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.

 

Posted by: Thomas Richard | December 18, 2018

The Interior Liturgy of the Our Father

I) Introduction

The painful, ugly corruption in the Catholic Church that is erupting first here then there, in dioceses all around the world it seems, is a horror unthinkable to faithful Catholics. This Church is of God! His Spirit is the life of this Church! How has such blasphemous sin crept in, and found hiding places – and taken root – in parishes, in bishops’ residences, in chanceries and dioceses! How has the impossible and unbelievable come in so deep and spread so far and reached so high in this Church?

And the question pierces me, and challenges me, what can we laity do? We cannot do nothing but wait for the institution – the corporation – whatever to call it, to heal and reform itself! Who can be trusted or believed? Who is not part of the problem? Who is not a mere hired man, careerist, clericalist, robber and abuser or enabler by self-blinded design who is a counterfeit in a charade, passing himself off for what he is not – a deacon, or priest, or bishop of the Church of the People of God? Who is really, truly, a shepherd of God’s sheep? Who can be believed and trusted, and who cannot?

I don’t know how we can work to correct the mess at the parish or diocesan level – laity can’t institute parish- or diocesan-wide reforms in catechesis, in spiritual formation, in liturgies or in worship: only clergy can do that and many, it seems, are content with business-as-usual, with themselves in charge, thank you anyway.

We, the laity, can work to correct the mess in our own lives, in our own minds and hearts; we can seek out and root out the corruption and love of sin in ourselves. We can listen to and hear and pray for the grace to believe the holy and saving Gospel. We can meet in homes, when the parish doors are shut to us, we can gather for ourselves materials that edify, when the parish programs are pablum and shallow motivational speakers, we can learn to pray from the masters of prayer the saints, when the canned programs bought by the office are insults to the wisdom of the saints, more mere pandering of opinions, empty of substance and power.

We the laity can ask and seek and knock where the Spirit is, and we can see and hear and receive, and grow in, His holy Truth.

II) The Interior Liturgy of the Our Father

In the last blog essay, I tried to introduce again my first book, The Ordinary Path to Holiness. That book was written to help ordinary Catholics learn of, and understand, the path that a seeking, hungry soul travels, on the path to God, to holiness and peace in Him. In this blog essay, I will introduce again my second book – which follows the first in several ways – The Interior Liturgy of the Our Father. This book, like the first, is about prayer and the life of prayer. May the beautiful and powerful wisdom of the saints of the Church – the masters of prayer – find root in some: in you the reader. Thereby, our holy Church will be healed and reformed, one precious soul at a time. And that would be a beautiful work among us for our Lord.

St. Teresa of Avila is a very important, significant spiritual teacher for Catholics seeking a deeper interior life – a life of prayer-communion with God. The Father blessed her with a full experience of prayer, a full experience of the entire journey of prayer from the very beginnings of prayer, to the highest summit of prayer possible on this earth, just short of the beatific vision in heaven.

Jesus Christ our Lord – God Himself, God Incarnate – taught us to pray, when He gave us the prayer we call “the Our Father.” He said, pray then like this: “Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name, ….”

Should it surprise us, then, that the journey of prayer discovered and experienced by St. Teresa of Avila “lines up” in a very meaningful, beautiful and helpful way, with the journey of prayer that Jesus gave us in His gift of the prayer, “the Our Father”?

The Interior Castle of St. Teresa describes her life-experience of prayer, and passes on for us, her wisdom – thank you, St. Teresa! The prayer, “the Our Father” – brief and simple as it is – is the gift of God to us to not only help us pray, but to show us the journey of prayer. The Our Father shows us the sequence of steps or stages that we walk, when we walk the journey of prayer. Thank you, Lord Jesus!

The parallels linking Teresa’s “Interior Castle” and the petitions of the Our Father are first described in Ch. 5 of the book, The Ordinary Path to Holiness. The realities of that chapter continued to deepen and unfold in me, until they came together into a statement all their own: The Interior Liturgy of the Our Father. Those who have read The Ordinary Path will be led deeper into this traditional Catholic path to holiness in the divinely-given prayer, the Our Father. I will briefly describe the book, chapter by chapter – perhaps it will interest and invite you to “come and see”.

