala | CC0

No, it doesn’t mean, “Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth.”

While there are no exact figures to cite, most claim the Bible is the world’s best-selling book of all time. It has been translated into countless languages and generally speaking is a book most people own.

However, even though it is a popular book, few know the origins of its name.

The English word “Bible” has at its root the Latin word biblia, which in turn is derived from the Greek biblion. Both ancient words originally meant “book.” Early on, Christians began to identify the collection of sacred writings as a single volume of inspired text. According to Douglas Harper, “The Christian scripture was referred to in Greek as Ta Biblia as early as c. 223.”

Two phrases were eventually coined to identify the scriptures, one in Latin, biblia sacra (holy books), and biblia to hagia (the holy books) in Greek.

While it may seem strange (or anti-climatic) to identify the most sacred text of Christianity with such a mundane name, the point was to identify the scriptures as the bookThink of the name as calling it is the “book of all books;” a book that nothing else can compare with. For this reason instead of calling it the “Holy Book” in English, tradition has preserved the original name and we continue to call it the “Holy Bible,” differentiating it from every other book that has been (or ever will be) published. End quotes


 Philip Kosloski | Jul 16, 2017

One thing is for certain, it didn’t drop out of the sky.

Christianity without the Bible is hard to imagine. But in fact, for the first 300 years of the Church, the Bible (meaning a single compilation containing all of the texts sacred to Christianity) didn’t exist.

The creation of the Bible was a long process. Leaders of the early Church sifted through numerous manuscripts and discerned, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, which books to keep and which books to set aside.

The process of establishing a canon of Scripture differed for the Old and New Testament.

Formation of the Old Testament

The Old Testament is basically an ancient compilation of the Jewish Sacred Scriptures. These holy texts developed over time and were at first handed on orally from one generation to the next until they were finally written down and preserved.

About 200 years before the birth of Jesus there arose a Greek translation of the Hebrew texts that became widely accepted as a legitimate (even inspired) translation. Tradition relates how King Ptolemy II of Egypt ordered a translation and invited Jewish elders from Jerusalem to prepare the Greek text. Seventy-two elders, six from each of the 12 tribes, arrived in Egypt to fulfill the request.

Another tradition recounts how the translators were all put in separate rooms and told to produce their own separate text. When the task was completed the translators compared them all and it was discovered that each one was miraculously identical to the others.

The result became known as the Septuagint (from the Greek word for 70) and was especially popular among Greek-speaking Jews. This led to the Septuagint becoming a primary source for the Gospel writers and many other early Christians.

When formulating the official canon of Scripture the Church looked to the Septuagint to discern which books to retain. The Catholic canon of the Old Testament also includes some texts and additions to books (for example, the Books of Judith and Tobit, Wisdom and Sirach) originally written in Greek, not Hebrew, and therefore not considered part of the Jewish Scriptures, though respected and read by Jews.

Formation of the New Testament

Inspired by the Holy Spirit, various writers wrote down in the years following Jesus’ death the many stories circulating about the Messiah. These writers were either apostles, or friends of apostles who knew Jesus very well. They witnessed the events or interviewed people who had, and sought to preserve the authentic life of Jesus Christ and his many teachings.

As time progressed copies of these works were spread and various Christian communities gathered them to be read during the Sunday celebration of the Mass. Copies of St. Paul’s letters were also disseminated and were regarded by the communities as inspired by the Holy Spirit.

Already by the time of Saint Irenaeus (A.D. 182-88) there is mention of the “quadriform” Gospel, referring to the four Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

During the fourth century the need arose to officially codify the Bible, which by this point was already starting to come together. Some historians believe that part of the motivation to produce an official canon came from Emperor Constantine who commissioned 50 copies of the sacred scriptures for the Bishop of Constantinople.

The approval of which books to include started with the Council of Laodicea in 363, was continued when Pope Damasus I commissioned St. Jerome to translate the Scriptures into Latin in 382, and was settled definitely during the Synods of Hippo (393) and Carthage (397).

