A Test of LOVE-Failed; the story of the Original sin and WHY it is our sin too. by Patrick Miron

A Test of LOVE-Failed; the story of the Original sin and WHY it is our sin too.

by Patrick Miron

Chapter One: Circumstantial Evidence

WOW!  That was some apple; or was it? This is the behind the scene exposé of what was really taking place. … Adam & Eve season II.

Their names may have been Claude and Jean; but make no mistake about it; their story is real; it really did happen, though perhaps not precisely as recorded.

I have taught for many years now that everything in the bible is true; but not everything is necessary factual as it has come down to us over the centuries. So I’m still going to refer to our First Parents and Adam and Eve.

There was no absolute reason that God “Had to” create humanity. Nor was God in anyway obligated to create US in “His Own Image.” {Gen. 1:26-27}Therefore it is reasonable; and of critical understanding, to recognize that God {defined as: “All Good things perfected.”} had something specific in mind in doing so. Are we left to guess just why God choose to do so? No; Divine Inspiration answers that quite clearly: Isaiah 43: 7 & 21 {RSV Bible} [7] “everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.” & [21] the people whom I formed for myself that they MIGHT declare my praise.

It is revealing that in the Genesis Creation account; that man did not exist immediately upon God’s “willing it” {Gen. 1:26-27} as did the rest of His Creation {which means to make something out of nothing; Gen 1: 3 & 9.}…

Gen. 2:  [5]And every plant of the field before it sprung up in the earth, and every herb of the ground before it grew: for the Lord God had not rained upon the earth; and there was not a man to till the earth. [6] But a spring rose out of the earth, watering all the surface of the earth. [7] And the Lord God formed man of the slime of the earth: and breathed into his face the breath of life, and man became a living {immortal} soul.  … {How many times I have read this amazing account and missed MAN BECOMING A LIVING SOUL}. So in all of the created Universe {which too has to exist for a specific purpose} only humanity is created out of SOMETHING; not, dare I say; “just willed into existence.”{Gen. 1:3 &9}; and only for His-humanity did GOD Breath in His-Life. Then from the incredible to the bizarre, we are told and expected to believe that humanity in some manner actually emulates our All “everything good” GOD….

John 4: 23-24 gives skeptics a solid footing for doubting this teaching: [23]But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true adorers shall adore the Father in spirit and in truth. For the Father also seeketh such to adore him[24] God is a spirit; and they that adore him, must adore him in spirit and in truth. {“God’s truth” is a pesky word whenever we encounter it in sharing or explaining our Faith beliefs}; … so we are Mortal and God is immortal; we are physical; and “God is a Spirit.”    …. How can we reconcile these seemingly irreconcilable differences?  That answer rest in Gen 2: 7 above: “Man {exclusively} becomes a living “Soul.”  But unlike every other type of “living souls”; humanities Soul exclusively emulates our God by being the only Rational-Soul; and the only Immortal soul in the created Universe.

Chapter Two

What’s the BIG Deal about eating an apple?

First of all; it may, or may not, have been an apple. The forbidden tree was in the Midst of the Garden of Eden {Paradise} that contained zillions of fruit bearing trees; and had, no-doubt a great many of the same fruit, every-bit as delicious as was the forbidden tree.

OK, ok, so the fruit tree itself was not the real issue, SO WHAT WAS?

Life is the {a} GOD TEST … WHY is that?

We notice in chapter 3 of Genesis:” [1] now the serpent was more subtle than any of the beasts of the earth which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman: Why hath God commanded you that you should not eat of every tree of paradise? [2] And the woman answered him, saying: Of the fruit of the trees that are in paradise we do eat: [3] But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of paradise, God hath commanded us that we should not eat; and that we should not touch it, lest perhaps we die. [4] And the serpent said to the woman: No, you shall not die the death. {Meaning: spiritual-eternal death} [5] For God doth know that in what day soever you shall eat thereof, your eyes shall be opened: and you shall be as Gods, knowing good and evil.”

A Question here: So where did this Snake come from? And WHY?

Ahhhhh, the “snake” probably wasn’t a “snake”. It is far more likely that it was some huge and horrible -evil-monster that COULD have easily taken their physical life. The Jewish language does not have a specific term for this kind of monster.

Prior to the Creation of the Universe and humanity GOD already existed with a myriad of Angels; {ANGELS definition: (symbols). Depicted in various forms to express the will of God, of which they are the mediators. Shown as messengers, in worship, and in executing justice, they appeared in Western art before A.D. 600. Before Constantine their appearance without wings was mainly with a staff indicative of their office as messengers”…….. Father Hardon’s Catholic Dictionary.}

The Angels are similar to man in rationality; but far more advanced to a higher degree of intelligence and are similar to GOD in essence, and are normally spirits. Thus they too have the ability to choose to Love or to Hate God.  … Rationality is the essential attribute for being ABLE to return to our Perfect God; “Perfect” Love which MUST Be freely bestowed in order to become “Perfect-Love.” God’s Nature can settle for nothing less.

At some point prior to the Creation of the Universe and humanity; a large group of angels; led we are told by Lucifer; decided that being in a perfect existence with God was not good enough for them; they decided that they actually wanted to be God’s; not simply “like” God as they already were; NO, they desired to BE –God’s. So a turf war ensued, and the “Good Angels” led by Michael the Archangel, were victorious. God’s side and the “Good Angels prevailed, and as all actions do have consequences; and Lucifer and his many minions had to be punished {God’s Perfect Justice demanded it}, so God created hell defined as: “The place and state of eternal punishment for the fallen angels and human beings who die deliberately estranged from the love of God. There is a twofold punishment in hell: the pain of loss, which consists in the deprivation of the vision of God, and the pain of sense, which consists in the suffering caused by outside material things. The punishment of hell is eternal, as declared by Christ in his prediction of the last day (Matthew 25:46), and as defined by the Fourth Lateran Council, stating that the wicked will “receive a perpetual punishment with the devil” (Denzinger 801). The existence of hell is consistent with divine justice, since God respects human freedom and those who are lost actually condemn themselves by their resistance to the grace of God.” ……..Father Hardon’s Catholic Dictionary.

Did YOU pick up the clue from this definition? The snake-monster was none other than Lucifer himself in disguise. The very “Father of Lies.” John 8:44… And he sold Adam through Eve; the very same prideful desire that he had convinced so many fallen angels to buy into. …Gen . 3:  [4] And the serpent said to the woman: No, you shall not die the death. {Meaning: spiritual-eternal death} [5] For God doth know that in what day soever you shall eat thereof, your eyes shall be opened: and you shall be as Gods, knowing good and evil.”

The tree in the middle of the garden was a “LOVE-TEST.” After the fall of the “Bad-Angel” Lucifer and his pride-filled minions; God, for reasons known fully only to themselves {the Trinity}decided to create another form of Rational entities; but this time not quite as close to the actual “image of God” as are His Angels.

Now WE know that God is truly “All-Knowing” and knew what Adam through Eve would choose to do; so when we get to our “Immediate Judgment”, as each of us are assured to do at the very instant of our physical death; we might be able to ask God; just WHY He freely-choose to create humanity anyway?  But the fact remains that GOD did choose to Create humanity in His very Image; and even Breathed His Life into them.

Chapter Three: Failed Love

“Love is {CROSS THAT “is” OUT}; Love can be a many splendid thing.”

