The Apostasy of Our Times; by Fr. Timothy V. Vaverek: Re-Blogged

 

The Apostasy of Our Times

Fr. Timothy V. Vaverek

SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 11, 2018

For over fifty years, there has been a relentless campaign to reinterpret the Gospel in order to remove the Cross from Christian life. This has been done in the name of love, mercy, and realism – but it is none of these. It is a denial of God’s love manifest in the suffering of Christ that abandons people to sin, fear, and error. It is an apostasy that declares our sharing in God’s love sometimes impractical or impossible.

This crisis arose because Christian life ceased to be understood as a personal, communal participation in Jesus’ life. Had that awareness remained vigorous, Christians would not be scandalized by divine love’s call to share his suffering. The Cross would be recognized as the perfect revelation of love, not something to flee. Apart from it, we cannot really know love. (I Jn 3:16)

Love unites, making the loved one “another self” whose joys and sorrows become the lover’s own. Jesus could have known sin and evil abstractly (and thus painlessly) had he chosen to distance himself from us. Instead, he united himself to us intimately, thereby experiencing in his own humanity the concrete damage done to us by sin and evil. The physical agonies of his crucifixion paled in comparison.

Jesus suffered not only because of our sin, although that is the greatest evil. He also suffered because of the evil that befalls us in our innocence, especially when it is directed against our love for him. He bore all the neglect, abuse, and violence in our lives.

This loving union with Jesus, in turn, causes us to share his sufferings over the sin and evil that afflicts us and others. In this way, divine love unites us to God in Christ, brings us true contrition, arouses hatred for sin and evil, and moves us to suffer over others.

The Cross – our encounter with sin and evil – has thus changed from an experience of isolation, alienation, and destruction into a place of personal communion with God, Christ, and all humanity, which offers victory despite our powerlessness.

Jesus’ suffering on the Cross reveals that sin and evil are not so much violations of abstract principles as concrete ways in which human life is spiritually, psychologically, and physically damaged. In every situation, culpable or not, they are contrary to our well-being. Hence, they are contrary to God and his love for us. That is why both sin and evil were so painful for Jesus – and why they should pain us.

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Christians, then, suffer in a particular way on account of past sins or innocent encounters with evil. This can be excruciating, but never destructive. On the contrary, this particular pain signifies that God is with us and that his love is drawing us deeper into the crucified heart of the Risen Christ. Divine love unfailingly enables us to hope all things, to endure all things, and not to be separated from Jesus, even when this love results in death. (I Cor 13:7-8; Rom 8:35-39)

Once this perspective is forgotten, Christian life is readily misunderstood as a submission to abstract teachings rather than a participation in the life of Jesus. Consequently, the demands of love take on the distorted appearance of legalistic obligations that sometimes seem merciless or unrealistic because they require suffering.

This false perception leads revisionist moralists (including some bishops) to claim that a merciful escape from “abstract norms” can be found by considering practical factors such as ignorance, pressure, feasibility, or private conscience. They believe this is a loving accommodation to human limitations.

Thus, they argue that contraception or abortion preserves the life of a mother; continuing an adulterous second marriage prevents a spouse and children being abandoned; gay marriage encourages commitment; or that assisted suicide avoids an agonizing death. Some revisionists claim these are not only tolerable options, but can actually be moral duties.

This is not love or mercy. It denies that Christ’s love frees us to suffer willingly rather than to be mastered by sin, pressure, or error. It claims it can be right to avoid Christ’s freedom, especially when that freedom leads to the Cross. It prevents our setting others free or suffering over them by declaring their situation and actions acceptable when, in reality, these remain harmful and inhuman (even if not culpable).

Jesus did not come to end suffering in life, and certainly not to call Christians down from the Cross. He proclaimed a love that draws everyone to the Cross in order to share his sorrow and joy. (Jn 12:32, 17:13-15; Mt 16:21-27) He warned that we would suffer precisely because we love him more than others, the world, and ourselves.

Christians have accepted horrifying agonies for themselves and their loved ones rather than deny God or even appear to do so. Why, then, should a Christian deny God under pressure through contraception, abortion, a false marriage, homosexual union, or assisted suicide?

Isn’t martyrdom rather than the slightest sin required of us all, not as an abstract norm, but as a matter of love? That’s the path Jesus chose. How realistic, then, are the revisionists’ alternatives?

The Church understands that fear or ignorance can lead people to fail to love as they should, harming themselves and others. That is why she showed mercy to those who lapsed during persecutions. But she affirmed they had failed to act according to Jesus’ love and needed to change. Holy Communion was withheld until they rejected the sin, fear, or error that led to their lapse.

If bishops and theologians wish to be merciful and realistic, they will once again proclaim Jesus and his Cross, boldly admitting that sharing his life and love leads to sufferings that could otherwise be avoided. There’s no greater or more realistic mercy than to help others embrace Christ, sharing his agony, rejection, and death.

Only those who have forgotten this, the heart of the Gospel, could abandon others to the evils that beset them, declaring the path of love infeasible, impossible, or something to escape. END QUOTES

 

 

8 Factors that contribute to inner peace  Luz Ivonne Ream: Re-Blogged

 

Dear friend is Christ,

I’m sharing this re-Blogged article because Peace is what our God desires for US.

I think the points made are valid and meritious but lacking in my opinion a spiritual perspective. Without first finding and making peace with God; it seems to ME, to be impossible to actually find peace within ourselves, which must begin with truly forgiving ourselves for our “screw-ups.”

“God grant me therein Serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the Courage to change the things I can and the Wisdom to know the difference” Amen PJM

 

8 Factors that contribute to inner peace

 Luz Ivonne Ream

 

Here’s how to find the calm that we so easily lose.

Peace, tranquility, agreement, balance, and a calm mind. We are all in search of this state of harmony, and we’ll do practically anything and everything to achieve it. We even look for it in risky places or activities, including resorting to esoteric means, unaware of the enormous dangers (both physical and spiritual) that lie behind them.

Finding inner peace is not a matter of attaining and retaining a state of apathy or indifference, but rather about seeking and finding that interior peace we all desire in the proper way and best places while remaining engaged with life.

If only we fully understood that living in harmony is quite within our reach — more than we often imagine — and that its pursuit and enjoyment need not cost us a penny. There are eight factors – or attitudes – that can help us move towards that tranquility and emotional and mental stability. They are outlined in a list commonly attributed to a Duke University study:

  1. Live free of constant speculation, and avoid living in a state of distrust or resentment.Feeding resentment is a determining factor in the lives of unhappy people. Let go of all vestiges of resentment; that will require changing any attitudes you may have that do not allow you to advance on the path to forgiveness and, therefore, to advance in love.
  2. Avoid living in the past.Walk in the present toward the future. An unhealthy concern with past mistakes and failures can lead to depression. Move on, letting go of the past, so that you may truly experience the present more fully, on the path towards a promising future.
  3. Do not waste time or spend energy on things that you cannot change.You have to cooperate with life instead of trying to run away from or against it. Focus on what you can do, using your gifts and talents, until you achieve your goals. Don’t get hooked up on things that are not in your hands or in your power to solve; trust life’s processes. Do what you can, what is our responsibility. As for the rest … if you are a believer, you already know in whose hands to place that.
  4. Stay involved in the world that you happen to live in today, and do not hide from it.Do not run away from the world or become a hermit or a loner, even when you must go through emotionally difficult times. The world needs you! Realize that it would not be the same without you.
  5. When life makes you go through unfair or challenging moments, do not allow self-pity to overpower you.Accept the fact that no one goes through life without a little suffering and adversity. It is in your hands to choose if you want to be the hero of your own story or cause pity and stay in the role of victim. There will always be problems, but there will also be even more solutions. Whatever is not in our power to solve, we must let go, and move on, but never remain paralyzed.
  6. Cultivate timeless virtues: love, humor, compassion, and loyalty.True virtues and values ​​are not passing things that come and go; they remain steady. They reflect our dignity as persons and the true intrinsic value within each one of us.
  7. Have realistic expectations regarding yourself. We have to be very realistic about our own abilities, gifts and talents, and, above all, our limitations. If there is a great chasm between one’s own expectations and one’s ability to achieve the goals we desire, then feelings of dissatisfaction and frustration will be inevitable. Know yourself, love yourself, and accept yourself as you are.
  8. Find something – or someone – greater than yourself to believe in.Self-centered people hardly ever experience happiness, because it is in giving that we truly receive. There will always be someone to admire and, above all, someone to serve.

Choosing to live in peace is a movement of the spirit, an attitude of life, and a decision. We may experience difficulties and bad feelings that temporarily take the smile off our face, but if we follow these eight tips, our interior peace will reassert itself and our smile will return, time and time again. END QUOTES

Read more: How anxiety thwarts gratitude and joy, and our interior well-being

This article was originally published in the Spanish edition of Aleteia, and has been translated and adapted here for English-speaking readers by Martha Fernández-Sardina

How to Receive Communion to the Fullest CHRISTOPHER CARSTENS: re-blogged

 

How to Receive Communion to the Fullest

To the victor I will give the right to eat from the
tree of life that is in the garden of God.

— Revelation 2:7

Any road trip requires energy. Fast-food restaurants know this, and their siren songs — the waft of cooking oil carrying the unmistakable scent of french fries — have tempted many a traveler to pass through their drive-throughs. Gas stations also gear their business to the weary wanderer, their aisles filled with every imaginable road snack. But such food, while providing a short-term carbohydrate gain is often a long-term digestive loss. Rarely is the pilgrim unequivocally satisfied after succumbing to the variety in road-trip fare. Indeed, Twinkies, beef jerky, potato chips, and caffeine- and sugar-laced drinks are nowhere to be found by the USDA on yesterday’s food pyramid or today’s nutrition food plate.

The famed and famished Israelite pilgrims of the Old Covenant could probably relate to the modern-day road trip. True, they passed no roadside convenience store on their desert trek — even if their stomachs growled for the apparently unhealthy cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions, and garlic of their former lives (Num. 11:5). (How the food pyramid has changed over the centuries!) They knew that crossing over the desert required nourishing food and drink. God knew this too and — even if He and His people quibbled from time to time about just what was on the menu — being the good Father He is, He provided manna from heaven and water from a rock.

As the pilgrim Church on earth traveling to our final home in heaven, Catholics also know something about the necessity of food for the journey. Recall that, as baptized priests, all the Catholic faithful are passing over a bridge that spans fallen earth to glorious heaven. Jesus has made it less laborious — He does most of the heavy lifting in the project — but for the rest of us, suffering from the effects of original sin, it is nonetheless dangerous (for that sinful chasm is deep) and still requires effort. Here too God has provided food and drink to sustain us: the Eucharist. But unlike roadside junk food that kills the digestion, or even the Manna from heaven that sustained only for the short term (“Your ancestors ate the manna in the desert, but they died” [John 6:49]), the Mass’s Eucharistic bread and wine is out of this world.

Many of the Mass’s roads converge when it comes time for receiving Holy Communion. The Cross is likened to the tree of life. In the Garden of Eden stood a tree of life, one from which our first parents were free to eat; in heaven’s “garden of God” stands another tree of life from which the victorious have the right to eat (Rev. 2:7); and in between rises the Cross of Jesus, whose fruit is the Eucharist — and from which the world’s pilgrims must eat along the journey. Thus, the wood of the Tree of the Cross that built the heart’s bridge to God in the Eucharistic Prayer presents us now with another way to participate in the divine life of Jesus.

This article is from a chapter in “A Devotional Journey into the Mass.” Click image to preview or order.

“Active participation” in the Mass — called by the Second Vatican Council “the aim to be considered before all else” — is intimately associated with the worthy reception of the Eucharist. Sixty years before the Council, Pope St. Pius X (d. 1914) first used the term “active participation” on behalf of the magisterium shortly after assuming the throne of St. Peter. On the doorstep of the First World War, Pius X sought “to restore all things in Christ” (his papal motto) by infusing the unstable world with a healthy dose of the true Christian spirit. The two emphases may seem unrelated, but where is this Christian spirit to be found? In the active and authentic participation by the faithful in the saving work of Jesus made present to us today in the liturgy.

But the Eucharist isn’t a magic pill, some kind of supernatural vitamin. On the contrary, the Mass’s consecrated bread and wine are the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus offered to the Father in the Holy Spirit — and more. Remember all those prayers, works, joys, and sufferings; the fears, loves, sins, hopes, and thanksgivings — that is, your entire human life — that you added to the Church’s gifts of bread and wine when the altar was prepared? These, along with the same sacrifices of each cell of the Mystical Body of Christ, have likewise been given to God and are returned to us transformed. It was the Great Animator, the Holy Spirit, who transformed these gifts, and even He Himself is a part of our lively reception. “He who eats it with faith,” said St. Ephrem, “eats Fire and Spirit. . . . Take and eat this, all of you, and eat with it the Holy Spirit.” Charged with Jesus, on fire with the Holy Spirit, divinized by the Father, and prepared in part by the heartfelt intentions of the world, food like this can only be called “heavenly” — or as we said earlier, “out of this world.” The Mass’s fare is, in fact, the main course of the eternal wedding banquet of Jesus and His Bride, the Church.

But as heavenly as the Eucharist is, it can be hellish to those not ready to receive it — much as the Word of God was sweet as honey in the mouth of St. John before turning sour in his stomach (Rev. 10:10). Food and drink as powerful and substantial as the Blessed Sacrament can be received fruitfully only if we are properly disposed. Not just anyone can eat fire (as St. Ephrem says) without getting burned!

Proper disposition, then, is paramount. The Eucharistic bread and wine is the same for one who is prepared and one who is not — or, similarly, for me on one day when disposed and the next day when not. But the effects could not differ more.

If Communion on a stomach empty of the proper disposition harms us, how can we be sure we have the proper disposition? At a minimum, we are to be free from mortal sin. “To choose deliberately — that is, both knowing it and willing it — some­thing gravely contrary to the divine law and to the ultimate end of man is to commit a mortal sin” (CCC 1874). Mortally sinful acts kill all life in the soul, withering it up like the dead chaff of a field. When it encounters the divine fire of God’s love in the Eucharist, the soul cannot withstand the heat. A proper disposition for Communion includes a soul capable of Eucharistic transformation.

But being in a state of grace is only the minimum required for a fruitful encounter with Jesus. The reason Holy Communion can either save us or damn us is, in part, because of what — or whom — it contains: Jesus, on fire with the Holy Spirit, given to us from the hands of the Father. But the purpose of Jesus’ pres­ence in the Sacrament isn’t simply so He can “remain with us always” in the tabernacle. Rather, the Eucharistic Christ desires an even greater intimacy with us, one brought about through our ingesting Him and our willingness to be changed into Him. And the ingredient (or perhaps the seasoning) necessary for healthy Eucharistic eating is a large dose of humility — the larger, the better.

So again, let us return to Mass to find out how and when best to prepare for receiving this divine feast. The Mass’s preparatory rites immediately prior to receiving Communion dispose us to receive the Body and Blood of the Lord in the spirit of docility, humility, and desire to be transformed into Him. The Lord’s Prayer, the exchange of peace, the breaking of the Eucharistic bread, and the Lamb of God each expresses in its own way how Jesus wishes to bring us from sin, evil, and selfishness to mercy, grace, and communion with Him and the Church. The invitation to Communion puts a great act of humility heard once by a Roman centurion on our lips — making our mouths water for Christ. This soldier’s story ought to be a model for our Eucharistic preparation.

The story begins in Capernaum, a village on the north shore of the Sea of Galilee and the site of many of Jesus’ miracles. On one occasion, Jesus enters the town and is met with the request of a Roman centurion with a suffering servant near death. The centurion asks Jesus to come and heal his servant, yet he does so in all humility. “Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof; only say the word and my servant will be healed. For I too am a person subject to authority, with soldiers subject to me. And I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come here,’ and he comes; and to my slave, ‘Do this,’ and he does it” (Matt. 8:8–9). A Roman centurion, as his title suggests, commanded up to one hundred Roman soldiers. He was a man of power and authority. Certainly in the eyes of the world he was more important and prestigious than a lowly Jewish carpenter — and more entitled to respect than the Jews at the time, who were subject to Roman, and therefore this centurion’s, authority.

The centurion’s humility is all the more striking because of his high office: it was not as if he were a leprous outcast or a sinful Samaritan. In response to such humility in the face of the Lord, Jesus, “amazed,” responds: “Amen, I say to you, in no one in Israel have I found such faith” (Matt. 8:10). In humility, this authoritative centurion was disposed to receive Jesus under his roof. With his example before our minds and his words in our mouths — “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed” — his humility can become ours. And his would-be guest can become ours.

Our posture for receiving Communion can also express and foster our proper disposition to receive Christ in humility. Today, both standing and kneeling are options for the recipient, even though kneeling has been the Mass’s traditional posture. Stand­ing signifies respect and readiness to act, but also independence and self-assurance. Kneeling symbolizes supplication and surren­der: one is nearly incapable of acting according to his own power when kneeling, which is an appropriate attitude for divinization.

Like posture, the manner of reception also helps or hinders transformation. Receiving the Lord in the hand or directly on the tongue are the usual options in today’s Mass. If receiving in the hand, do as St. Cyril recommends: “In approaching, come not with your wrists extended, or your fingers spread; but make your left hand a throne for the right, as for that which is to receive a King.”26 Over the centuries, Communion on the tongue has established itself as the normative manner for receiving Com­munion, since, like kneeling, it signifies the necessary humble disposition of receiving, not actively taking. Whichever op­tion you choose, the spiritual attitude of docile transformation must accompany it — without this, the manner risks becoming meaningless.

But even after receiving, Communion is not over any more than the last bite on your plate signals the end of a family meal. Conversation in either case ought to ensue. In Mass, that conversation should take the form of prayer — a prayer for surrender. As St. Augustine and the Capernaum centurion teach us, an encounter with Jesus should transform our fallen selves into Christ’s own heavenly image. Another powerful soldier, St. Ig­natius of Loyola, became an authoritative warrior for Christ. His strength was found in humility and surrender, and his prayer, the Suscipe (“Receive!”), is as perfect a prayer after Communion as the centurion’s was before it:

Receive, Lord, my entire freedom. Accept the whole of my memory, my intellect, and my will. Whatever I have or possess, it was You who gave it to me; I restore it to You in full, and I surrender it completely to the guidance of Your will. Give me only love of You together with Your grace, and I am rich enough and ask for nothing more. Amen.

Learning and praying this prayer for surrender after returning to our pew after Communion will ignite in us the humble power of Jesus.

The worthy reception of Holy Communion — when we are in a state of grace and truly desire to be transformed into Jesus — is the most effective way (short of martyrdom) God gives us to attain Him. Through this “fruit of the Cross” we become what we eat.

St. Athanasius famously said, “God became man so that man might become God.” If this is true — and it is! — we become divinized, true sons and daughters of God by the Eucharist. St. Paul encourages us: “I urge you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God, your spiritual worship. Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed ” (Rom. 12:1–2, emphasis added). Eucharistic transformation, first of the bread into the Body of Christ, and then of us into the Body of Christ, is the high point on our journey into the Mass.

The items on today’s USDA “food plate” give energy and life to any task or trek. The Eucharistic food on the Mass’s paten bestows the fire of divine life for our journey to God. But as so many Gospel stories recount, encountering God impels us to tell others about Him. END QUOTES

Editor’s note: This article is from a chapter in A Devotional Journey into the Masswhich is available from Sophia Institute Press

image: By English Wikipedia (Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons.) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Praying Our Way Into God’s Plan for Us NNAMDI MONEME, OMV: Re-Blogged

 

Praying Our Way Into God’s Plan for Us

  1. NNAMDI MONEME, OMV

Jesus Christ, true God and true man, lacks nothing because “all things were created through Him and for Him.”(Col 1:16) In today’s Gospel, He successfully shows His power to heal the sick and to drive out demons. He wins the esteem and admiration of the crowd who pursue Him as attested by Simon Peter, “Everyone is looking for you.”

He owns all things. He is all powerful. He is successful and yet He makes out time for prayer, “Rising very early before dawn, He left and went off to a deserted place where He prayed.” What is He praying for? What does this show us about prayer?

Prayer is not just about getting results but it is primarily about deepening our relationship with God. The more we are ready and committed to life of honest prayer, our relationship with God is strengthened and in that deepened bond with God, we begin to grasp the beauty, love, power and wisdom of God’s plan for us even when our prayers are unanswered.

The fruit of Jesus’ prayer to the Father was to keep His focus on the Father’s plan for Him to be raised from the grave after His death on Calvary. By embracing this divine plan for Him in and through His early morning moments of solitude, Jesus was not swayed by the passing enthusiasm of the crowd that was searching for Him. He was ready to leave the place where He was successful and the people who esteemed Him and to journey to the place of rejection and to people who would condemn Him to death and crucify Him, “Let us go on to the nearby villages that I may preach there also. For this purpose have I come.” Through prayer, Jesus never lost contact with the beauty, power, love and wisdom of His Father’s plan.

What happens when we do not pray as we should? What happens when we give up prayer because we do not get favorable results? Then we begin to lose the sense of God’s plan for us in those difficult and painful moments just like the faithful Job did in today’s First Reading. Having lost his wealth, children and health, Job lamented how futile and meaningless life was, “Is not life’s man on earth a drudgery?… My days are swifter than a weaver’s shuttle; they come to an end without hope…I shall not see happiness again.” He grasped the beauty of God’s plan for Him only when he later surrendered to God’s hidden wisdom, power and love.

Today’s Second Reading shows us the zealous St. Paul maligned and accused of selfish motives in preaching the Gospel. He is not distracted but embraces the divine plan for him even in the midst of all the false accusations, “For an obligation has been imposed on me, and woe to me if I do not preach it.” He remains faithful to the Father’s plan to preach the Gospel free of charge.

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, it is so easy for us today to say that we do not pray because we do not have the time to pray. It is so easy for us in our secular times to grow and advance in age, status, materially, academically, technologically, etc., and still be very immature in our relationship with God simply because we are not ready to sacrifice anything to make time and space for deep and honest prayer with God.

It is also so easy for us to limit our time of prayer to communal prayer in the SundayEucharist or daily Mass. The Mass remains the highest prayer itself because it is the prayer of Jesus Christ and a way for us to participate in His own perfect prayer. But we must also be ready to sacrifice something for that one-on-one prayer time with our Loving Father who has given us in His Son, Jesus Christ, the Spirit to assist us in our prayer, “We do not how to pray as we ought to prayer; but the Spirit intercedes for us with sighs too deep for words.”(Rom 8:26) Nothing kills personal prayer like that self-indulgence that refuses to sacrifice anything for the sake of a deeper relationship with God.

In today’s Gospel, after Jesus had left the communal prayer of the synagogue, He still sacrificed His early morning sleep just to have some quiet time with the Father. Why then should we think that communal prayer of the Mass is enough prayer for us? Unless we nurture and grow in our relationship with God through that privileged one-on-one encounter with the Lord, we will never grasp God’s loving, wise and powerful plan for us and for the world. But when we grasp His plan for us, we become beacons of hope, bringing souls to Jesus like the disciples in today’s Gospel, “They immediately told Him (Jesus) about her (Simon’s mother-in-law)…After sunset, they brought to Jesus all who were sick or ill or possessed with demons.”

I recall that my very first month in the seminary in Boston was very difficult for me. I performed poorly in my first few classroom exams. I was struggling to get used to the new culture, language, and food. I felt I would die of the cold soon enough. I was in hospital twice in that first month alone. I felt I was not fitted at all for this religious and priestly life.

I also felt a strong desire to pray more intensely and I did not know how to respond. I make a deal with Mother Mary that if she would wake me up by 4.30am every morning, that I would pray for at least an hour every day before the time for community morning prayer. I know for sure that Mama Mary took my challenge seriously because I have never been more awake at 4:30 in the morning with an intense desire to open my sinful and wounded heart to God in prayer! I would pray the Rosary and spend time meditating on the word of God. Of course, I still had my struggles in the seminary but I began to grasp more deeply and certainly the divine love, wisdom and power behind my vocation to the priesthood and religious life despite my weaknesses and failures. I don’t think that I would have persevered in my vocation without this signal grace in prayer from Mother Mary.

We may be in that position where our prayer does not seem to be bearing visible fruit. We may be tempted to make that usual excuse that we do not have time to pray. We may be falling into the temptation of limiting our prayer time to only Eucharistic worship. Let us make a serious and honest deal with Mother Mary too as I did. She is more than equal to the task. She will do anything for us to pray as we should because her greatest desire for us is that we embrace the plan of God for us just as she did and thus know the power, wisdom and love of God for us all.

In our Eucharist today, Jesus comes with both grace and a renewed invitation for us to embrace His plan for us. No matter our sins and failings, our sufferings and pains, our answered or unanswered prayers, God’s loving plan is ever intact for us. With the help of Mother Mary, let us be ready to sacrifice anything just to pray as we ought so that we will know that God has a beautiful plan for us that is filled with nothing but His power, wisdom and love.

Glory to Jesus!!! Honor to Mary!!! END QUOTES

 

Praying Our Way Into God’s Plan for Us NNAMDI MONEME, OMV: Re-blogged

 

Praying Our Way Into God’s Plan for Us

  1. NNAMDI MONEME, OMV

Jesus Christ, true God and true man, lacks nothing because “all things were created through Him and for Him.”(Col 1:16) In today’s Gospel, He successfully shows His power to heal the sick and to drive out demons. He wins the esteem and admiration of the crowd who pursue Him as attested by Simon Peter, “Everyone is looking for you.”

He owns all things. He is all powerful. He is successful and yet He makes out time for prayer, “Rising very early before dawn, He left and went off to a deserted place where He prayed.” What is He praying for? What does this show us about prayer?

Prayer is not just about getting results but it is primarily about deepening our relationship with God. The more we are ready and committed to life of honest prayer, our relationship with God is strengthened and in that deepened bond with God, we begin to grasp the beauty, love, power and wisdom of God’s plan for us even when our prayers are unanswered.

The fruit of Jesus’ prayer to the Father was to keep His focus on the Father’s plan for Him to be raised from the grave after His death on Calvary. By embracing this divine plan for Him in and through His early morning moments of solitude, Jesus was not swayed by the passing enthusiasm of the crowd that was searching for Him. He was ready to leave the place where He was successful and the people who esteemed Him and to journey to the place of rejection and to people who would condemn Him to death and crucify Him, “Let us go on to the nearby villages that I may preach there also. For this purpose have I come.” Through prayer, Jesus never lost contact with the beauty, power, love and wisdom of His Father’s plan.

What happens when we do not pray as we should? What happens when we give up prayer because we do not get favorable results? Then we begin to lose the sense of God’s plan for us in those difficult and painful moments just like the faithful Job did in today’s First Reading. Having lost his wealth, children and health, Job lamented how futile and meaningless life was, “Is not life’s man on earth a drudgery?… My days are swifter than a weaver’s shuttle; they come to an end without hope…I shall not see happiness again.” He grasped the beauty of God’s plan for Him only when he later surrendered to God’s hidden wisdom, power and love.

Today’s Second Reading shows us the zealous St. Paul maligned and accused of selfish motives in preaching the Gospel. He is not distracted but embraces the divine plan for him even in the midst of all the false accusations, “For an obligation has been imposed on me, and woe to me if I do not preach it.” He remains faithful to the Father’s plan to preach the Gospel free of charge.

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, it is so easy for us today to say that we do not pray because we do not have the time to pray. It is so easy for us in our secular times to grow and advance in age, status, materially, academically, technologically, etc., and still be very immature in our relationship with God simply because we are not ready to sacrifice anything to make time and space for deep and honest prayer with God.

It is also so easy for us to limit our time of prayer to communal prayer in the SundayEucharist or daily Mass. The Mass remains the highest prayer itself because it is the prayer of Jesus Christ and a way for us to participate in His own perfect prayer. But we must also be ready to sacrifice something for that one-on-one prayer time with our Loving Father who has given us in His Son, Jesus Christ, the Spirit to assist us in our prayer, “We do not how to pray as we ought to prayer; but the Spirit intercedes for us with sighs too deep for words.”(Rom 8:26) Nothing kills personal prayer like that self-indulgence that refuses to sacrifice anything for the sake of a deeper relationship with God.

In today’s Gospel, after Jesus had left the communal prayer of the synagogue, He still sacrificed His early morning sleep just to have some quiet time with the Father. Why then should we think that communal prayer of the Mass is enough prayer for us? Unless we nurture and grow in our relationship with God through that privileged one-on-one encounter with the Lord, we will never grasp God’s loving, wise and powerful plan for us and for the world. But when we grasp His plan for us, we become beacons of hope, bringing souls to Jesus like the disciples in today’s Gospel, “They immediately told Him (Jesus) about her (Simon’s mother-in-law)…After sunset, they brought to Jesus all who were sick or ill or possessed with demons.”

I recall that my very first month in the seminary in Boston was very difficult for me. I performed poorly in my first few classroom exams. I was struggling to get used to the new culture, language, and food. I felt I would die of the cold soon enough. I was in hospital twice in that first month alone. I felt I was not fitted at all for this religious and priestly life.

I also felt a strong desire to pray more intensely and I did not know how to respond. I make a deal with Mother Mary that if she would wake me up by 4.30am every morning, that I would pray for at least an hour every day before the time for community morning prayer. I know for sure that Mama Mary took my challenge seriously because I have never been more awake at 4:30 in the morning with an intense desire to open my sinful and wounded heart to God in prayer! I would pray the Rosary and spend time meditating on the word of God. Of course, I still had my struggles in the seminary but I began to grasp more deeply and certainly the divine love, wisdom and power behind my vocation to the priesthood and religious life despite my weaknesses and failures. I don’t think that I would have persevered in my vocation without this signal grace in prayer from Mother Mary.

We may be in that position where our prayer does not seem to be bearing visible fruit. We may be tempted to make that usual excuse that we do not have time to pray. We may be falling into the temptation of limiting our prayer time to only Eucharistic worship. Let us make a serious and honest deal with Mother Mary too as I did. She is more than equal to the task. She will do anything for us to pray as we should because her greatest desire for us is that we embrace the plan of God for us just as she did and thus know the power, wisdom and love of God for us all.

In our Eucharist today, Jesus comes with both grace and a renewed invitation for us to embrace His plan for us. No matter our sins and failings, our sufferings and pains, our answered or unanswered prayers, God’s loving plan is ever intact for us. With the help of Mother Mary, let us be ready to sacrifice anything just to pray as we ought so that we will know that God has a beautiful plan for us that is filled with nothing but His power, wisdom and love.

Glory to Jesus!!! Honor to Mary!!! END QUOTES

 

The 10 Commandments by Pat Miron

 

The Ten Commandments

By Pat Miron

This Lesson is included because of the wide range of beliefs in our day regarding sin: Personal views range from sin simply does not exist, to “a Mortal sin is impossible” for mankind to commit, to what is sin? And what is “a sin.” Of course the “I am a god” philosophy, and there is “no God.” Adds to these gravely errant understanding. Untold numbers of souls are at risk of eternal hell.

CCC # 2068 “The Council of Trent teaches that he 10 Commandments are obligatory for [all] Christians and the justified man is still bound to keep them, the Second Vatican Council confirms. “The bishops, successors of the apostles, receive from the Lord … the mission of teaching all peoples [Mk.16:14-15; Mt. 28:16-20] and preaching the Gospel to every creature, so that all men may attain salvation through faith, Baptism [Jn.3:5, Mt. 28:19] and the [full] observance of the Commandments.”

“What God commands He makes possible by His grace.” CCC 2082”

To begin at the beginning I must share that the 10 Commandments presented to Moses on our behalf are 10 categories of possible sins; not the list of the “10 possible sins.”

Long before Jesus was conceived in the virgin womb of his Blessed Mother Mary by the power of God, and the direct intervention of the Holy Spirit, [Lk 1:26-36], the great “I AM,” presented his chosen people, our Jewish ancestors, ten rules for spiritual and immortal life.” Moses said to God, ‘if I come to the people of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?” God said to Moses, ‘I AM WHO AM.’” Known originally as the Decalogue (which means “ten words”), and presented to Moses in stone the original 10 were expanded by men  to over six hundred rules by the time of the birth of Jesus. Jesus clarified their intent and explained their current application to our life in His Sermon on the Mount. (Mt. chapter five). We know them today as the Ten Commandments.

“The Ten Commandments state what is required in the love of God and love of neighbor. The first three concern the love of God, and the other seven love of neighbor.” CCC 2067

The First Commandment:

I am the Lord thy God, you shall have no strange god’s before me.  “‘Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law? ’And he said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment.’ “Mt. 22: 37-38 “And the Lord said to Moses, ‘Say to all the congregation of the people of Israel, You shall be holy; for I the Lord your God am holy. I am the Lord your God. Do not turn to idols or make for yourselves molten gods: I am the Lord your God.” Liv: 19: 1-4

A basic understanding of this first rule for eternal life includes knowing that our God is a jealous God. “The Lord is a jealous God and avenging; the Lord takes vengeance on his adversaries and keeps wrath for his enemies.” Nahum: 1: 1-2

“Other gods” means more than the molten images of Aaron, and are to include anyone, and anything that we place in preference to God, or permit to hinder our adoration or love of God. Family members, work, lust, greed, envy, jealously, hatred are some of today’s custom made idols that interfere with us always placing God first.

The first commandment embraces the theological virtues of Faith, Hope and Charity: “The first commandment and the virtue of Faith, requires us to nourish our faith with prudence and vigilance, and to reject everything that is opposed to it.” CCC 2088 we are directed by Christ Himself to “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are Gods.” Matt: 22: 21 this obligates us to prayer, sacrifice, learning the religious truths and accepting them, avoiding all superstitious practices, avoiding Divination (the art of knowing and declaring future events) and magic. It obligates us to know and fully obey the Church’s rules

*In faith this Commandment demands that we recognize God as our Supreme Creator. We cannot explicitly deny His reality and presence (atheism), including His Sacred presence in the Holy Eucharist. It obligates us to praise, honor, Worship and glorify Him in all that we do.

The first commandment and the virtue of Hope are concerned with sins of despair and presumption. CCC 2090 – 2092 “By despair, man ceases to hope for his personal salvation from God.”  Presumption takes two forms. Either man presumes upon his own capabilities, without assistance from God, or presumes upon God’s mercy hoping to gain forgiveness without conversion, repentance or merit.

The first commandment and the virtue of Charity “enjoins us to love God above everything” CCC 2093 Not only are we to love God, (always the first and primary love of our hearts), but we are to love our neighbor (everyone, without regard to race, creed or color), as ourselves. cf. Matt: 6: 44 the virtuous practice of Charity also prohibits sins of indifference, ingratitude, negligence, acedia (spiritual sloth), and sins of pride.

The Second Commandment:

 “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.”  Say what you mean, and mean what you say.  cf. Matt: 5: 33-34

The second commandment prescribes respect for the name of our Lord, and forbids all abuse of God’s name. Promises and oaths must be kept. We are not to blaspheme God, His saints or His holy things. The second commandment prohibits perjury and all lying. “Blasphemy is contrary to the respect due God and His holy name. It is (usually) a grave (Mortal) sin. CCC 2148

“In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus explains: “Again you have heard that it was said to the men of old, ‘you shall not swear falsely, but shall perform to the Lord what you have sworn.’ But I say to you, do not swear at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King.  And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil.” Matt: 5:33-37

The Third Commandment:

Remember to keep holy the Lord’s Day.

In Old Testament times, “the Sabbath day” was Saturday, the seventh day of the week. It was always a day of rest. Today’s Jews continue the Old Testament tradition of Saturday as a holy day of praise and rest. Christians use Sunday as our Sabbath day, because it was on Easter Sunday that Christ rose form the dead. It was on a Sunday that our life under grace began. “For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but (now) under grace.        Rom: 6: 14-15

“’You shall keep my Sabbaths, for this is a sign between me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I, the Lord, sanctify you. You shall keep the Sabbath, because it is holy for you; everyone who profanes it shall be put to death. Six days shall work be done, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, holy to the Lord. “Exo. 31: 14-17

“The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath; so the Son of man is Lord even of the Sabbath.” Mk: 2: 27-28

The concise message and directive of the Commandments is love obediently applied through an obligatory informed Catholic-conscience.

The Sunday celebration of the Lord’s Day and His Eucharist is the heart of the Church’s life. “ CCC 2177 Participation in this most holy and awesome gift from God, is the single most important and significant source of grace available to us. It is grace from God in a most direct, unique and special manner; as it is Jesus Himself we receive in Holy Communion. We invite Jesus Himself into our souls and our bodies. The Real Jesus, not simply a symbol.  Therefore this privilege of Sunday and Holy Day Holy Mass imposes on all Catholics, a solemn, grave obligation for weekly attendance and full, active participation as minimal worship, praise and thanksgiving to our Triune Godhead. Only serious matter like illness, childcare, or dispensation from ones pastor, can excuse our not fulfilling this obligation without committing Mortal sin.

“You, therefore, must be perfect, as you’re heavenly Father is perfect.” Matt: 5: 48

The Holy Days of Obligation are:

“In accord with CIC 1246, the USCCB United States Conference of Catholic Bishops decrees that the holydays of obligation to be observed in the United States are: [can be changed as these are “Church practices” which are changeable.]

The solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God;

The solemnity of the Ascension;

The solemnity of the Assumption;

The solemnity of All Saints;

The solemnity of the Immaculate Conception;

The solemnity of Christmas.

The solemnity of the Epiphany shall be transferred to the first Sunday following January 1st;

The solemnity of Corpus Christi shall be observed on the second Sunday following Pentecost.

When the solemnities of Mary, Mother of God, the Assumption, and All Saints fall on a Saturday or a Monday they will not be observed as holy days of obligation.” Note: The Feast of The Ascension has in many areas has been moved to the following Sunday.

The Fourth Commandment:

Honor your father and your mother. ” Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), ‘that it may be well with you and that you may live long on the earth.’ Pay all of them their dues, taxes to whom taxes are due, revenue to whom revenue is due, respect to whom respect is due, honor to whom honor is due.’ “Rom: 12: 7 this commandment enjoins not only children, but also binds parents with specific responsibilities toward their offspring and each other.

Christ never failed to demonstrate in His own life’s example on earth, all that He commanded us. “All who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. When they saw him they were astonished; and his mother said to him, ‘Son, why have you treated us so? Behold, your father and I have been looking for you anxiously.’ He said to them, ‘How is it that you sought me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?’ They did not understand the saying, which he spoke to them. And he went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them; and his mother kept all these things in her heart.” Lk: 2: 48-51

The fourth commandment introduces the all-encompassing, binding law of love. “You have heard it said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you?  Mt: 5: 43-46 Love begins at home with patience, forgiveness and charity. Then like the sun, it is to shine fourth for all to see, feel, share and experience. The Catholic family is the very foundation on which the Church exists and grows. It is from the family that the children of God are formed in His likeness. The family is the fountain of vocations, so necessary for the growth of the Church, and our salvation. “Marriage and the family are ordered to the good of the spouses and to the procreation (that is creation with Divine intent and intervention) and education of children. The love of spouses and the begetting of children create among members of the same family personal relationships and primordial responsibilities. “CCC 2201

“Children are to always show respect for their parents. This is especially true while they remain at home, regardless of age. If a child resides under the roof of his parents, he is to be obedient unto them. “But if a child is convinced in conscience that it would be morally wrong to obey a particular order, he must not do so. “ As they grow up, children should continue to respect their parents. They should anticipate their wishes, willingly seek their advice, and accept their just admonitions. Obedience toward parents ceases with the emancipation of the children; not so respect, which is always owed to them. This respect has its roots in the fear of God, one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit.” CCC 2217

“The fourth commandment reminds grown children of their responsibilities toward their parents. As much as they can, they must give them material and moral support in old age and in times of illness, loneliness, or distress. Jesus recalls this duty of gratitude.”  CCC 2218

“Submission to authority and co-responsibility for the common good make it morally obligatory to pay taxes, to exercise the right to vote, and to defend one’s country.” CCC 2240 “The citizen is obliged in conscience not to follow the directives of civil authorities when they are contrary to the demands of the moral order, to the fundamental rights of persons or the teachings of the Gospel. Refusing obedience to civil authorities, when their demands are contrary to those of an upright conscience, finds its justification in the distinction between serving God and serving the political community. “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” “We must obey God rather than men.” CCC 2242

“It is a part of the Church’s mission “to pass moral judgments even in matters related to politics, whenever the fundamental rights of man or the salvation of souls requires it.”

The Fifth Commandment:

You shall not kill. “You have heard that it was said to the men of old, ‘You shall not kill; and whoever kills shall be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother shall be liable to the council, and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be liable to the hell of fire. “Mt: 5: 21-22

Human life is a sacred gift from God. It is to be respected, protected, cherished and nourished from inception to death. Both inception and death are reserved to a time and place of God’s choosing. This commandment prohibits much beyond the recognized murder of the innocent. It clearly includes the protection of all unborn babies. Do not doubt that abortion, avocation of abortion, “blind” support of abortion or any known association with abortion is likely a grievous sin. cf. CCC 2270-2274

We are permitted to defend ourselves our families, and our Country with reasonable means that could include lethal force. cf. CCC 2264 The State too, in order to protect its citizens can use reasonable, even lethal force, in order to accomplish its proper role. The State does have recourse to the “death penalty,” if non-lethal means are insufficient to protect the peoples safely from the aggressor. All life is sacred, and death is to be an exceptional, rarely applied remedy, and never used as a deterrent, but only to preserve other lives. cf. CCC 2267

Life is a gift without a return policy. Illness, old age, dissatisfaction with life’s crosses which come from God with a purpose that often only He understands at the time. Our lack of understanding does not give cause or justification for murder, euthanasia or suicide. Only God can determine the intent of the actions, and justly judge the consequences. All forms of murder are intrinsically ordered, and carry the high risk of grievous sin. “We should not despair if a loved one takes their life, as our God is a merciful judge, and extenuating circumstances are always factored in. We are stewards, not owners of life.” CCC 2280

“Discontinuing medical procedures that are burdensome, dangerous, extraordinary, or disproportionate to the expected outcome can be legitimate; it is the refusal of “over-zealous” treatment. Here one does not will to cause death; one’s inability to impede it is merely accepted. The decisions should be made by the patient if he is competent and able or, if not, by those legally entitled to act for the patient, whose reasonable will and legitimate interests must always be respected.” CCC 2278

Less obvious is our obligation to take reasonable measures to protect our health by eating correctly, exercising, getting the necessary rest and relaxation, and avoiding non-medical drugs, and excessive alcohol. We need be mindful that our bodies are (should always be) temples of the Holy Spirit, and at the time of Holy Communion, the abode of Jesus Christ Himself.

This commandment also binds us not to gossip, cause slander, or endanger another’ good name. “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.” Rom: 13: 9 -10 we must also work and strive for peace in our hearts, families, local community, Church and our world.

The Sixth Commandment:

You shall not commit adultery: “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.’ “

“Sexuality affects all aspects of the human person in the unity of his body and soul. It especially concerns affectivity, the capacity to love and to procreate, and in a more general way the aptitude for forming bonds of communion with others. “CCC 2332

While sex, within marriage is a very good thing, it is a gift from God to be used only as He as our Creator intended. Because most of the folks who will read this book will likely be married, or considering marriage, I shall cover this topic in a bit more depth. There exist today a prevailing mindset that we can decide for ourselves what is right for us. Our bodies “are our own,” and as long as we don’t hurt anyone, we are “free” to do with them, pretty much as we see fit. That certainly is the message broadcast media flaunts daily, and its acceptance and application is a sure path to hell. Sex outside of marriage is more than simply “O.K.,” it’s almost expected behavior in today’s New Age, anything does, don’t judge me, and I won’t judge you society, which is grqvely moral wrong.

God creates everything. To create means to make out of nothing. Our bodies, minds and souls are created by God, and belong to God. They are simply on loan to us for the express purpose of giving Him greater honor and glory and working out His plan for our salvation. [Isaiah 43: verses 7 & 21] Unlike Grace, which is a gift, the basic elements of our existence are ours to use, not to keep. We therefore have only limited rights, as designed by God. All use of our minds, bodies and souls that do not give glory and honor to God, are to some degree, disordered and to varying degrees, sinful.

“Everyone, man and woman, should acknowledge and accept their own sexual identity. Physical, moral, and spiritual difference and complementarity are oriented toward the goods of marriage and the flourishing of family life. The harmony of the couple and of society depends in part on the way in which the complementarity, needs, and mutual support between the sexes are lived out. “CCC 2333 “In creating men ‘male and female,’ God gives man and woman an equal personal dignity.’ CCC 2334 “Sexuality is a source of joy and pleasure.” Married women have the same right to sexual satisfaction as do their husband. cf. CCC 2362

Every human person is to practice chastity to the degree and in the manner required by his station in life. cf. CCC 2348

*All forms of premarital sex are forbidden, as the express purpose of conjugal love is the unimpeded possibility of procreation. cf. CCC 2360-2361 this includes those who are engaged, but not yet married.

*Masturbation, which is the deliberate stimulation of the genital organs in order to derive sexual pleasure outside of conjugal love making (usually, but not always by oneself), has no possibility of procreation, is ordered only for personal gratification, and therefore is gravely disordered.

*”Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection. “CCC 2359

*Pornography is dangerous, habit forming, and disordered as it debases the sacred and beautiful act of love, wrongly stresses personal satisfaction, introduces in some manner a third “person” into the relationship, and profits those who sell their souls for illicit and immoral gain. It is especially dangerous to our youth who learn to see their opposite gender as mere “sex -objects,” acquisitions and in a sad unrealistic, morally distorted sense, sex toys.

*Married couples may not employ any unnatural means (contraception) to limit the possibility of a pregnancy. To do so is gravely disordered, as it seeks to usurp from God our Creator, His option and control of birth issues. “Fecundity is a gift, an end of marriage, for conjugal love naturally tends to be fruitful. A child does not come from outside as something added on to the mutual love of the spouses, but springs from the very heart of that mutual giving, as its fruit and fulfillment.”  CCC 2366

“Periodic continence, that is, the methods of birth regulation based on self- observation and the use of infertile periods, is in conformity with the objective criteria of morality. These methods respect the bodies of the spouses, encourage tenderness between them, and favor the education of an authentic freedom. In contrast, ‘every action which, whether in anticipation of the conjugal act, or in its accomplishment, or in the development of its natural consequences, proposes, whether as an end or as a means, to render procreation impossible’ is intrinsically evil”. CCC 2370

Divorce: A proper Sacramental, consummated marriage cannot, may not be dissolved or terminated. Every station in life brings with it joys, sufferings, sacrifices and crosses. Each has its own path to heaven and to personal happiness; marriage is but one-way to eternal salvation. The noble and natural purpose of marriage is procreation and the growth of God’s Church. However not every married union is blessed with children. This too is God’s plan, and charitable, self- giving sex is both permitted and encouraged, as chaste conjugal love is the cement of a happy marriage. God insists on being the “author of life.” “For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love be servants of one another. “ Gal: 5: 4 –5

The Seventh Commandment:

You shall not steal: “A false balance is an abomination to the Lord, but a just weight is his delight. “To do righteousness and justice is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice.” Proverbs: 11: 1, 21: 3 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust * consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” Mt: 6: 19 – 21

I forget at times to gives thanks for being born in America. No other country offers its citizens, and its guest so much freedom and opportunity for wealth. Yet we have proven time and again, that these two can be a source of sin. Materialism as a invented-religion is commonly practiced, and we are told continuously, that it is all right to do whatever we desire. Is it inconceivable that Jesus, for a time became a mere man, gave up His heavenly throne, and suffered the most humiliating and excruciating death known to mankind, and not expect that we too endure the crosses He sends us? Each tailored specifically to lead us to heaven. No, it is not.

Lk. 9:23 “And He said: if any man is to come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross daily and follow me.”

God’s rules for obedience of the seventh commandment are common sense, practiced with charity and applied with love.

“The seventh commandment forbids theft that is, usurping another’s property against the reasonable will of the owner. There is no theft if consent can be presumed or if refusal is contrary to reason and the destination of goods. This is the case in obvious and urgent necessity when the only way to provide for immediate, essential needs (food, shelter, clothing . . .) is to put at one’s disposal and use the property of others.” CCC 2408

“Promises must be kept and contracts strictly observed to the extent that the commitments made in them are morally just. A significant part of economic and social life depends on the honoring of contracts between physical or moral persons – commercial contracts of purchase or sale, rental or labor contracts. All contracts must be agreed to and executed in good faith.”   CCC 2410

“The seventh commandment demands respect for the integrity of creation. Animals, like plants and inanimate beings, which are by nature destined for the common good of past, present, and future humanity.” CCC 2415

The Golden Rule: “So whatever you wish that men would do to you, do so to them; for this is the law and the prophets.” Mt: 7: 12 “You shall love your neighbor as yourself. “Mt. 19:19

The Eighth Commandment:

You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor:  “Do not devise a lie against your brother, nor do the like to a friend. Refuse to utter any lie, for the habit of lying serves no good.” Sir: 7: 12-13

The source of all truth is God Himself and we are to live this truth as taught by the life example of His Son Jesus. “Men could not live with one another if there were not mutual confidence that they were being truthful with each other.” CCC 2469 “Man tends by nature toward the truth. He is obliged to honor and bear witness to it: “It is in accordance with their dignity that all men, because they are persons . . . are both impelled by their nature and bound by a moral obligation to seek the truth, especially religious truth. They are also bound to adhere to the truth once they come to know it and direct their whole lives in accordance with the demands of truth.” CCC 2467

What does the Eighth Commandment compel?   

It prohibits giving false witness and perjury.

We are obligated to go out of our way to protect another’s reputation. We must avoid making rash, unsubstantiated judgments; we are to avoid detraction, which without valid reason, discloses another faults or failings; we must avoid the sin of calumny, by not making remarks contrary to the truth, and giving the occasion for making false judgments against them.            cf. CCC 2477

We are to avoid bragging. “Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” 1: Pet: 5: 5

A lie is a direct offense against the truth. “A lie consists in speaking a falsehood with the intention of deceiving.” CCC 2482. The sinful seriousness of a lie depends of the intention to do harm, and on the amount of harm done. All lies are sinful, some lies can be grievous. All lies should be confessed in the sacrament of Penance.

Every offense committed against justice and truth entails the duty of reparation, even if its author has been forgiven. When it is impossible publicly to make reparation for a wrong, it must be made secretly. If someone who has suffered harm cannot be directly compensated, he must be given moral satisfaction in the name of charity. This duty of reparation also concerns offenses against another’s reputation. This reparation, moral and sometimes material, must be evaluated in terms of the extent of the damage inflicted. It obliges in conscience.” CCC2487

The Ninth Commandment:            

You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife / husband: A thief of hearts you cannot be. “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the pride of life, is not of the Father but is of the world.” 1: Jn: 2: 15 – 16

The ninth commandment is an extension and further expression of the sixth commandment, which prohibits all sinful sexual acts; but you have heard Jesus tell us; “‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and throw it away; it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell.” Mt: 5: 27 -30 Jesus is not telling us to maim ourselves, He is telling us that this is a serious, potentially grievous matter, so listen up.

Both men and women possessing certitude of understanding are bound by this commandment which specifically prohibits sexual covetousness. “To covet,” means to desire something, or in this case someone whom we are not morally entitled to have sexual union with.

Intent and desire can, and often are equal to actually committing this always Mortal sin. It applies equally to the single and married state of life, and to both males and females. It prohibits all intentional, uncontrolled sexual desire for anyone except our spouse, and even then our desires are to be controlled, and chastely directed. (We have already explained that sex in marriage can and should be a mutually enjoyable and satisfying experience). We are not to dream, fantasize, or even willingly think impure thoughts about having sex outside of marriage, or with anyone except our spouse. Is this possible? YES, but only with Divine intervention. It cannot be accomplished by our own volition and will.

“If, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.  For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by one man’s obedience many will be made righteous. Law came in, to increase the trespass; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. “Rom: 5: 17 – 21

God, by His Perfect justice and mercy is obligated to provide, and offer sufficient grace to permit our salvation. In the same way, we are similarly obligated to cooperate, accept, apply and use the grace that God intends for each of us.

“The disciples said to him, “If such is the case of a man with his wife, it is not expedient to marry.” But he (Jesus) said to them, “Not all men can receive this saying, but only those to whom it (sufficient grace) is (will be) given.” Mt: 19: 11” When Chasity it is sought by a priest or religious, it is a gift from God, and He extends to them sufficient grace enable them to live their live chastely; fully, and even joyfully. While God will test each of us; He will not test us beyond our ability to choose good over evil; grace over sin.

Directed by God, we choose our vocation. If we have chosen wisely, God provides all the necessary grace and help we need to fulfill His call. Virginity is but one way to serve our Lord. It is as Saint Paul tells us, a more difficult, but a more perfect way. 1st. Cor. 7:37

All priest in the order of Melchizedek (Heb. 5: 6); those men called by God to Holy Orders, serve a special need and purpose, and are (supposed to be) willing and knowledgeable about their commitment to celibacy. This is both a chosen sacrifice and a most worthy gift.

More recent times have seen the exception of married priest permitted; when they are already married and coming from another faith; where they are a predestined priest; and as such are allowed to remain married, and serve as a Catholic Priest. This however is an exception, not the Universal Norm.

JOHN 15:16 “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide; so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.”

The Tenth Commandment:

You shall not covet your neighbor’s goods. “Nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor robbers will inherit the kingdom of God.” 1: Cor: 6: 9

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust * consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is their will your heart be also. “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon. Mt: 6: 19- 21, 24

This is an easy Commandment to understand, but difficult to live. If it isn’t yours, don’t be consumed with desire for it. If God wishes you to acquire more, He shall guide you to it. We can serve only one master, and it had better be God. This is less a prohibition on improving one’s state in life, than a serious warning that God’s, and therefore our priorities must be: God, family then, and only then, career. A desire to gain more, simply to “keep up with or surpass the Jones,” is an excuse, not a valid reason. If you adhere to these rules and still acquire wealth, count it as a blessing from God, and give Him thanks.

“Envy is a capital sin. It refers to sadness at the sight of another’ sin. When it wishes grave harm to a neighbor, it is a mortal sin.” CCC 2539  “Vices can be classified according to the virtues they oppose, or also be linked to the capital sins which Christian experience has distinguished, following St. John Cassian and St. Gregory the Great. They are called “capital” because they engender other sins, other vices. They are pride, avarice, envy, wrath, lust, gluttony, and sloth or acedia. CCC 1866

One of the great risks of wealth is endangering one’s humility. Humility, coupled with an active prayer life, and a life of charity, are key’s to holiness and piety. Jesus asks: “For what does it profit a man, to gain the whole world and forfeit his life?” Mk: 8: 36

Know dear friends, that even this deeper reflection into the commandments is neither intended to, nor does it cover the entire scope of possible sins, under that “Commandment Heading.” If and when in doubt; discuss it with your Confessor priest. [Jn.20: 19-23].

God Bless you,

Patrick

Some:times the World is neither a safe place nor a nice place: A reblogged article on this topic

 

Can You Handle the Truth?

Any guess as to the leading cause of death?

Heart disease… cancer… smoking… obesity?

Not even close. At over 56 million deaths annually, the worldwide loss of life from abortion exceeds that of the top ten leading causes of death combined. Half of those—roughly 28 million deaths—are from legal abortions.

Twenty-eight million people. That exceeds the population of Australia. Imagine, a whole country, no, continent, exterminated each year, legally. It is genocide of an unprecedented scale.

Just over the last forty years, abortion has claimed the lives of nearly two billion unborn children—the world population only a century ago. That this has proceeded for so long with little sign of abating is a testimony to our ability to close our eyes to the truth. (The blindness of U.S. legislators in the recent blockage of a pro-life Senate bill that would have banned abortions after 20 weeks is a case in point.)

When groups like the World Health Organization report abortion deaths they only include those of women tabulated according to “safe” (read: legal) and “unsafe” procedures. That’s because their stated goal is not the reduction of abortion, but its expanded legalization, to make it, safer.

But legal or not, abortion is never safe for the central party involved. Instead, our abortive culture has made the mother’s womb, nature’s incubator for new life, the most dangerous place on earth. Liberal reaction to this reality, reminds me of one of the most memorable lines in film: “You can’t handle the truth!”

Colonel Nathan R. Jessep’s fulmination in A Few Good Men (1992) could be fittingly directed at the lifestyle left. For when confronted with scientific and moral truths, it responds with suppression, denial, and Orwellian reasoning.

What Is It?
Initially, the pro-choice movement was able to suppress the true nature of abortion by branding the embryo/fetus “a mass of tissue,” “clump of cells,” even “a disease.” It was the woman’s body and the woman’s, and only the woman’s, choice. The strategy was successful, swaying popular sentiments for decades. Then the science got out.

Advances in prenatal sonography showed visually what had been known medically all along: the uterine object was not “the mother’s body,” or a part of the mother’s body, but a distinct and unique human being in the mother’s body (made possible, of course, by a third party, the father, whose parental contribution had no legal standing in the mother’s right to choose).

Once it became public that every abortion ends a human life, the choice lobby pulled a rhetorical finesse: “Sure, the embryo/fetus is human; but it is not a person. And only persons are entitled to universal human rights.”

As to when “personhood” is so endowed, the answer, given a woman’s inviolable right of choice, is, and can only be, “When the mother says it is,” as one advocate candidly offered. Princeton ethicist Peter Singer would heartily agree, and push that “when” out to the fuzzy “whenever.”

Singer knows that once society sanctions the killing of human beings, any restriction related to stage of development or decline is strictly arbitrary. It’s a point he makes persuasively at college campuses across the country arguing for infanticide and euthanasia.

While Singer carries the logic of abortion to its natural, if repulsive, end, the party of choice avoids it, pooh-poohing social conservatives for overwrought concerns based on slippery slope scenarios. And that, despite our already breathtaking progress down the moral mudslide.

Indeed, who would have believed it possible, forty years ago, that a woman could legally abort her child not because of its health or her health, but because of the child’s sex? Stunningly, a bill banning such abortions was rejected by the U.S. House of Representatives just a few years ago. More on that in a moment.

A Rule Without Exception
As initially argued, legalized abortion was for pregnancies resulting from rape or incest, or that presented a significant health risk to the mother—in other words, for a very limited set of conditions. For example, according to the pro-choice Guttmacher Institute, less than 1 percent of abortions involve rape and incest, and only 4 percent involve concerns over maternal health.

When you consider that prior to Roe v. Wade most states allowed abortion to save a mother’s life, legalization would have extended to a few percent of cases, at most.

Despite that, or because of it, the definition of “health” handed down in the companion decision, Doe v. Bolton, became so broad that abortion could be justified for any reason that inconvenienced the mother.

Consequently, today over 95 percent of abortions are performed for reasons unrelated to those original, highly exceptional cases—such as, not wanting children, wanting to postpone children, concerns over finances, unmarried, strained relationship with partner, disruption to career/education, or avoiding social stigma.

Blaise Pascal, once said“[You] make a rule of exception … from this exception you make a rule without exception, so that you do not even want the rule to be exceptional.” In the same way, legalized abortion, which was intended for exceptional cases, quickly became a rule for which no exception would be excluded.

Consider the 2012 dust-up over sex-selective abortions.

Buck Up
The Prenatal Non-Discrimination Act, which would have banned gender-based abortions, created a split among choicers. Some leaned in favor of the ban. Morally-conflicted with sex-selective abortion, they reasoned that the ban wouldn’t adversely affect the Cause since the practice was rare, at least in the U.S. Others feared that if the movement blinks on this issue, it will soon find itself in full retreat.

Over at Slate, managing editor Allison Benedikt realized what was at stake. Any hesitation over sex-selective abortion, she warned “makes it that much easier for so many of those other reasons (money, timing, work) to seem a little not-OK too.” Then, cutting to the chase, Benedikt asked, “If [we] object to aborting because of the sex of the fetus, aren’t we then saying that abortion is ‘murdering’ girls?”

To those in her readership feeling a touch queasy over this, Benedikt advised, “Gulp for a second if you must, then get over it.” Because the only thing relevant in the sacred right of choice “is that it’s entirely irrelevant why a woman wants an abortion.”

Are we clear on that? Crystal.

War On Whom?
For Benedikt and her ilk, anything restricting abortion or requiring mandatory waiting periods, parental notification, or ultrasounds are “anti-women.” It is part of a narrative that they are fond to frame as the “War on Women.” That gets several things wrong.

First, women make up one-half of the pro-life movement, and tend to have stronger pro-life views than men. For instance, according to Gallup, 44 percent of women self-identify as pro-life with 24 percent believing that abortion should be “illegal in all circumstances.” That compares to 46 percent and 19 percent, respectively, for men. So, nearly half of the nation’s women are waging a war against themselves. Seriously?

Second, girls are preferentially aborted over boys. The U.N. estimates that up to 200 million girls have been victims of sex-selective abortion. Thus, it is pro-abortion, rather than anti-abortion, policies that are “anti-women.”

Last, and most important, the real war here is the War on Children who have suffered two billion casualties and counting. That is a difficult truth to handle, especially for people whose lives have been devoted to waging that war. When the truth comes knocking, they can admit it, ignore it, or, like Melaney Linton, “exchange it for a lie.”

A Sacred Duty
When Melaney Linton took over as head of Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast, she calledher work, “a sacred duty.” Considering that Linton oversees 12,000 abortions a year, her work, contrary to her exalted description, is an evil worthy of Joseph Goebbels. Nevertheless, Linton is not alone in sacramentalizing mass-scale pedicide.

In 1992, feminist author Ginette Paris made the argument for “The Sacrament of Abortion,” in a book by that same name. As Paris sees it, “Our culture needs new rituals as well as laws to restore abortion to its sacred dimension, which is both terrible and necessary … a sacrifice to Artemis … a sacrament for the gift of life to remain pure.”

A sacrifice to Artemis? A sacrifice to Molech is how it strikes me.

I’m sure the enlightened caste, of which Melaney Linton and Ginette Paris are proud members, would roundly condemn the ritualized murder of children by ancient civilizations. That they would call “sacred” the same done by the hands of modern physicians is chillingly Orwellian.

Yet, for those fleeing the truth, the dystopian shores of Oceania are always ready to greet them. END QUOTE

Editor’s note: Pictured above is a still from the iconic scene in A Few Good Men (1992) starring Tom Cruise, Demi Moore, and Jack Nicholson as Colonel Nathan R. Jessep

10 Reasons Why Catholics Don’t Evangelize Preach the gospel at all times. The use of words is necessary. Fr. Dwight Longenecker: Re-Blogged

 

 

 

10 Reasons Why Catholics Don’t Evangelize

Preach the gospel at all times. The use of words is necessary.

Fr. Dwight Longenecker

At a priests’ conference not long ago, the speaker quoted some statistics. Christians of different traditions were asked percentage wise how important evangelization was to their understanding of the Christian faith.

Mainline Protestants answered 60 percent. Evangelical Christians answered 85 percent. Catholics said 3 percent.

We Catholics skate around this one muttering catchphrases like “The New Evangelization” and we trumpet the few evangelization enterprises that are going on, and we self-righteously quote St. Francis (who never actually said it), “Preach the gospel at all times. Use words if necessary.”

There are some very clear reasons why Catholics don’t evangelize, and they are difficulties that run right to the foundation of our understanding and practice of the faith.

There may be more reason than these, but here are 10 I can think of.

(P.S. I’ve saved the biggest and the worst for last.)

  1. Cultural Catholicism. A lot of American Catholics regard their religion like Jews do. It’s something you’re born into. They scratch their head at the idea that someone would convert to Catholicism. “What, you mean you chose to be Catholic?” This is because they’re Polish or Irish or Italian or Lebanese or French. They’re Catholic in their bloodstream. It’s something you are, not something you do so much. I remember encountering a French woman in South Carolina who wanted her baby baptized. I asked her what parish she went to. She looked at me with bewilderment. “But I am French! It is different in France! Nobody goes to church, but we are very Catholic!” Cultural Catholics never imagine that they should evangelize. “So I’m supposed to make you an Italian?” You see what I mean.

 

  1. Over-Sacramentalization. That’s just a long word way of saying that Catholics put so much emphasis on the sacraments that it is difficult for many of them to see that in and through and below the sacramental system is a genuine encounter of the person with Jesus Christ, risen ascended and glorified. Because you have to be a Catholic to receive the sacraments of Holy Communion and confession, and because for so many Catholics that is the only way to practice their faith, the sacraments actually keep them from evangelizing. “I can’t bring my Baptist neighbor to Mass. She wouldn’t know what was going on and besides, she can’t come forward for Communion anyway.” This is a good point. If you invite a neighbor of family member to Mass then tell them they can’t receive the Lord the whole exercise is likely to collapse into them feeling excluded.

 

  1. RCIA. What is that? A company that used to make radios? The whole RCIA system is often cumbersome and user-unfriendly. If you have someone who is interested in becoming a Catholic you have to tell them about RCIA, which starts in the fall — so what do you do when they come in April? — and goes through for months until Easter. Meanwhile Pastor Bob at the local Protestant church says, “Come to church. Sign up. You’re in.” Proper catechesis is necessary, but a more creative and flexible approach would help.

 

  1. Church or Jesus? Too many Catholics confuse evangelization with getting people to join the Catholic Church. The primary task of evangelization is meeting people where they are introducing them to Jesus Christ. It is possible to do this without bringing in the Catholic Church with its whole devotional and sacramental system. It is possible to talk to someone in need and say, “You need to get right with God. You need to say, ‘Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God have mercy on me a sinner!’ That’s the first step.” After they make that decision they can start to attend church and learn about the sacramental system and how to continue their relationship with Christ as a Catholic. The reason so many Catholics have a problem with this is because they are unsure whether they themselves have ever had that fundamental, rock bottom, first step conversion transaction.

 

  1. Social Gospel. A lot of Catholics think the Church’s primary way of evangelizing people is by helping them. It’s true that an important aspect of evangelization is social welfare. Feeding the hungry, housing the homeless, healing the sick, bringing justice to the oppressed — all of that is good stuff and must not be neglected. It is also a powerful witness to the authenticity of the Catholic message. However, just doing that isn’t enough. We need to give people the Bread of Life as well as a sandwich. Many Catholics would never breathe a word about their faith, but are busy in the soup kitchen. Soup kitchen is good. Actively sharing the faith is also good and necessary.

 

  1. Ignorance. Too many Catholics simply don’t know their faith well enough to share it.

 

  1. Professional Catholics. For so long everything in the Catholic Church was done by the “professionals.” Priests, bishops, sisters and brothers were the ones who ran the parishes, dioceses, schools and colleges. They were the ones who were trained to do all the “church work.” Lay people were there to pray, pay and obey — or not. But this clericalism still dogs the Church. The people in the pew don’t take ownership and don’t feel it is their job to evangelize.

 

  1. Slack Use of Resources. I should specify. There is no lack of resources. In fact, there are more resources than we can handle. The resources are professionally produced, orthodox, relevant, attractive and dynamic. It’s not the lack of resources as much as it is the lack of people who will use the resources. How many good Catholic videos languish on the shelves because people just can’t be bothered to watch them and share them? How many books, pamphlets, booklets and training courses gather dust because no one can be bothered to use them? The same for websites, diocesan seminars, seminary training days and so on. There are plenty of good resources.

 

  1. Indifferentism. This is the widespread feeling (and teaching) that all the Christian denominations are pretty much the same and it doesn’t really matter which one you go to. It’s consumerism. Choose the one you like best. This indifferentism is widespread in our culture and widespread in the Catholic Church. Furthermore, it extends to non-Christian religions and no religion at all. Huge numbers of Catholics think it is perfectly okay if a person attends not only another Christian church, but follows a different religion. “We’re all climbing the same mountain. We’re just going up different paths!” That is a load of codswallop. Any casual study of the different world religions will show that they are not all equal. Some are superior to others simply from a human perspective. Likewise with the different Christian denominations. This is sentimental claptrap.

 

Do people who say this really believe it? No. Otherwise they would have to agree that a rattlesnake-handling Pentecostal from Kentucky is equal to St. Francis of Assisi. Would they look at the wild eyed Westboro Baptist crowd or an anti-Semitic, racist Catholic fundamentalist and say benignly, “Well, we’re all pretty much the same. They’ve simply chosen a different path up the mountain.” And yet indifferentism is rife in the Catholic Church in America, and that’s why Catholics don’t evangelize: they don’t think they need to.

 

  1. Universalism. The ugly twin sister of Indifferentism is Universalism — the teaching that God loves everyone so much that he would never send anyone to hell. In other words, in the end, everybody will be saved.  Why bother if we’re all going to get into heaven simply because God is such a nice Santa Claus-type figure in the sky who will make sure everyone succeeds? Like indifferentism, the Catholic Church is riddled with universalism and its cowardly half breed sister semi-universalism. This is the belief that there is a hell and there might just be a few people there, but there won’t be many and maybe even the ones who are there will serve their prison sentence and be allowed into heaven after all. Universalism is cowardly, un-Scriptural and un-Christian. It doesn’t take a St. Thomas Aquinas to figure out that this teaching means not only the death of evangelization, but eventually the death of the Church. END QUOTES

Legal Rationalizations for the Slaughter of Holy Innocents DAVID ANDREW FISHER: Re-Blogged

 

Legal Rationalizations for the Slaughter of Holy Innocents

DAVID ANDREW FISHER

 

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, And before you were born I consecrated you.” (Jeremiah 1:5)

“Upon You I was cast from birth; You have been my God from my mother’s womb.” (Psalm 22:5)

Last week fourteen {Democrat} “Catholic” senators joined those who voted against the proposed law that would have prohibited abortions after twenty weeks. Thus leaving our nation as one of only seven in the world that allows abortion after twenty weeks of life in the womb.

The Catholic Church often finds itself alone in the United States and in the International Community, in its defense of innocent human life and the rights of the unborn. In the United States and Canada we find some of the most extreme legislation and judicial decisions, literally leaving the defenseless unborn child without any rights. Much like the Dred Scott Supreme Court decision issued in 1857 that denied the human rights of slaves long after most predominantly Christian nations had given up the practice; we may very well find ourselves on the wrong side of history in our lack of defense for the Right to Life of the unborn.

Within the last hundred years we have witnessed the holocaust of the Jewish people at the hands of the Nazis, the holocaust of the Armenians by the crumbling Ottoman Empire and the holocaust of the unborn, which in length of years and numbers lost, is greater than all others.

The Right to Privacy
The philosophical and judicial notion of a “right to privacy” has its roots in the philosophy of the seventeenth century British Empiricist philosopher John Locke, whose ideas on government greatly influenced Thomas Jefferson. Locke opposed the “divine right of kings” that helped to legitimize absolute monarchy in France and other European countries of his day. He supported the so-called “Glorious Revolution” that saw the deposing of the last Catholic monarch of England, James II, and backed the installation of William and Mary to rule as constitutional monarchs. In his theory of “Natural Rights,” he proposed that every person is born with a right to life, liberty, and private property, in other words these three inalienable rights could not be taken away by any ruler, monarch or parliament.

It is this third right of Locke’s theory, the right to private property, that had been employed by modern “pro-choice” proponents to support their idea of a woman’s right over her body as extending to even the unborn child. This of course was never the intention of Locke himself, his concern was to limit the government power to search and seizure property and to further the idea that the fruit of your labor was a part of your person. Mary Ann Glendon explains in Rights Talk (1991) how Lockean property rights became transformed into the right to privacy:

Much of the attention the Supreme Court once lavished on a broad concept of property … it now devotes to certain personal liberties that it has designated as “fundamental.” Remarkably, the property paradigm, including the old language of absoluteness, broods over this developing jurisprudence of personal rights. The new right of privacy, like the old right of property, has been imagined by the Court and lawyers generally as marking off a protected sphere surrounding the individual … [the right to privacy was] quite literally pulled from the hat of property.

The right to privacy first emerged from the right to private property in American jurisprudence in 1890, but was concerned with protecting the private communications of the press from unlawful interference. It entered the realm of law as concerns human sexuality in 1965 when the Supreme Court struck down contraceptive restrictions legislated by the states in Griswold vs. Connecticut. This decision, writes Janet Smith, was a nod by the Supreme Court towards Planned Parenthood and its contraceptive programs. This fallacious extension of the right to private property to a right to privacy, along with the usurping of state’s rights by the Supreme Court, reached its pinnacle in the landmark decision of Roe vs. Wade in 1973.

Ironically, part of the argument for legalized abortion was the “bad science” being taught at the time, that it was impossible to say when human life begins, or when the fetus feels pain, or has viability outside the womb. All these arguments have been debunked by contemporary science, so much so that the feminist Naomi Wolf was forced to concede in the New Republic in 1995 that abortion is the taking of a human life, but that women should still be allow to obtain one anyway.

With Roe vs. Wade, the constitutional rights of the unborn, which had existed since the ratification of the United States Constitution, ceased to exist.

The Church Responds
Blessed Paul VI clearly reaffirmed the Catholic Church’s teaching on the protection of the unborn’s right to life in Humane Vitae:

Therefore We base Our words on the first principles of a human and Christian doctrine of marriage when We are obliged once more to declare that the direct interruption of the generative process already begun and, above all, all direct abortion, even for therapeutic reasons, are to be absolutely excluded as lawful means of regulating the number of children.

Saint John Paul II, further explained Catholic teaching on life in his encyclical letter, Evangelium Vitae of 1995, which was written to proclaim that, “The Gospel of life is at the heart of Jesus’ message. Lovingly received day after day by the Church, it is to be preached with dauntless fidelity as ‘good news’ to the people of every age and culture.”

John Paul II points to the confusion of culture today, the devaluation of life and the violence against the elderly and the unborn that he calls the “culture of death,” which violates the sacredness of human life. In Evangelium Vitae, he wrote:

In fact, while the climate of widespread moral uncertainty can in some way be explained by the multiplicity and gravity of today’s social problems, … it is no less true that we are confronted by an even larger reality, which can be described as a veritable structure of sin. This reality is characterized by the emergence of a culture which denies solidarity and in many cases takes the form of a veritable “culture of death.” This culture is actively fostered by powerful cultural, economic and political currents which encourage an idea of society excessively concerned with efficiency… In this way a kind of “conspiracy against life” is unleashed.

In order to facilitate the spread of abortion, enormous sums of money have been invested and continue to be invested in the production of pharmaceutical products which make it possible to kill the fetus in the mother’s womb without recourse to medical assistance. On this point, scientific research itself seems to be almost exclusively preoccupied with developing products which are ever more simple and effective in suppressing life and which at the same time are capable of removing abortion from any kind of control or social responsibility.

Reflecting on Sacred Scripture in Jeremiah, Job, Psalms, and the meeting of the Virgin Mary and Elizabeth in Luke; John Paul II writes, “How can anyone think that even a single moment of this marvelous process of the unfolding of life could be separated from the wise and loving work of the Creator, and left prey to human caprice?”

While St. Stephen is counted as being the first Christian martyr, the Holy Innocents were the first to be martyred because Christ had entered into the world. The selfish pursuit of power and unwillingness to be open to the truth, led Herod to slaughter the Holy Innocents, with the hope that one of them would be the baby Jesus. Unfortunately, in our culture the pursuit of personal wealth, power, and extreme individualism coupled with a secular-agnosticism as regards truth, has produced a new group of Holy Innocents; again in hope of removing Jesus, the Lord of Life from our world.

 Just as an individual is judged not so much by the way she treats her peers, but by how she treats those she has an advantage over, so shall our society be judged by how we treat those who are least powerful and in the greatest need of our protection. Our Lady and the Holy Innocents, pray for us!

Editor’s note: Pictured above is a detail from “Scene of the Slaughter of the Innocents” painted by Leon Cogniet in 1824.

INSERTED BY PJM:  NO CATHOLIC AND NO CHRISTIAN CAN GRIEVOUSLY VIOLATE THE 5TH COMMANDMENT: “THOU SHALT NOT KILL”. HENCE WE ARE GRAVELY MORALLY PROHIBITED FROM VOTING FOR, OR SUPPORTING IN ANY WAY ANY AND ALL DEMOCRATIC PARTY NATIONAL PARTY CANDIDATES; WHO HAVE BECOME THE PARTY OF LEGISLATED MURDER AND HOMOSEXUALITY.

May God Have Mercy on them;

Patrick

Archbishop urges priests to preach against contraception: ‘do not be afraid to proclaim the truth’   by  Claire Chretien: Re-Blogged

by  Claire Chretien

Archbishop urges priests to preach against contraception: ‘do not be afraid to proclaim the truth’

DENVER, Colorado, February 5, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – As the 50th anniversary of Humanae Vitae approaches, the “liberating truth” of Church teaching on human sexuality must be proclaimed to the “increasingly confused” world, Archbishop Samuel Aquila of Denver wrote in a new pastoral letter.

In his pastoral letter, titled The Splendor of Love, Aquila wrote that although contraception has wrecked much of the culture and family life, not all is lost and there are great opportunities for people in every state of life to live and share Catholic teaching.

Catholics must have a “strong commitment” to defend authentic love, Aquila said, noting that Fatima visionary Sister Lucia said the final battle between God and Satan will be over “marriage and family”:

Indeed, Sr. Lucia, one of the visionaries from Our Lady’s apparition at Fatima, related that a “decisive battle between the kingdom of Christ and Satan will be over marriage and the family.” The family is the foundation of society, and when it is undermined, society itself is threatened with collapse. Therefore, it is crucial to reaffirm our commitment to the truth, goodness, and beauty of Christ’s teaching on marriage and sexuality.

Priests should “address” the 50th anniversary of Humanae Vitae in their parishes, wrote Aquila, urging them, “do not be afraid to proclaim the truth of God’s plan for human love with gentle clarity and charity.”

‘Undeniable’ that Paul VI’s predictions all came true                                   

Some positive developments since Blessed Pope Paul VI’s encyclical upholding the Church’s perennial teaching against artificial contraception are the rise of Natural Family Planning (NFP) and Pope St. John Paul II’s Theology of the Body, Aquila wrote.

“Pope Saint John Paul II has deepened our understanding of the great gift of human sexuality, which requires nothing less from us than a complete gift of self,” Aquila explained. “In his reflections on the theology of the body, he teaches us that ‘The human body includes right from the beginning … the capacity of expressing love, that love in which the person becomes a gift – and by means of this gift – fulfills the meaning of his being and existence.’”

Aquila cited as another positive development Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s writings on marriage and how the love between husband and wife is a reflection of the love between God and His Church and the emphasis of Pope Francis on “the importance of fostering a culture of encounter within the family, so that the deeply social character of marriage is supported and spreads to society at large.”

Aquila cited chapters 3, 4, and 5 of the current pontiff’s controversial exhortation Amoris Laetitia. One of the portions of the document he quoted referenced St. John Paul II’s Familiaris Consortio.

“Unfortunately, Blessed Paul VI’s prophecies” about the effects of contraception “have all come true,” the archbishop wrote. He explained:

While advocates of contraception predicted that divorce rates and abortions would decrease with its use, they skyrocketed. Women have also greatly suffered from objectification, which is found in advertising and movies, but also takes on more extreme forms like pornography and sex trafficking. The Holy Father’s expectation that governments would impose contraception on people most recently came to fruition in the Obama administration’s Health and Human Services contraception mandate, but has also appeared in American and European government programs that provide contraception in developing countries.

While the 1968 reception of Humanae Vitae was mixed, the fulfillment of Blessed Paul VI’s prophetic wisdom is undeniable and points to the truth of the teaching contained in Humanae Vitae. Furthermore, those communities of faith which have gone the way of the world in their teaching on human sexuality have not filled their churches but only emptied them. As Jesus made clear in the Gospel, apart from him and his life-giving teachings, we cannot bear fruit.

Other “unique challenges” have arisen, “of which Blessed Paul VI could not have even dreamed,” Aquila lamented. “Rejecting the true nature of the sexual act has not led to increased happiness and fulfillment but to a distortion of the relationship between men and women. The effects of the sexual revolution have devastated our culture: large numbers of abortions, a sharp rise in STDs, divorce rates hovering near 50 percent, birth rates falling below replacement level, and a decline in people getting married.”

The prevalence of pornography has cheapened sex and led to “a decline in a rightly ordered sex drive, with a loss of libido and even a movement towards intercourse with robots, as reported in the media.”

Aquila observed that artificial contraception has had a negative impact on the planet.

“The predominant use of the pill, and endocrine-disrupting chemicals found in plastics and other products have flooded our water supplies with synthetic estrogens and endocrine-disrupting chemicals, causing a rise in infertility, an increased risk of cancer and hormonal changes for our children,” he wrote.

Catholic Church has the ‘antidote’ for today’s sexual brokenness

Citing the first book of the Bible, Genesis, Aquila told his flock that God created humans “male and female.”

“Our dignity comes from being made in his image and likeness,” he wrote. “God, the source of all life and love, planned from the beginning that the love between a man and a woman should image his own love and bring forth new life in the context of a family. The blessing of children was given to man and woman before their fall from grace, and it was not lost because of their sin.”

Family allows us a “glimpse” of “the joy of eternity” while on Earth. The family shows the reality of the two sexes and created in God’s image and loves new life into existence, Aquila explained, quoting homilies from Pope Benedict and Pope Francis.

Humanae Vitae and Theology of the Body are “vitally important teachings” that “convey these truths in a way that is both bold and pastorally aware of the challenges men and women encounter in the modern world.”

Family allows us a “glimpse” of “the joy of eternity” while on Earth.

They offer the “antidote” to “the widespread false ideas of freedom and the purpose of sexuality that so many are suffering from today.”

Total, faithful, fruitful

Citing Humanae Vitae, Aquila wrote that married love “needs to be fully human, total, faithful, and fruitful.”

He emphasized the importance of husbands and wives loving each other unconditionally. Marriage is “exclusive until death, reflecting God’s fidelity.”

Aquila recalled:

Within the last couple years, I met a couple who was living together and had conceived a child but also wanted to get married in the Church. Their situation was further complicated by the fact that the man had been married previously and had children from those marriages. The woman wanted to regularize their situation with the Church. He began the annulment process, their child was born, and they went through marriage preparation classes and NFP classes. The couple was so convicted by what they learned in NFP classes that they decided they should live as brother and sister for several months until I happily officiated their sacrament of marriage. Their love was profoundly deepened by encountering Jesus and his plan for sexuality and the family. Not only were they transformed, but their extended family and their friends heard about their experience too.

Children are “esteemed as marriage’s greatest gift,” not a burden and infertile couples can still have fruitful love “when they seek to serve the community around them.”

“Through marriage, the spouses are joined in their flesh, but also in their affections and spirit (fully human), in all the dimensions of their life (total), in their past and future (faithful and exclusive), and in the possibility of receiving the gift of a new life (fruitful),” the archbishop wrote. “Genuine married love has these four features.”

“Because God designed sex to have both a unitive and procreative dimension, man cannot separate them without causing real damage,” wrote Aquila. “Sex, too, is a part of ‘what God has joined together.’ It is a blessing! Like the wings of an eagle, these two meanings can only subsist together. If we try to separate them, we will lose both.”

He then outlined how the attempted sterilization of sex has led to procreation without sex:

That contraception attacks the procreative aspect of sex is readily apparent from its design. What is less apparent, though, is how it harms the unitive dimension of sex.

Saint John Paul II observed that our bodies were designed by God so that they speak a language. In the one-flesh union of husband and wife, that language communicates the total gift of self, including their fertility, without any limits or restrictions. But contraception introduces a falsehood into the language of the body. While the spouses indicate with their bodies that they are totally giving themselves, contracepted sex withholds one’s fertility and the chance to become a potential parent. Blessed Paul VI did not reject contraception because it is artificial but because it damages the conjugal act of the spouses, which lies at the heart of their intimacy and is the sanctuary of life. This makes contraceptive acts “repugnant to the nature of man and of woman” and contrary to God’s plan, as Humanae Vitae states.

Blessed Paul VI’s teaching also helps us understand the link between contraception and in vitro fertilization, that is, between sex without babies and producing babies without sex. While contraception involves removing the procreative dimension, in vitro fertilization jettisons the unitive dimension of sexual intimacy. Instead of conceiving a child in an act of love, the couple produces a child in a lab, which violates the child’s inherent dignity.

‘Take a stand against the gender ideology that is sweeping through our country’

The archbishop ended his pastoral letter with a call to action, imploring Catholics to share the beauty of the Church’s teaching.

Rather than being “a burden and a source of repression,” it helps people “overcome the many burdens and wounds that follow from our broken families and sexuality.”

“Our bodies were designed by God so that they speak a language.”

“Every Catholic has a mission to live and share the good news of God’s plan for human sexuality,” he declared. “This requires courage to stand against the prevailing cultural winds, but Jesus calls us to nothing less. Only living in the truth will give us true freedom, true love, and true happiness.”

Evangelizing the culture about the wisdom and truth of the Church’s teachings includes taking “a stand against the gender ideology that is sweeping through our country. Pointing people to the teaching of Jesus is not confrontational, but an act of love, helping them to find true happiness.”

Aquila offered suggestions for people in various states of life and professions to witness to the truth about human sexuality.

As children’s “primary educators,” parents have a special role in this regard, he said. They should guide their children to avoid pornography and casual sex and be prepared to equip them to “respond when dangerous situations present themselves.”

“Unfortunately, and sadly, our children are exposed at a young age to many confusing distortions of human sexuality,” he noted.

The archbishop said parents have told him about their four-year-olds coming “home from public schools where teachers have told them that they can be whatever gender they want and that people of the same sex can marry each other. Innocence is harmed and confusion is instilled by such teachings.”

So, “having conversations early, without destroying their innocence, will be important so that children know how to respond when dangerous situations present themselves,” he wrote.

Aquila offered inspiration for doctors and nurses, lawyers and politicians, those in media, teachers and catechists, NFP instructors, and engaged couples to continue living the Church’s teachings on sexuality.

“Jesus is the source of true love” and “the one who heals us of our sexual wounds,” he concluded. “Humanae Vitae serves as a great light in the midst of a dark and confused world when it comes to human sexual intimacy. We ask for the prayers of Blessed Paul VI as we look to his guidance for handing on and living according to the teachings of Christ in the world today.” END QUOTES