The goal was to dismiss all erroneous works that were circulating at the time and instruct the local Churches as to which books could be read at Mass.

The Church has always believed that this lengthy process was guided by the Holy Spirit. As the Catechism explains, “Holy Mother Church, relying on the faith of the apostolic age, accepts as sacred and canonical the books of the Old and the New Testaments, whole and entire, with all their parts, on the grounds that, written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, they have God as their author, and have been handed on as such to the Church herself.” End quotes


God’s guide to fishing  Tom Hoopes |  Mercy McNab: Reblogged


God’s guide to fishing

 Tom Hoopes

Mercy McNab | Aleteia


The whole of Sunday’s readings could be read as God’s six tips for fishers of men.

The ultimate author of Scripture is the Holy Spirit. The Gospels report words spoken by God the Son. With a combination like that, you can find depths of meaning even in the smallest of phrases.

For instance: “Come after me and I will make you fishers of men.” In fact, the whole of Sunday’s readings (Week Three of Ordinary Time, Year B) could be read as God’s six tips for fishers of men.

1: No fishing experience is necessary.

The Gospel shows Jesus choosing Simon, Andrew, James and John – the greatest apostles in history. This is analogous to Alexander the Great picking his commanders or Napoleon forming his inner circle before setting out to conquer the world.

But Jesus doesn’t choose the best and brightest; he doesn’t choose those with the greatest tactical skills or the most far-reaching education. Instead, he chooses simple fisherman, minimally educated.

What these fishermen will achieve will dwarf the accomplishments of Alexander the Great and Napoleon. They will start a revolution of truth that made science possible. They will unleash beauty that reinvents the arts. They will start an ethical system that changes the way human beings are treated worldwide. How?

Because Jesus didn’t say, “Come and fish with me.” He said “Come after me and I will make you fishers of men.” Ultimately, God did it — not them.

2: They didn’t change the river of history; they fished it.

Jesus didn’t call the apostles to change the world. Their goal was to lure a few souls out of the dark waters and into the light of grace.

This took the apostles a long time to understand. They thought their job was to expel the Roman occupiers, bring the tax collectors to heel, or put the Samaritans in their place. No. Their job was to fish.

It is the same with us. We worry about the crushing weight of society’s burdens — politics, the economy, violence — but we don’t have to. Our job each week is to fish. Bring a soul or two closer to Christ. God does the rest.

3: Fishers have to go where the fish are.

It is a little ironic that the Church chose a reading from Jonah as the first reading. In Jonah, the fish is the fisher of men.

But his story gives an important lesson. Jonah didn’t want to travel to Nineveh to preach repentance. But that was where the people who needed to repent were.

In our time, too, we wish we didn’t have to leave our comfortable circles to bring Christ to others. We wish they would approach us and ask us about the faith. They won’t. We have to go where they are.

4: You have to use the lure the fish likes.

God in his wisdom made some fish who love lures, some who love live bait, and some who just go where the other fish are. The fisherman is only successful if he understands this.

It is the same with men and women. Some need to be lured, some need to be fed and some need to be netted. Only by doing things God’s way does Jonah net Nineveh. It is the same for each of us.

5: The first rule of fishing is “Don’t scare the fish.”

One of the first rules a child learns fishing with dad is that he must not scare the fish. The Second Reading gives Christians just this message.

Paul says “those weeping” should act as if they were not weeping; “those rejoicing as not rejoicing … those using the world as not using it fully.”

We might translate Paul for our times this way: “Those who are shouting about politics should not shout; those obsessing about sports should relax; those who hate what their neighbor is doing should put that aside.”

Others might act like these things are the only important things on earth. Not us. We know better. “The world in its present form is passing away,” says St. Paul.

We don’t want our attachments to pieces of the world to block anyone from seeing the next world. We don’t want to scare the fish.