So now we must play detectives:

At RISK here was “covenant Love;” Which is WHAT exactly?

A “CONTRACT” deals with goods and services; BUT a “COVENANT” deals with GOD and humanity {persons]. There is no covenant without sacrifice. The sacrifice and suffering is offered by the people to symbolize their offering of themselves to God.

What was Adam’s RISK verses the anticipated gain?

Put at RISK: [1] Being already in “Paradise”, with its literal provisions for every need and desire {except one; that actually Being God} foreseen and fully met. [2] A perfect worry-free-existence with no death, no suffering and complete inner peace; until the Monster arrived uninvited. [3]The uninhibited love of God.

The possible Gain: The gamble and the “possible” gain: “being ‘made AS- GOD’S’ “… Gen. 3:5 knowing right from wrong.

What isn’t expressly spelled out in the Genesis accounting is Adam’s actual Role as understood by both God and Adam.

Adam was charged and empowered to:

Adam, the “Gate Keeper” was charged with protecting the Entrance-gate to the Garden of Paradise God had prepared for and gifted to Him and Eve, as it was the sanctuary of both God and man. Their relationship with God was uniquely intimate and personal.

Adam was charged with the responsibility to protect and care for his wife Eve

Adam was to insure their Love of God over every other consideration

Love-FAILED

Adam failed to protect the entrance to the garden: Love FAILED

Adam failed to protect Eve {his wife}: Love FAILED

Adam even failed to protect himself: Love FAILED

Adam choose to allow Eve to pridefully {& perhaps frightfully} influence him to choose to HATE God: Love FAILED

Why did God choose to test Adam & Eve in this way?

Because covenant love demands selfless giving in order to fulfill the human relations with God.

Actions DO have consequences:

[16] To the woman also he said: I will multiply thy sorrows, and thy conceptions: in sorrow shalt thou bring forth children, and thou shalt be under thy husband’s power, and he shall have dominion over thee. [17] And to Adam he said: Because thou hast hearkened to the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldst not eat, cursed is the earth in thy work; with labour and toil shalt thou eat thereof all the days of thy life. [18] Thorns and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herbs of the earth. [19] In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread till thou return to the earth, out of which thou wast taken: for dust thou art, and into dust thou shalt return. [20] And Adam called the name of his wife Eve: because she was the mother of all the living.

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

Very much is left unspoken; yet clearly “said.”

Verse 19 expresses the new reality that all humanity will die; by implication here is both a physical death and a conditional spiritual death as well, which had NOT been the original plan of God. Verses 16-18 express that the New and normal condition for humanity will entail laboring and suffering, pain and sacrifice; also not in the original plan of God as in Paradise “work” was to be enjoyable and therapeutic.

The spiritual losses; and the spiritual consequences are even more devastating and discerning. Verse 24 teaches us that Adam {we} were kicked out of Paradise {to be here understood as heaven}and prevented from being able on our own merits to reenter it.

The new normal propensity to sin {having now learned how to}, and the JUST decision by God that these consequences would be shared by all of humanity as the DNA-inheritance of God’s JUST -New Life Test, for all and for each of us.

Humanity in a theological sense has some of GOD’S DNA {a desire for good.  Eccle. 15:18}… Likewise, and easier to grasp; all of humanities DNA can be traced back to and through Adam & Eve; and just as our offspring inherit some of our characteristics; ALL of humanity was to inherit the new propensity to sin; A & E’s “DNA”, and that  Stain of the “Original-sin” which was now predestined to plague us.

ORIGINAL SIN. “Either the sin committed by Adam as the head of the human race, or the sin he passed onto his posterity with which every human being, with the certain exception of Christ and his Mother, is conceived and born. The sin of Adam is called originating original sin (originale originans); that of his descendents is originated original sin (originale originatum). Adam’s sin was personal and grave, and it affected human nature. It was personal because he freely committed it; it was grave because God imposed a serious obligation; and it affected the whole human race by depriving his progeny of the supernatural life and preternatural gifts they would have possessed on entering the world had Adam not sinned. Original sin in his descendants is personal only in the sense that the children of Adam are each personally affected, but not personal as though they had voluntarily chosen to commit the sin; it is grave in the sense that it debars a person from the beatific vision, but not grave in condemning one to hell; and it is natural only in that all human nature, except for divine intervention, has it and can have it removed only by supernatural means.” End Quotes…. Father John A. Hardon’s Dictionary.

 

Chapter Four: Explanations

FROM OUR CATHOLIC CATECHISM

404 How did the sin of Adam become the sin of all his decedents?

The whole human race is in Adam “as the body of one man.” By this “unity of the human race” all men are implicated in Adam’s sin, as all are implicated in Christ Justice. Still, the transmission of original sin is a mystery that we cannot fully understand. But we do know by Revelation that Adam had received original holiness and justice not for himself alone, but for all human nature. By yielding to the tempter, Adam committed a personal sin, but this sin affected the human nature that they would then fall into a fallen state. It is a sin which will be transmitted by propagation to all mankind. That is by the transmission of human nature deprived of its original holiness and justice. And that is why original sin is called “sin” only in an analogical sense: it is a sin “contracted”” and not committed- state and not an act.

405: Although it is proper to each individual, original sin does not have the character of a personal fault in any of Adam’s decedents. It is a deprivation of original holiness and justice, but human nature has not been totally corrupted: it is wounded in its natural powers proper to it, subject to ignorance, suffering, and the dominion of death, and inclined to sin-an inclination to evil that is called concupiscence. Baptism by imparting then life of Christ, erases original sin and turns man back toward God, but the consequences for nature, weakened and inclined to evil, persist in man and summons him to spiritual battle.

God originally planned to invited all of humanity to permanent residence in the “perfect-life” of the Garden of Eden {Paradise} which Adam screwed up for us; so God’s decision to inflict all of humanity with the consequences of Original Sin is justified. Failures in Love

God is a God of Love and Mercy as evidenced throughout the Bibles Old and New Testaments. Indeed the bible is a single WORD could be correctly defined as “Love.”

God inflicted humanity with the consequences of one man; the man Adam; then in time and history choose just one people Exodus 6:7 to once again attempt to reintroduce himself to his- humanity. This was a long, protracted Love {by God}- love & hate by the Chosen People relationship. … Along the way Gen 17:11, God entered into a new Covenant –relationship that was sealed with circumcision {the letting of blood}that effectively removed the stain of original sin from that man, his son’s also by circumcision and his family. Gen. 17:11. So now the “illness: original sin” had a cure. This was later manifested and perfected by Christ who Instituted the new-more-perfect-covenant-relationship through Sacramental Baptism. John 3: 5 and Matthew 28:18.

So the cure for this original- infliction is God’s love manifested with a “cure” for his humanity. The cure for the new inbred propensity to sin is also God’s love now established through Sacramental Confession John 20: 19-23 & 1 John 5: 16-17; which is GOD’S commanded, and the normal way for sin forgiveness by Him.

And that FRIENDS is the end of the STORY which began in love and ends with love.  ….. It’s hard not to love a good LOVE-story.

