Why Our Hearts Burn for the Eucharist


Are you longing for the Holy Eucharist? You are not alone. Countless members of the Mystical Body across the world feel keenly the separation from Christ’s Real Presence. The joy of the Easter season this year is tinged with sorrow at the separation. We are living one of the great paradoxes of our faith, which is that joy and sorrow are often mingled together in this life. We trust, despite this sorrow, that this period of separation from Him in Holy Communion is an opportunity for us to grow in profound love for Him and the Church.

First, the disregard and guilting of those who miss the public celebration of the Mass and reception of Holy Communion needs to stop. The idea that telling our brothers and sisters in Christ to “suck it up” (pardon an expression from my military days) because people are dying is not only uncharitable it is to miss the fact that not being able to receive Our Lord in Holy Communion should cause us some level of pain and discomfort, not necessarily emotionally, but at least spiritually.

This is not an either/or situation. We can express our sorrow at being separated from the Mass while also being concerned about those who are sick and dying. Discussing that sorrow also does not mean a lack of resignation to God’s will. It is simply an expression that this period of exile is difficult, even if we know we must endure it and embrace it as a time of greater perfection in love. The example we can follow is that of Our Lady and St. John who endured the agony and sorrow of the Cross, but trusted in God’s ultimate plan. They still suffered tremendously, but they also surrendered in faith.

The Holy Eucharist is the very center of our Faith, which is why it is a great blow to the People of God in every age when they are barred from the public celebration of the Mass and the Sacraments. This does not mean these periods of suspension have not been necessary at times, but they are always a trial for the members of the Mystical Body. This makes perfect sense given the centrality of the Holy Eucharist in the life of the Church. St. John Paul II in the opening to his encyclical Ecclesia de Eucharistia states

The Church draws her life from the Eucharist. This truth does not simply express a daily experience of faith, but recapitulates the heart of the mystery of the Church. In a variety of ways she joyfully experiences the constant fulfillment of the promise: “Lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age” (Mt 28:20), but in the Holy Eucharist, through the changing of bread and wine into the body and blood of the Lord, she rejoices in this presence with unique intensity. Ever since Pentecost, when the Church, the People of the New Covenant, began her pilgrim journey toward her heavenly homeland, the Divine Sacrament has continued to mark the passing of her days, filling them with confident hope.

The celebration of the Mass is the most tangible encounter we have with Christ on this side of eternity. It is why the separation causes immense sorrow. Even so, this period of exile is an opportunity to enter even more into the mystery of the Holy Eucharist through our prayer; to allow Christ to lead us to a greater love of Him through longing for His Real Presence. In order to do so, we cannot avoid this sorrow, nor can we dismiss it with a pragmatic wave of the hand. Instead, we must ask Him how we can love His Eucharistic Face with greater ardor and devotion.

To be sure, this is more difficult in our separation, but through prayer we can turn our gaze to Him in Sacred Scripture, prayer before the Tabernacle, spiritual communion, and studying the Church’s teachings on the Holy Eucharist and the Mass.

For the most holy Eucharist contains the Church’s entire spiritual wealth: Christ himself, our passover and living bread. Through his own flesh, now made living and life-giving by the Holy Spirit, he offers life to men. Consequently the gaze of the Church is constantly turned to her Lord, present in the Sacrament of the Altar, in which she discovers the manifestation of his boundless love.

St. John Paul II, Ecclesia de Eucharistia, 1.

We can join our gaze to the wider Church’s gaze throughout this present isolation and separation. The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass has not ceased. Our public participation has been temporarily suspended. We can still enter spiritually into the Mass as it is celebrated by our priests and bishops “from the rising of the sun to its setting” through our prayer. It is a time when we can seek union with God and the Church at the spiritual level: something that we risk ignoring when we are physically present at Mass.

The temptation to turn our gaze from His simply because the separation causes us periods of sorrow, agony, and tears may be great, but we must persevere. It may be that we experience aridity or no emotional response during this time. Our emotions are not a reliable indicator of our spiritual lives. No matter what we experience during this present exile, we must keep our gaze fixed on Christ’s loving gaze in union with the Church. If we stumble, then we must ask Him to help us get back up and to give us the grace we need to endure during this difficult period.

Throughout this particular Easter season, we are invited to enter into the totality of the paschal mystery from the passion and death of Our Lord to the Resurrection. We sense the presence of the Cross more keenly in this Easter season as countless people suffer in the current pandemic and the encroaching threat of economic turmoil. Seeking greater love of the Holy Eucharist will lead us deeper into the paschal mystery, the suffering the world is experiencing at present, and communion with the Mystical Body.

The Church was born of the paschal mystery. For this very reason the Eucharist, which is an outstanding way the sacrament of the paschal mystery, stands at the center of the Church’s life.


This period of exile is a time to be tried, tested, and purified through the refining fires of God’s love. Let’s seek to make Our Lord’s Real Presence the center of our lives so that when the joyous day comes when we can once more approach Him in Holy Communion, our hearts may be set ablaze with even greater love for Him.

Photo by Josh Applegate on Unsplash


Constance T. Hull is a wife, mother, homeschooler, and a graduate with an M.A. in Theology with an emphasis in philosophy.  Her desire is to live the wonder so passionately preached in the works of G.K. Chesterton and to share that with her daughter and others. While you can frequently find her head inside of a great work of theology or philosophy, she considers her husband and daughter to be her greatest teachers. She is passionate about beauty, working towards holiness, the Sacraments, and all things Catholic. She is also published at The Federalist, Public Discourse, and blogs frequently at Swimming the Depths (www.swimmingthedepths.com).

The View from Nazareth

All things have their season, and in their times all things pass under heaven.

This passage from Ecclesiastes—about there being a time to be born and a time to die, a time to cast away stones and a time to gather them together, and vanity, and dust—well, it’s pretty grim stuff if you take it in the wrong light. But hold it up to better light and it’s oddly comforting. This life is short, but the next life is everlasting. If we invest our time on earth wisely, however little time we might have, then we have nothing to fear. (Matt. 25:14–30)

There’s a story about Saint Francis of Assisi, which I’m sure you’ve heard some version of. Francis was in his garden planting tomatoes when one of his brothers came to him and asked, “If you knew that Christ would return tomorrow, what would you do?” I’m sure most of us would say, “Go to confession,” “Say a rosary,” or “Apologize to my sister.” We’d make some last-ditch effort to cleanse our soul before judgment. But not Saint Francis. He paused for a moment and then said, “Finish planting my tomatoes.”

This tells us two things. First, the blameless man is fearless. Death holds no terror for the man who fears God and keeps His laws. Second, even the greatest ascetic in Church history found time to play in the dirt. Not one of us—not even the Poverello—is called to spend all his days weeping for his sins, much less his mortality. As King Solomon reminds us, there’s

a time to weep, and a time to laugh;

a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing… (Eccl. 3:4–5)

In the middle of a global pandemic—definitely a time to refrain from embracing!—it’s too easy for us to lose the rhythm of the seasons. Time feels a little unreal. We’re trapped in these long months between winter and spring, after the snow melts but before the flowers bloom. The earth and the sky have a grey, sickly pallor. And here we are, stuck in our houses—with no work, no parties, no concerts, no sports, and no Mass. So, we plop ourselves down on the couch with a six-pack and watch X-Files reruns. Every ten or fifteen minutes, we check Twitter for the latest death toll or refresh The New York Times coronavirus map, watching the plague spread in real-time across the United States.

That’s the way of the world. The 24-hour news cycle sucks us in with its fear-mongering—but don’t worry! There’s always some distraction at hand to dull your senses for a little while: Bud Light, Netflix, Amazon, Xbox, OnlyFans… Pick your poison.

The news is now on overdrive. Every journalist in America is casting around furiously for the hottest take, the grimmest prediction, and the sweetest old lady who died the loneliest death. The Covid pandemic has been a feeding frenzy for the media (i.e., the current-events arm of the entertainment industry). They play our anxious heartstrings like Andres Segovia on a Spanish guitar.

Little wonder, then, that Americans are guzzling more poison than ever. Newsweek reports that alcohol sales had leapt 55 percent at the end of last month. PornHub reported an 11.6 percent increase on March 17 alone. Schools are encouraging students to stay connected through a new “educational” version of the computer game Minecraft.

Maybe this disruption in our comfortable, predictable lives is just what we needed.

Our society gives us the illusion of control. Any social or cultural problem can be solved by voting for the right party or donating to the right candidate. Any feelings of loneliness can be relieved by logging onto Facebook or setting up a Tinder “date.” If you get bored with your wife, divorce her and find a new one! Hell, if you get bored being a man, put on a dress and say you’re a woman! Medical technology extends our lives far beyond what nature can support—but, don’t worry, if it gets boring or hard, you can always commit “physician-assisted suicide.”

