The 20 Things Guardian Angels Do for Us by:STEPHEN BEALE …. reblogged

The 20 Things Guardian Angels Do for Us

by:STEPHEN BEALE

Imagine you had a bodyguard who was always with you. He did all the usual bodyguard things like protecting you from danger, warding off assailants, and generally keeping you safe in all situations. But he also did more than this: he offered you moral guidance, helped you become a stronger person, and led you to your ultimate calling in life.

We don’t have to imagine it. We already have such a bodyguard. Christian tradition calls them guardian angels. Their existence is supported by Scripture and both Catholics and Protestants believe in them

But too often we neglect to tap this great spiritual resource. (I, for one, am certainly guilty of this!) In order to better enlist the aid of guardian angels, it might help to have a better appreciation of they can do for us. Here are 20 things:

  1. Ward off demons

Sometimes we visualize moral decision-making as a debate between a bad angel whispering in one ear and a good angel speaking wisely in the other. There is a truth to this: according to St. Thomas Aquinas, one of the roles of the guardian angels is to fight off demons (Summa Theologica, Part 1, Question 113, Articles 2-6).

  1. Protect us from harm

Guardian angels generally protect us from both spiritual and physical harm, according to Aquinas (Question 113, Article 5, Reply 3). This belief is rooted in Scripture. For example, Psalm 91:11-12 declares, “For he commands his angels with regard to you, to guard you wherever you go. With their hands they shall support you, lest you strike your foot against a stone.”

  1. Strengthen us against temptation

Guardian angels do not just ward off evil, they also strengthen us so we can do it ourselves. As St. Bernard says in a sermon, “As often, therefore, as a most serious temptation is perceived to weigh upon you and an excessive trial is threatening, call to your guard, your leader, your helper in your needs, in your tribulation; cry to him and say: ‘Lord, save us; we perish!’”

  1. Embolden us

St. Bernard also says that with angels such as these at our side we should have no fear. We should have the courage to live out our faith boldly and confront whatever life might throw our way. As he puts it, “Why should we fear under such guardians? Those who keep us in all our ways can neither be overcome nor be deceived, much less deceive. They are faithful; they are prudent; they are powerful; why do we tremble?”

  1. Intervene miraculously to save us from trouble

Guardian angels not only ‘guard,’ they also can save us when we are already in trouble. This is illustrated by the story of Peter in Acts 12, when an angel helps break the apostle out of prison. The story suggests that it is his own personal angel that has intervened (see verse 15). Of course, we cannot count on such miracles. But it’s an added comfort to know that they are possible.

  1. Guard us from birth

Church Fathers once debated whether guardian angels were assigned at birth or at baptism. St. Jerome argued decisively for the former. His basis was Matthew 18:10, which is a crucially important Scriptural passage that supports the existence of guardian angels. In the verse Jesus says, “See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that their angels in heaven always look upon the face of my heavenly Father.” The reason that we get guardian angels at birth is that their aid is associated with our nature as rational beings, rather than belonging to the order of grace, according to Aquinas (Question 113, Article 5, Answer).

  1. Guard all of us—including unbelievers 

This conclusion follows from the above. Aquinas also makes this clear in explaining that God never leaves any of us, including sinners. As the great dogmatic theologian Ludwig Ott explained, “According to the general teaching of the theologians, however, not only every baptized person, but every human being, including unbelievers, has his own special guardian angel from his birth.” Pope Benedict XVI also taught that guardian angels are “ministers of the divine care for every human being.” (Thanks to Jimmy Akin for highlighting these sources.)

  1. Remind us of the dignity of persons

This follows from all that has been said before. It is particularly evident from Matthew 18:10 where Jesus instructs us not to ‘despise’ the ‘little ones’ because they have angels watching over them. (I’m particularly indebted to Protestant preacher John Piper for pointing this out.) As St. Jerome puts it, “The worth of souls is so great that from birth each one has an angel assigned to him for protection.” Piper emphasizes how the presence of guardian angels should lead us to a greater respect for our fellow Christians: “Therefore don’t despise this simple, unimpressive disciple of Jesus! Let his angelic entourage remind you whose son he is.”

  1. Remind us of God’s care for all

Aquinas explains how the angels operate in accordance with God’s providential plan for all men (Question 113, Article 6, Answer). It follows that these angels serve as a reminder of His care for us.

  1. Bring our needs to God

Akin says that guardian angels act as intercessors who bring our requests directly to God based on Jesus’ words in Matthew 18:10 about angels beholding the face of God.

  1. Bring us closer to God

It follows from the above that guardian angels also aid in bringing us nearer to God. Even when God seems distant, just remember that the guardian angel assigned to you personally is at the same time beholding God directly, as the Catholic Encyclopedia

  1. Move us to the good

Guardian angels also move us to the good. As Aquinas writes, “It is moreover manifest that as regards things to be done human knowledge and affection can vary and fail from good in many ways; and so it was necessary that angels should be deputed for the guardianship of men, in order to regulate them and move them to good” This includes prompting us to perform good works, according to Aquinas. (See Question 113, Article 1, Answer and Article 4, Objection 3.)