POST Script:

The Church does not claim to know the final eternal resting place of Adam and Eve. But my personal guess tends towards God’s Mercy for them; IF, if they truly repented {as Adam’s sin was effectively denial of GOD’s Sovereignty.} and did not become bitter because of what they had brought upon themselves and all of humanity {which presumes that they actually understood ALL the consequences of what they had done; for which I could NOT uncover in my research verification of this fact.} The evidence of the murder of Able by Cain affirms man’s propensity towards sin; even SERIOUS sins. Cain’s early offspring flowing from the loins of the new humanity and their obvious propensity to sin, is demonstrated by the unrequited practices of paganism and the multiplicity of god’s of their personal invention.  My position is augmented by God’s later-choice of One Chosen people; One True God and One True Faith and ALL that He accomplished for them in route to this now- exposed & desired One, One, One Commanded-discovery and conversion.

DID ADAM ALSO FAIL TO TEACH ABOUT THE ONE TRUE GOD WHO HE KNEW PERSONALLY? WAS THIS ANOTHER FAILURE IN LOVE?

I personally find it amazing that this history, part fable & part truth dates back at least 4,000 years. WHAT an AMAZING God we have!

Patrick

 

 

The Six Parts of Fortitude by JEANNIE EWING: re-blogged

The Six Parts of Fortitude

JEANNIE EWING

“Move from fear to fearlessness.”

“Let your faith be bigger than your fear.”

While there are small specks of truth contained in these modern axioms, it’s actually better to pray for fortitude.

Fortitude is unique in the sense that it is included among both the cardinal virtues and the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit. It’s a valuable and necessary aspect of our spiritual advancement.

Interestingly, fortitude isn’t exclusively courage, as many of us were taught when we memorized the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit for our Confirmation preparation classes. There are actually, according to Thomistic scholars, six sub-virtues, or parts, that comprise the totality of fortitude.

Magnanimity

According to St. Thomas Aquinas, magnanimity is “striving for excellence in all things, but especially in great things.” The vice opposed to magnanimity is pusillanimity, or “smallness of soul.” Can you imagine working toward greatness in everything you do? It would be intense and difficult, but that’s essentially fortitude – our “willingness to engage the arduous.”

Magnanimity means one holds nothing back from others and is undeterred in giving of oneself, even until it hurts. It’s easy to remain rooted in mediocrity in our modern era, to be afraid of taking risks and overcoming necessary hurdles, or discovering lessons gleaned from failure. But it’s much more difficult to stay the course and seek beauty, truth, and goodness in all that we think, say, and do.

Magnanimity, then, is generosity of our time.

Magnificence

When I was younger, “magnificent” was a worn-out adjective often describing a wizard in a fantasy tale. But it’s actually specific to what we do with our money. A person who chooses to do great things with his wealth is considered magnificent. Even if you aren’t particularly wealthy, this does apply to how you spend your money, and on what.

The contrary vice is stinginess or miserliness. Think Ebenezer Scrooge, hoarding every last coin while living in a mansion filled with rags and cobwebs. We don’t have to be quite that extreme, but it’s still possible to be stingy if you have very little money. The point of this virtue is to give what we have in a spirit of total trust. Sometimes this means stretching ourselves a little bit and donating something unbudgeted or giving more than what we think we can.

Magnificence is generosity of treasure.

Patience

Patience is equated with “long-suffering,” or our acceptance of suffering hardships, persecutions, and trials. Each of us can think of several examples in which we struggle with patience: long lines, waiting for a coworker to complete his part of a project, and uncertainty after diagnostic tests are complete but no answer is yet given, etc.

There are little, nagging things that grate on our nerves each day, too, but these are opportunities for us to practice patience. Their cumulative effects produce abundant grace that leads us closer toward a life of fortitude. Conversely, fearlessness and audacity are two vices that lead us toward impulsivity and reckless behavior rather than enduring necessary evils.

Perseverance

St. Paul notably wrote about perseverance, sometimes comparing it to endurance: “We even boast of our afflictions, knowing that affliction produces endurance, and endurance, proven character…” (Romans 5: 3).

When we persevere, it means we are persisting in every difficulty that we know will lead us to eventual good. For example, as a writer, I frequently encounter obstacles, whether interior or exterior, to completing a book or article. If I choose to persevere, I am making an act of the will to bear the burdens while keeping the good end in sight.

Vices opposed to perseverance include presumption and effeminacy; both are a lack of engaging what is arduous, the former because we think we can achieve the good end without God’s assistance, and the latter because we just want to avoid what’s tough in order to appeal to pleasure.

Perseverance is the generosity of talent.

Longanimity

If you understand the agony of waiting, then you have probably received an invitation to grow in longanimity. Literally meaning “longness of soul,” it indicates how well we wait for what is good. Think of pregnancy. When a woman is pregnant, she knows the gestational period is vital to the developing child’s brain and organs. In turn, she doesn’t want to expedite the birth of her baby; instead, she waits.

We can think of how the Blessed Mother went “in haste” to visit her cousin, Elizabeth, so that they could both wait with the anticipation of joy for the arrival of the Savior and His cousin. Therefore, if God is asking you to wait for something beautiful and good, believe He will complete the work He has begun in you.

Mortification

Finally, mortification is our “willingness to suffer.” Through small, daily sacrifices, we learn to deny ourselves pleasure for the sake of something greater. Essentially, mortification is an act of the will that purifies our souls to accomplish the great work God has planned for our lives. We are choosing to bypass a particular delight (e.g., morning coffee) in order for our souls to be strengthened.

Fortitude fortifies the soul; it is derived from the Latin word, “fortitudo,” which means strength. If we are to face the unexpected calamities and atrocities of life, we will need fortitude. It will ground us in the midst of confusion and panic; it will grant us unwavering confidence and peace in the face of persecution and hatred; and it will lead us onward wherever Jesus leads us, in fidelity in both life and death. END QUOTES

**For more information on fortitude, you can find the Litany of Fortitude here and a complete list of virtues and contrary vices compiled by Fr. Chad Ripperger here.

 

 

 

By Jeannie Ewing

Jeannie Ewing believes the world ignores and rejects the value of the Cross. She writes about the hidden value of suffering and even discovering joy in the midst of grief.  As a disability advocate, Jeannie shares her heart as a mom of two girls with special needs in Navigating Deep Waters and is the author of From Grief to Grace , A Sea Without A Shore , and Waiting with Purpose.  Jeannie is a frequent guest on Catholic radio and contributes to several online and print Catholic magazines.   She, her husband, and three daughters live in northern Indiana. For more information, please visit her website jeannieewing.com.

Nine Ways the Eucharist Is Hidden in the Old Testament by STEPHEN BEALE: re-blogged

Nine Ways the Eucharist Is Hidden in the Old Testament

STEPHEN BEALE

 

John Henry Newman once compared Scripture to an inexhaustibly rich wilderness—never failing to reward the faithful explorer with thrilling new discoveries yet always beyond his ability to master it completely:

It cannot, as it were, be mapped, or its contents cataloged; but after all our diligence, to the end of our lives and to the end of the Church, it must be an unexplored and unsubdued land, with heights and valleys, forests and streams, on the right and left of our path and close about us, full of concealed wonders and choice treasures. (An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine, 71).

The Eucharist is among those ‘concealed wonders and choice treasures’ in the Old Testament. At first, with the obvious exception of the manna heaven that rained down on the Israelites, it seems that there is little in the Old Testament that foreshadows the extraordinary new reality that is the Eucharist. But Newman invites us to venture deep into the hidden valleys and the secret gardens of the Old Testament. When we do, it turns out the Eucharist is everywhere—from the Pentateuch to the prophets.