III) Highlights of the Chapters of The Interior Liturgy of the Our Father

Chapter 1. Introduction to The Interior Liturgy
Introduction, and St. Thomas Aquinas’ remarkable insight into the petitions of the Our Father:
“Now in the Lord’s Prayer not only do we ask for all that we may rightly desire, but also in the order wherein we ought to desire them, so that this prayer not only teaches us to ask, but also directs all our affections.”

This observation leads us to understand the journey of prayer itself: how we are led in prayer (in this prayer) to ever-closer communion with our Father, from the very beginnings of prayer, to the highest heights of union with Him and in Him.

Chapter 2. Listening to the Petitions:
Here, we listen carefully to the prayer, petition by petition.

Chapter 3. Sacramental Graces in the Interior Liturgy
Here, we see the significance of the word “liturgy” in the prayer, as each petition points us to a corresponding sacrament in the Church.

Chapter 4. The Our Father and Teresa’s Interior Castle.
Here, the parallel is seen, between the Interior Castle of St. Teresa (and the journey of prayer that it reveals), and The Interior Liturgy of the Our Father (and the journey of prayer that it reveals). We find one journey, described in the prayer, and experienced by the saint.

Chapter 5. The Interior Liturgy and the Holy Mass
In this chapter we find the correspondence between the prayer and its three major parts or movements, and our celebration of Holy Mass and its three major parts or movements. Mary in Christian worship is here discussed, Mary of whom the Catechism teaches:
CCC 971 “All generations will call me blessed”: “The Church’s devotion to the Blessed Virgin is intrinsic to Christian worship.”<Lk 1:48; Pope Paul VI, Marialis cultus 56>

Chapter 6. Conversion: The First Movement of the Mass, and of the Interior Liturgy. The petitions of the Our Father that are included in this first movement, and the grades of prayer associated with them.

Chapter 7. Consecration: The Second Movement of the Mass, and of the Interior Liturgy. The petitions of the Our Father that are included in this movement, and the grades of prayer associated with them. Mary in this work of the liturgy.

Chapter 8. Communion: The Third Movement of the Mass, and of the Interior Liturgy. The petitions of the Our Father that are included in this movement, and the grades of prayer associated with them. Mary and Peter together.

Chapter 9. Conclusion and Summary
The natural life of mankind, the supernatural, spiritual life of mankind, the pattern of Christ making His disciples. God’s work in us in three movements of Holy Liturgy.

The Interior Liturgy is available on amazon.com in both ebook for the Kindle, and in paperback, both in the new 3rd Edition. I hope to make the ebook available for the Nook, on Barnes & Noble, soon…

Posted by: Thomas Richard | November 26, 2018

The Ordinary Path to Holiness

Yes, the Church is deeply troubled in these times. The problem is sin, the troubles are rooted in sin. And maybe we can say, the problem more deeply is love of sin. But this essay is not about the troubles or the problem; this essay is about the solution. The solution for us personally, individually and together as Church, is finally, simply holiness. Our call, our vocation, is to holiness in Jesus Christ. If we were right with God, all would be well. The Church, including clergy and laity, each and every one of us, is called to holiness.

OPH3rdEd
The call to holiness in Jesus Christ ought to be in the mind and heart of every Catholic Christian! Indeed, it ought to be the explanation of why we are Catholic – it ought to be the answer if anyone should ask, “Why are you Catholic?” I am Catholic because God calls us all to holiness, and the one Catholic Church has all that I need to respond to God’s call to me, to be holy as He is holy. This Church has the fullness of divine revelation, the fullness of the Presence of Christ, the fullness of the wisdom, truth and grace that He has entrusted to mankind for the good of humanity: all this He has entrusted to His one, holy, catholic (that is, universal) and apostolic Catholic Church.