The glory of Christianity is the revelation that we’re not in control: God is. And our only job is to trust Him. We don’t need to worry ourselves sick trying solve all the world’s problems, because “the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.” (1 Cor. 1:25). We have no need to fear “those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul”—only “him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” (Matt. 10:28) Even then, we have Christ’s assurance: “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and whoever lives and believes in me shall never die.” (John 11:25–27)

“The world is too much with us,” said Wordsworth, and I think we’re all inclined to agree. That’s why our Holy Mother Church calls us to imitate Saint Joseph, the carpenter from Nazareth. He exemplified the hidden life—a life of complete confidence in God, desiring Him and Him alone. Though descended from King David, he never held political office or even voted in an election. What furniture he owned, he made for himself; what clothes he wore, his wife made for him. And there, in the kitchen of his little house in the foothills of Galilee, he would spend his evenings watching the Blessed Virgin Mary play with her Son, God Himself made flesh.

The government has ordered us to hide ourselves, though maybe we should have been hidden all along. We have no need for the world of getting and spending, of feuding and factionalism. This pandemic will be the death of globalism. Maybe it will also be the rebirth of domesticity—those simple joys of duty, piety, and gratitude. As Saint John Henry Newman wrote,

Hid are the saints of God;—
Uncertified by high angelic sign;
Nor raiment soft, nor empire’s golden rod
Marks them divine.
Theirs but the unbought air, earth’s parent sod
And the sun’s smile benign;—
Christ rears His throne within the secret heart
From haughty world apart.

Only by leading a hidden life can we order our days according to the seasons, unmoved by worldly concerns and untempted by creature comforts. Then we can weep when it’s time to weep, laugh when it’s time to laugh, mourn when it’s time to mourn, and dance when it’s time to dance.

So, here are a few things we can do to live the hidden life in the Age of Covid.

1) Withdraw from the news cycle. “Read not the Times,” Thoreau counseled, “Read the Eternities.” We can throw away the newspapers, turn off the television, and log off social media. Cultivating a healthy detachment from the world begins with refusing to obsess over the coronavirus. Even if it can’t infect our lungs, it may still infect our brains. We need to take the necessary precautions.

2) Rediscover lifes simple pleasures. C.S. Lewis once said that he never subscribed to newspapers so as to remain “unspotted from the world.” If you must check the news, he urged, always use “mouthwash” afterwards: read a work of good literature, like Lord of the Rings. I’m sure every Crisis reader has a stack of books next to his bed which they’ve been meaning to tackle for months now. Now is the time to tackle it. (For those who don’t have one, I’ve posted a little list of suggested titles at the end of this article.) Many folks are learning to bake bread. I’m learning to play the penny-whistle, and my sainted wife is learning to enjoy the penny-whistle. Plant a garden. Take up birdwatching. Write letters by hand. Memorize poetry.

3) Discipline yourself. Without the routine of a 9-to-5 workday, it’s too easy to become a slob, never quite working, never quite resting, just fretting away the hours. And, without Mass, it’s too easy to slip away from our spiritual practices. We have to regulate our own lives now. We might rise at 6 a.m. and pray Lauds, shower at 7 a.m. and put on a tie, eat lunch at noon, and then say a rosary. We can stop working promptly at 5 p.m. and “go home,” even if it’s just closing the laptop, taking off one’s tie, turning on the classical music station, and fixing oneself a cocktail. We can set aside an hour or so for spiritual reading—the Bible, the Imitation of Christ, or the Confessions of Saint Augustine, or some other spiritual classic. And we can go to bed at 10 p.m. and pray Compline.

4) Stay connected. It’s too easy for us to lose ourselves in Netflix or social media. If you have a family, set aside an hour or two during the day to talk, sing, play board games, or watch a movie with them. If you live alone, Skype with your friends, organize a Bible study over Zoom, or make an account at chess.com or playdiplomacy.com. In both cases, call your mom. Call your aunt. Call that cousin you haven’t spoken to in ten years just to see how he’s holding up. We’re learning the hard way that all of our gadgets and baubles don’t console us in a real crisis. Nobody is going to get through this without family and friends.

5) Practice gratitude. And I do mean practice, because it seldom comes naturally. But the more you practice, the more natural it feels. As G.K. Chesterton noted, “The man with a gigantic power of enjoyment goes through life very quietly, for he can enjoy quiet things.” (G.K. was one such man. One day, his wife Frances was in the kitchen making supper when she heard Mr. C. fall out of his chair and cry out, “Frances! Frances!” She flew into the room, certain that her husband was dying of a heart attack; instead, he stood gazing out the window. “The grass, the grass…” he muttered. Then he turned to face her, his eyes wide with reverence and awe. “It’s green.”) Now more than ever, we must concentrate on the blessings we’ve been given—not those we’ve lost or lack.

6) Accept your limits. Practice social distancing, stay at home except to buy groceries or go out for some exercise, wearing a mask when you go out in public, and check on your sick or elderly neighbors. If you haven’t lost your job, give money to one of the many charitable groups helping families whose breadwinners are now unemployed. Beyond that, there’s nothing else you can do. You’re doing all you can do. If it still doesn’t feel like you’re doing enough, bow your head and pray: “O Lord, make me to rest in meekness and lowliness of mind.”

And, most importantly:

7) Spend time with God. This isn’t quite the same as #3. Chanting the psalms and meditating on the mysteries of the rosary wonderful, but contemplation also has its place. Dan Rather once asked Mother Teresa what she said when she prayed. “I listen,” she replied. “Well then,” Rather asked, “what does God say?” She smiled. “He listens.” What better remedy for our frayed nerves than to be silent and still in the presence of the Divine? Sit and listen to God while He sits and listens to you—like Saint Joseph in his kitchen.

MWD’s Coronavirus Reading List

Finally, here’s your mouthwash prescription. It’s a little sampler of great works of literature that are also a real pleasure to read. This isn’t John Senior’s “Thousand Good Books;” if you feel like digging into The Inferno or The Scarlet Letter, please, don’t let me stop you. But if you’re in the mood for something more diverting—gripping action or rollicking humor—this is the stuff. It’s all high fantasy, Gothic horror, amateur sleuthing, social satire, and a few classics of children’s literature that adults can (and should) enjoy over and over.

Dosage information: 100 words twice per day. Apply directly to eyeballs. Unlimited refills available. No restrictions apply. For more information, consult your physician.

Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame
Father Brown Stories by G.K. Chesterton
Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
The Complete Short Stories by Saki
Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A. Miline
The Complete Tales by Beatrix Potter
Introducing Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse
Scoop by Evelyn Waugh
Greenmantle by John Buchan
Travels with My Aunt by Graham Greene
Lost Horizons by James Hilton
Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie
Old House of Fear by Russell Kirk
Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne
Barchester Towers by Anthony Trollope
Dracula by Bram Stoker
Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K. Jerome

Image: Christ in the House of His Parents by John Everett Millais

Reflection 121: The Secret Inner Garden of Your Heart

Divine Mercy 660x400

Reflection 121: The Secret Inner Garden of Your Heart

Imagine that your home had an inner, hidden courtyard in which you had a garden.  No one knew about this secret garden.  It was a place where you planted, tilled, labored, weeded and harvested.  The produce from this garden was then secretly distributed to many to nourish and delight them.  This is an image of the depths of your soul.  The home symbolizes your whole self.  The inner and hidden garden symbolizes the inner and secret depths of your soul.  The gardener is our Lord and He is the one who secretly enters, tilling, planting, weeding, growing and harvesting the many good fruits that come forth from your life.  He desires to enter in secrecy, doing much labor in your life that no one knows about.  The result, if you let Him in, will be experienced by the abundance of virtue that overflows, affecting the lives of many (See Diary #581).

“The Home of God is Among Mortals” Rev. 21:3 by SR

“The Home of God is Among Mortals” Rev. 21:3

by SR

This has to be my favorite “Against Heresies” which St. Irenaeus wrote.  It also goes back to my post of those calling the “Church just a building.”  He said it perfectly, and it needs to stop!   It also goes into our “works” and why we do them.  (I ask you to read it to the end)

Eucharist and Resurrection by St. Irenaeus of Lyons – Against Heresies

“Moreover, how can they (the Gnostics)  say that flesh, which is nourished with the body of the Lord and with His blood, goes to corruption, and does not partake of life?  Let them either change their opinion or stop offering the things just mentioned.”

“But our way of thinking is attuned to the Eucharist, and the Eucharist confirms our way of thinking.  For we offer to Him, “HIS OWN,” announcing consistently the fellowship and union of the flesh and Spirit.  For the bread, once it has received invocation of God; it is then the Eucharist, consisting of two realities, earthly and heavenly.  So also our bodies when they receive the Eucharist, are no longer corruptible, but have the hope of of the resurrection to eternity.”

“We sacrifice to Him, not as though He needed it, but giving thanks for His gift, and thus sanctifying what has been created.  For even though God does not need our possessions, we do need to offer something to God.  As Solomon said, “He who is kind to the poor lends to the Lord.”  (Prov. 19:17)  God, who stands in need of nothing, takes our good works to Himself for this purpose; that He may reward us with good things.  As our Lord said, “Come, O blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.”  (Mt. 25:34-36)  He does not stand in need of theses services, yet he wants us to render them for our own benefit, lest we be unfruitful.”

“That is why the Word (Jesus) gave people that very precept regarding the making of oblations, although He stood in no need of them, that they might learn to serve God.  It is His will that we, too, should offer a gift at the altar, frequently and without intermission.  The altar, then, is heaven, for toward that place are our prayers and oblations directed.  The temple, too, is there.  As John said in the Book of Revelation, “Then God’s temple in heaven was opened” (Rev. 11:19) along with the Tabernacle: “Behold, ” He says, “the Tabernacle of God, in which He will dwell with men.” (Rev. 21:3)  Against Heresies 4.17.5-4.18.6

I am going to give what Revelations 21:3 says:

“See the home of God is among mortals,

He will dwell with them,

they will be His peoples,

and God Himself will be with them.

He will wipe every tear from their eyes.

Death will be no more;

mourning and crying and pain will be no more,

for the first things have passed away.”

My notes:

The Greek word for home is “Tabernacle.” (In KJV it actually uses the word “Tabernacle.”) And where do we find a “Tabernacle” at?

Another thing we need to realize, St. Irenaeus quotes from the Book of Revelations, even though that was not put in Scriptures at the time.  Of course being a disciple of St. Polycarp, who was a disciple of John, explains to me how he got this passage.  Just like St. Justin Martyr quoted John in Revelations.

God has a “home among mortals.”  This home is the “Tabernacle of the Catholic Church.”  It has been for thousands of years.

God always “dwelt” with His people in the Old Testament.  He was always among them.  This did not change!  WE need to quit changing God, by picking and choosing what WE think is right to believe.

The God in the Old Testament is the same God in the New Testament.  If we do not get that, “WE ARE WRONG!”  If we do not get that “GOD NEVER CHANGES HIS WAYS,” then “WE ARE WRONG!”

These are the things the Early Church Father’s knew, and they taught it, preserved it, and gave up their lives for it.

The Church is His Bride.

God Bless, SR

Excerpts taken from Mass of the Early Christians by Mike Auilina

God the Father to St. Catherine of Siena: Seven Lessons by KATHLEEN BECKMAN

God the Father to St. Catherine of Siena: Seven Lessons


In Rome, at the general audience on 24 November 2010, Pope Benedict XVI said, “Today I would like to talk to you about a woman who played an eminent role in the history of the Church: St Catherine of Siena. The century in which she lived — the 14th — was a troubled period in the life of the Church and throughout the social context of Italy and Europe. Yet, even in the most difficult times, the Lord does not cease to bless his People, bringing forth Saints who give a jolt to minds and hearts, provoking conversion and renewal. Catherine is one of these and still today speaks to us and impels us to walk courageously toward holiness to be ever more fully disciples of the Lord.” (Libreria Editrice Vaticana)

Wealth of writings exists about St. Catherine of Siena whose feast the Church annually celebrates on April 29, and thankfully so because her legacy is our treasure.

In the Introduction of the Dialogue, Suzanne Noffke comments, “Looking at a life so short yet so feverishly filled with activity one might legitimately ask, where is the space for the mystical? Yet were it not for her mystical experience, Catherine’s activity as it was would never have been.” Her spiritual director Fr. Raymond wrote, “Being so closely associated with her I was able to see at first hand how, as soon as she was freed from the occupations in which she was engaged for the work of souls, at once, one might almost say by a natural process, her mind was raised to the things of heaven.”

God the Father to St. Catherine: 7 Lessons (recorded in The Dialogue)


Discernment is that light, which dissolves all darkness, dissipates ignorance, and seasons every virtue and virtuous deed. It has a prudence that cannot be deceived, a strength that is invincible, a constancy right up to the end, reaching as it does from heaven to earth, that is, from the knowledge of me to the knowledge of oneself, from love of me to love of one’s neighbor. Discernment’s true humble prudence evades every devilish and creaturely snare, and with unarmed hand—that is, through suffering—it overcomes the devil and the flesh. By this gentle glorious light the soul sees and rightly despises her own weakness; and by so making a fool of herself she gains mastery of the world, treading it underfoot with her love, scorning it as worthless. (Pg.44)

Baptism & the Precious Blood

As soon as the soul has received holy baptism, original sin is taken from her and grace is poured in. The inclination to sin, which is the trace that remains from original sin, is a weakness as I have said, but the soul can keep it in check if she will. Then the soul is a vessel ready to receive grace and to make it grow within her as much as she chooses to for herself, through affection and desire, to love and serve me. Or she can fit herself for evil instead; even though she has received grace in holy baptism. And when she is old enough to discern the one from the other, in her freedom she can choose good or evil as it pleases her. But such is the freedom of your humanity, and so strong have you been made by the power of the glorious blood, that neither the devil nor any other creature can force you to the least sin unless you want it. (Pg. 53)

Free Will

Each of you has your own vineyard, your soul, in which your free will is the appointed worker during this life. Once the time of your life has passed, your will can work neither for good nor for evil; but while you live it can till the vineyard of your soul where I have placed it. This tiller of your soul has been given such power that neither the devil nor any other creature can steal it without the will’s consent, for in holy baptism the will was armed with a knife that is love of virtue and hatred of sin. This love and hatred are to be found in the blood. So you have this knife for your free will to use, while you have time, to uproot the thorns of deadly sin and to plant the virtues. This is the only way you can receive the fruit of the blood from these workers I have placed in holy Church. So if you would receive the fruit of this blood, you must first rouse yourself to heartfelt contrition, contempt for sin, and love for virtue. (Pg. 60)

Hell & Pride

There are three principal vices: the first is selfishness, which in turn gives birth to the second, self-conceit. From this conceit comes the third, pride, with treacherous injustice and cruelty as well as other evil filthy sins generated by these. So, also, I tell you, in hell there are four principal torments, and all the others are offspring of these. The first is that these souls are deprived of seeing me. This first suffering revives the worm of conscience, and this is their second torment. For when they see that their sinfulness has deprived them of me and the company of angels and made them worthy instead of seeing the demons and sharing their fellowship, conscience gnaws away at them constantly. The sight of the devil is their third suffering, and it doubles every other torment. At the sight of me, the saints are in constant exultation, overflowing with love and to their cost. But it is just the opposite for these wretched little souls. (Pg. 80)


Christ on earth, [“Christ on earth” is Catherine’s favorite name for the pope as Christ’s vicar] then has the keys to the Blood. …I wanted to teach you the respect laypeople ought to have for these ministers of mine, regardless of how good or evil they may be, and how displeased I am with disrespect. You know that I set before you the mystic body of holy Church under the image of a wine cellar. In this wine cellar was the blood of my only-begotten Son, and from this blood all the sacraments derive their life-giving power. Christ on earth stood at the door of this wine cellar. He had been commissioned to administer the blood, and it was his duty to delegate ministers to help him in the service of the entire universal body of Christianity. Only those accepted and anointed by him were to thus minister. He was the head of the whole clerical order, and he appointed each one to his proper office to administer this glorious Blood. (Pg. 216)

Divine Mercy

O my dearest daughter, as I have told you so often, I want to be merciful to the world and provide for my reasoning creatures’ every need. But the foolish take for death what I give for life, and thus are cruel to themselves. I provide, and I want you to know that what I have given humankind is supreme providence. It was providence that I created you, and when I contemplated my creature in myself I fell in love with the beauty of my creation. It pleased me to create you in my image and likeness with great providence. I provided you with the gift of memory so that you might hold fast my benefits and be made a sharer in my own, the eternal Father’s power. I gave you understanding so that in the wisdom of my only-begotten Son you might comprehend and know what I the eternal Father want. I gave you graces with such burning love. I gave you a will to love, making you a sharer in the Holy Spirit’s mercy, so that you might love what your understanding sees and knows. (Pg. 277)

Spiritual Warfare

Do you know dearest daughter, how I raise the soul out of her imperfections? Sometimes I vex her with evil thoughts and a sterile mind. It will seem to her that I have left her completely, without any feeling whatever. She does not seem to be in the world, because she is in fact not there; nor does she seem to be in me because she has no feeling at all other than that her will does not want sin. I do not allow enemies to open the gate of the will that is free. I do let the devils and other enemies of humankind beat against other gates, but not against this, which is the main gate guarding the city of the soul. I do not will the soul’s death as long as she is not so stupid as to open the gate of her will. They cannot enter unless her own will chooses to let them in. (Pg. 299)

Closing Prayer by St. Catherine of Siena

Thanks, thanks be to you, eternal Father, that you have not despised me, your handiwork, nor turned your face from me, nor made light of these desires of mines. You, Light, have disregarded my darksomeness; you, Life, have not considered that I am death; nor you, Doctor, considered these grave weaknesses of mine. You, eternal Purity, have disregarded my wretched filthiness; you who are infinite have overlooked the fact that I am finite, and you, Wisdom, the fact that I am foolishness. For all these and so many other endless evils and sins of mine, your wisdom, your kindness, your mercy, your infinite goodness have not despised me. No, in your light you have given me light. In your wisdom I have come to know the truth; in your mercy I have found your charity and affection for my neighbors. What has compelled you? Not my virtues, but only your charity. Thanks, be to you. Amen.

St. Catherine of Siena, The Dialogue, Paulist Press, New York, 1980, pg. 364

St. Catherine of Siena, pray for us please.

Learn more: www.foundationforpriests.org

image: The Triumph of St Catherine of Siena by Fr. Lawrence Lew, O.P. / Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Kathleen Beckman


Kathleen Beckman, L.H.S. is the President and Co-founder of the Foundation of Prayer for Priests (www.foundationforpriests.org), an international apostolate of prayer and catechesis for the holiness of priests. Kathleen has served the Church for twenty-five years as a Catholic evangelist, author, Ignatian certified retreat director and spiritual director, radio host, and writer. In her diocese she serves as the lay coordinator of exorcism and deliverance ministry having completed courses on liberation from evil at Mundelein Seminary and in Rome. She sits on the advisory board of Magnificat, A Ministry to Catholic Women, and the Pope Leo XIII Institute. Often featured on Catholic media — EWTN Radio and TV, Radio Maria, and the Catholic Channel—she enthusiastically proclaims the joy of the gospel. Sophia Institute Press published her books: Praying for Priests: An Urgent Call for the Salvation of Souls; God’s Healing Mercy: Finding Your Path to Forgiveness, Peace and Joy; and When Women Pray: Eleven Catholic Women on the Power of Prayer.

Even in Our Present Distress, the Good Shepherd Seeks Us Out by FR. NNAMDI MONEME, OMV

Even in Our Present Distress, the Good Shepherd Seeks Us Out

The fifteenth chapter of St. Luke’s Gospel begins with Jesus describing Himself as the shepherd who leaves ninety-nine of His sheep in the wilderness and goes in search of the single lost sheep. He never abandons the single lost sheep but keeps searching for it until He finds it and brings it back home. He finds His joy only when the lost sheep returns to the fold.

St. Luke’s Gospel also ends with the story of risen Christ perfectly fulfilling this relentless shepherd image. The two disciples are discouraged, dejected, and disappointed with all that has taken place at Jerusalem. All their hopes and expectations in Christ had been crushed. So they do what we all like to do when things appear hopeless and distressing – look for something to distract us and argue with each other. The journey to Emmaus was probably to take their minds away from the painful and mysterious things that had taken place before and after the resurrection of Jesus had been announced.

The disguised risen Christ does not ignore them but goes in search of them, “Jesus Himself drew near and walked with them, but their eyes were prevented from recognizing Him.” While keeping Himself unrecognizable to them, He conversed with them, pretended not knowing at all what they were talking about, rebuked them for their “slowness of heart to believe all that was spoken of Him by the prophets,” and then pretended to be going further than their destination of Emmaus. It was ultimately at the Eucharist that He revealed Himself to them.

The risen Christ is the Shepherd-in-disguise who goes searching for each and every one of us today. He comes to us in what St. Teresa of Calcutta called the “most distressing disguise of the poorest of the poor.” This “distressing disguise” means that He comes to us in the distressing circumstances of our lives and the lives of our all our close and distant companions in this world.

St. Peter states that the first reason why Jesus will never abandon us is because He has ransomed us with His blood and we belong to Him now, “You were ransomed from your futile conduct, handed on by your ancestors, not with perishable things like silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ as of a spotless unblemished lamb.”(1Pet 1:18-19)

Another reason our risen Savior will never stop searching for us is because His Father never abandoned Him. King David had prophesied about the resurrection of the Christ in these words, “You will not abandon my soul to the netherworld, nor will you suffer your holy one to see corruption.”(Acts 2:27) Jesus Himself promised us, “As the Father has loved me, so do I love you.”(Jn 15:9) Just as the Father did not abandon Him in death, so too will He never abandon us but will search for us to bring us back to Him no matter how far we have strayed. In the risen Christ, we have access to that divine love that will pursue us all the days of our lives.

As we face the challenge of this COVID-19 virus, we find ourselves asking if things will ever be the same again. What will our lives, our families, our world, and our Church look like when this is over? Will we still be able to meet our expectations in life? We can find ourselves like the two disciples on the way to Emmaus with our shattered dreams and probably unmeetable expectations. Whatever the reason — personal sins and struggles, suffering, discouragement, fears about the future, brokenness, confusion, weakness, etc. — we find ourselves consciously or unconsciously drifting away from Jesus and the community of faith. His words make no impact on us anymore and His promises appear impossible.

We are not sure life will ever be the same again or if things will return to normal. We are also not sure that all our expectations will be met for ourselves, our families, our Church and our world. One thing that we do know for sure and should hold on to tenaciously: even in these distressing moments, the shepherd never abandons us but continues His search for every single one of us.

What deep and abiding joy will be ours when we begin to recognize His abiding presence with us and His search for us even in our distressing moments! The disciples’ experience in Emmaus shows us three ways in which we can begin to recognize the disguised shepherd as He searches for us.

First, we must reveal ourselves completely to Jesus Christ. The disciples opened their hearts completely to Him in their lowest moments. Without recognizing whom they were speaking with, they spoke to Him of their deepest thoughts, dreams. desires, core beliefs, expectations, and disillusionment. They spoke of how they felt about Him, His ministry, His unjust death, and the reports of His resurrection. In short, they hid nothing from Him.

Even in Our Present Distress, the Good Shepherd Seeks Us Out

The first step in recognizing Christ with us in our distressing moments is to make sure that there is nothing we are hiding from Him in our interior and exterior lives.

Secondly, we must consciously invite Jesus into our lives. And we must invite Him not as a passing guest but as our Sovereign Lord, the one whom we depend upon and strive to please in all things. Jesus is always searching for each of us but He will not force Himself on us.

The fact that Jesus is the one who took, blessed, and broke the bread in Emmaus shows us that the two disciples accorded Him the due dignity and honor of the house owner in their own place. Every single one of us too must invite Him consciously as our one and only Lord, “Stay with us, Lord,”

Lastly, we must be ready to give joyful witness to others about Him finding us in our dark moments. The same disciples who fled Jerusalem in fear and discouragement at daytime returned with boldness at the middle of the night to strengthen the witness of others in community after they encountered and recognized Him in the Eucharist, “The two recounted how He was made known to them in the breaking of the bread.” We begin to recognize Jesus searching for us when we too share with others how He has found us and brought us back to Him.

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, how aware are we that we can find joy and peace in these distressing moments? Yes, we can; but this joy cannot come from this world or from ourselves. Our joy is only the echo in our hearts of the joy in the heart of the Shepherd-in-disguise as He rejoices over his one lost sheep that He has found, “Rejoice with me for I have found my sheep that was lost.”(Lk 15:6) This deep inner joy, a joy that “will not be taken from us,”(Jn 16:22) is ours only when we hide nothing from Him, invite Him into our lives and receive Him as our Lord, and give witness to His Lordship in our lives before others.

Glory to Jesus!!! Honor to Mary!!!

Image by Stephen Muir from Pixabay


Fr. Nnamdi Moneme OMV is a Roman Catholic Priest of the Oblates of the Virgin Mary currently on missionary assignment in the Philippines. He serves in the Congregations’ Retreat Ministry and in the House of Formation for novices and theologians in Antipolo, Philippines. He blogs at  www.toquenchhisthirst.wordpress.com.

How Protestants Still Get Justification Wrong By: STEPHEN BEALE

How Protestants Still Get Justification Wrong


The Protestant Reformation’s 500th anniversary is likely to inspire the usual appraisals of where Protestants and Catholics have lingering disagreements and where there is now common ground. In the former category are the Eucharist, Mary, and the pope, among other areas. In the latter often goes the doctrine of justification.


It shouldn’t. The agreement over justification—that is, how we are “saved”—is an illusory bridge over an enormous chasm in both doctrine and practice.

First, a clarification is in order. The historic debate over justification is commonly stated in terms of faith alone, the Protestant position, and faith plus good works, the alleged Catholic doctrine. This dichotomy plays into a Protestant narrative that Catholics believe that our salvation involves a combination of faith in God and hard “work” on our part. The obvious worry here is that our good works diminish the efficacy of the cross and give us cause to glory in ourselves rather than in Christ.

I carried this false assumption with me in the early stages of my conversion to Catholicism. I soon learned just how untrue it is. Yes, good works matter, but the Church teaches that any good we do is really through the grace of God “working” through us. (See Philippians 2:12-13.) Well, if it’s God’s grace that produces our good works then there is no reason for us to boast in ourselves and still every reason to glory in the cross, so at least I reasoned.


But this wasn’t my biggest revelation. Instead, it was the primacy of the virtue of love in Catholicism. This was everywhere I looked—in the lives of the saints, the theology of the body, the explanation for the difference between moral and venial sin, The Divine Comedy, and the then-new encyclical Deus Caritas Est. (Here I am using “love” and “charity” interchangeably, with the understanding that charity is the more technically accurate term.)


What the Church Teaches: Faith and Charity

It took many years, but I gradually came to the realization that the true dichotomy is not one of faith alone versus faith and good works but faith alone versus faith and love. One need look no further than the Council of Trent’s decree on Justification to see that this is the clear Catholic teaching. For example, here are Canons 9 and 11:


Canon 9. If anyone says that the sinner is justified by faith alone, meaning that nothing else is required to cooperate in order to obtain the grace of justification, and that it is not in any way necessary that he be prepared and disposed by the action of his own will, let him be anathema.

Canon 11. If anyone says that men are justified either by the sole imputation of the justice of Christ or by the sole remission of sins, to the exclusion of the grace and the charity which is poured forth in their hearts by the Holy Ghost, and remains in them, or also that the grace by which we are justified is only the good will of God, let him be anathema.

One can clearly trace this line of thinking back through the doctors of the Church. St. Thomas Aquinas summed up the traditional teaching succinctly in the Summa Theologica, “The movement of faith is not perfect unless it is quickened by charity; hence in the justification of the ungodly, a movement of charity is infused together with the movement of faith” (ST, II-I, q. 113, a. 4, ad 1). (A similar conjunction of faith and love in justification also occurs in the first article of Question 113.)


Good works, of course, still belong to the economy of salvation. But they are not ‘signs’ of faith, as Protestants today claim. Instead they are expressions of charity. This is reflected in Aquinas’s own divisions in the Summa, in which he distinguishes between charity itself and acts of charity, both interior and exterior, such as doing good and giving alms.


Aquinas’s explanation of the relationship among faith, love, and good works is consistent with Augustine’s, which is clearly stated in the Handbook on Faith, Hope and Love. Citing Galatians 5:6, where St. Paul declares that faith works through love, Augustine elaborates, “Wherefore there is no love without hope, no hope without love, and neither love nor hope without faith.” (Note that as Augustine indicates here hope plays a role in justification as well.) As Aquinas after him, Augustine associates good works with love:

Thus every commandment harks back to love. … Love, in this context, of course includes both the love of God and the love of our neighbor and, indeed, “on these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets”—and, we may add, the gospel and the apostles.

How the Reformers Minimized Charity
Recent ecumenical dialogues convey the impression that at least some Protestants have finally come around to the Catholic position, accepting the necessity of faith and love in justification. But whether there has been any significant resolution of these issues is questionable.


Consider the Joint Declaration on The Doctrine of Justification, issued with the Lutheran World Federation in 1999, which declares: “The justified live by faith that comes from the Word of Christ (Rom. 10:17) and is active through love (Gal. 5:6), the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22f).” ‘Active in love’ or a variant is repeated three times. It is also used in a key U.S. ecumenical statement, Evangelicals and Catholics Together in 1994.


Is such language really progress? Out of context, it seems so. But now hear what Luther says about faith and love in his seminal work, On the Freedom of a Christian:

This is a truly Christian life. Here faith is truly active through love [Gal. 5:6], that is, it finds expression in works of the freest service, cheerfully and lovingly done, with which a man willingly serves another without hope of reward; and for himself he is satisfied with the fullness and wealth of his faith.

And also John Calvin, one of the most influential Protestant Reformers today: “We, indeed, acknowledge with Paul, that the only faith which justifies is that which works by love” (The Institutes of Christian Religion3.11.20).


The problem with the phrase should now be obvious. That Luther and Calvin were comfortable with the expression is a warning sign—for surely neither one considered their views on justification compatible with Catholicism. Cleary the expression ‘faith active in love’ is subject, to potentially widely different interpretations by Protestants and Catholics.

Here, for example, is Calvin’s full quotation: “We, indeed, acknowledge with Paul, that the only faith which justifies is that which works by love (Gal. 3:6); but love does not give it its justifying power. Nay, its only means of justifying consists in its bringing us into communication with the righteousness of Christ.” In this scheme, love is more of an outcome of faith. This is confirmed in Calvin’s own commentary on Canon 11, of Trent’s Decree on Justification:

It is therefore faith alone which justifies, and yet the faith which justifies is not alone: just as it is the heat alone of the sun which warms the earth, and yet in the sun it is not alone, because it is constantly conjoined with light. Wherefore we do not separate the whole grace of regeneration from faith, but claim the power and faculty of justifying entirely for faith, as we ought (Acts of the Council of Trent with the Antidote).


In Calvin’s view, love is a byproduct of faith, much the same as oxygen is a byproduct of photosynthesis or fizz and alcohol is of fermentation. This builds upon Luther, who viewed love as a mere “tool” of faith:

He makes love the tool through which faith works. Now who does not know that a tool has its power, movement, and action, not from itself but from the artisan who works with it or uses it? For who would say that an axe gives the power and motion of cutting to a carpenter, or that a ship gives power and motion of sailing to a sailor? (Lectures on Galatians).


Where the Protestant Reformers Erred
This completely reverses Aquinas’s own treatment of the topic. In the above excerpt from the Summa, Aquinas presents charity as that which “quickens” faith. Elsewhere he says charity is the “form”—or animating principle—of faith. Luther not only had it backwards but his figurative paradigm was wrong. Rather than thinking in terms of instrumentality and tools, a better analogy seems to be that of a filament in a light bulb and electricity. Just as it is “electricity” that makes bright metal shine, so also it is charity that makes our faith shine before others. To take another: the relationship could be likened to the water which powers a mill wheel.

As the above examples illustrate, the relationship between faith and love is a complex one, and this is reflected in Aquinas’s extensive discussion of it in the Summa. In terms of the order of generation—which comes first?—Aquinas places faith first, followed by hope, then love. We must first know God by faith before we can love him, Aquinas says. (This point is also a constant refrain of Augustine in De Trinitate.) But in the order of perfection, love is foremost.

This teaching merely restates in distinctly Thomistic terms what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 13 in which Paul enumerates spiritual gifts that are “nothing” without love. Significantly, this includes “faith that could move mountains.” Paul spells out all that love does winding up to this pronouncement: “So faith, hope, love remain, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”


This statement presents obvious difficulties for Protestant interpreters who would make love a mere “tool” or byproduct of faith. Calvin resolves this by simply imposing a completely contrary meaning on the text: “For if we single out the particular effects of faith, and compare them, faith will be found to be in many respects superior. Nay, even love itself, according to the testimony of the same Apostle, (1 Thessalonians 1:3), is an effect of faith. Now the effect is, undoubtedly, inferior to its cause.” (1 Thessalonians 1:3, by the way, does not at all say what Calvin claims it does.)


Luther likewise struggles mightily with the passage. “How is it, then, Paul speaks as if faith without love were possible? We reply, this one text cannot be understood as subverting and militating against all those texts which ascribe justification to faith alone,” Luther declares in a sermon. He then muddles his way through three possible explanations—Paul is not talking about true Christian faith, or he is talking about true Christian faith but has in mind those who lost it, or he is postulating an impossible scenario to highlight the inseparability of love and faith. In the latter Luther comes closest to the Catholic doctrine, but remember, he considers love to be a “tool” of faith that has no power of its own—a position that completely misses the whole point of 1 Corinthians 13.

Luther alludes to “all those texts” which limit justification to faith. But the word “alone” is in none of the verses he cites. Luther had to add it. The only place ‘faith alone’ appears in the New Testament is in James 2, where it is described as dead if it lacks “good works” (the expression of charity). Catholics can welcome any verse on justification by faith, because we absolutely hold that faith is essential to justification. But Protestants will struggle with any verse that insists on the primacy and power of love. And there are many more than the few that are identified above (omitted due to space constraints). One thinks especially of 1 John 4:8, which declares that those who do not love do not know God.


Five hundred years after the Reformation, some Protestant and Catholics may have found common wording to describe the doctrine of justification but they are still worlds apart in meaning. Only a culture built on a deep understanding that love is even greater than mountain-moving faith could produce saints like St. John of the Cross, who wrote passionately about the wound of divine love and his mystical longing for God. Think also of stigmatics like St. Francis of Assisi, Eucharistic fasters like St. Catherine of Siena, and visionaries like St. Catherine of Genoa, who described purgatory as a “fire of divine love.” Such saints, whose lives were one long act of radical, otherworldly love, are inconceivable in a faith-alone culture.

Editor’s note: Pictured above is a painting of the trial of Martin Luther at the Diet of Worms.


By Stephen Beale

Stephen Beale is a freelance writer based in Providence, Rhode Island. 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.

Five Ways to Put on the Mind of Christ FR. ED BROOM, OMV

Five Ways to Put on the Mind of Christ


Never have we lived in a world with so much information, and with that, such easy access to almost any information that we desire. Such information can be the most sublime and noble, but on the other hand, it can be the most dirty and degrading. On par with the plethora of information is the amount of confusion.

Given this reality, it is incumbent upon all of us, and especially parents in their role as educators of their children, to strive to provide a beneficial climate where our minds can grow in a wholesome manner. If you like, the ideal is Jesus after Mary and Joseph found Him in the Temple following a sorrowful search. “For His part, Jesus grew in wisdom, knowledge and grace before God and man.” (Lk. 2:52)

With the great gift that God has given to us, may we, like Jesus grow in wisdom, knowledge and grace before God and men. The mind that God has freely given to us, we must perceive as a real treasure, the pearl of infinite price. However, the devil, the flesh and the world are indeed fierce competitors always on the prowl in their attempt to tarnish, pollute and corrupt the mind that God has bestowed upon us.

This being the case, let us offer a few concrete suggestions on how we can cultivate our intellectual gifts.

1. Vigilance of the Eyes

There is a very appropriate maxim: “The eyes are the mirror of the soul.” Along the same lines: “The thought is the father of the deed.” Both of these maxims have a common thread—namely:  how we make use of our eyes can have a huge impact on the formation of our mind. The Holy Job asserted with determination: “I have made a pact with my eyes not to look upon a maiden.” Job, even before Jesus was born, had an ardent desire to live out the Beatitude: “Blessed are the pure of heart; they will see God.” (Mt. 5:8)

Wandering, curious eyes, undisciplined eyes will will put chastity in jeopardy, while also jeopardizing the uplifting of one’s mind. If you are uncertain as to what should be allowed through your eyes, then imagine that you are sitting with Jesus, Mary and Saint Joseph and consult them to see if they approve of what you’re doing and there you have the answer.

We should never lower the bar, cowing to worldliness but always be ready to be counter-cultural, be ready and willing to do what is most pleasing to Jesus, Mary and Saint Joseph. Let us keep the bar high and keep raising it!

2. The Bible: the Word of God

For followers of Christ, it should go without saying, that we should have an ardent desire to read the Bible, the Word of God. As well, we should strive to understand it, memorize key passages, and learn to live out the Word of God. The noble and virtuous actions that we perform are simply fruits of noble and holy thoughts arrived at through reading Holy Scripture, activated by the grace of God and put into action.

Indeed, we should have a more voracious appetite for the Word of God for our mind than the food that we put into our stomachs. Jesus expresses this concept with the utmost clarity when rebuffing the temptation of the devil after fasting forty days and forty nights: “Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes forth from the mouth of God.” (Mt. 4:4)

3. Read the Spiritual Classics

As mentioned above there is a plethora, a vast sea or ocean of information, but at the same time there are the classics that can be read at any time and any place. In passing, I will mention only three: The Confessions of Saint Augustine, The Imitation of Christ by Thomas Kempisand The Summa Theologica by Saint Thomas Aquinas. Obviously, there are many more classics, but you’ll have a good start with these three.

A suggestion: before reading, pray to the Holy Spirit that your mind will be a fertile ground in which these classics, these most noble ideas can sink into your mind, take deep root, and surface during the course of your day while at prayer, during conversations, as well as a light to orient all your thoughts, actions and decisions. Then, every day spend 15 minutes to half an hour applying your mind to reading prayerfully, with a truly open mind, one of the classics.

It may be such that you feel motivated to read another classic. This can be a very good topic for spiritual direction if you have a spiritual director.

4. Find Friends in Christ

At the Last Supper Jesus called His Apostles, “His Friends.” In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus took three of His Friends to be with Him in His mortal, lonely, and excruciating agony. Jesus desired not only their presence, but also their friendship.

In our pursuit of cultivating the mind, discovering true friends and cultivating that friendship can have a value that goes beyond words. In my experience, maintaining an intelligent conversation with a friend or a group of friends is a most powerful motivation to hunger more and more for the truth.

One important note: there is a Hidden Friend in the conversation. When Jesus becomes part of the conversation, either explicitly or implicitly, then the conversation will always have depth. Jesus is the Word of God, the Word made flesh, and He gives perfection to all we say, do, and think. Indeed He can purify, ennoble and perfect our minds by His mere Presence!

5. The Mind of Christ & the Eucharist

Our conversation would be incomplete if we did not repeat the words of Saint Paul: “Put on the mind of Christ… You have the mind of Christ.” (Phil. 2:5; 1 Cor. 2:16) The Apostle uses the imperative, put on the mind of Christ, and then states the reality—right now, you have the mind of Christ. How then do we pass from the Imperative, the Command to the actual reality of having “The Mind of Christ?” The response could not be clearer and more unequivocal: the fervent reception of Jesus in Holy Communion.

It is undeniable that, in the worthy reception of Holy Communion, we actually receive the true Mind of Jesus Christ. Upon receiving and assimilating the Host, the Body of Christ, you are actually assimilating Jesus’ Mind. That means you receive into your inner person His Mind with His Memory, His Understanding, His Imagination.

In Holy Communion you now have the true Mind of Jesus Christ, the Word of God Made Flesh, the Wisdom of God the Father!


In conclusion, Saint Paul states: Put on the mind of Christ! Let us strive with all of our being to accept this challenge.

First, let us control what goes into our eyes keenly aware of the fact that a good part of our thought process depends greatly upon what we put into our minds.

Second, may the Bible, the Word that comes from God Himself to us as a Letter of love, take deeper and deeper root in our minds, and blossom and flourish a hundred-fold.

Third, let us immerse ourselves in good reading of some of the classics. Time, energy and serious pondering upon the classics can truly purify and ennoble the mind.

Fourth, good friends! If we associate, converse with and share noble ideas with friends, our minds will be elevated on high.

Fifth, and of greatest importance, is to put on the mind of Christ and to have the mind of Christ by the reception of the most Holy Eucharist. How true the saying: You become what you eat. By nourishing ourselves with the Body of Christ, we conform ourselves to the Mind of Christ—His memory, understanding, and imagination.

Lord, grant us the grace to have our minds lifted up on high. May our thought world be transformed into noble decisions, and such decisions into holy actions, and holy actions into virtues, and virtues into our transformation so that we can say with Saint Paul:  “Put on the mind of the Christ; you have the mind of Christ; and it is no longer I who live but it is Christ who lives in me.” (Phil. 2:5; 1 Cor. 2:16; Gal. 2:20)

Image by Dimitris Vetsikas from Pixabay

Fr. Ed Broom, OMV


Father Ed Broom is an Oblate of the Virgin Mary and the author of Total Consecration Through the Mysteries of the Rosary and From Humdrum to Holy. He blogs regularly at Fr. Broom’s Blog.

Coronavirus: The Longest, Lentiest Lent


“The Lentiest Lent we’ve ever Lented.” Those words make up my favorite meme, which gained great traction on social media during the first few months of 2020. Even those who aren’t Catholic or Christian found themselves relating to this catchy phrase. Thanks to the coronavirus, we’ve all been put through some version of our own “Lentiest Lent.” Although Lent is only a six-week religious season beginning on Ash Wednesday and ending right before Easter Sunday, in 2020 it feels as if it will never end.

One day, we were going about our lives: working, studying, praying, playing, and tending to our families. The next day, or so it seemed, we were face-to-face with something that looked and felt like a modern-day horror movie. When I see doctors and nurses covered from head to toe in protective gear, it’s like watching a live remake of the 1995 film Outbreak, starring Dustin Hoffman. Although that movie is twenty-five years old, the story about Hoffman’s character, a doctor trying to find a cure for a deadly virus traced to a foreign land, strikes eerily close to home.

But it’s not Hollywood that has struck us.

It’s real life—real life in the form of a pandemic that’s turning everything upside down. As of this writing, the long-term impact of the coronavirus is still hidden. Within just these first few months of the outbreak in the United States, the pandemic has taken tens of thousands of lives and forced the layoffs of millions of workers.

COVID-19 is painting a dramatically different daily landscape in many areas of our lives, even erasing simple pleasures such as dinners at our favorite restaurant and leisurely afternoons of shopping. Offices, schools, and churches were closed indefinitely. For Catholics, that meant no public Masses, no weddings, funerals, or baptisms. Churches in Rome—including St. Peter’s Basilica—closed their doors. The Church of the Holy Sepulchre, built on the site of the tomb of Christ in the Holy Land, was shut down for the first time since the Black Plague, nearly seven hundred years ago. Other major religions did the same, canceling services and all public gatherings. What was happening? How could this be? When will it be over?

The even larger, more haunting question for so many, including people of faith remains: Where is God in all of this?

This article is adapted from a chapter in Conquering CoronavirusClick image to learn more or to order your copy today.

Across faith and lifestyle spectrums, people are searching for inspiration and answers and in a very direct way. According to research released in March of 2020 by the Association for the Study of Religion, Economics, and Culture, the number of Google searches for the word “prayer” greatly increased as the coronavirus continued to make headlines. That research examined Internet searches in seventy-five countries and found that “search intensity for ‘prayer’ doubles for every 80,000 new registered cases of COVID-19.”

In March of 2020, the Association discovered that Internet searches for “prayer” reached the highest level in the past five years for which research was available, surpassing all other major events, including Christmas, Easter, and Ramadan.

We’re no doubt still in the middle of the crisis. With all of this on our plates, our natural inclination is to reach out for help. We worry. We wonder. We may even believe that because of all the self-centeredness in our society, which long ago left God in the dust, we had it coming—and big time!

Whatever may be pressing on our hearts, God desires us to reach out to Him. He can more than handle the fears and the questions. In this opportune moment, what God is looking for from us, His most precious creation, is an intimate relationship.

I don’t know about you, but the hunger and the searching occurring right now remind me a lot of what happened after 9-11.

That day and in the weeks thereafter, there was a great surge of interest in matters of faith. Unfortunately, it was short-lived. On September 11, 2002—exactly one year after the terrorist attacks—as part of an online report covering church attendance, Fox News highlighted a very disheartening survey: The emotional pain and search for answers after Sept. 11 had many flocking to religious services like never before. A surge of spirituality occurred as Americans examined just how fragile life was and evaluated what was important. Answers were hard to come by in the months that followed the attacks, and many sought solace in a higher power.

But, like many of the initial post-attack phenomena, church attendance has since returned to normal. “After 9/11 we had 20-some odd thousand people show up,” said Senior Pastor Ed Young. “The largest crowd in the history of Fellowship Church. . .. And when I walked on stage I looked around and said, ‘Where have you guys been? It takes something like this for you to show up to church?’” But the pews were soon roomier. “I was disappointed somewhat that more didn’t stick around. We dropped … to 16 or 17 thousand the next weekend and then the weekend after that to about 14,500,” he said.

By some estimates, on the Sunday following the terror attacks roughly half of the adult population in the United States attended a religious service. But the attendance dropped off starting in November.

The report quoted statistics from the religious-research polling firm Barna that revealed that participation in church-based activities quickly went back to what it was before the attacks. Forty-two percent of Americans polled said they attended services and 84 percent said they prayed before Sept. 11. And now, 43 percent say they attend services and 83 percent say they pray.

Shortly after the doors of my local church were closed due to the pandemic, I was able to follow our Saturday vigil Mass online and was blessed to hear a poignant homily by Fr. Rich Bartoszek. Fr. Rich not only helps out at the weekend Masses at my parish but also serves as a full-time chaplain for one of the major hospital systems in the Archdiocese of Detroit. By the time he celebrated this particular Mass, he had witnessed firsthand the devastation caused by the coronavirus. As Fr. Rich explained, many folks he bumped into in the busy hospital hallways told him they were fearful. They had a lot of “God-related” questions. Some were even convinced, as some were after 9-11, that this is a judgment or some sort of punishment from God.

Fr. Rich told his co-workers the same thing that he told parishioners tuning in that Saturday: the God we serve is not using the pandemic or any other crisis to zap us. He didn’t cause it, but He allows it so we can help reveal Him to the world. For most of us, we have never seen anything like this. But this is not what our God does. I choose to see exactly what Jesus says, “that the works of God might be made visible,” through what is going on in the world right now. He framed his message around the Gospel reading for March were a clear reminder that God is right here with us in the coronavirus trenches. In the ninth chapter of John’s Gospel, we read about Jesus healing the man who was born blind. Upon seeing the blind man, the disciples ask Jesus to tell them who sinned, the man or his parents. Given the beliefs of that time, they were no doubt surprised by the Lord’s response:

Neither he nor his parents sinned; it is so that the works of God might be made visible through him. (John 9:3)

Do we recognize the works of God in the events of our day, or are we still paralyzed by fear? Although we would never have chosen for ourselves this “Lentiest Lent we’ve ever Lented,” it might at the end of the day wind up being one of the most profound periods of our lives, helping us spiritually to conquer not only coronavirus but a whole lot more.

This article is adapted from a chapter in Teresa Tomeo’s latest book, Conquering Coronavirus: How Faith Can Put Your Fears to Rest. It is available from your favorite bookstore or online through Sophia Institute Press.

We also recommend the articles, “Rosary Meditations for Prayer During the COVID-19 Pandemic” and “Praying the Stations of the Cross Amidst COVID-19”.

Also find out about St. Corona in the article “St. Corona, Pray for Us”.

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Teresa Tomeo


Teresa Tomeo is an author, syndicated Catholic talk show host and motivational speaker with more than 30 years of experience in TV, radio and newspaper and spent 19 of those years working in front of a camera as a reporter/anchor in the Detroit market. In the year 2000, Teresa left the secular media to start her own speaking and communications company, Teresa Tomeo Communications, LLC and her web site and blog at TeresaTomeo.com. Her daily morning radio program, Catholic Connection, is produced by Ave Maria Radio and EWTN’s Global Catholic Radio Network and can be heard on over 500 domestic and international AM & FM radio affiliates worldwide including Sirius/XM Satellite Radio. Over the past two decades, Teresa Tomeo has traveled extensively throughout Italy and has led pilgrimages and tours there over 50 times. In 2019, she founded T’s Italy, a travel consultation company along with its TravelItalyExpert.com web site, where she shares insider tips for where to eat, stay, shop & play in this beautiful country

Faithful, Cafeteria and Faithless Catholics

Catholic Church Torn

What is the real state of the US Catholic Church? Well, it’s not good, but at the same time, it might not be as bad as we think. I started to run some statistics based on the EWTN News/RealClear Opinion Poll of the state of the Catholic Church. I decided that the best way to really know where things stand, both in the US Catholic Church, and in America in general was to use the statistics to come up with some hard numbers. This is what I’ve got so far…

The US Catholic Church is the largest Christian Church in the United States. There are more Protestants than Catholics, but Protestants are not even close to unified, and if you think the divisions in the Catholic Church are bad, they’re nothing in comparison to the divisions within Protestantism. So even though Protestantism is larger in the United States, no Protestant denomination comes even close to comparing to the size of the Catholic Church. There are about 70,412,021 Catholics in the United States as of 2017. The only Protestant denomination that even comes remotely close to that is the Southern Baptist Convention with only 14,813,234 as of 2018, and the United Methodist Church in a distant third place with only 6,671,825 as of 2018. So of the three largest US churches, the Catholic Church is number one, the Southern Baptist Convention is number two with less than a quarter of that number, and the United Methodist Church with not even one-tenth the number of Catholics. The rest of the Protestant denominations are plentiful, to be sure, but none of them reach even close to those numbers.