  1. The forbidden fruit. The forbidden fruit of the Garden of Eden seems like the last place one would see a foreshadowing of the Eucharist. But medieval commentators saw the Eucharist as the “antidote to the poisonous effects of the apple,” according to Ann Astell, in Eating Beauty. Just as eating of the forbidden fruit was a sin of pride, avarice, gluttony, or disobedience, so the Eucharist was seen as inculcating the corresponding opposite virtues: humility, poverty, abstinence, and obedience, according to Astell. The parallel goes even deeper: in eating the forbidden fruit, Adam and Eve brought death into the world while those who partake in the Eucharist are promised eternal life.
  2. Fruit of the Tree of Life.  The connections between Eden and the Eucharist are reinforced in the last book of the Bible. First a reminder: there were actually two types of trees in Eden. The one that gets most of the attention is the tree of knowledge of good and evil—it is the fruit of this tree that Adam and Eve were forbidden to eat. But, when the pair are banished, a second tree is mentioned: “See! The man has become like one of us, knowing what is good and what is bad! Therefore, he must not be allowed to put out his hand to take fruit from the tree of life also, and thus eat of it and live forever” (Genesis 3:22). In Revelation, John indicates that, through Christ, we will be able to eat of the fruit of this second tree. In Revelation 2:7, John writes, “To the victor I will give the right to eat from the tree of life that is in the garden of God.” Ten verses later we read: “To the victor I shall give some of the hidden manna”—a clear reference to the Eucharist. (I’m particularly indebted to Deacon Sabatino Carnazzo for this reading. For more about the Eucharist and the Garden of Eden, read his articleat the Institute of Catholic Culture.)

 

  1. The blood of Abel. This is another one that seems an odd type for the Eucharist. But Scripture links the blood of Christ with Abel. In Genesis 4:8, after Cain has slain his brother, God speak to him, “What have you done? Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground!” In Hebrews 12:24, St. Paul draws a connection with Christ, calling Jesus “the mediator of a new covenant, and the sprinkled blood that speaks more eloquently than that of Abel.” St. Gregory the Great elaborates on this, “The blood of Jesus calls out more eloquently than Abel’s, for the blood of Abel asked for the death of Cain, the fratricide, while the blood of the Lord has asked for, and obtained, life for his persecutors.” When we receive the Eucharist, St. Gregory adds, we too must cry out and proclaim our faith in Jesus. “The cry of the Lord finds a hiding place in us if our lips fail to speak of this, though our hearts believe in it,” he concludes.

 

  1. Sacrifice of Melchizedek. In Genesis 14, after Abraham rescues Lot and his relatives who had been seized in an invasion of Sodom, a most strange figure bursts into the scene: Melchizedek, the king of Salem comes out to greet him. We are told in Genesis that he was a priest of “God Most High”—long before the institutional priesthood of Israel was established. And, ages before the gospel was brought to the Gentiles, Melchizedek had somehow come to know God. Later in Scripture we read that he was “without father, mother, or ancestry, without beginning of days or end of life, thus made to resemble the Son of God” (Hebrews 7:3). Melchizedek is thus portrayed in Scripture as one who foreshadowed Christ, Himself true king and perfect priest. The parallels go even further: in Genesis 14:18 Melchizedek offers a sacrifice of “bread and wine,”—a foreshadowing of the Eucharist, according to the Haydock Bible Commentary.

 

  1. The todah. As Catholics we know that the Passover was the primary Old Testament sacrifice that is the backdrop for the Eucharist. But another important one was the todah, a sacrifice offered in ancient Israel after a person had been saved from a life-threatening situation. Here’s how one writerdescribes the sacrifice: “The lamb would be sacrificed in the Temple and the bread for the meal would be consecrated the moment the lamb was sacrificed. The bread and meat, along with wine, would constitute the elements of the sacred todah meal, which would be accompanied by prayers and songs of thanksgiving. …” Does this not immediately call to mind the Eucharist? In Hebrew, todahmeans thanksgiving, which is exactly the literal translation of the Greek wordeucharista. Indeed, both are sacrifices of thanksgiving for salvation.

 

  1. Elijah in the desert. In 1 Kings 19, Elijah flees from Jezebel into the wilderness. After wandering for a day, he sinks down by a lone tree and begs God to let him die. Instead, he is sent an angel who brings a “hearth cake and a jug of water.” But this was not normal food—it was enough to sustain him on a 40-day journey to Mt. Horeb where he had a profound encounter with God in the “whistling of a gentle air.” Catholic interpreters have long seen this super food given to Elijah as a type of the Eucharist. (Sources include: Dr. Marcellino D’Ambrosioand the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate.)

 

  1. Bread of the Presence. In ancient Israel, the Bread of the Presence was set out on a golden table in the tabernacle as “a memorial of the oblation of the Lord” (Leviticus 24:7). The bread was to be before the presence of God continually, was perfumed with frankincense, and accompanied by constantly burning lampstands. New bread was put out every Sabbath and only those who had recently abstained from sexual relations—normally priests—could eat it. When the table that held the bread was carried out of the tabernacle, it was veiled. In fact, when the tabernacle was moved, all the vessels in it were carefully wrapped. Those transporting the vessels were to not directly touch these vessels, lest they die (Exodus 25, Leviticus 24, Numbers 4, and 1 Samuel 21). Does not this all sound quite familiar? Indeed, it’s harder to imagine a more obvious precedent for the devotion and reverence with which Catholics of today treat the Eucharist.

 

  1. Isaiah’s coal. Once we arrive in the prophetic books, we encounter some truly extraordinary and provocative types of the Eucharist. First, in Isaiah 7, the prophet envisions God sitting on a throne, flanked by the seraphim angels. “And one of the seraphims flew to me, and in his hand was a live coal, which he had taken with the tongs off the altar. And he touched my mouth, and said: Behold this hath touched thy lips, and thy iniquities shall be taken away, and thy sin shall be cleansed” (Isaiah 7:6-7). In Church liturgies, particularly in the Orthodox tradition, the fiery coal prefigures the Eucharist. The Liturgy of St. James describes Communion as “receiving the fiery coal” and, in the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, the priest says, “Lo, this has touched your lips and has taken away your iniquity,” according to one Orthodox writer. The parallels couldn’t be clearer: like the fiery coal, the Eucharist comes to us from the altar and cleanses us of sins (specifically venial sins, but it also fortifies us against mortal ones).

 

  1. Ezekiel’s scroll. Another extraordinary foreshadowing of the Eucharist is in Ezekiel 2. Like Isaiah, the prophet has a vision of God and the Spirit of the Lord enters him. Then, in verse 8, he hears these words, “open thy mouth, and eat what I give thee.” “And I looked, and behold, a hand was sent to me, wherein was a book rolled up: and he spread it before me, and it was written within and without: and there were written in it lamentations, and canticles, and woe.” In the next chapter he describes his eating of this book: “And I did eat it: and it was sweet as honey in my mouth” (verse 3). Catholic interpreters over the centuries have seen this sweet scroll that was eaten as another sign of the Eucharist (the most recent example is Scott Hahn’s new book, Consuming the Word). The episode illustrates well what we experience in the two liturgies of the Mass. In the first, we consume the Word, in the readings of Scripture and the homily that is preached on them. Then, in the second liturgy, we consume the Eucharist, which, as the Body of Christ, is the Word made flesh.

 

By Stephen Beale

Stephen Beale is a freelance writer based in Providence, Rhode Island. Raised as an evangelical Protestant, he is a convert to Catholicism. He is a former news editor at GoLocalProv.com and was a correspondent for the New Hampshire Union Leader, where he covered the 2008 presidential primary. He has appeared on Fox News, C-SPAN and the Today Show and his writing has been published in the Washington Times, Providence Journal, the National Catholic Register and on MSNBC.com and ABCNews.com. A native of Topsfield, Massachusetts, he graduated from Brown University in 2004 with a degree in classics and history. His areas of interest include Eastern Christianity, Marian and Eucharistic theology, medieval history, and the saints. He welcomes tips, suggestions, and any other feedback at bealenews at gmail dot com. Follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/StephenBeale1

 

From today’s Daily Readings

 

Responsorial Psalm Ps 65:10, 11, 12-13

R. (2a) It is right to praise you in Zion, O God.
You have visited the land and watered it;
greatly have you enriched it.
God’s watercourses are filled;
you have prepared the grain.
R. It is right to praise you in Zion, O God.
Thus have you prepared the land:
drenching its furrows, breaking up its clods,
Softening it with showers,
blessing its yield.
R. It is right to praise you in Zion, O God.
You have crowned the year with your bounty,
and your paths overflow with a rich harvest;
The untilled meadows overflow with it,
and rejoicing clothes the hills.
R. It is right to praise you in Zion, O God.

Alleluia Jn 13:34

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
I give you a new commandment:
love one another as I have loved you.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Mt 5:20-26

Jesus said to his disciples:
“I tell you, unless your righteousness surpasses that
of the scribes and Pharisees,
you will not enter into the Kingdom of heaven.

“You have heard that it was said to your ancestors,
You shall not kill; and whoever kills will be liable to judgment.
But I say to you, whoever is angry with his brother
will be liable to judgment,
and whoever says to his brother, Raqa,
will be answerable to the Sanhedrin,
and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ will be liable to fiery Gehenna.
Therefore, if you bring your gift to the altar,
and there recall that your brother
has anything against you,
leave your gift there at the altar,
go first and be reconciled with your brother,
and then come and offer your gift.
Settle with your opponent quickly while on the way to court with him.
Otherwise your opponent will hand you over to the judge,
and the judge will hand you over to the guard,
and you will be thrown into prison.
Amen, I say to you,
you will not be released until you have paid the last penny

Anointing of the Sick: the Forgotten Sacrament by JP NUNEZ: re-blogged

 

Anointing of the Sick: the Forgotten Sacrament

JP NUNEZ

As children, all Catholics learn that there are seven sacraments, and most of them are pretty big milestones in our lives. For example, baptism is our initiation into the Church, and holy orders and matrimony are lasting commitments that shape the very fabric of our day-to-day lives. Even confession and the Eucharist, which we can receive again and again as often as we want, are a big deal when we receive them for the first time. Nevertheless, there is one sacrament that tends to slip by almost unnoticed when we or someone we know receives it: anointing of the sick.

In fact, unless someone we know is on their deathbed, this sacrament does not even cross our minds most of the time. This is unfortunate because it is in fact vital for our spiritual health. It helps to prepare us for what is quite possibly the most important moment of our lives: our death. It helps to ensure that our souls are prepared for their journey home to God, making it much more important than our normal attitude towards it would indicate. Consequently, we would all do well to become familiar with the purpose and effects of this forgotten sacrament.

The Biblical Basis

To do this, let’s take a look at what Scripture says about it. It’s mentioned in only one short passage, but that passage is packed with meaning:

“Is any among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer of faith will save the sick man, and the Lord will raise him up; and if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.” (James 5:14-15)

In this text, James doesn’t use the name “anointing of the sick,” but if we examine his words closely, we can see that he is in fact referring to it. He is talking about a special rite administered by priests (“the elders of the church” are priests) to those who are gravely ill (you don’t need a special healing rite if you just have the sniffles), and it includes an anointing with oil and the possibility of forgiveness for one’s sins. This is a perfect description of anointing of the sick, so we can be confident that everything James says in these two verses helps us to understand it better.

Healing the Body

When we begin to look at the purpose of this sacrament, we should notice that James doesn’t say that it should only be administered to those who are on their deathbeds. He does imply that the sacrament is intended for those who are gravely ill, but nowhere does the text say that it is only for those who practically have one foot in the grave. Rather, it simply says, as the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches, that “[e]ach time a Christian falls seriously ill, he may receive the Anointing of the Sick” (CCC 1529).

Next, we read that “the prayer of faith will save the sick man, and the Lord will raise him up,” implying that this anointing can heal the recipient from whatever illness or affliction he or she is suffering. However, we have to be careful here. The sacraments aren’t magic, and anointing of the sick is no exception. There is no guarantee that you will be healed if you receive it. Rather, as with all things, physical healing will come only “if it is conducive to the salvation of [one’s] soul” (CCC 1532). As a result, while this sacrament may heal our bodies, it has another, more important purpose as well.

Healing the Soul

The main purpose of anointing of the sick is to heal our souls. At first glance, James doesn’t seem to say much about this effect, but if we read his words carefully, we can see that it is in fact the sacrament’s primary goal. Take another look at how he describes the healing effects of this sacrament. He says that “the prayer of faith will save the sick man, and the Lord will raise him up.” Specifically, look at the two verbs he uses: “save” and “raise.” While these words can and do refer to physical healing, they have another, deeper meaning as well.

Throughout the New Testament, these two verbs are used again and again to refer to our eternal salvation. The word “save” is used just like we use it in English today (for example, Ephesians 2:8), and the word “raise” is used to refer to Jesus’ resurrection and the resurrection of all the faithful departed when he comes again (for example, 1 Corinthians 15:12-20). This is significant because ancient Greek had several verbs that referred to healing, and James could have chosen any one of them. However, he chose two that were often used in the early Church to refer to our eternal salvation, and that was almost certainly intentional. It’s too much of a coincidence for him to just happen to have chosen two words that also refer to something deeper.

Consequently, we can see that the main purpose of anointing of the sick is to heal our souls and prepare them for eternity. It strengthens us for the last leg of our journey through this world and helps us to make it safely to our heavenly homeland. As the Catechism puts it, this sacrament provides us with “strengthening, peace, and courage to endure in a Christian manner the sufferings of illness or old age” and “preparation for passing over to eternal life” (CCC 1532).

Forgiveness of Sins

And in case there is any doubt, the next thing James says seals the deal for us: “and if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.” Forgiveness of sins obviously has to do with our eternal salvation, so by including this in his description of the sacrament, James is making it clear that its primary purpose is spiritual rather than physical. Anointing of the sick forgives our sins because without that forgiveness, we can’t be saved.

However, we have to nuance this a bit. James doesn’t get into all the specifics of this effect, but the Church clarifies for us that this sacrament obtains “the forgiveness of sins, if the sick person was not able to obtain it through the sacrament of Penance” (CCC 1532). In other words, while this sacrament can forgive our sins, that’s usually supposed to happen in another sacrament, confession. If for some reason we are unable to confess our sins (for example, if we are unconscious), then we can have them forgiven by the anointing of the sick.

An Important Sacrament

Once we understand all this, we can see that anointing of the sick is a very important sacrament. Receiving it may not be a festive occasion like the others, but that doesn’t make it any less necessary. It sometimes heals our bodies, but more importantly, it equips us for the most important part of our lives, our journey home to God. It gives us the grace we need to stay faithful to him until our very last breath so we can obtain our eternal salvation and spend an eternity of bliss with him and all the saints. END QUOTES

image: Canterbury Cathedral window n.III detail by Jules & Jenny / Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

 

The Presence That Makes All the Difference NNAMDI MONEME, OMV: re-blogged

The Presence That Makes All the Difference

  1. NNAMDI MONEME, OMV

A Homily for the Solemnity of Corpus Christi

We will do everything that the Lord has told us…All that the Lord has said we will do.”

These are the words of the Israelites in today’s First Reading as Moses related to them “all the ordinances of the Lord” and as he read to them from the book of the covenant at the foot of Mt Sanai. All the people, “with one voice,” promised to keep every word of the covenant. These promises were off course not kept as soon as they entered the Promised Land. Their unqualified and collective “Yes” to God at Sanai changed into national rebellion in the Promised Land where they worshipped the pagan gods of their neighbors and became exiles in Babylon.

Aren’t we just like the Israelites? Don’t we make grand promises to God that we fail to keep for several reasons? How faithful are we to the promises that we made to God on the day our baptism when we promised to reject Satan and all his works and to give ourselves to God in the community of the Church, faithfully obeying Him and giving Him due worship and service? How many of us today keep the promises that we made to God to be married to our spouses for life in a faithful, exclusive, life-giving union? How many of us priests and religious break our vows and promises and abandon our vocations?

We need more than good intentions or fervor in our promises to God. We also need to connect with the divine presence and participate in His own faithful self-giving. This is why we need the Eucharist more than ever in times like ours. In the Eucharist God gives us an opportunity to connect with His presence and enter into His own faithful and self-giving love.

Our Catholic faith teaches us of the Real Presence of Jesus Christ, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity under the Eucharistic elements of bread and wine at Mass and in the tabernacle of our Churches. But Jesus is never idle but ever active in each of the sacraments, especially in the Eucharist. In the Eucharist, He is both present and making present His own complete self-offering to the Father. Our belief in the Real Presence of Jesus Christ must include the belief that He is present in this sacrament to draw us into participating in His own continuous self-sacrifice to the Father. Once we connect with the hidden divine presence, we share in His own attitude of self-offering to the Father for the good of others.

The author of the letter to the Hebrews teaches us that Jesus entered the heavenly sanctuary once and for all “not with the blood of goats and calves but with His own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption.” Our contact with this blood in each Eucharist cannot leave us indifferent but will lead us to make a continuous offering of ourselves to God, “How much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal spirit offered Himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from dead works to worship the living God.” It is through our contact with the body and blood of Christ in each Eucharist that we allow the Holy Spirit to “make the lives of the faithful a living sacrifice to God.”(CCC 1109)

St. Mark reminds us that Jesus’ institution of the Eucharist ended with Jesus and His disciples’ journey into Gethsemane, “Then, after singing a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.” This ending to the Eucharist is significant because the Mount of Olives was the place of Agony for Jesus when His resolve to die for us on the cross was put to the test and He proved Himself faithful. Even as He sweat blood during His agony, He cried out the words of complete self-offering to the Father, “Father, take this cup away from me, but not my will but yours be done.” Jesus Christ is the only one who is faithful to His promises to the Father and our communion with His body and blood in the Eucharist allows us to make a complete self-offering to God and be faithful to our promises to God.

The Eucharist always end with us being led into our own “Mount of Olives,” where our promises to God will be put to the test. Our “Amen” when we received Jesus in word and sacrament during the Mass will be tested in several ways. We can be faithful in these tests if we connect with Jesus with a strong faith in His Real Presence rooted in His words to us, with an ardent love that moves us to repentance and loving obedience of God’s will, and with a firm and certain hope that looks beyond earthly things for our strength and satisfaction. This living contact with Jesus Christ in turn leads us into Christ’s own self-offering so that we make a complete gift of self to God for the good of others.

The shocking and disappointing legalization of abortion in Ireland a few weeks ago demands some reflection. Ireland was no doubt a country that said “Yes” to the Catholic faith and was instrumental in the spread of the faith all around the world. I cannot forget the many zealous Irish priests and religious who endured so much suffering and pain, and even death, just to bring this Catholic faith to my native country of Nigeria many years ago. We are more than grateful for these priests and religious for the passionate witness to the Catholic faith that we inherited from them. This makes it more painful to see Ireland go from a Catholic country that gave legal protection to both mother and infant in the womb by approving the Eight Amendment to the constitution 67%-33% in 1983 to a country that said “No” to God and legalized abortion by repealing the same amendment by 66% to 34% on May 2018. More troubling is that Ireland has become the first nation in the world to choose abortion by popular vote and not by the usual acts of the parliament or judiciary.

One possible reason for this drastic shift in attitude to the sanctity and dignity of human life is the apparent loss of Eucharistic faith in Ireland. A poll showed that the percentage of Irish Catholics who attend Mass on Sunday dropped from 91% in 1971-1972 to less than 25% in 2016. With such a poor attitude to the Real Presence in the Eucharist, how can they be expected to be faithful to their baptismal promises, and give themselves to God in faithful witness to the sanctity of every human life in the face of a hedonistic secularized society? How can they have light and strength to reject the lie that abortion will somehow lead to that joy and peace of heart that we all desire if the Eucharist makes no difference to the majority of the faithful? Without fervent Eucharistic lives, the majority became deaf to the silent cries of the unborn and the pains of their mothers. At the end, they chose to sacrifice the unborn so that they could live as they wished, an attitude in total contrast to that of Jesus Christ.

Let this be a painful warning to us when we are tempted to ignore our Eucharistic faith and the unique participation in Christ’s self-offering that is offered to us therein through communion with His body and blood. Our Protestant brethren have long ago abandoned faith in the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist for a legion of reasons. We Catholics often approach the Eucharist out of routine or duty but without that faith, hope, and love that can bring us into the power of Christ’s self-giving love for the salvation of souls. The result is that we lose that strength that comes from our common unity with the abiding presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, we abandon our promises to God so easily, and are swept away by the culture of death and its warped values that are spreading wide and far today.

We need the Eucharist today more than ever in our age of infidelity, when our collective and individual “Yes” to God quickly becomes “No.” We need Eucharistic adoration and fervent attendance at Mass today if we are going to maintain our “Yes” to God and bring divine graces and hope to others.

We turn with confidence to Mary, the woman whose “Yes” to God in faith gave us the divine presence in human form. In the eternal divine plan, Mary freely gave Jesus the blood and body that won our salvation and made the Eucharist possible. “No Mary, no Jesus and no Eucharist!” She alone by the grace of God kept her promise from the moment of the Annunciation, through the Crucifixion and death of Jesus, to her glorious Assumption. She kept her promises to God because she shared as fully as any human person could share in Christ’s own self-offering to the end.

May Mary help us to connect with the divine presence of her Son in today’s Eucharist so that, no matter the tests that we face in our “Mount of Olives,” we can face them by participating in Christ’s attitude of continuous self-offering to the Father for the spiritual and temporal good of others. This is the only way that we can ever hope to keep our promises to Jesus Christ who is ever fully present and active in the Eucharist – Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity. END QUOTES

Glory to Jesus!!! Honor to Mary!!! {Hi-lights by the Author}

 

  Why Catholics Treat Mary Like a Queen: re-blogged  

Why Catholics Treat Mary Like a Queen
 
Ever since the early Church, Christians also have honored Mary as Queen. In sacred art she often appears with a crown on her head. Prayers and hymns venerate her as enthroned in heaven, reigning with her Son. Indeed, the Catholic Church teaches that Mary is the queen in Christ’s kingdom.