It is a sad reality, however, that so many Catholics settle for so little of the “all” – of the fullness – that God has given for them. Many are content to be neither hot nor cold for the Truth, but pretend that lukewarm is good enough for God, and good enough for them. What an insult this is, to Christ on the Cross! Lukewarm was not good enough for Him! He gave it all, for all of us, and He taught, in His days on this earth, that only “all” is good enough for our Father in heaven, and His Son now in Glory, to Whom we all are accountable and before Whom we must all give account of our lives. A sobering passage in the Book of Revelations in Scripture has this:

And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: “The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God’s creation.
“‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were cold or hot!
So, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew you out of my mouth.
“For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing; not knowing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.
“Therefore I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, that you may be rich, and white garments to clothe you and to keep the shame of your nakedness from being seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, that you may see.
“Those whom I love, I reprove and chasten; so be zealous and repent.” (Rev. 3:14-19)

The Church has much holy wisdom, given to her in her saints, concerning the way – the path – to the holiness proper to our call. Yet this Catholic spiritual wisdom remains a “hidden secret” for many Catholics! As a “cradle Catholic” I left the Church as a young adult, returned in my mid-adult years, but still knew nothing of this spiritual treasure – this wisdom. Not until my senior adult years, back in university working on a Master’s in Catholic theology and ministry, did I first learn of this path to holiness – a process in stages. And I add this, in all sincerity: coming into understanding of this, changed my lifeMy comments below (with diagram), summarize much of the way to holiness, copied here from The Path of Renewal on the first page of this website:

Persons grow, develop and mature in holiness according to the traditional Catholic spiritual understanding called the “three ways”, or three stages of the interior life of the soul. This path, this journey, is that awaiting and to be experienced by the person seeking communion with God. Yes there is a broad and easy way luring, tempting so many persons in this world! But there is a path to God in Jesus Christ, sought and found by the saints – and these are our teachers, with His Holy Spirit, in the  spiritual life. This inner journey of prayer can be pictured, in its three stages, as follows:

This traditional “three stages” of the spiritual journey can be seen from several viewpoints:

1. Scripture. The first disciples of Jesus grew into spiritual maturity in three stages.

– In the first stage, when they were following Jesus in His time on earth, they were revealed to be far less than His full intention for them! They did not fully understand the great event of the Incarnation; they struggled against their own unbelief and fear.

– In the second stage, after the resurrection, they came to know Jesus in a completely different, deeper way. He was revealed to them now as “My Lord and my God!” He came through closed doors, He showed them His crucified body; He was greater than death! Yet still they were weighted down with fear: still they hid behind closed doors. Jesus ordered them to wait: they were yet to be clothed with power.

– In the third stage, they came into the heroic life of witnesses, as was their vocation from the beginning. Following Pentecost, filled with the Holy Spirit, they lived the full life of a Christian.

2. The saints. These three stages have been understood by saints of the Church from several different perspectives.

St. Bernard, for example, recognized stages of love for God. In the first stage, a person discovers that God is his greatest benefactor, and he loves God for all that God can do for him.

– In the second stage, he discovers that this God is good and wonderful in Himself, beyond the good that He can do for us humans. The person begins to love God as God, and not merely as the great benefactor of the self.

– In the third stage, The great and infinite goodness and glory of God are seen, and this overwhelms fear and concern for self. The person begins to love others, and even himself, only in God. God is all.

St. Thomas Aquinas saw the three stages in terms of the concern of a Christian regarding charity: first to guard and protect the charity that was infused into the soul at baptism; second to increase charity through a life of virtue and good works in Christ; third to enjoy and live and remain in charity in a life of sanctity.

3. Traditional spiritual theology. The traditional terms that have developed to describe these three stages are first the Stage of the Beginner (the Purgative Stage); second the Stage of the Proficient (the Illuminative Stage); third the Stage of the Perfect (the Unitive Stage). This understanding is of real importance to the Christian who is going through any stage! It is especially helpful to a Christian who is in a transition, from one stage to the next!