Now, as we know the Catholic Church is nowhere near unified. There may be juridic unification, on a formal level, but informally, the US Catholic Church is divided into three main camps. These are…

  1. Faithful Catholics: These are Catholics who believe everything the Catholic Church teaches, attend Mass regularly, and try earnestly to live within the teachings of the Faith.
  2. Cafeteria Catholics: These are Catholics who believe most of what the Catholic Church teaches, but they ignore some teachings they have problems with (like artificial contraception for example), picking and choosing what to believe, like in the buffet line of a cafeteria. Their Mass attendance is usually good, but they don’t take the teaching magisterium of the Church as seriously as Faithful Catholics.
  3. Faithless Catholics: These are Catholics who don’t believe key Church teachings, and pretty much have their own version of what they think “being Catholic” means. Many of these people are the Christmas/Easter Catholics we only see during those times. Some of them attend Mass more faithfully, but their beliefs are not solidly Catholic at all. Some subscribe to a more Protestant-like belief system. Some of them are New Age. Some of them sit on the parish council, seeking to make “reforms” to the parish. And a small percentage don’t ever go to Mass at all and consider themselves “former Catholics” with no other religious affiliation.

So now that I’ve defined the camps, the terms, and what they mean, let’s break it down by the numbers according to the EWTN News/RealClear Opinion Poll. This is what we have, based on percentages plugged into real numbers…

  1. Faithful Catholics: 17% or about 11,970,043 people
  2. Cafeteria Catholics: 41% or about 28,868,928 people
  3. Faithless Catholics: 42% or about 29,573,048 people

So this is how the US Catholic Church is really divided out. In a sense, what we have here is not two, but three Catholic churches, currently joined together in a juridic union, that (in my opinion) is really quite fragile, under the pope and within the USCCB. What we have are three separate churches, within one fragile union, called the US Catholic Church.

Politically speaking (and politics is just religion in the public square), the Faithful Catholics tend to vote overwhelmingly conservative (usually Republican). Cafeteria Catholics tend to be split, but the split is not 50/50. It’s a swing split, based on who’s running for office and the political climate of the day. Faithless Catholics vote overwhelmingly liberal (consistently Democrat). I suppose if any Republican politicians are reading this, you’ll want to market yourselves to the Faithful Catholics entirely, while trying to convince as many Cafeteria Catholics as possible. Appealing to the teachings of Pope St. John Paul II is a good way to hang on to Faithful Catholics and draw in as many Cafeteria Catholics as possible. Forget about the Faithless Catholics. You’ll never reach them.

Now, for my fellow Catholics in the Faithful camp, let’s take a look at that number. There are nearly 12 million of us! That puts us right beneath the Southern Baptist Convention (14.8 million) in numbers and well above the United Methodist Church (6.6 million). That’s not bad! In fact, there are a lot more of us than I previously thought. The reason why it doesn’t seem like we’re so big is because most of us are disbursed within Catholic parishes, and mixed in with both Cafeteria and Faithless Catholics. It makes our number seem small. For example; if we were to use a hypothetical, average, American, Catholic parish, with a membership of 200 adults, the makeup would consist of…

  1. Faithful Catholics: 34
  2. Cafeteria Catholics: 82
  3. Faithless Catholics: 84 (with about 6 who never show up at all)

So what caused this sad state of affairs? I think everyone agrees the root of the problem is poor catechesis. Faithless and Cafeteria Catholics either don’t understand the teachings of the Church, or they just don’t get how important they are. I think most people agree that catechesis needs to be improved. The only debate is how. Actually, however, I don’t think that’s a difficult problem to solve.

This is why I stress that Faithful Catholics absolutely MUST plug into a parish where one can find reverent liturgy. That’s because liturgy is catechesis. Lex ordandi lex credendi. The law of prayer is the law of faith. If you’re worried about poor catechesis, you’ve got to get into a parish with good liturgy. Liturgy is catechesis in motion. It’s the foundation of good catechesis. Poor and irreverent liturgy will produce poor and irreverent faith, every time, 100% guaranteed. If you wonder about the state of catechesis in the Catholic Church today, look no further than the quality of liturgy in your parish. If you’re a priest, and you want to improve catechesis in your parish, the FIRST STEP is to improve the quality and reverence of liturgy in your parish. If you never take that first step, you can just forget about the second, because you’ll never get there. No matter how much time and energy you put into catechism classes, your bad liturgical practices will always drag you down. First comes the liturgy, then comes the catechesis. Lex orandi lex credendi.

Faithful Catholics, unless you’ve got your priest’s ear, and he’s going to be making some very big changes in the right direction, you really need to just get out of your lukewarm parishes with irreverent and lukewarm liturgy. You need to get to a parish that offers a Reverent Catholic Mass (click here to find one). If you have to drive nearly and hour to get to one, then do so. It’s worth it in the long run. As Faithful Catholics file into these Reverent Catholic Mass (RCM) parishes, we’ll begin to see our numbers more clearly, and we’ll begin to understand that we’re not as weak and powerless as we once thought we were.

Think about it. Nearly twelve million people is no small number. It’s bigger than all the Methodists combined, and nearly as large as the Southern Baptist Convention. Which is HUGE by the way. We can have an impact, both on our culture, and in the political sphere. If the Southern Baptists can have an impact (and they do) then we can too. We just need to get out of the siege mentality, strengthen each other in RCM parishes, and work together with others to bring it about.

Who are these others? Well, I think it’s pretty obvious. They consist primarily of Cafeteria Catholics (as many as we can convince to work with us) and Evangelical Protestants (which includes Southern Baptists and other conservative Protestants) who would be more than happy to work with us on most social issues. These two groups (Cafeteria Catholics and Evangelical Protestants) have a lot more in common than not.

But none of this is going to happen if we can’t drop the siege mentality. Look, I know that the state of the Catholic Church is abysmal right now. I know that Pope Francis more often sides with Faithless Catholics than Faithful Catholics. Some might say that Pope Francis himself is a Cafeteria Catholic that leans toward Faithless. I don’t know if I would use this description, but I would have a hard time arguing with it. I know that many upper clergymen could easily be classified as either Cafeteria or Faithless I know that Rome is in shambles. But I also know this. The one and only group of Catholics that is growing is the Faithful Catholics, and RCM parishes are booming right now. Cafeteria Catholics are stagnant, neither growing nor shrinking, while Faithless Catholics are definitely shrinking in number. In fact, I would argue that the overwhelming vast majority of shrinkage in the Catholic Church is among Faithless Catholics. So in the future, we can look forward to a larger percentage of Faithful Catholics, a smaller percentage of Faithless Catholics, and a middle-ground of Cafeteria Catholics that are about the same, having neither grown nor shrunk. So as bleak and hopeless as everything seems, I assure you it’s all an illusion. The future of Catholicism belongs to the Faithful not the Faithless. I promise you that.

The trick to seeing this is getting into an RCM parish (find them here). Once you’re edified by the presence of other Faithful Catholics, you’ll start to see the bigger picture. I absolutely insist that this is necessary. No man is an island. If you’re a faithful Catholic in the middle of a large, typical, Catholic parish, you’re probably feeling very alone right now. I assure you there are other Faithful Catholics in that parish, but identifying them is the hard part. RCM parishes draw these people in like magnets. Find one, and start attending regularly. If you can’t find one within a one-hour drive, then there are two solutions. Both of these options will produce reverent liturgy, which is the first step toward good catechesis and the formation of more Faithful Catholics…

  1. Form a Latin Mass Community to request a Latin Mass in your immediate area. You can get help for this from Una Voce.
  2. Form a Pre-Ordinariate Community in your area, seeking Catholics who were previously Anglican, Episcopalian, Methodist, or African-Methodist-Episcopal (AME) using the methods outlined by the Anglicanorum Coetibus Society.

You’re not helpless! You have options. Faithful Catholics are not powerless, and in fact, we have the potential to become quite powerful. We don’t need to worry about a wayward pope or faithless bishops. We can do things to help ourselves and others. Nobody can take our faith away, and within the Catholic Church, we do have rights! We also have allies, both among some Cafeteria Catholics, and among most Evangelicals (Baptists, Pentecostals, conservative Methodists, conservative Lutherans, Non-denominationals, etc.). The way to deal with this present darkness is to flush the siege mentality, and start making positive steps toward social ascendancy again. The first step in that is unification with our own kind. Find a RCM parish within an hour drive, and if you can’t, make one!