But why do Catholics treat Mary like a queen?

This early Christian practice is actually rooted in Scripture—in the biblical tradition of the queen mother. In ancient Israel and other ancient Near Eastern kingdoms, it was not the king’s wife who reigned as queen, but the king’s mother. Most kings back then had many wives. King Solomon, for example, unfortunately had seven hundred wives and three hundred concubines. The queenship couldn’t be given to one thousand women. But each king only had one mother, and the queenship was bestowed on her.

The office of the queen mother was not just some honorific, figurehead position. She had real royal authority. As a member of the royal court, the queen mother sat on a throne, wore a crown, and shared in the king’s authority to lead (see 2 Kings 24:12; Jer 13:18–20). Most of all, she also served as an advocate for the people. Citizens of the kingdom would bring their petitions to the queen mother, knowing that she would present them to her royal son.

We can see the queen mother’s intercessory role in the way the Bible contrasts the wife of the king and the king’s mother. In 1 Kings 1, for example, we read about a woman named Bathsheba who is the wife of King David. When she wants to visit her royal husband’s chamber, she has to bow down before him and pay him homage (see 1 Kings 1:16–17, 31).

But in the next chapter of the Bible, Bathsheba is treated very differently. King David has died, and now Bathsheba’s son, Solomon, is reigning as king. That makes Bathsheba the queen mother. As queen mother, when she enters the royal chamber to visit her kingly son, she doesn’t have to stand up and bow down before him. The opposite occurs. King Solomon stands up and bows down before her, honoring her as queen mother. He even orders a throne to be brought in for her to sit upon, and that throne is placed at his right hand, which in the Bible is the position of authority (see 1 Kings 2:19). Most interestingly, we see Bathsheba bringing the king a petition from one of the citizens of the kingdom. Solomon says to her, “Make your request, my mother; for I will not refuse you” (1 Kings 2:20)—demonstrating how the queen mother’s intercessory role normally worked.

This scriptural queen mother background sheds light on why Catholics honor Mary as queen and why they bring petitions to her. As the mother of the King, Jesus Christ, Mary would be seen from a biblical perspective as the queen mother. And as queen mother, she serves as an advocate for the people. That’s one reason why Catholics seek her intercession, trusting that she, like the queen mothers of old, will present our needs to her royal Son, Jesus.  END QUOTES

 

This article is based on Edward Sri’s book Love Unveiled: The Catholic Faith Explained (Ignatius Press)

Why doesn’t Daddy go to church with us, Mommy? by Marisa Sandora: re-blogged

Why doesn’t Daddy go to church with us, Mommy?

 Marisa Sandora |

How to answer this sensitive question in a way our children can understand while still respecting our spouses.

“But why doesn’t Daddy have to go?” my daughter Paige asked. This question was coming up almost every Sunday morning as I tried to hustle my kids out the door to Mass. They saw my husband leisurely relaxing on the couch and were jealous. “Why does he get to stay home?” Paige whined. Sigh. How to explain to them that Dad doesn’t practice our religion? That he doesn’t have any religion at all? I struggled to find the right way to put it. “Daddy wasn’t raised Catholic and didn’t grow up going to church like we do,” I said to my daughters, ages 7 and 10. “But will he go to hell?” my older one asked. Yikes. This was getting complicated.

When we began dating, I quickly realized that Rich wasn’t a religious person. He was baptized in the Protestant faith, but his family never went to church. He has a scientific way of approaching the world and is way more evolution than creation. My faith has always been very important to me, so when we got serious, I made sure that my future husband was okay with me raising our children in the Church. Rich assured me this would be fine, but that he wanted nothing to do with it for himself. Good enough, I thought. At least he isn’t against my religion.

Fast forward 15 years, three children, and a move to the suburbs: going to church by myself in New York City was one thing. Going to church with three children in a church full of families is another. I really dislike not having my husband by my side for what, to me, should be family time. I feel like my kids see all the other dads in church and deserve for theirs to be there, too. I’ve asked Rich if he would join us for church each week, and he adamantly refuses. “What’s one hour out of the week?” I’ve said to him. I feel like he should be willing to sacrifice that for me, for our children. But I’ve had no luck changing his mind, and I know I’m not alone in this struggle.

Before the 1960s, about 20 percent of married couples were in interfaith unions; but of couples married in this century’s first decade, it’s 45 percent, according to Naomi Schaefer Riley, author of ’Til Faith Do Us Part: How Interfaith Marriage Is Transforming America.

In 2010, Riley commissioned the polling firm YouGov to conduct a nationally representative survey of 2,450 Americans, adjusted to produce an oversampling of couples in interfaith marriages. It found that such unions were becoming more common, without regard to geography, income, or education level.

So how can those of us in this situation try to convince our non-practicing spouse to attend church services? “The same way we get our spouse to do anything,” says author and therapist Dr. Gregory Popcak. “We explain how important it is, we insist that we be taken seriously, and we refuse to let it go.” Popcak is the executive director of the Pastoral Solutions Institute, an organization dedicated to helping Catholics find faith-filled solutions to tough marriage, family, and personal problems. He’s written more than a dozen books integrating Catholic theology and counseling psychology, including Discovering God Together: The Catholic Guide to Raising Faithful Kids.

“Research on couples who experience faith differences shows that when there is conflict about church, it rarely has anything to do with religion,” he says. “It is all about respect. Respect involves more than being nice to each other. Ultimately, it involves trying to see the truth, goodness, and beauty in all the things the other person finds true, good, and beautiful. Couples who manage faith differences well usually don’t see eye-to-eye on religion, but they work hard to try and see what their partner finds good, true, and beautiful about their beliefs and religious practices.”

Modeling respect and generosity in every aspect of the relationship, not just religion, is the key, stresses Popcak.

Deacon Doug Kendzierski of the Archdiocese of Baltimore, who’s been married for 27 years and has three grown daughters, echoes this advice, saying honest communication is key. “Suppressing priorities and feelings is not only dishonest, but ultimately harmful. At the same time, a good relationship is not about ‘convincing,’ it’s about explaining and understanding,” he says. “You should be honest about the importance of the family unit at church (i.e. public unity, example for your children, supporting you, togetherness, etc.). Be careful not to be judgmental, merely open and honest about the effect on you, and your concerns regarding the potential impact on the children and the family. Beyond that, prayer is the most effective approach; don’t discount the power of prayer.”

It certainly sounds like good advice, and I intend to try it — and to keep praying that my spouse has a change of heart.

But what about spouses who have their own strong beliefs and practice a different religion? The same principles apply, says Popcak. “You need to model open dialog about each other’s faith, showing that same respect I spoke of. Go out of your way to try to share in whatever faith activities you feel comfortable sharing in and dealing openly, honestly, and respectfully with differences.” And each parent should be responsible for communicating his or her own faith experience to the kids. “I say this because it is not unusual for the more faithful parent to try to expose the kids to both faiths to be ‘fair,’ even if the other parent is minimally religious,” says Popcak.

So what to tell my own children when they ask why Daddy doesn’t go with us to church? “Children need to understand, first and foremost, that this is not a reflection of Daddy’s love or commitment to them, to mommy, or the family. And that Daddy is an adult and God lets adults make choices about how they spend their time,” says Kendzierski. “Remind them of the attention and time Daddy does provide and encourage your children to have an open and honest relationship with Daddy, too, but not to ‘nag’ him about this. Most of all, remind your children to pray always for Daddy — and for you — because grown ups need to be reminded by God of what’s most important.

“Then use this conversation to segue into talking with the kids about whether and how they have experienced God’s love.”

If your kids struggle to articulate it, or seem awkward talking about it, the faithful parent should assume they have some work to do in facilitating a more meaningful relationship between their children and God, says Popcak.

I can’t wait to sit mine down and find out what they have to say. Hopefully bringing them to church all these years — even though it’s just us — has led them to develop their own special relationship with God. I know I appreciate having them there by my side in church. And I’m not going to give up on trying to get their dad to join us.

According to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ website ForYourMarriage.org:

“The non-Catholic spouse does not have to promise to have the children raised Catholic. The Catholic spouse must promise to do all that he or she can to have the children baptized and raised in the Catholic faith. END QUOTES

How to place yourself in the presence of God, according to St. Francis de Sales by Philip Kosloski: re-blogged

How to place yourself in the presence of God, according to St. Francis de Sales

 Philip Kosloski |

Before you sit down to pray, St. Francis de Sales suggests doing this.

St. Francis de Sales was a masterful spiritual writer during the 17th century and wrote a very practical book on the spiritual life, called Introduction to the Devout LifeInstead of writing it for monks and nuns, de Sales wrote it for ordinary lay people and sought to help them in their everyday spirituality. Countless souls have found this book helpful and return to it for guidance during times of difficulty.

Here are several useful quotes from this inspiring book, in which de Sales details how to place yourself in the presence of God.

And in order to place yourself in the Presence of God, I will suggest four chief considerations which you can use at first.

First, a lively earnest realization that His Presence is universal; that is to say, that He is everywhere, and in all, and that there is no place, nothing in the world, devoid of His Most Holy Presence, so that, even as birds on the wing meet the air continually, we, let us go where we will, meet with that Presence always and everywhere.

The second way of placing yourself in this Sacred Presence is to call to mind that God is not only present in the place where you are, but that He is very specially present in your heart and mind, which He kindles and inspires with His Holy Presence, abiding there as Heart of your heart, Spirit of your spirit.

The third way is to dwell upon the thought of our Lord, Who in His Ascended Humanity looks down upon all men, but most particularly on all Christians, because they are His children; above all, on those who pray, over whose doings He keeps watch. Nor is this any mere imagination, it is very truth, and although we see Him not, He is looking down upon us.

The fourth way is simply to exercise your ordinary imagination, picturing the Savior to yourself in His Sacred Humanity as if He were beside you just as we are wont to think of our friends, and fancy that we see or hear them at our side.

Make use of one or other of these methods for placing yourself in the Presence of God before you begin to pray;—do not try to use them all at once, but take one at a time, and that briefly and simply END QUOTES

 

A Heart of Flame: Four Reasons to Love the Sacred Heart by SAM GUZMAN: re-blogged

A Heart of Flame: Four Reasons to Love the Sacred Heart

SAM GUZMAN

We are well into the month of June, and many of us are are celebrating warm weather and clear skies with barbecues, vacations, and time outdoors. But there is another aspect of this month that is often forgotten: Holy Church has dedicated June to the veneration of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Sadly, devotion to the Sacred Heart has been all but abandoned in recent decades. It is deemed by many who disdain tradition to be an outmoded devotion—a relic of a distant past that they would rather forget. But devotion to the Sacred Heart is not a devotion specific to one time or place. It is always relevant to us, and now more than ever. I want to give you four reasons to love and honor the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

  1. It is the heart of a real man 

It is hard for us to understand just how profound a mystery it is for God to have taken on human flesh. It is the central mystery of our Faith. The Most High God, the Ineffable One, the Lord whom angels worship with veiled faces…became a man. He embraced our weakness and our frailty. He sweat. He bled. He cried. He labored and loved and suffered. He knew the paralyzing grip of fear, he felt anger, and he knew what it meant to be exhausted.

In the Sacred Heart, we see a heart both human and Divine, but most of all a heart of flesh. The Sacred Heart reminds that Christ didn’t just embrace some of our humanity, but all of it. This should bring us comfort, “for we have not a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sinning” (Heb. 4:15).

  1. It is a heart on fire with love

The Sacred Heart is a burning heart. It is a heart consumed with love for humanity—but not an abstract humanity. Christ loves each of us as if we were the only soul he ever created. He would have carried out the entire drama of redemption for you and I alone. The Sacred Heart is a reminder and a promise that “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son,” and that “God sent the Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him” (John 3:16-17).

In our moments of weakness and failure, it is easy to grow discouraged and to lose hope. It is so easy to believe that God must hate us, that he has rejected us and condemned us to the fires of hell. In such moments, we should gaze upon the Sacred Heart, for there we will not see judgement and anger, but rather we will see the inexhaustible love of our God and Savior who loves us and gave himself for us.

  1. It is a wounded heart 

Suffering is a part of the human condition. All of us, at some point, will suffer. The Sacred Heart of Jesus reminds us that our God knows what it means to suffer. His Sacred Heart is pierced, it is surrounded by thorns. It was a heart that knew the pain of betrayal, of physical suffering, and of being abandoned by all.

Sometimes we are tempted to believe that Christ didn’t really suffer like we did; that perhaps it was all play acting and going through the motions. We assume he possessed some Divine advantage that made his suffering different and somehow less painful. But this is not the case. The only advantage Christ’s Divinity gave him was the ability to suffer more than any other human could have. His suffering was so great that it would have killed you and I.

Never believe for a moment that Christ cannot identify with your pain, however grave it may be. The Sacred Heart is wounded and pierced. It is a suffering and bleeding heart, and it reminds us that “by his wounds you have been healed” (1 Peter 2:24).

  1. It is a strong heart 

Our society sees in both love and suffering a display of weakness. Accordingly, we fear to suffer and we are afraid of love. But though it is consumed by love and pierced by suffering, the Sacred Heart is not a weak heart. It is the heart of a lion—the Lion of the tribe of Judah. It is a fierce heart, a courageous heart, the heart of a triumphant king. This pierced and bleeding heart? It is the heart of a warrior: “The Lord is a warrior; the Lord is his name” (Exodus 15:3). “Who is the King of Glory? The Lord, strong and mighty, the Lord, mighty in battle!” (Psalm 24:8).

I believe the weak and sentimental pictures of the Sacred Heart do a great disservice to our Lord. Love and suffering are not equivalent to weakness. Rather, it was the very strength and courage of Christ’s manly and holy heart that enabled him to suffer more than any other human has ever suffered and survive. It is with all the strength of his heart that he loves us. When we gaze on the Sacred Heart, let us never forget that, far from being weak, the heart of Christ is “a strong tower; the righteous man runs into it and is safe” (Proverbs 18:10).

Conclusion

During this month of June, I would encourage you to meditate on the heart of Christ. Ponder his goodness, his mercy, his justice, his courage, and his sufferings. Contemplate what he loves, what he hates, and what he desires. And most of all, consider his self-emptying and self-sacrificing love for you.

Then, ask him humbly to make your heart like his own