6: The most important thing, though, is to just go ahead and fish.

Simon and Andrew “abandoned their nets and followed him.” James and John “left their father Zebedee in the boat” and followed.

God calls us, too, in the middle of our lives — in our workplaces and with our family — to put our plans aside and try to catch a few fish.

The future world depends on it. END QUOTES

Authority over Demons MARCELLINO D’AMBROSIO, PH.D. ….Re-blogged


Authority over Demons

I’ve read many term papers in my day.  Most of them are no more than a patchwork of quotes.  That’s because college students are smart enough to know that they really can’t say much on their own authority–to make their case, they have to lean on the authority of others more learned than themselves.

That’s exactly how the scribes and Pharisee’s taught in Jesus’ day.  “Rabbi Abraham says this. . . Rabbi Gamaliel says that . . .

So when a new young rabbi appears in Capernaum, this is what people expect.  They are in for a surprise: he quotes no one else except God’s Word.  That’s because there is no one more learned than He.  In fact, he happens to be God’s Word made flesh.

But he doesn’t just speak to the humble townspeople this way.  When he encounters superhuman forces that strike fear into the hearts of men, he is unruffled.  There are no incantations; he does not plead.  Rather than Jesus being afraid of them, the demons are afraid of him.  Upon seeing them, they shriek.  He calmly commands — “shut up and get out.”  A moment later all is still.  A former victim is now a free man and bystanders marvel.  Word easily travels fast — little Capernaum happens to be right on a caravan route from Syria all the way to Egypt.

But isn’t all this talk of demons just a relic of the mythological world view of pre-scientific people?  After all, these primitive folks don’t know about mental illness, chemical imbalance, viruses, and bacteria.  Surely they just explained what they could not understand in terms of the supernatural.

That sounds very sophisticated, but it’s dead wrong.  First of all, demons are not supernatural at all.  Super-natural means above and beyond nature or creation — in other words, uncreated and transcendent.  Only God qualifies for this label.

St. Thomas called the realm of angels and demons “preternatural” since it escapes the sensory knowledge that we can have of the rest of creation.  We human beings were created by God as enfleshed spirits.  But divine revelation tells us that God also created pure spiritual beings with the same freedom we have.  Spirits who have chosen to use that freedom to serve God we call “angels” or messengers.  Those who used their freedom to defy God are called demons.  Pride and envy lead them to hate not only God, but us who are made in God’s image and likeness.

So people in Jesus day had good cause to fear demons–they are hostile and powerful.  Plus, their intelligence is superior to ours–note that the demon in the story, unlike the humans, instantly recognized who Jesus was.

OK, the ancients may have attributed too much to demonic influence, but moderns tend to make the opposite error.  The existence of the angelic and demonic realm is part of the ordinary teaching of the Church’s Magisterium, clearly reaffirmed clearly by Popes Paul VI, John Paul II, Benedict, and Francis.   In fact when we say in the Creed that we believe in the Creator of heaven and earth, “of all things visible and invisible,” the invisible things refer precisely to this world.

So why is it important to believe that such creatures exist?  Because the first rule of warfare is to know your enemy.  Paul tells us clearly in Ephesians 6:12 “Our battle is not against human forces but against the principalities and powers . . . the evil spirits.”

Only God has power over this world.  Jesus, in commanding the demons, as he later in the Gospel commands the wind and the waves, does what only God can do.  Once we are joined to Christ, the enemy has no more authority or power over us.  Unless, of course, we give it to him through sin.  If we cling to the Lord and listen to him, we have nothing to worry about.  If not, we have much to worry about. 

This is offered as a reflection upon the readings for the 4th Sunday in Ordinary Time, liturgical cycle B (Deut. 18:15-20,10; Psalm 95, I Cor. 7:32-35; Mark 1:21-28).  It appears here by permission of the author.

image: By Rolf Kranz (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons