Posted by: Thomas Richard | December 3, 2019

A Serious Fault in the Wall

Yes, there is a fault in the wall. Through the breach, into the Church, are entering many flawed programs, ideas, projects, renovations-du-jour offered to “fix” and rejuvenate the holy work of God which has fallen into disrepair. I see many imperfections flowing from one major fault. I’ll try to express it below.

The Ultimate Idolatry: Disordered Self-Love

Mt 22:35 And one of them tested him by asking,
36 “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?”
37 He said to him, “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.
38 This is the greatest and the first commandment.
39 The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
40 The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.”

It is essential – crucial – that the “greatest and first” be greatest and first in one’s heart and soul and mind. If the holy love of God does not fill wholly the heart and soul and mind, then what results? If heart and soul and mind are not filled with the holy love of God, then love for lesser things instead of God – apart from God – without God – has found place in the heart and soul and mind of the person. In other words, in such a human person – in his heart and soul and mind – dwells love for God, yes, but the heart and soul and mind of the person are wrongly reserving space for what is not God but idols, gods of the self, gods of self-pleasures, self-satisfactions, self-gratifying things that will not last. Lesser gods are kept within, lesser gods in service of self, in service of me above any other, even above the only God who IS. Idolatry is not a relic of past ages. Idolatry has persevered since the first fall into sin: the idolatry of love of self to the exclusion of God who is worthy of all our love.

Such a mixture in the heart and soul and mind of a human person – in particular, of a Catholic Christian – is not as unusual or uncommon as we would hope. St. James wrote of such believers:

James 1:5 But if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly, and he will be given it.
6 But he should ask in faith, not doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed about by the wind.
7 For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord,
8 since he is a man of two minds, unstable in all his ways.

Where does that “doubt” come from? It is rooted in the lack of oneness – of integrity – of heart and mind and soul. “He is a man of two minds, unstable in all his ways.” James takes up this problem again:

James 4:8 Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you of two minds.
9 Begin to lament, to mourn, to weep. Let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy into dejection.
10 Humble yourselves before the Lord and he will exalt you.

We need pure heart and soul and mind. The inner life within us, the inner spiritual life, is created for and demands of us wholeness – integrity – purity – absence of contradiction. God deserves all from us! He calls us to holiness! Is He not right to tell us to cleanse and purify our hearts, to “Begin to lament, to mourn, to weep. Let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy into dejection. Humble yourselves before the Lord and he will exalt you.”

We will not attain the heights of holiness – our calling in Christ – until we attain that full self-gift in love for the Lord our God. We will not be able to fully love others, and serve others – that is, be obedient to love for neighbor as self – until we love God completely, with our whole heart and mind and soul. We will not be able to love ourselves rightly, until we come to love God completely. Until we love God completely, fully, in the wholeness of heart and soul and mind, then our love for others – any others – any neighbors – any brothers and sisters – will be disordered along with a disordered love for self.

Jesus is pointing us to this radical demand in the Christian Faith – the ancient “greatest and the first commandment” – in the familiar episode in the home of Martha and Mary.

Revisiting Martha and Mary

Luke 10:38 As they continued their journey he entered a village where a woman whose name was Martha welcomed him.
39 She had a sister named Mary [who] sat beside the Lord at his feet listening to him speak.
40 Martha, burdened with much serving, came to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving? Tell her to help me.”
41 The Lord said to her in reply, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things.
42 There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her.”

Many Christians today are living their Christian Faith as Martha was, that day. She is a Christian: she calls Him “Lord.” She received Him, she “welcomed Him,” into her house – into her life. She was quick to seek to serve Him, as Christians do, in love. Many Christians today are hearing in our Church of the importance of serving our Lord! We ought to serve him in evangelization! We ought to be witnessing to Jesus to friends and neighbors, inviting them to our local church; we ought to be exercising spiritual gifts – charisms such as healing, or tongues, or other scriptural gifts of the Spirit – to better serve others as the early Church did! We ought to serve Him in the local parish through our “time, talent and treasure”! And so on. But – but what about “the one thing” that is necessary, needed, indeed essential – crucial, “greatest and first”?

What about the purity of intention that makes a work of love holy and true? What about the love of God with the wholeness of heart and soul and mind, that makes our gift to another also a gift to Him, beautiful and true? What about the witness and example of Martha’s sister Mary, seated at His feet listening to His words of life? No, the work – the gift – of Martha for the Lord was soiled by the mixture in her heart: loving desire to serve Him, yes, but mixed with the mercenary self-interest that revealed itself in her words to Him: “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving? Tell her to help me.” Where is her faith! “Lord, do you not care?” Where is her concern? “My sister has left me by myself to do the serving”. We can see, if we look, the self-interest – the “what about ME?” – that pollutes her gift, betraying disordered self-love that is unworthy of our vocation to serve Him in pure love, with whole heart and soul and mind.

His Work Requires His Power

“You can’t give what you don’t have.” That proverb may not be explicitly in Scripture, but it is true. Before Jesus sent out His Church with the burden of being light for this dark world, and with the mission of making disciples in His name, He first formed them into true “sent ones” – apostles. He worked with and in them for three years, and even after that, and after His Self-sacrifice on the Cross, and after His glorious resurrection, He came to teach them one last Truth. He insisted that they wait for one more Gift, and an essential work in them: that of the Spirit, with His “power from on high”:

Lk 24:45  He said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the law of Moses and in the prophets and psalms must be fulfilled.”
45 Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures.
46 And he said to them, “Thus it is written that the Messiah would suffer and rise from the dead on the third day
47 and that repentance, for the forgiveness of sins, would be preached in his name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.
48 You are witnesses of these things.
49 And [behold] I am sending the promise of my Father upon you; but stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”

Conclusion

We need to realize our impoverishment. We lack power from on high. We lack unction. We lack spiritual maturity, and all the Gifts of the Spirit that describe maturity in Him:
We lack wisdom,
We lack understanding,
We lack counsel and of strength,
We lack knowledge, piety and holy fear of the LORD.

What is that one serious fault in the wall I wanted to write of in this essay? We need to do, as Mary our Mother directed to the servers (Jn 2:5): “Do whatever He tells you.”
We need to pray to God in our poverty, that He open our minds “to understand the scriptures”.
We are not listening to Him!
We need to wait for His promise.
We need to pray for His promise: “power from on high.”

Posted by: Thomas Richard | November 16, 2019

Blessed Are The Poor In Spirit

Example 1: The Biblical story of Martha and Mary addresses so well, and simply, the inadequacy (and indeed spiritual danger) of “charitable” busyness.  So many in the Church want to busy themselves about “doing good” for others – but in such busyness, they can fail to realize the cries deep in their own souls for attention, for care, indeed cries in poverty for the Bread of Life itself.

As they continued their journey he entered a village where a woman whose name was Martha welcomed him.
She had a sister named Mary [who] sat beside the Lord at his feet listening to him speak.
Martha, burdened with much serving, came to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving? Tell her to help me.”
The Lord said to her in reply, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things.
There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her.”
(Luke 10:38-42, NAB)

Charitable busyness, as a way of religious life, has a lot of “positives” to attract religious people!  Jesus wants us to do good for others; most parishes have openings for volunteers to help do this or that ministry, getting involved is a good way to make friends, and so on.  Really generous Catholics who can quickly find themselves over-committed in the parish, can find themselves echoing the complaint that Martha rather boldly took to Jesus in her need for some help: “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving? Tell her to help me.”

Wonderfully, Jesus’s response to Martha was greater and deeper than her request to Him.  His love for her – His desire to serve her – was greater than her desire to serve Him her meal.  Jesus came to serve the Bread of Life; Martha in her charitable busyness had been missing the whole point of everything.

Example 2: The excerpt below is an account of an experience of a priest (young at that time) with (now Saint) Mother Teresa, concerning the crucial need for authentic Life in the souls of those called to serve others:

I telephoned the general house of the Missionaries of Charity so as to be able to meet Mother Teresa of Calcutta, but their answer was categorical: “It is not possible to meet Mother; her engagements do not allow it.” I went there anyway. The Sister who came to open the door for me very politely asked me, ..’What do you want?” I would just like to meet Mother Teresa for a few moments.” Surprised, the sister replied-, “I am sorry! That is not possible!” I did not budge and thus made the Sister understand that I would not leave without having met Mother Teresa. The Sister went away for a few moments, and came back in the company of Mother Teresa….

I was startled and speechless. Mother had me sit down in a little room near the chapel. Meanwhile I had recovered a bit and managed to say: “Mother, I am a very young priest: I’m taking my first steps! I came to ask you to accompany me with your prayers.” Mother looked tenderly and kindly at me, then, smiling, she replied: “I always pray for priests. I will pray for you also.” Then she gave me a Miraculous Medal, put it in my hand, and asked me, “For how much time do you pray each day?” I was astonished and a little embarrassed. Then, gathering my thoughts, I replied, “Mother, I celebrate Holy Mass each day, I pray the Breviary each day; you know that these days that is a proof of heroism [this was in 1969, before the Divine Office was simplified]! I pray the rosary each day also and very gladly, because I learned it from my mother.” 

Mother Teresa, with her rough hands, clasped the rosary that she always had with her. Then she fixed on me her eyes, which were filled with light and love, and said: “That is not enough, my son! That is not enough, because love cannot be reduced to the indispensable minimum; love demands the maximum!” I did not understand Mother Teresa’s words right away, and, as though to justify myself I replied, “Mother, I expected from you instead, this question: What acts of charity do you do?” Suddenly Mother Teresa’s face became very serious again, and she said in a stern tone of voice: “Do you think that I could practice charity if I did not ask Jesus every day to fill my heart with his love? Do you think that I could go through the streets looking for the poor if Jesus did not communicate the fire of his charity to my heart?” I then felt very small….

I looked at Mother Teresa with profound admiration and the sincere desire to enter into the mystery of her soul, which was so filled with the presence of God. Enunciating each word, she added: “Read the Gospel attentively, and you will see that Jesus sacrificed even charity for prayer. And do you know why? To teach us that, without God, we are too poor to help the poor!” At that time we saw so many priests and religious abandoning prayer in order to immerse themselves — as they said — in social work. Mother Teresa’s words seemed to me like a ray of sunshine, and I repeated slowly in my heart of hearts: “Without God, we are too poor to be able to help the poor!”

“There is need for only one thing.”  Without God within, we can do nothing.  Without God within, we are too poor to be able to help anyone, not the rich, not the poor.  May the Lord help us to know our own poverty, and hear His call to us: “Come!” 

Is 51: 1 All you who are thirsty,
come to the water!
You who have no money,
come, buy grain and eat;
Come, buy grain without money,
wine and milk without cost!

2 Why spend your money for what is not bread;
your wages for what does not satisfy?
Only listen to me, and you shall eat well,
you shall delight in rich fare.

3 Pay attention and come to me;
listen, that you may have life.
I will make with you an everlasting covenant,
the steadfast loyalty promised to David.

note:
 The excerpt, the young priest and Mother Teresa, included above is from the book by Robert Card. Sarah, The Power of Silence, Ignatius Press 2017, p. 46-47, quoting Dio scrive dritto [God writes straight] by Angelo Comastri, at time of press a cardinal archpriest of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.

Posted by: Thomas Richard | October 26, 2019

How to Make a Good Confession

“How to Make a Good Confession

According to the Teaching of the Catholic Church”…

by Gabrielle (Burke) Vienneau

Return of the prodigal son by Bartolomé Esteban Murillo C. 1670

 

This is a book I want to recommend to readers here on my Blog. The author, Gabrielle (Burke) Vienneau, is a friend for many years now, though we have met only by correspondence. Her late husband Gene was introduced to readers of this site in a blog essay A Holy Death, which was written by Gaby, to honor her husband.

It was an honor for me to include Gaby’s testimony on Gene’s death on the Blog, and it was an additional honor that she asked me to write the Preface to her book.  I will include below two writings.  First, my Preface to her book, and second, her announcement letter describing the book.

PREFACE

In one of my books, The Ordinary Path to Holiness, I was fortunate to have Father Benedict J. Groeschel, CFR, offer to write the Introduction.  I realize how helpful it can be to have someone else who already has a book or two out in the vineyard, add some words of commendation to one’s own efforts. Therefore when Gaby asked me to write this Preface to her book I was of course honored and happy to do so.  These times call for such a book as this.

We are living in a time when sin – and the grave harm that follows in its wake – has been moved away to the margins of common awareness.  It is not mere coincidence, but probably part of the mystery of iniquity itself that in the years after Vatican II many in the Church followed not the universal call to holiness and the perfection of charity (as the Council taught) but a call to a vague and subjectively sensed “spirit of Vatican II”.  In this so-called “spirit of Vatican II”, many in the Church were deprived of their right to the full and saving Truth of the deposit of Faith.  Instead many were given merely vague assurances of God’s great love – along with a suppression of the sense of sin, of evil, and of the very active evil one seeking the ruin of souls.  We are now in a determined recovery, thanks be to God, from the wounds of those days!

This growing recovery and advance toward the beautiful truth of the Gospel sets before us the ugliness of sin, the beauty of truth, the call to holiness, the demands of the authentic Christian life, and thus our need for the Sacrament of Confession.

Many Catholics today, even of advanced age, have not been to Confession since their own Confirmation!  Such were the effects of years of silence concerning sin and the power of evil, in our catechesis.  The Church needs catechesis, counsel, encouragement and instruction about this much neglected Sacrament of Confession – and this is where this book comes in. Gabrielle (Burke) Vienneau has written this small book packed with trustworthy teachings of the Church concerning sin and forgiveness, along with some beautiful and encouraging religious art-work to add what only good art can add: signs of the great mercy and love of God for us in our journey to Him.  The Church needs to hear what Gabrielle is writing.  May the Lord bless this work, and through it lead many, many souls more and more deeply into the ocean of His cleansing forgiveness, and His merciful love.

R. Thomas Richard, Ph.D.

Letter of Announcement of the Book:

How to Make a Good Confession According to the Teaching of the Catholic Church

Mrs. Gabrielle (Burke) Vienneau’s fifth book is on sale for only $15.00 (U.S. dollars, shipping to U.S. is included)

 When Gabrielle launched her first book on confession in French, she expressed that it was just wishful thinking to have it translate in English, and published within the same year. However, she managed to do just that! The English version is now on sale.

Gabrielle is happy to announce that the sale of the French edition on confession went well and more expeditiously than she had anticipated.

The letters from the Vatican helped because many know that Cardinal Marc Ouelette, and Monsignor Peter B. Wells would not support anything contrary to the Magisterium. Of course, support from the Pope was a great surprise, and a real incentive! Those two original letters from the Vatican are in this version, and translated in English. This, along with a third letter received, again from the Vatican. The French book is now sitting comfortably in the Vatican library, and the English version is presently accompanying the original in its new home in Rome.

 About the Author:

Mrs. Vienneau has two Bachelor degrees and a Master’s degree in Educational Psychology, with a major in Deaf Education.

Other books she authored:

  1. In the Spring of 1998 : A volume of 368 pages, an Acadian and Genealogy book: Jean à Isaïe à Jacques Haché et Hélène Boudreau leur descendance et l’ascendance de Jean jusqu’en France.
  2. In May 2000: Nanny’s Old Fashion Recipes
  3. In 2003: Precious Pearls From Heaven, written to accomplish a promise Gabrielle made to her sister, Viola, while on her death bed.
  4. In December 2010, Written in French: Tout Pour Faire Une Bonne Confession d’Après l’Enseignement de l’Église Catholique, launched in March 2011.
  5. How to Make a Good Confession According to the Teaching of the Catholic Church. This version in English is now available.

She affirms: “We have a wealth of information to help us, in our pursuit of educating ourselves regarding our faith. It is easy, interesting, even fascinating, to study our religion and read the history of saints, martyrs, and stories of heroism. History is most captivating, and enriching!

“Authors always attempt to improve a second edition; therefore, the English version contains three additional subjects. I am confident that you will find this book an indispensable tool. It was written for those who would like to discover the wealth and beauty incorporated in the teaching of the Church through the Catechism of the Catholic Church; concerning the sacraments, and especially the sacrament of confession. Christ said: ‘If you love me observe my Commandments’ (1Jn 2:3-4; 1Jn 3:24; 1Jn 5:3). How are we to observe his Commandments if we do not know them?”

For single copy buyers: You may obtain this book for $15.00 (U.S. dollars, shipping to U.S. is included). Write to:
80, Main Street, apt 340, Bathurst, N.B.  E2A 1A3 or phone: 1-506-547-1984. E-mail: gabyburke340@yahoo.ca

For French readers, because of demand I needed to make a second edition of the French book. The new version was slightly improved to make it more like the English book.

For Booksellers: I used to sell the books on my husband’s website. However, since my husband passed away, I have not sold any. I am now in a senior’s residence. I had to retire at age 40 because of my deafness, so the sale of the remaining books would help to pay a small part for some hearing aids which I badly need. Your help with the sales would therefore be much appreciated. If you accept to sell the books, I will send the two boxes containing 170 total, (meaning $1,700.00) I will pay postage and you could keep a percentage.

Since profit was not my aim, I gave away many. With the French, I possibly broke even, but with the English, I was about 2,000.00 in the red. This did not bother me since I was happy to help, and the salvation of souls was my primary goal.

Posted by: Thomas Richard | September 17, 2019

Look Carefully How you Walk

The precarious circumstance of Western culture today ought to be painfully evident to anyone with eyes to see. Yes there are pockets of resistance, but the expansive culture- and nation-wide denial of the natural moral law is astounding. For me, it is literally incredible. Almost everything inside of me is insisting that no, this cannot be happening. It cannot be “normal” for parents to approve of – enable – facilitate their child’s confusion about whether he is a little boy or a little girl. Even seeking drugs for the child to retard the natural approach of puberty, lest he/she be found out with much greater certitude and faced with much more difficult “procedures” to reverse nature’s error, should that be necessary. Better to keep the child a child as long as possible, so he/she can decide at leisure which “gender” he/she “really” is or wants to be – the evidence of the childhood body being, of course, irrelevant.

But this denial of the obvious, in favor of the (for the present) psychologically easier fantasy, did not appear among us overnight. The world has been in denial of reality for a long time, and as the globe has shrunk under the roaring advance of technology, the New Truths of the New World have more and more filled the vacuum left by the rejection and denial of His Truth, the first one being that He IS. Once God-denial was successfully made fashionable in all the upper echelons of society (academics, science, government, entertainment,…), the rest is downhill. And that says it all. We are racing to the bottom at break-neck speed – the bottom of civilization, at a peak of technological potential, at the bottom of the abyss of moral decadence. We are pandering to our lusts, our narcissism, our self-obsession, our unashamed hedonism, to their final end. After all, God is dead. “Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die.”

The most difficult thing for me to see, as this tragedy unfolds before us, is the confusion in the Church. The Rock of eternal and absolute Truth, which mankind was invited to stand upon and build our lives and our civilization upon, seems today to be wavering in the winds of relativism. In the 1960’s, as the Church was pondering a new evangelistic approach to the world outside, the spirit of this world was unleashing its own preemptive counter-attack: sex, drugs and rock-n-roll. And today? God help us! The world is everywhere among us – within us – around us. Jesus left so many words that ought to sober us! Among the many: “When the Son of Man comes, will He find faith upon the earth?”

When the last of these Last Days does come, when the full measure of evil of the evil one is finally unleashed, will the Church have the holy faith to stand? His Church has the means for so much! The wisdom and holiness of so many saints are ours to embrace! The Bread of Life, the Holy Eucharist, is given to us to nurture and strengthen and deepen our interior life of faith, of prayer, of communion with Him, of holy and eternal Love! So much of His eternal Truth has been entrusted to His Church, by the guidance of the Holy Spirit as promised by Jesus! But are we embracing and receiving and clinging to the all of our heritage? Are we being faithful disciples, listening to and learning from and growing in Him? Sadly, I see too little of that. Instead, I see too many as it were “part-time” Catholics, blending and mixing and compromising their lives as Catholics with their lives in the world. And their children and their grandchildren are watching, and learning from them.

Jesus spoke of the “signs of the times”. Are we awake to what is happening? Can we hear the groaning of the creation, under the weight and the pollution of the culture of godless man? Can we see the horrors of inhumanity erupting like volcanoes around us, in the mass killings, in the epidemics of suicidal drug addiction, in mothers killing their children and children killing their mothers and their fathers, in the animal-like insanity of gangs, of meaningless sex, of a desperate seeking of anything but the right thing to fill the emptiness of a life without God?

Eph 5:14  Therefore it is said, “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give you light.”
Eph 5:15  Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise,
Eph 5:16  making the most of the time, because the days are evil.
Eph 5:17  Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.

Posted by: Thomas Richard | August 16, 2019

What Are We To Do?

It has been two months since I last wrote anything for this blog. I have not been able to write! I have begun more posts than I can remember, writing and deleting, writing and rejecting, writing and then walking away with tongue and hands frozen – paralyzed – wordless.

I see the country locked in two camps, paralyzed in opposition one to the other – how can a democracy work, when no compromise is possible? We have in our country now no common vision of the common good; we have no common vision of common political or moral or even fundamental human good! We are divided so deeply, the chasm between us is so deep and wide, we must ask ourselves: how can America – how can our constitutional democratic republic even work, anymore?

The presidential election of 2016 shocked almost everyone, with the defeat of progressivism even though a majority of voters favored the progressive candidate. I became convinced that God had saved us from the social, political, economic and moral sickness that has gained power in much of the world. I wrote of this in my last post, “Will God Give Us a Third Chance?” My hope was that the Church would be awakened by the nearness of the loss that had come upon us. I hoped that the Church would realize how far we have fallen as a nation – that the Church would realize she has been sleeping at the watch, she has not been feeding the sheep, she has not catechized the faithful, she has not guarded the walls of the holy city but rather in her careless self-absorption many enemies have crept in, wolves in sheep’s clothing, and the holy Faith has been diluted, “dumbed-down,” confused, contaminated and for many, lost.

I had hoped that the Church would repent! Seeing the obvious, realizing the danger, hearing the cries of the little ones – the unfed hungry children of the Lord – surely the Church would wake up, repent and resolve to stand up and be Christ in this dark and darkening moment of human history.

The Church, in large part, has not awakened. She, to a large extent, has not repented. Many clergy and laity have learned, it seems, nothing. Corruption among bishops and priests – pastors of the children of God! – continues to be exposed, example after example, as more darkness and evil continue to be revealed. Meanwhile many among the laity continue to be manipulated and abused, malnourished and neglected, and pandered with baby-food teachings and canned programs of structural reform and shallow renewal. Many of the pastors seem to be hoping to wait it out, hoping it will pass, it will all stop or go away, so that all can return to “normal.” But this is not normal! The “usual” today is profoundly abnormal, and it must end.

The answer for the country is found in the origin and mission of the Church. The Church was sent to be the light of the world. The darkness of the world, now pervading the country, has a solution: light – the light of Truth – the light of authentic virtue – the light that Christ brought, and that He entrusted to His Church. The solution to the problems of this nation rest in the storerooms and archives and memory of the Church; and so the solution to the problems of the Church are the same: that same light, that same Truth, if she will awaken, repent, and return to Him.

But if she will not do this, if she still will not turn from her wide-spread courtship with the secular godlessness of the world, to return to Him, then the children must do so on their own. Catholics have the sacraments, and even if they are not worthily celebrated they can still be worthily and fruitfully received! His grace is still powerful and true. Catholics have the Catechism; they can learn the precious teachings of His Holy Church! They may or may not have substantive adult formation offered at their parish, but they have or can obtain a copy of the Catechism; they can learn. They can be formed alone or in small groups with the promised guidance of the Holy Spirit, using this very solid and substantive Catechism of the Catholic Church. And they have the Scriptures, the Holy Bible, the written Word of God. They can read, they can listen, they can learn from God, they can grow. And in a growing life of prayer they can advance in the interior life, the life of prayer and of grace, and as living witnesses His light can shine in the darkening secular culture of these days.

We all will stand before Jesus in judgment; we all will give an account of our lives – and that day, for every one of us, only grows closer. Holding fast to the precious faith given to us, and growing in the faith as He gives us grace and opportunity, let us live out the mission He sets before us! On that Day, let us stand prepared, and faithful. Let us hold fast to the hope of hearing from Him, at the end, words of embrace:

“Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a little, I will set you over much; enter into the joy of your master.” (Mt 23: 21, 23)

Posted by: Thomas Richard | June 15, 2019

Will God Give Us a Third Chance?

America on the Brink

The 2020 election approaches, Democrat hopefuls are already campaigning, united by one passionate desire: get control of this country. They still believe that Trump was an anomaly, an aberration, a bad dream. They want power, and they can’t wait to resume the Obama transformation of America – uncompleted in his term, the transformation postponed by Clinton’s defeat and Trump’s “theft” of the election – but soon, yes soon; they can see it just around the corner now.

The transformation of America that Obama worked toward, has become only more frightening and possible now, than it was then. The “advance”, from liberal to progressive to socialist to the end of our democratic republic, is today more clearly and obviously the Democrat Party trajectory, than it was before. The quest of man – a godless City of Man – was made visible in the ancient Tower of Babel (Gen 11), and has been sought ever since. Man lusts for the freedom from God that gives him full reign to do whatever he pleases. The danger to all of our authentic and God-given freedoms as Americans, from the freedom of religion on down, is more threatened now than ever before in our history. As St. Mother Teresa observed, where a child in the womb is not safe, having no intrinsic right to life, no human person is safe; no human right is safe.

The culture has been dumbed down sufficiently, the churches have been secularized sufficiently, that both democracy and living faith are no longer safe. Both could virtually be lost at the same time in one election cycle. Man’s lust for “freedom from religion,” growing today, could be satisfied under force of law, in one election cycle. Socialism is no longer a bad word; God is optional, indeed, irrelevant; right and wrong are mere passing opinions, and besides, see how our economy is booming! We were close to the tipping point in 2016, indeed a majority of voters were fine with the “new morality” of godless “political correctness” and we are even more perilously close now, 2019. Some say the progressives lost only by the out-dated system of the Electoral College: they “actually” won by the popular vote. I say no; you lost because God had mercy on America and on the world – perhaps just this one more time.

When in 2016 Clinton was defeated and Trump won, as most of America I was stunned. But I was also trembling inside, knowing that God had just given America, and the rest of the endangered world, one undeserved and perhaps last chance. The Church – the Church He sent – He gave one undeserved and perhaps last chance! His Church was sent to be light in this dark and darkening world! His Church was sent to bring Truth to lost human persons! That creation sent to be His Church, I weep and groan within to say, has become so compromised, so institutionalized, so impoverished within and so monetized and commercialized outwardly, that she is hardly distinguishable from the culture she was sent to save. This Church has learned nothing these past three years! She continues on her own way as before; she continues her outward adornments, she chases the latest fashions, she echoes the latest fads; she ignores the disease in her soul.

The Faith of the Church

“When the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?” (Lk 18:8)

There are traditionally four “pillars” of the Faith, corresponding to the four parts of our Catechism: the Creed, the Sacraments, the Moral Life, and Prayer. There is today great and deep confusion in the Church in each of those four pillars, due to the weakness or complete lack of adult catechesis – a work, no doubt, craftily advanced by the evil one – the father of lies and the enemy of souls.

A few solid and faithful teachers in the Church have recently written down and cosigned a document, “Declaration of the truths relating to some of the most common errors in the life of the Church of our time .” The whole document, published May 31, 2019, can be found HERE. The signers of the document are:

Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke, Patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta
Cardinal Janis Pujats, Archbishop emeritus of Riga
Tomash Peta, Archbishop of the archdiocese of Saint Mary in Astana
Jan Pawel Lenga, Archbishop-Bishop emeritus of Karaganda
Athanasius Schneider, Auxiliary Bishop of the archdiocese of Saint Mary in Astana

This “Declaration of truths” reaffirms several of the traditional and defined truths of the Catholic Faith, because many truths of the Faith have been put into doubt amid the confusions and ambiguities promulgated in our time. The signers of the Declaration want to assure the faithful that the Church still teaches what she has always taught; what was true Catholic teachings then are true Catholic teachings now, regardless of modern confusions and ambiguities. In many churches there is silence concerning truths that demand a voice! The world is proclaiming the lies of evil from the housetops! The churches dare not whisper anything “controversial” or “divisive.” God have mercy on us.

But this Declaration does seek to give Catholic clarity in critical areas of the Creed, the Sacraments, and the Moral Life. It does not include the fourth Pillar of the Faith – Prayer – I wish it had. Prayer is foundational, being as it is the present, lived relationship of the person with God in Christ. And Prayer itself, the fourth Pillar, is I’m sorry to say also profoundly confused by many, many modern teachers in the Church today, and in need of reaffirmation.

Yes, I am deeply grieved to report that I have seen pastors of Catholic parishes promulgate and support and endorse not the trustworthy, traditional teachers of prayer in our Catholic tradition, but instead modern writers with their own ideas, interpretations and adaptations of the traditional masters. The result has been a dumbing-down of our interior life, our life of prayer – just the opposite of God’s call to us to grow in Him! Catholic adults are being led away from, not toward, the supernatural. Catholic adults are being led away from a comprehensive grasp of holy Truth under the guidance of Christ and His Holy Spirit, instead of toward it. The Catechism is “too deep,” many say. Masters of prayer such as St. Teresa of Avila and St. John of the Cross are ignored, “too hard to follow,” many say. Instead, contemporary motivational speakers, salesmen and vendors of excitement are all the rage in the market of parish renewal. The Virgin Mary, our holy Mother in Christ, is “too old-fashioned,” some say – even, “Mary is divisive!” What has happened to our Church? Divine Truth, such as that for which the martyrs died, is now “boring and takes too much time.”

How can this be? How is this even possible? How has the Church become weakened and compromised in every precious aspect of the holy Truth and the holy Life that God has entrusted to us? All I can say is, read the Holy Scripture:

Mt. 13:24  Another parable he put before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field;
Mt. 13:25  but while men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away.
Mt. 13:26  So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared also.
Mt. 13:27  And the servants of the householder came and said to him, ‘Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then has it weeds?’
Mt. 13:28  He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ The servants said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them?’
Mt. 13:29  But he said, ‘No; lest in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them.
Mt. 13:30  Let both grow together until the harvest; and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.'”

Let those with ears to hear, hear.

The Church needs divine supernatural grace – His holy Life! The Church needs our Mother Mary! The Church needs His Truth, the whole Truth and nothing but the Truth! In His grace, if we will entrust ourselves to Him, with His sacraments, in the Catholic moral life, growing in prayer with and through our Mother Mary, we can again find Him, we can again receive and believe Him, we can again live our human lives in holiness, in Him. This is His will: our holiness – which will be light in this darkening godless world. Light meant for the many, is entrusted first to the few, that they might carry it to the others, those meant to be our brothers and sisters.

We the Church need to repent and return. The world needs the Church, though they know it not, and the Church needs to repent and return, though many seem to know it not – even now, we are preoccupied with trivia and neglectful of the essentials, “while men were sleeping.”

I don’t know what it will take, for our pastors to reject the ever-incoming waves of “the latest” parish renewal programs and turn to the saints, the fathers and doctors of the Church for the time-tested and proven sources of faith formation. We have an excellent Catechism – why aren’t we using it? We have teachers of prayer who have “been there” on the mountain top, and have left us a heritage of spiritual wisdom – why won’t we listen to them?

The promise of Jesus remains true now, as when He first said it:

Mt 7:7  “Ask, and it will be given you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.
Mt 7:8  For every one who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.

Indeed, your heavenly Father will give the Holy Spirit, to those who ask Him. (Lk 11:13)

References to relevant blog essays:
America: Is This One Last Chance? (Nov 22, 2016)
The Ordinary Path to Holiness
The Interior Liturgy of the Our Father

Posted by: Thomas Richard | May 28, 2019

The Church Needs Mary

This confused, misguided and misdirected world needs light. His Church is the very light that Jesus called, formed and sent to be the light of this world! The world needs the Church; the Church needs to be light, to be holy, to be righteous. The Church in Christ needs Mary, her mother and model.

Descent into Madness

Misunderstandings of the true nature and reality of the Church did not begin with Protestantism. But misunderstandings of “church” and “Christian Faith” were certainly magnified and multiplied in the protestant movement, which swept the Christian world and confused the definition of Christianity itself. Today, in 2019, there is an attack on reality and on truth in the secular culture and in the Church even more difficult to believe, even while seeing with our own eyes, as it advances toward us. A growing assault is now upon us, not merely in rejection of divine and supernatural foundations of life and of being, but an advancing attack on nature itself is upon us – on human nature, on natural moral law, on common sense and indeed the plain witness of nature as it is, including the human body as it is by design.

Here upon us is an age of madness. The “sciences” now bow and submit before the lusts of men, and pronounce as “normal” what they had a few years before judged as abnormal, as rational thought and behavior that which had been irrational, unbalanced, mentally disturbed, as a normal human lifestyle what used to be illegal, dysfunctional, aberrant and immoral. Now, the crime of killing of not-yet-born little babies is not only legal but is the “inalienable” “constitutional” human right of their mothers. Now the sexual relations of men with men, and women with women is no longer a “grave depravity”, “intrinsically disordered” and “contrary to the natural law” (as our Catechism still teaches), but now same-sex marriages are established by law, and such “couples” are legally adopting innocent children into their alternative “family.”

The now-blurred meanings of “husband” and “wife” are being smeared and confused even more, with men – and even boys! – deciding they are not male after all, but female, and they’d be more comfortable in the bathroom and in the shower with girls – and yes, some officials and keepers of public order are agreeing with this new “right”: we are free to tell our lying bodies to get on board or get surgery and get renovated to fit the new “reality” suitable to the new identity decided by the new Boss: The almighty Self – the reality-determiner-in-chief, ME. And of course, women/girls too: equal opportunity insanity is equally “normal.” All this is probably guaranteed somewhere in the Constitution – some judge can and will find it, we can be sure.

Key to Return to Sanity: A Church Holy with the Holiness of Mary

There is a solution to the craziness that godless, morally barren “political correctness” has brought to the post-Christian world. In 1985 (at that time Card. Ratzinger, later to become Pope and now Pope Emeritus) Benedict XVI gave an interview which resulted in the book The Ratzinger Report. The author and reporter of the interview, commenting on the Cardinal’s concerns for the need for the Church to return to Mary, wrote (1):

To the crisis in the understanding of the Church, to the crisis of morality, to the crisis of woman, the Prefect has a remedy, among others, to propose: “that has concretely shown its effectiveness throughout the centuries.” “A remedy whose reputation seems to be clouded today with some Catholics, but one that is more than ever relevant.” It is the remedy that he designates with a short name: Mary.

The Cardinal insightfully listed six points in the interview which, although concise and brief, identify six facets of the singular role and place Mary fulfills in the Church, facets now lacking and unfulfilled, uncompleted in her absence. The incompleteness, the imbalance left in the Church even then, in 1985, remain and have only increased in the Church of today, 2019. The Church has moved even farther away from Mary, in the intervening 30 plus years. In place of an authentic Marian presence, bringing her gifts and graces so needed in the Church, we have been burdened with the deadening excesses of clericalism.

A clericalist, imprudently given the authority of pastor over the people of God, “rules for the love of ruling” (2) – not for the love of God nor love for the people of God. The Petrine dimension in the Church – represented by the clergy, the hierarchy from pope to the deacons – has been left without the balance, the equilibrium, of the needed Marian dimension, and so the Church suffers. The clergy suffer; the laity suffer; the world suffers in darkness lacking the holy and pure light entrusted to the Church in her fullness. Benedict’s insights then, 1985, have become more relevant and even urgent now, 2019, and ought to be heard and responded to now, more than ever. The Church needs Mary! His six points (3) begin with, first, the values in Christ (and thus, for His Church) of the Marian dogmas:

When one recognizes the place assigned to Mary by dogma and tradition, one is solidly rooted in authentic Christology. (According to Vatican II: ‘Devoutly meditating on her and contemplating her in the light of the Word made man, the Church reverently penetrates more deeply into the great mystery of the Incarnation and becomes more and more like her spouse’ [Lumen Gentium, no. 65].) It is, moreover in direct service to faith in Christ—not, therefore, primarily out of devotion to the Mother—that the Church has proclaimed her Marian dogmas: first that of her perpetual virginity and divine motherhood and then, after a long period of maturation and reflection, those of her Immaculate Conception and bodily Assumption into heavenly glory.

These dogmas protect the original faith in Christ as true God and true man: two natures in a single Person. They also secure the indispensable eschatological tension by pointing to Mary’s Assumption as the immortal destiny that awaits us all. And they also protect the faith—threatened today—in God the Creator, who (and this, among other things, is the meaning of the truth of the perpetual virginity of Mary, more than ever not understood today) can freely intervene also in matter. Finally, Mary, as the Council recalls: ‘having entered deeply into the history of salvation, . . . in a way unites in her person and reechoes the most important mysteries of the Faith’ (Lumen Gentium, no. 65).

His second point concerns the value to the Catholic Faith of the union of Scripture and Sacred Tradition together in the one divine revelation of the saving Truth of God:

The Mariology of the Church comprises the right relationship, the necessary integration between Scripture and Tradition. The four Marian dogmas have their clear foundation in sacred Scripture. But it is there like a seed that grows and bears fruit in the life of Tradition just as it finds expression in the liturgy, in the perception of the believing people and in the reflection of theology guided by the Magisterium.

Thirdly he points out Mary as the necessary bridge holding together the Old Testament and Covenant with the New in Christ. Mary is the link, in her self the connecting bridge in whom God’s promises moved from expectant hope to living reality:

In her very person as a Jewish girl become the mother of the Messiah, Mary binds together, in a living and indissoluble way, the old and the new People of God, Israel and Christianity, synagogue and church. She is, as it were, the connecting link without which the Faith (as is happening today) runs the risk of losing its balance by either forsaking the New Testament for the Old or dispensing with the Old. In her, instead, we can live the unity of sacred Scripture in its entirety.

The fourth, fifth and sixth factors the Cardinal places before us, can all stand under a theme developed by other theologians as well, including Pope St. John Paul II, the theme of the necessary “Marian dimension” of the Church, seen as necessarily standing together with its “Petrine dimension.” (4) With this dimensionality in the Church, we can see a completeness parallel to that “very goodness” in God’s creation of humanity recorded in Genesis (1:27): “male and female He created them.” Ratzinger’s fourth point:

The correct Marian devotion guarantees to faith the coexistence of indispensable ‘reason’ with the equally indispensable ‘reasons of the heart’, as Pascal would say. For the Church, man is neither mere reason nor mere feeling, he is the unity of these two dimensions. The head must reflect with lucidity, but the heart must be able to feel warmth: devotion to Mary (which ‘avoids every false exaggeration on the one hand, and excessive narrow-mindedness in the contemplation of the surpassing dignity of the Mother of God on the other’, as the Council urges) thus assures the faith its full human dimension.

Continuing his reflection on the necessity that Mary’s “Marian dimension” be present alongside the Petrine in the Church, Card. Ratzinger lists as a fifth point:

To use the very formulations of Vatican II, Mary is ‘figure’, ‘image’ and ‘model’ of the Church. Beholding her the Church is shielded against the aforementioned masculinized model that views her as an instrument for a program of social-political action. In Mary, as figure and archetype, the Church again finds her own visage as Mother and cannot degenerate into the complexity of a party, an organization or a pressure group in the service of human interests, even the noblest. If Mary no longer finds a place in many theologies and ecclesiologies, the reason is obvious: they have reduced faith to an abstraction. And an abstraction does not need a Mother.

No, an abstraction – an ideology – does not need a mother, but ideologies can quickly spawn tyrants to lead them, and thus we see clericalism processing on stage. Clericalism is a distortion of the Petrine dimension, an aberration, an imbalance in the intention of Christ. Card. Ratzinger said in his interview, “If the place occupied by Mary has been essential to the equilibrium of the Faith, today it is urgent, as in few other epochs of Church history, to rediscover that place.” (5)

The sixth and last point of Card. Ratzinger is another immediately and specifically flowing from her feminine nature and person. It is a quality obvious and consequential in its absence, in our secular culture so disdainful of the feminine genius. The qualities of goodness in human nature so specifically feminine, of woman, such as the deep self-giving in motherhood, womanly courage and strength, gentleness, patience, instinctive awareness of the person, the value and the needs of the other, and so on, are needed in the Church! He explains:

With her destiny, which is at one and the same time that of Virgin and of Mother, Mary continues to project a light upon that which the Creator intended for women in every age, ours included, or, better said, perhaps precisely in our time, in which—as we know—the very essence of femininity is threatened. Through her virginity and her motherhood, the mystery of woman receives a very lofty destiny from which she cannot be torn away. Mary undauntedly proclaims the Magnificat, but she is also the one who renders silence and seclusion fruitful. She is the one who does not fear to stand under the Cross, who is present at the birth of the Church. But she is also the one who, as the evangelist emphasizes more than once, ‘keeps and ponders in her heart’ that which transpires around her. As a creature of courage and of obedience she was and is still an example to which every Christian—man and woman—can and should look.

With all the fullness entrusted to His Church, she remains poor and incomplete without, in her rightful place, Mary: Virgin Mother and Model of Perfection in Christ. How can our doors again be opened for her? How can our Mother find room again, for the birth of her sons and daughters, in the Church of her Son? How can she again be welcomed into our impoverished ornate cathedrals, our well-furnished and well-vested houses of worship, so many having no room within, for the Mother of God?

Endnotes:

1. The Ratzinger Report, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger with Vittorio Messori, 1985, Ignatius Press, San Francisco, p. 104.
2. The City of God, Augustine, Bk XIV, Ch 28: “Of the Nature of the Two Cities, the Earthly and the Heavenly”.
3. The Ratzinger Report, p. 106-109.
4. THE MARIAN AND PETRINE PRINCIPLES, Annual Address to Roman Curia, H. H. John Paul II, Dec. 22, 1987. https://www.piercedhearts.org/jpii/addresses_speeches/1997/marian_petrine_principles.htm
For more on the background of this language of dimensions, or profiles, explored by theologian Hans Urs von Balthasar and others, see for example https://www.faith.org.uk/article/may-june-2013-balthasar-and-the-rediscovery-of-the-marian-profile-of-the-church
5. The Ratzinger Report, p. 105

Posted by: Thomas Richard | March 31, 2019

Clericalism – an essay you might want to read…

If you are reading my website, you might be interested in an essay recently published in Homiletic & Pastoral Review on-line, which I also wrote. The sad presence of clericalism among some of our Catholic clergy is a profound challenge to the faithful of the Church. These abusers of the clerical state, occupied for their own self-satisfaction, harm the Church beloved by the Lord and by His faithful people. They need to repent, and follow the Lord who came not to be served, but to serve. A link to the essay is here:

Clericalism – Betrayal of the Body of Christ, by R. Thomas Richard, Ph.D.

Comments are welcomed, below the essay on HPR as well as here, of course …

Posted by: Thomas Richard | March 23, 2019

A time to keep silence, and a time to speak…

You may have noticed, I’m writing fewer blog essays these days. The reason is NOT because I’m peacefully occupied elsewhere! The truth is, I am struck almost wordless, I strain with difficulty speaking of it, so incredible are these times! I stand and watch, hardly able to believe what I see and hear in front of me. It is as though the half of the world has gone mad – has lost all sense, all reason, making up “reality” as it chooses, as it wishes, as it wants. Life has become a parody of a game, “Virtual Reality.” But there is no comic relief in this insanity: there is only a fearsome obsession in zealous protagonists of their “new reality” – and the lusts for it will be satisfied, no matter the cost.

Augustine was right. All of salvation history is the story of the two cities, one set in opposition to the other. There is the City of God, men and women laboring and suffering in the name of God, in hope of a glory to come, burning in love for the Truth known only in faith. There is the City of Man, intent still on building their Tower of Babble reaching high into the sky for man’s own glory, driven by material lusts of the flesh and of the eyes and by ambitions of power, while each seeking glory in the eyes of one another. Righteousness is mocked and abandoned in favor of self-serving “political correctness.”

The culture of America today is one infused with citizens of both Cities. Citizens of the City of Man are in the streets and are in the Church, in the Bowery and on Wall Street, in the government and in the prisons, in the monasteries and in the brothels – and so also are the people called into and belonging in the City of God! They are called into God and His City; some know it and some do not – yet. Some are lost and still blind, some are only barely seeing, some are crying in hunger, and some are feeding the hungry, their brothers and sisters, growing strong for the trials of the days to come.

I’m looking for parish invitations! I want to pass on to those who are hungry, the precious Truth wrapped in God’s call. We have been given, in Baptism, a share in His very Life – and that Life, given in potency as it is, even to a precious infant, is intended to live, to grow, to develop all the way to maturity. His life is given with the potency of personal sanctity, the supernatural power to enable a communion with Him, a communion in His divine and eternal love.

There is a trustworthy path to that goal of maturity. The Church has brought forth, by God’s grace, many holy saints. Their experience, and their witness, together coalesce into a spiritual theology of ascending the stairway of holiness. There is an “Ordinary Path to Holiness”; in the perfect prayer given to us by Jesus, there is an “Interior Liturgy of the Our Father” that maps for us the way of prayer-journeying to Him. He wants us to grow, to ascend, to complete His intention for us from the beginning.

I’m looking for places to speak and to present these truths; I pray the Lord to open doors for this; please pray and seek with me. Please pray with me for a true, real, authentic renewal of the Church! Renew the Church!

I’ve added a page to this website – Presenters and Presentations…. It is listed and linked on every page of the website, in the right-hand column of links, in the “Pages” Menu – “LOOKING FOR — Presenters and Presentations?” If you agree that we need, in the Church, this sort of catechesis – share this blog essay, and this link. Maybe they can be part of the opening of doors, to begin to bring substantive adult formation into our parishes and dioceses. We have been fed too little for too long. The times – and our Lord! – are calling for much, much more.

Posted by: Thomas Richard | January 30, 2019

The True Version of Ourselves

Mt 16:24 Then Jesus told his disciples, “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.
Mt 16:25 For whoever would save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
Mt 16:26 For what will it profit a man, if he gains the whole world and forfeits his life? Or what shall a man give in return for his life?

This world seems to be in free-fall.  It began gradually, the dark eradication of an infused sense, or intuition in us, of an intrinsic essential dignity in us all, the dignity of the human person. Maybe it was even a memory – a memory in the human soul of God’s creative hands forming each of us, breathing into us His own breath, a seed of Truth meant to last through ages of coming darkness, an intuition of the divine image.

We began to break from Him almost immediately, in the Garden, in a covenant of His trust, in the boundaries of a commandment, in a world full of His blessings.  We knew better than He, what is good for us. Then, we chose self over Him. Then, the fall began, and blood was spilled soon after: detached from Him, we turned against our brother, our neighbor, our other self.  The long, long suicide of humanity began.

It did not have to continue! God sent His Son to make a way – to become the Way – the God-man Christ would become sin to become redemption to become light in the darkness of fallen humanity. In the fullness of time He came, in the center of human history He opened the door, in the heart of humanity He opened His Sacred Heart and poured out His Life for the world.  On the Cross, He proclaimed to all creation the sublime worth of mankind – of each man and woman and child – created in His image, the divine image of God.

From that Cross, that central event, began the last days.  From there the battle begun on the first day, began in its last and final days: the two cities, the two kingdoms, the two armies engaged in a new way.  There is an army of saints, growing in holiness and in grace, and in numbers – some here on earth, many in heaven.  There is an army of demons, and men in bondage to them still, and men serving them half-conscious or unconscious, maybe not realizing the part they are serving in the forces of suffering, darkness and death.

The time is getting shorter; the alarm has been sounded; the enemy is at the gates and some have even infiltrated the kingdom of righteousness, working to sabotage and weaken the holy ones with duplicity, with falsity, with empty promises and with lies. And some believe them, and cooperate with them, and are weakening – falling back toward the darkness from which we were once released by our Lord.  The fall begun soon after the first days, is repeated in the last of the last days: man knows better than God what is good for him. Man holds the ways of the world closer to his heart, drawing closer the things of creation while pushing away the Creator of all; loving self to the contempt of God.

This world needs a holy Church!  The world needs, and the Church needs, holy witnesses of faith, and hope, and divine charity!  What are we to do?  We are to pursue holiness, and the perfection of divine charity, as the Lord and His Church tell us.  We are to see and understand the gravity of our responsibility before Him – we who have been given much!  Those who have been given much, are responsible for much, and we have been given much: as Catholics we have been given access to Christ’s holy sacraments, and the overflowing of His supernatural grace through them.  We have been given the fullness of God’s revealed Truth, entrusted to His holy Church.  We have been given true teachings concerning the moral life: how we are called to live God’s divine Truth on earth and among men.  And through the many holy saints of the Church, we have been given true teachings concerning prayer: prayer, the act of union with God, the relationship of sharing with Him and in Him, His life.  And through the great saints and doctors of the Church – St. Thomas Aquinas and St. John of the Cross, in particular – we have been given understanding of the actual personal journey of prayer: how we are to grow in prayer and proceed toward Him, closer and closer intimate union with Him.

What are we to do?  We are to repent and believe the good news, as Jesus preached. We are to set aside the masks and costumes of false expectations, and become filled with His Holy Truth, and moved by His Sacred Heart. We are to:

Repent of the love of the things of this world;
And pray to grow in the love of the one true God!

Repent of the desire for the empty praises and acceptance of men;
And seek to please the Lord our God!

Repent of worrying about the many problems of this world;
And seek to believe in and trust the almighty King of the Universe.

Do not then treasure the passing, temporal things;
But deeply value the lasting, the eternal, the true treasures of life.

We are to die to ourselves, and live to Him: we are to find our true selves in Him.  He who created us is He who holds the meaning for us of life itself.  He holds the meaning and purpose of our lives, each one of us.  To avoid Him, to dismiss Him, to run from Him is to lose our very identity, to lose our very souls. We find ourselves, and life eternal, in Him.  In serving Him we find, finally, peace, rest, life.

 

Older Posts »

Categories