  1. Reinforce God’s commands

According to Aquinas, one of the roles of our angelic guardians is helping us use our reason to pursue virtue. In particular, he says the angels help us in developing prudence by serving as God’s “universal instructor,” passing on God’s precepts (Question 113, Article 1, Reply 2).

  1. Illuminate the truth

Angels “propose the intelligible truth to men” through sensible things, according to Aquinas (Question 111, Article 1, Answer). Although he does not elaborate on this point, this it is a basic teaching of the Church that the material world points to invisible spiritual realities. As St. Paul says in Romans 1:20, “Ever since the creation of the world, his invisible attributes of eternal power and divinity have been able to be understood and perceived in what he has made.”

  1. Strengthen our minds

A second way that angels enlighten us, Aquinas says, is by reinforcing our intellects. As he puts it, “[T]he human intellect as the inferior \, is strengthened by the action of the angelic intellect” (Question 111, Article 1).

  1. Communicate through our imagination

In addition to working through our senses and intellects, our guardian angels also influence us through our imaginations, according to Aquinas, who gives the example of Joseph’s dreams (Question 111, Article 3, On the Contrary and Answer). But it might not be something as obvious as a dream; it could also be through more subtle means like a ‘phantasm,’ which could be defined as an image brought to the senses or the imagination (Question 111: Article 1, Answer; definition adapted from the Dictionary of Scholastic Philosophy by Bernard Wueller, SJ).

  1. Influence our wills

Angels cannot directly move the will, but, according to Aquinas, they can indirectly influence it through our senses and intellect, as stated above (Question 111, Article 2 , Answer). This means that our guardian angels influence every part of our being for the better—our senses, intellect, and will.

  1. Aid in our salvation

The ultimate goal of all that guardian angels do is to aid in our salvation, according to Aquinas. “Angels are sent to minister, and that efficaciously indeed, for those who shall receive the inheritance of salvation, if we consider the ultimate effect of their guardianship, which is the realizing of that inheritance,” Aquinas writes (Question 113, Article 5, Reply 1). Here he is drawing from Hebrews 1:14, which states, “Are they not all ministering spirits sent to serve, for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation?”

  1. Remind us of our ultimate goal

Inspired by Christ’s words in Matthew 18:10, St. Augustine suggests that guardian angels remind us that our ultimate goal is the beatific vision of God: “As, then, they see, so shall we also see; but not yet do we thus see. Wherefore the apostle uses the words cited a little ago, Now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face. This vision is reserved as the reward of our faith; and of it the Apostle John also says, When He shall appear, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. 1 John 3:2. By the face of God we are to understand His manifestation, and not a part of the body similar to that which in our bodies we call by that name” (City of GodBook 22, Chapter 29).

  1. Never leave us 

Guardian angels assume their duties at our birth and maintain them up to our death. For Aquinas, this is just an extension of the broader truth that we never completely leave God’s care, even in sin and doubt: “Now it is evident that neither man, nor anything at all, is entirely withdrawn from the providence of God: for in as far as a thing participates being, so far is it subject to the providence that extends over all being. God indeed is said to forsake man, according to the ordering of His providence, but only in so far as He allows man to suffer some defect of punishment or of fault. In like manner it must be said that the angel guardian never forsakes a man entirely…” (Question 113, Article 6, Answer).

Tagged as: angelsguardian angelsSt. Thomas Aquinas

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

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Misconceptions About NFP … BY ANNE CHERNEY:reblogged

Misconceptions About NFP

BY ANNE CHERNEY 

When I heard the election results in 2012, my very first thought was that if Catholics had reacted appropriately to the invention of the pill, instead of the way they did, we would have won this election.

It is a subject which has bothered me for years—because I believe that it grieves our Lord. Then that November, I saw how it was hurting us all.

God is the Creator. Satan is the anti-creator. God wants to fill Heaven—that the tables at the wedding banquet may be filled. Satan doesn’t want anyone else born; good Catholics least of all. His weapons are lies, half-truths, misunderstandings, confusions.

Catholics have the confused idea that NFP is part of a venerable, even virtuous, long-standing Catholic tradition—the way we have always handled the question. No way! From all time, God had planned families. NFP is a tool derived from a scientific discovery of modern times—a third of the way through the 20th century. Children had always been highly valued, and gifts from God. Their coming to be was a mystery.

Aristotle said it was all form and matter. The man provided the form, and the woman formed the matter. The sperm just grabbed up part of the menstrual matter as it flowed by, and conception happened during the period. St. Thomas Aquinas believed him, and this became the understanding in the West. I own a book, published by a New York doctor in 1922, for the Eugenics Society—the effectively Godless society which was pedaling the new idea that children weren’t so valuable after all. The doctor wrote that if you really wanted to avoid conception, you had to abstain from intercourse from three days before the period began, until 15 days after it had begun!

But by 1930, the western world had figured out ovulation. Japan had done so a few years earlier. At the end of that year, Pope Pius XI in Casti Connubii approved of Catholics making use of this new knowledge, but cited “the sufferings of those parents who, in extreme want, experience great difficulty in rearing their children.” Pope Pius XII spoke of it in his 1952 “Address to Midwives,” for the sake of couples in “grave circumstances.”

They called it “rhythm”. Rhythm was not overused. I remember that couples were directed to have their confessor’s permission before using it. When I was growing up, you could tell the Catholic families in the neighborhood because they had more children. And Catholics had a sense of identity—we were different from the rest.

Another confusion came along. Margaret Sanger had dismissed breastfeeding as “enslaving the woman.” So new companies making baby bottles and formula began to flourish. Science knew best. I know of a woman in her 30s, and another in her 40s, who were both told by their doctors that they shouldn’t nurse—it wouldn’t be the best way to feed their babies. In the United States during 1940s and the 1950s, nursing virtually died out. In my growing up years, I did not know of a single woman, among all my relatives and my friends’ families, who nursed. As late as 1968, when I was having my first child, and I told the doctor that I planned to nurse, he said, “That’s odd!”

But Satan was building the market for the invention he saw scientists working on then. When one nurses a baby to the extent, and for the length of time, that is best for the baby—God’s plan—the next baby will come at least two, to two and a half years later. If one doesn’t nurse, the babies could come less than a year apart! This is understandably hard.

In 1960, the new invention, the “pill,” was finally introduced. It was the most evil invention ever. It brought into question one of the first truths God had given us about human beings: “Male and female He created them.” Now a woman could be just like a man! The pill kills babies. The pill brought about the “sexual revolution,” an increase in divorces, and the homosexual culture of today.

The Church didn’t foresee all of this. Pope Paul VI handpicked a commission to study it…which came back and said it was fine! With the Holy Spirit on his side, though, he rejected their report, and bravely wrote Humanae Vitae: no pill, nor periodic abstinence, was permitted when there were serious health or economic problems. But this was in 1968, and many Catholics had already begun using the pill.

With great zeal, and the very best of intentions, a group of American lay Catholics rose to the occasion. They wanted to remind fellow Catholic couples that, when they had serious reasons, they didn’t need the pill; the old rhythm method really did work. But they made the tremendously tragic mistake, in an attempt to sound “with the times,” of renaming it “Natural Family Planning.” Its promotion was also problematic.

“Family Planning” was the eugenecists’ more positive term for “birth control,” but it means the same thing—and that had always been consistently opposed by the Church. Children do not come about by chance, but each by the act of the Creator Himself.

The new name sent out two false messages. First, “planning” is Planned Parenthood’s term, and “planning,” which is done ahead of time, has a much broader, and more comprehensive scope than simply reacting to a problem that has arisen. NFP really isn’t “family planning” after all. According to Rev. Frances J. Rippley in his book, This is the Faith, a Catholic couple “does not have the right to plan their family, even though the means used are those of NFP.” Cardinal Ottaviani, then the head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, said, “Never has this been heard of in the Church!”

The other confusion the name, Natural Family Planning, causes is that the only thing wrong with the pill is that it is artificial. So what? So is aspirin!

More misunderstandings. NFP was promoted as being “chaste.” Well, the alternative pill certainly is unchaste. But consider: outside of marriage, chastity is abstinence. However, inside of marriage, you are not more chaste if you express your love less often. Within marriage, chastity is rightly-ordered sex. If you are using NFP for less than the requisite reasons, it is not chastity. It may seem to be a virtue in itself, but it is not. It is an amoral action, as well, which can be poorly applied.

Yet, when a priest promoting NFP heard that I had ten children, he said, “Haven’t you ever heard of chastity?” And when another priest heard that a friend of mine had eight children, he told her, “Life isn’t supposed to be a sexual orgy!”

NFP was billed as being “just as effective as the pill.” In that case, we are apparently trying to affect the same goals! Married couples became “like the nations,” and ended up with the same requisite two children and two careers, as does the whole culture around us.

Just the fact that the Church was endorsing something called “planning” seemed to say that we were not being responsible if we didn’t “plan.” Accordingly, my husband and I were told this by two different Catholic lay leaders. One even waved his finger in front of our faces and said, “You are being irresponsible not to plan your family!” I met a woman many years later who had known this same man and had been very influenced by him. And she had nine children. But she was very apologetic about it! “We really did use NFP! We really did plan them all!

So now there are very few Catholic couples willing to just let God do the planning.

And Catholics willing to use NFP think, “If we are the responsible ones, the ones whose job it is to plan, then we will do it for whatever reasons we are serious about.” They are often completely unaware of Humanae Vitae’s objective criteria.

“Besides, it is virtuous, so it can’t ever be wrong to use it, for whatever the reason. And if we are going to do a good job of planning, we aren’t just going to avoid a child in the worst of circumstances, we are going to aim for the best possible circumstances.”

This will mean a lot less children, of course.

Much worse, other Catholics think that the Church says we need to plan pregnancies and be responsible, and they decide that they are not the type to be able to master NFP—that they need a more reliable method to work for them. The pill is reliable. So what if it is artificial? All pills are! They are at least being responsible, they think, just as the Church tells us to be!

The Kippleys tell us that of married Catholics of child-bearing age, less than two percent use NFP. A few just accept children, but the overwhelming majority are using the pill!

In 1994, the Catechism of the Catholic Church came out. It speaks of periodic continence, and it talks of the two purposes of marriage. Before the 1960s, the Church had generally spoken of only one purpose of marriage: procreation. But during Vatican II, there was more talk of a “unitive” purpose. Even if God didn’t give a couple children, there was value in their union—for each other, for those around them, and as a sign for all of Christ’s love for His Church. So, the Catechism acknowledges the two purposes…but says they are inseparable. They are both constantly true, and never to be separated. We can’t just say we are going to temporarily set aside one purpose, and pursue only the other!

Then how could the Church have ever allowed periodic abstinence? Simple! Because of another inseparability principle! Procreation is a two-part reality. Vatican II documents talk about “procreation-education” almost as a single subject. We never just have a child. We need to raise that child,

and raise that child for the Lord.

So if problems arise in our married life which we fear would jeopardize our ability to properly raise either the children we already have, or the child who yet may come to be, we may use periodic abstinence to avoid conception—not to avoid procreation, but to fulfill it—the second half of it!

I found a priest who agreed with me. Now “Servant of God,” Fr. John A. Hardon agreed completely. He said, “NFP was to be promoted to counter contraception, never to counter just accepting children from the Lord;” and, “The only truly Catholic family planning is Supernatural Family Planning.

I met attorney Robert Muise who gave me the book, Trustful Surrender to Divine Providenceby two Jesuits: Blessed Claude de la Columbiere and Fr. Jean Baptiste Saint-Jure. The book includes trusting God to plan the family—”whatever the number”—as just part of the “trustful surrender,” which is of the essence of Christian life.

I had one unanswered question. The Bible says, according to St. Paul, that a married couple is to “separate only for prayer.” How would that allow for NFP? But Dr. Gregory Popcek states that when we hit a seriously problematic time in our life, we separate during the few fertile days, and use that time for days of prayer over the problem.

“Lord, what can we do? Do we have (or do we still have) appropriate reason to avoid conception? Please take care of our problem. If it is one of health, please heal us. If it is an economic question, could You please resolve it? Maybe a new job? Take care of our problem, Lord, so that we can again be open to accepting a child from you!”

We need to clear up those misunderstandings. We need to start by getting rid of that extremely misleading name: “NFP.”

There can be a new sense of Catholic identity…with lots more good Catholic voters!

FILED UNDER: ARTICLES TAGGED WITH: CASTI CONNUBIICONTRACEPTIONHUMANAE VITAELIMITING FAMILY SIZENATURAL FAMILY PLANNING (NFP)THE FAMILY

About Anne Cherney

Anne Cherney, mother of ten (and grandmother of 38, so far!), went back to school after her children were grown, getting her M.A. in Theological Studies from the John Paul II Institute, in Washington D.C., in 2009. One More Soul recently published her book, Supernatural Family Planning.

 

“The Priest” author unknown

Recently I came across an old and yellowed newspaper article entitled: “THE PRIEST…..”

I was unable to copy and paste it; yet its message was so compelling I felt drawn to retype it.  … So for the edification of us ALL. Here it is; author unknown.

 

“The Priest”……

No matter where he is located,   the diocesan priest has to be the sharer of secrets, the carrier of burdens, the fountain of consolation, and a pillar of strength.  Solitary, he is called father by thousands, poor, he enriches the lives of thousands, weak, he gives strength to thousands; unimportant he does things each day whose importance cannot be told in any tongue on earth.  He is never too busy to hear another’s sorrows; and often too busy to realize his own burdens. He is a 24-hour-a-day man. He is called from his dinner; wakened from his sleep; disturbed at his prayers. He is at the beck and call of any of his people. He is the target of God’s enemies, the magnet of God’s needy. Occasionally, he attracts attention; but usually he works unnoticed and unacclaimed while he does the noblest work on earth—- {he} keeps Christ in the lives of the people” END QUOTES

As a soon to be 74 year old lifetime Catholic, I can add my personal witness to the veracity of this article.  I have seen it lived by countless parish priest in my travels and at home. I have witnessed priest miss a meal to comfort, or to teach me; I have known priest with serious life-demanding disease continue to serve with a smile on their face; I have seen priest called late at night to rush to the local hospital to give the Last rites to a relative. And I have seen priest in a retirement home; near deaths door, still offering to console; to comfort others and to not count the cost.

These noble men; these Apostles, these role models of Jesus Himself seek no glory except that found in the reflection of Jesus.

THANK YOU LORD, for the goodness; the humility; the dedication; the service and blessings they are to your Church; Good and Faithful servants; prudent Stewarts; and very often my friends.

I thank you in prayer with Blessings,

Patrick

Scripture Speaks A Prophet in His Own Town by GAYLE SOMERS: reblogged

Scripture Speaks A Prophet in His Own Town

GAYLE SOMERS

Jesus drew large crowds as He preached throughout Galilee, healing many who sought His help.  What was the reception when He visited His hometown?

Gospel (Read Mk 6:1-6a)

St. Mark tells us that early in Jesus’ ministry in Galilee, He visited His “native place.” Everywhere He went, He left a trail of “utterly astounded” people (see Mk 5:42).  However, when He arrived at the synagogue in Nazareth, the reception was decidedly different.  His preaching “astonished” those gathered, but their amazement moved in a surprising direction.  “Where did this man get all this?”  They were not impressed that one of their own had great wisdom and wrought “mighty deeds.” No, they were skeptical that someone they knew so well, someone whose whole family was well known to them, could suddenly show up and claim to be Somebody.  In fact, His remarkable change from being simply “the carpenter” to a miracle-working prophet was just too much for them.  They flat out didn’t believe Him.  Consequently, He was only able to cure “a few sick people,” because there was no one else who asked for His help.  Jesus knew He was taking His place in the long line of prophets in Israel’s history, each one of which was “not without honor except in his native place and among his own kin and in his own house,” yet the lack of faith in his Nazareth neighbors still “amazed” Him.

What caused those who were best acquainted with Jesus to refuse to believe in Him?  This question is well worth pondering, because it gets us to the heart of the mystery of salvation.  The people in the Nazareth synagogue could not imagine that an ordinary fellow, one who plied his trade as a carpenter and moved in and about among his kinsmen in town, could be anyone special in God’s plan.  Surely a prophet (much less the Messiah) would not seem so much like them.  Surely there would have been signs along the way—during His childhood, His adolescence, His hours in His workshop—that He was one to keep an eye on.  Nobody expects ordinary flesh and blood to be able to address the extraordinary problems of ordinary flesh and blood.  We can just about feel the incredulity in their comments recorded by St. Mark.  In effect, they told Jesus:  “Sorry, but You are way too human to be of any importance to us.”

Yet, that is the key. The Incarnation, foretold as early as Gen 3:15 (and that’s early), meant that onlya human could be the One to make a difference for us.  Only One like us, living like we do, could take our place in the work of reconciliation between God and man.  The hardened human heart, full of pride and ego, resists this idea.  Sinful man has bought into the devil’s lie that we are weak, fickle, and not to be trusted.  That explains why the devil preyed on man and woman in the Garden.  His strike against them would be his strike against God. However, it was God who dreamed man up, created him in His own image and likeness, and destined him for fellowship with the Blessed Trinity.  Imagine the devil’s shock when he discovered that God would undo His enemy’s work through a woman and her Son.  Through flesh and blood.  Through the carpenter of Nazareth.

We need to know about this human tendency to reject human salvation through human beings.  We face it in our own day.  We see the world’s incredulous reaction to the Gospel’s claim that Jesus is the only way to salvation and to the Church’s claim to be the sacrament of the salvation He won for us.  The world, knowing our history so well, can’t imagine that God would be working out His miraculous plan of redemption through us.  We see it in ourselves, too.  Can God be answering my prayers for my salvation through my very human spouse? My human children?  My human co-workers?

Let us take this Gospel warning seriously so that it cannot be said of us that we have amazed Jesus by our lack of faith.

Possible response: Lord Jesus, help me see You in the humanity around me.  That’s always the last place I look.

First Reading (Read Eze 2:2-5)

We have to wonder if, when Jesus faced resistance to His prophetic work in Nazareth, He had the prophet, Ezekiel in mind.  The Lord sent Ezekiel, hundreds of years before Jesus lived, to “the Israelites, rebels who have rebelled against Me.”  God warned him that the people to whom he was being sent were “hard of face and obstinate of heart.”  Nevertheless, Ezekiel was to faithfully proclaim God’s word to them.  He was not to depend on their response to measure his success.  “Whether they heed or resist…they shall know that a prophet had been among them.”

Perhaps these words gave Jesus comfort as He encountered Nazareth’s lack of faith.  He was not the first to face this kind of resistance; He was also not the last.  Recall that in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus told the crowd:  “Blessed are you when men revile you and persecute you…Rejoice and be glad…for so men persecuted the prophets before you” (see Mt 5:11).

“Rejoice and be glad”? Is this possible?

Possible response: Heavenly Father, I know I’m quite capable of being “hard of face and obstinate of heart.”  Please grant me Your Spirit’s docility today.

Psalm (Read Ps 123:1-4)

These words give us a simple, concrete prayer for those times when our choice to obey God makes us the object of resistance and scorn (just like Ezekiel and Jesus).  The psalmist resolves to keep his eyes onlyon the Lord:  “As the eyes of servants are on the hands of their masters…so are our eyes on the Lord our God.”  We can see that what causes the psalmist to have this single-minded vision is the resistance of those around him:  “Our souls are more than sated with the mockery of the arrogant, with the contempt of the proud.”  Doing God’s will can bring us into conflict with those who are full of rebellion and ridicule.  Our response cannot be to fight back.  Instead, we can cry out with the psalmist:  “Our eyes are fixed on the Lord, pleading for His mercy.”

There is no better place for us than in this kind of humility and dependence.  That is why Jesus told us in the Beatitudes to “rejoice and be glad” in our persecutions for His sake.  In our next reading, St. Paul explains how we get there.

Possible response: The psalm is, itself, a response to our other readings.  Read it again prayerfully to make it your own. 

Second Reading (Read 2 Cor 12:7-10)

In the epistle, St. Paul tells us about his own experience of finding God’s mercy to be adequate to our need, no matter what causes it.  Here, he speaks of “a thorn in the flesh,” given to him to prevent him from being “too elated” over the “abundance of revelations” God had given him.  We don’t know for sure what this “thorn” was—illness, some kind of personal failure, opposition from others, etc.  We do know that God allowed the devil to use it against Paul.  Did the devil mean it for good?  No, the devil never wills the good, but God, Who is greater than the devil, sometimes allows evil in order to draw good from it (see CCC 268, 273, 1508).  Can that really work?

St. Paul answers this question.  God allowed him to be beaten by this “thorn” in order to lead him to humility and dependence (remember, the “abundance” of revelations to him could have tempted him to think he was somebody special).  It took time for him to understand this, of course.  “Three times I begged the Lord…that it might leave me.”  However, God wanted St. Paul to understand that His grace “is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.”  As frustrating and baffling as this idea can seem to us, St. Paul tells us it does work:  “Therefore, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and constraints, for the sake of Christ.”  Why would anyone be “content” with these awful things?  “For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

How counter-intuitive is this??  Yet, this is exactly what Jesus proved to be true, beginning in Nazareth, with the scoffing resistance of His neighbors, all the way to the Cross, when His own people had Him crucified.  He became completely weak and utterly dependent on God—and He conquered!

It turns out that the truly human way God has of saving the world is for us to live the truly divine way of self-sacrifice.  We should never tire of pondering this; perhaps if we take it to heart, we will not take offense to it.

Possible response: Lord Jesus, please teach me to be willing to be weak so that I can be strong in Your grace. End UOTES

By Gayle Somers

Gayle Somers is a member of St. Thomas the Apostle parish in Phoenix and has been writing and leading parish Bible studies since 1996. She is the author of three bible studies, Galatians: A New Kind of Freedom Defended (Basilica Press), Genesis: God and His Creation and Genesis: God and His Family (Emmaus Road Publishing). Gayle and her husband Gary reside in Phoenix and have three grown children.

How I learned to share my faith at work without saying a word  by Karen Beattie Reblogged

How I learned to share my faith at work without saying a word

 Karen Beattie |

 

You can be fully yourself on the job if you keep these things in mind …

It was Ash Wednesday, and I had a dilemma. I wanted to get ashes on my forehead to mark the beginning of Lent and my commitment to observing the 40 days before Easter, but I just couldn’t do it.

The thought of showing up to work with a large, black smudge on my forehead made me break out in a cold sweat. What would coworkers think? Would they ask me about it? Would people stare at me in meetings? Would they think I was too pious?

Don’t get me wrong: I’m not ashamed of my faith. But I don’t want to be the center of attention. I’m wary of offending someone, or making coworkers uncomfortable by wearing my faith on my forehead.

So I didn’t go to church, and I didn’t hear the priest say, “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return” as he was pressing ashes onto my forehead. I missed out on an important ritual of my faith because I was too afraid.

I often struggle with how much to let my faith “show” at work — or if I should at all.

I’ve been dealing with different forms of this struggle since childhood — at school or in other larger social settings. I grew up in a fundamentalist Baptist church where I had to witness (and take part in) door-to-door visits. It felt like cold calling on neighbors to try to convert them to Christianity — an introvert’s worst nightmare. It traumatized me. In high school, I thought I was a sinner if I didn’t overtly try to convince my agnostic friends to switch to Team Christian. I remember awkwardly inviting a friend to go to church with me. I could tell she didn’t want to go, but felt obligated. These experiences left me with a form of evangelism PTSD. No wonder I’m hesitant to expose too much of my beliefs at work.

At the same time, I also don’t want to feel like I’m living two lives: my work life and my “other” life. I want my life to be integrated.

So what’s the answer? How can I have integrity — not hiding parts of myself — when it comes to faith and work? And what about being light and salt? Knowing that this conflicted state of being affects many people, I decided to seek answers from some spiritual scholars.

A tricky balance

For me, it isn’t about trying to convert my colleagues to my faith, but feeling free to express my beliefs freely through my actions and words. But it’s a gray area. Most employees and bosses alike would agree that you need to tread carefully. “In fact, some of the old gospel-sharing methods are unwise, if not flat-out unethical,” says Bill Peel, Director of the Center for Faith at Work at LeTourneau University, and author of Workplace Grace: Becoming a Spiritual Influence at Work. “A workable model for evangelism must respect the nonbeliever’s integrity and vulnerability while also considering the professional’s fiduciary responsibility.”

Not only that, if an employee is too heavy-handed when trying to convert coworkers, it may be against the law. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the federal law that prohibits employers from discriminating against employees on the basis of sex, color, national origin, and religion, requires an employer (of 15 or more employees) to provide reasonable religious accommodations — which may include proselytizing. However, it also requires an employer to maintain a workplace free from unlawful harassment.

So HR managers have to strike a delicate balance when it comes to dealing with evangelization at work. They have to let employees have religious freedom, but they also have to protect employees from harassment.

Courtney Leyes writes in HR Professionals Magazine that “it’s an employer’s obligation to take reasonable steps to maintain a workplace free from unlawful harassment. If the complained-of conduct is unwelcome proselytizing,” she writes, the HR professional is not required to permit proselytizing at the expense of other employees.

John Shore, in his article, “10 Reasons It’s Wrong to Evangelize in the Workplace,” adds: “Unless part of your job description reads, ‘Evangelize to your co-workers,’ you are effectively stealing from your employer when you spend company time doing that. Worse, you are making your employer vulnerable to all kinds of trouble it does not want. As one Human Resources expert succinctly put it: ‘Religion, like politics, is a workplace topic that is guaranteed to generate an HR sh** storm.’”

Attraction, not promotion

So instead of forcing my faith on my coworkers, or going to the other extreme and shutting down my faith altogether while on the job, I tend to adhere to the “attraction, not promotion” idea. As author Bill Peel writes, “We must first do our jobs well. We must do our work with integrity. And we must show people that we care.”

That sounds like good advice to me.

Unlike the door-to-door canvassing I was forced to do as a child, I now express my faith more quietly. I try to do my job well and care for those I work with. I wear a crucifix that reminds me I am God’s beloved child. I post things on my Facebook page about going to Mass, or add a link to an article or book that has religious themes. I wrote a book about God’s abundance, and I invited some of my coworkers to my book release party. I’d be surprised if anyone at work didn’t know that my faith was important to me.

I try to find “God” moments throughout the day. The spiritual exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola remind me to find God in all things. Like the time a friend at work wanted to have coffee to talk about the meaning of life. Or another time a coworker sought me out to confess her depression — and asked me how my faith gave me hope. And yet another time a friend was sobbing in the bathroom because her boyfriend had just broken up with her. I hope I was able to show Christ’s love to all of these coworkers.

Let’s face it — the workplace can be brutal. It’s often a dog-eat-dog world, and the values of those around you may not match your own. We are called to be the light, and to shine brightly. But there are many ways to do that. And when I don’t know how, I just rub the crucifix around my neck and pray that God will show me the way. END QUOTES

The Beauty of the Soul by IRENAEUS DUNLEVY, O.P…..reblogged

The Beauty of the Soul

  1. IRENAEUS DUNLEVY, O.P.

Ever since the creation of the world, his invisible attributes of eternal power and divinity have been able to be understood and perceived in what he has made. –Rom 1:20

We learn and come to know what is invisible through our senses. We know the invisible through the visible. God, Who is invisible, immaterial, and hidden from our senses, reveals something of Himself in creation. In Thomistic terms, we say a cause can be known through its effects, albeit in a limited way.

Something spectacular about humanity, the crown of visible creation, is that it mimics God with its creativity. We don’t create as God creates—not even the angels do that—but we do reveal something hidden in our artistic creations. The artist reveals something of his soul in his work. The invisible life of the soul takes on a sensible form in the art. The visible effect reveals something of the invisible cause.

In the magnificent city entrusted to Our Lady of Good Air, Buenos Aires, hides a marvelous artistic work, the Basilica of the Blessed Sacrament. Some attribute the work to the Salesian priest Ernesto Vespignani, others to the Parisian architects Coulomb and Chauvet. What is certain is that the unity, harmony, and radiance of this work flows from its center: the sublime monstrance holding the Eucharist.

Reflecting on this marvel, we can appreciate what is seen and what is unseen. The Basilica is beautiful in its own respect, composed of marble, glass, and precious metal. Yet, it is an effect of a hidden cause, the artistic creativity of the architects and patrons. It is important to note that an effect is never greater than its cause. We can extend this important principle to also say that an effect is never more beautiful than its cause. The human soul is far more beautiful and precious than any of its created works, including this Basilica.

The porteños of the city refer to the Basilica as a templo, which is a happy term for a Catholic church. God dwells Eucharistically in this temple, and He also dwells spiritually in the temple of a graced soul.

Do you not know that you are temples of the Holy Spirit? (1 Cor 6:19)

Any artistic work, architectural or otherwise, that is centered on God can begin to reveal the beauty of the soul in which God dwells. This is something “into which angels longed to look” (1 Pt 1:12).

Editor’s note: This article originally appeared on Dominicana and is reprinted here with kind permission. 

By Br. Irenaeus Dunlevy, O.P.

Br. Irenaeus Dunlevy was born ​the youngest of four children ​in Columbus, Ohio​.​ ​He grew up in the ​rural ​southeast suburb of Canal Winchester. ​A​fter leaving the area for college, his family joined the ​Dominican ​parish of St. Patrick’s in Columbus. ​He received a Bachelor and Masters of Architecture from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University ​and practiced for a religious architecture firm in the DC area.​ Br. Irenaeus entered the Order of Preachers in 2013.​​

 

Don’t Let the Scandals of the Hierarchy Lead You to Despair by CONSTANCE T. HULL …reblogged

Don’t Let the Scandals of the Hierarchy Lead You to Despair

CONSTANCE T. HULL

The Church in the United States is once more stunned to learn of scandal within our leadership as news of accusations of sexual abuse by Cardinal McCarrick continue to be reported. The news coming out of Chile has been bad enough, but now a high ranking member of the hierarchy is accused of multiple instances of sexual abuse. Those of us in the Church continue to feel anger, sadness, confusion, and, quite frankly, disgust, about a problem that just will not seem to go away.

People outside of the Church now have even more ammunition to lob our way, which makes it harder for us to evangelize in an ever more hostile culture like our own. Many are asking: When will this evil finally be purged from the Church? The truth is that evil will only be fully purged from the Church when Christ returns.

The dangers of despair

I read various threads in social media about this latest scandal and one of the greatest concerns I had was about those people who are struggling with despair and a loss of faith. Some people are even contemplating leaving the Church for some other denomination or leaving Christianity for good. This is one of the great evils of public scandal within the hierarchy of the Church. It harms the faithful directly and can lead people to the sin of despair. Sin always has communal dimensions, but when it is tied directly to our leadership its reach is far and wide.

When I was stationed in England, at the height of the American Church’s abuse scandal, I worked with a gentleman who had left the Church because of the scandal. He was angry, repulsed, hostile, and had become anti-Catholic. Underneath, I could see great pain and disappointment. He couldn’t stomach that some priests had abused children and this caused him to leave the Faith. There was little I could do to help change his mind. The damage was done.

The McCarrick situation seems to follow the more common issue of a man in power abusing other adults, but the media has made sure the majority of people think that the vast majority of victims were children, even though they were not. This in no way minimizes the seriousness of the situation or the crimes. Abuses of power and coercion for sexual gain, or any other type of gain, is gravely sinful and evil, even more so when children are involved. It is merely to clarify the situation because precision does matter. It also allows us to explain this terrible situation to our interlocutors.

The danger is very real for people to leave the Church as these scandals continue to happen. Rightly so, we have expectations of our priests and bishops that they will truly live out their vocation and be alter Christus — another Christ — to us and the world. We want them to be men of heroic virtue and steadfast holiness. This is understandable, but it isn’t necessarily in conformity with reality. Church history is very instructive here, as is parish life.

Priests oftentimes are not as progressed in holiness as we would like, or even as they would like to be. They have character flaws, weaknesses, temptations, and struggles of their own that they are working on through the grace given to them through the Sacrament of Holy Orders, as well as the other Sacraments.

They need the Sacrament of Confession just as much as we do and the grace that Christ extends to all of His people through it. They are also nourished and strengthened through the Holy Eucharist even as they make it present to God’s people. Priests have chosen to walk the path to holiness through that particular vocation, which means they are on the path to sainthood too. All of us, clergy and laity, are works in progress. We are all capable of great evil, which is why we need the salvation extended to us through Christ and His Church. Conversion of heart is a daily—minute-by-minute—activity.

The reality of Church history

The Church has always been a mess. It is one of the reasons we know that it is Christ who is the Head and the Holy Spirit who keeps us on course. There’s no way we would have survived this long with all of our in-fighting, scandals, sins, and blunders over the last 2000 years if the Church was merely a human institution or invention. The Church is always living in dark days and will continue to do so until Christ returns at the end of time. At least bishops aren’t currently orchestrating murders of other priests and bishops while they say Mass, like in past centuries. The hierarchy, for all of its fighting, is pretty peaceful when compared to other times in Church history.

If you are struggling with the state of the Church hierarchy and the continued scandals it would be beneficial to study Church history a little more closely. It tends to turn people into realists and pragmatists. I find rose-tinted glasses and sentimentality don’t do us any good in the spiritual life. The same is true when it comes to understanding the Fallen men in the hierarchy. Church history allows us to understand that our age is not somehow worse than any other. The sins and scandals are still appalling and evil, but the same has been true since Pentecost, and even longer since the Fall.

Our faith is not in princes or men, not even princes of the Church. Our faith is in Christ Jesus. We trust in the power of His Paschal Mystery and the Holy Spirit who guides the Church through history. We know that it is Christ who is leading us to our ultimate destiny. Don’t take your eyes off of Him, even as the waves crash, the wind blows, and the clouds whirl. The Church has survived many storms and she will survive this one. Yes, it is a painful process, but purification is always painful. That’s exactly what is going on. Christ is purifying His Church. It will take time and it won’t be complete until His return.

Keep in mind that our priests and bishops are Fallen men who need our prayers, support, and sacrifice. They struggle with weaknesses just as much as we do. The Enemy attacks priests with great intensity. As members of the laity, we can fight by their sides as their brothers and sisters in Christ in order to help lift them up in their own struggles. They fight for us and we should be doing the same for them. When a scandal breaks, turn to Christ in prayer, hope, and trust. Offer reparation for the sins of our leadership, but never lose hope. When the urge to leave wells up inside of you, remember the words of St. Peter: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life (John 6:68).” END QUOTES

By Constance T. Hull

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).