St. John of the Cross, with great precision and insight, helped the Church understand the crucial transitional times in advancing from one stage to the next. The transition times are times of real spiritual crisis. St. John called them “Dark Nights” – the Dark Night of the Senses (corresponding to the experience of the apostles in the Passion), and the Dark Night of the Spirit (corresponding to the experience of the apostles after the ascension and before Pentecost. These are times of great trial for the soul!

Every Christian deserves to share in the wisdom of the saints – God gave His saints great graces, that they might bless His people, His Church. My book – now both in paperback and in e-book (the Kindle) is now available in a new 3rd Edition, at Amazon, The Ordinary Path to Holiness: The treasure of Catholic spirituality re-presented for our times. It is an introductory book that I hope and intend will pass on some of this great treasure, this holy wisdom. My prayer is that it be a help for any seeking to find the path, and seeking to grow in the spiritual life toward our common call to holiness, the ordinary path to Him.

Posted by: Thomas Richard | November 19, 2018

The Troubles – The Call to Holiness

The troubles in the Church today are troubling, deeply troubling.  Clerical abuse – especially sexual abuse of any sort – is an abomination too horrific to contemplate, from men who outwardly profess to be men “of God.” Men indeed who stand in the place of Christ the Head among His people, are consecrated to Him!  Men given to celibacy in self-gift to Him, in His service, operating and living in a blatant bold-faced lie to Him and to His people – such a thing ought never to be.  It is an abomination of desolation standing in the Holy Place – a desolate emptiness of Truth, of due righteousness, a dishonoring of the One worthy of all praise and honor and glory.

Men of the hierarchy – bishops, cardinals, Pope: “I’m sorry” is not enough.  More rules are not enough.  If the rules of the past were disregarded, why would new rules work now?  Law means nothing to the lawless.  Lovers of lawlessness will not be tamed by more laws, they will only be saved by conversion, yes, conversion of mind and heart and whole being, to Christ.  To die to self, to live for Christ, this is what we need: a new heart and a right spirit where righteousness dwells.

Clericalists – institutional men, properly educated, men sacramentalized with all boxes checked, all i’s dotted and t’s crossed, clericalists with all requirements of past tradition satisfied, have failed to do and to be what clericalists were never intended to do or be.  A man of God is made by God, not by men.  And when men not of God rise to the place of gatekeeper in the House of God, then thieves are welcomed in, and walk in through the front door to loot and satisfy themselves with the things set aside for God.  Mercenaries and hired men staff the Holy Place, and the House of God becomes a robber’s den.  No, “I’m sorry” is not enough. 

We need to take the call to holiness seriously.  Is that too obvious to bother stating?  I’m sad to say that it needs to be proclaimed from our pulpits with tears, from the heart, with every ounce of sincerity and resolve and fervor we can summon within.  We need renewal – we need conversion – we need revival – we need to believe what we often so mechanically recite: “I believe in the Lord Jesus Christ….”  We don’t need actors, we need holy priests.  We don’t need well-scripted ceremonies, we need worship, we need self-offering, we need Christ and His Holy Spirit.  We need living, saving, supernatural, holy Faith.

The Ordinary Path to Holiness.

I can’t do much for the Church, but I know we need to grow in the life of prayer – the life of personal supernatural and spiritual communion with God the Holy Trinity.  My book The Ordinary Path to Holiness has been revised a bit, now to a 3rd Edition, and now to be offered on Amazon in both paperback and e-book for the Kindle.  It should, the Lord willing, be up and for sale on amazon.com in a few days.  I believe it can be helpful for persons seeking to grow in the Lord – I pray He will bless it, and use it in His work of sanctification among His people.

If and when it is cleared by Amazon and becomes available, I’ll post again with more of a description of the book.  Meanwhile, let us all pray – earnestly pray – for God’s mercy, and forgiveness, for His chosen Church!  We have all failed to some degree, in allowing this to happen among us.  Let us resolve to stop, here and now, all compromise with sin and darkness: let us be holy!  Let us resolve to climb the mountain of the Lord, to be the man or the woman God created us to be, to be ready to meet Him when He comes – and it may be soon, and may it be soon!  Come Lord Jesus, Maranatha! 

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