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 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.

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 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! 

Posted by: Thomas Richard | October 9, 2018

When Good Fences Don’t Make Good Neighbors

The division in this country, presently seen between the “progressives” and those of more traditional beliefs and values, is stark, deep and growing deeper, and troubling. The division is found even in the Church – this most disturbing fact seems even worse when it is seen to be so comparable to the dark insanity and callous self-centeredness of the godless world! We want and expect the Church to be different – to be a refuge from the world outside of God – to “make sense” and to keep fidelity to holy Truth, solid and enduring as a Rock.

Jesus sent the Church to “make disciples” of the world, and to gather them into the eternal Life of God, to being true witnesses for Him in this world. But now we see how successful the spirit of this world has been in invading and infiltrating the Holy Church with values and loves, ambitions and hopes not of God but of this passing and dark world. President Trump promised to “drain the swamp” in Washington. We – sent to be light in this world – now hear of pockets of “swamp” in our Holy Church – pockets even in our own “Capital,” The Vatican. We cry out to God from the deepest depths of our soul, “Deliver us, O Lord!”

Meanwhile, in the secular world, commentators ask one another, “How can we step back from this chasm we find in front of us, separating us one from the other?” “How can we return to some civility, some ability to compromise with one another, to find a middle ground, to work together for the good of the country?” And no one has an answer. We find ourselves in a place we have never been before, and no one knows where we are going to end up. Many people are troubled and afraid.

In a tour of the United States in 1976, Cardinal Karol Wojtyla articulated an insight into the future – a possibility that he saw then, a future conflict that we have been growing toward as the decades have developed since then. In this one prophetic summary, published by the Wall Street Journal printed Nov. 9, 1978, the then-newly-elevated Pope John Paul II had said in his 1976 visit (1):

“We are now standing in the face of the greatest historical confrontation humanity has gone through. I do not think that wide circles of the American society or wide circles of the Christian community realize this fully. We are now facing the final confrontation between the Church and the anti-Church, of the Gospel versus the anti-Gospel. This confrontation lies within the plans of divine Providence; it is trial which the whole Church, and the Polish Church in particular, must take up. It is a trial of not only our nation and the Church, but, in a sense, a test of 2,000 years of culture and Christian civilization with all of its consequences for human dignity, individual rights, human rights and the rights of nations.”

This insight to a coming “final confrontation” reminds one of of the inevitable conflict in humanity that reflects the irreconcilable conflict between good and evil. Around the year 400 AD, St. Augustine traces out for us, in his analysis of Scriptural history beginning with the conflict between Cain and Abel, a conflict that illustrates the conflict to be present in the world from that time until now, between the “two cities” ever present in the world: the earthly city – the city of man, and the heavenly city – the city of God. Each of these two cities have citizens spread among all the races and nations, times and cultures of human history. Citizenship in the one city or the other is determined by the love possessed and held by the person, whether ultimately of God or ultimately of the self. Augustine’s best summary of the situation, it seems to me, in his book The City of God, is this section (2):

Accordingly, two cities have been formed by two loves: the earthly by the love of self, even to the contempt of God; the heavenly by the love of God, even to the contempt of self. The former, in a word, glories in itself, the latter in the Lord. For the one seeks glory from men; but the greatest glory of the other is God, the witness of conscience.

The one lifts up its head in its own glory; the other says to its God, “Thou art my glory, and the lifter up of mine head.” [Ps. 3: 3] In the one, the princes and the nations it subdues are ruled by the love of ruling; in the other, the princes and the subjects serve one another in love, the latter obeying, while the former take thought for all. The one delights in its own strength, represented in the persons of its rulers; the other says to its God, “I will love Thee, O Lord, my strength.” [Ps. 18:1]

And therefore the wise men of the one city, living according to man, have sought for profit to their own bodies or souls, or both, and those who have known God “glorified Him not as God neither were thankful, but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened; professing themselves to be wise,”–that is, glorying in their own wisdom, and being possessed by pride,–“they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and four-footed beasts, and creeping things.” [Rom 1:21-22]

For they were either leaders or followers of the people in adoring images, “and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever.” [Rom. 1: 21-25] But in the other city there is no human wisdom, but only godliness, which offers due worship to the true God, and looks for its reward in the society of the saints, of holy angels as well as holy men, “that God may be all in all.” [1 Cor. 15:28]

Augustine is exactly right. Ultimately, a person serves either God, or he serves himself and his own personal good. Either God is Lord of his life, or he clings to lordship over his own life. Many, many persons believe and hope for a “middle ground,” a compromise where they can love God and yet still seek first and protect their own good, where they can cling to lordship over their own life while not offending God too much.

God inspired Elijah the prophet, in the Old Testament, to teach otherwise:

1Ki 18:21  And Elijah came near to all the people, and said, “How long will you go limping with two different opinions? If the LORD is God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him.” And the people did not answer him a word.

Jesus later would teach, concerning such a nonexistent compromise of God with this fallen world:

Mt 6:24  “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.”

Yes, many people today are troubled and afraid – in the secular world, and in the Church. The commentators in the secular world and those in the Church ask, “How can we step back from this chasm we find in front of us, separating us one from the other?” “How can we be one again?” “How can we return to some civility, some ability to compromise with one another, to find a middle ground, to work together for the good of us all?” The answer is simple.

The answer is Jesus, He who is the Truth. There is no compromise between pro-“choice” and pro-Life, when “choice” includes the choice to kill an innocent, vulnerable and completely dependent not-yet-born baby. There is no compromise between marriage as God created it and the aberration of legalized same-sex unions, which constitute a grave sin. There is no compromise between the freedom to honor and follow God, and the legal compulsion to become enablers and co-operators in the legalized sins of others, honoring and following the dark “gods” of the city of man: Mammon (or, “political correctness”). There is no compromise between the Culture of Life, whose God is the Lord, and the culture of death, ultimately led and ruled by the evil one himself.

To those trying to sit on a very sharp and uncomfortable fence, hear Elijah: “How long will you go limping with two different opinions? If the LORD is God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him.” The choice really is life or death.


(1) National Catholic Register Oct. 5, 2018 –

(2) St. Augustine, The City of God. [Can be read or downloaded HERE –] Bk XIV, Chapter 28—“Of the Nature of the Two Cities, the Earthly and the Heavenly.”

Posted by: Thomas Richard | August 27, 2018

What Title Can Fit The Unthinkable?

A report of a stunning, deeply troubling letter by a former Papal Nuncio (the Pope’s Ambassador to the U.S.) made public two days ago (Aug 25, 2018), is sending shock waves through the Church.  Faithful, loyal Catholics are faced now with the unthinkable: credible charges of papal knowledge, support and cover-up in a case of widely alleged grave sexual misconduct by then-Cardinal Theodore MacCarrick, on the part of Pope Francis.

Following the tidal wave of sexual abuse charges against priests and bishops and cardinals of the Church finding unimaginable and horrific charges of years of free predatory serial sexual abuses perpetrated by then-Cardinal Theodore MacCarrick, it all has gotten even worse: was the Pope involved?

The former Papal Nuncio, Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, chose to publicize all this, the National Catholic Register reported, to “stop the suffering of the victims, to prevent new victims and to protect the Church: only the truth can make her free.” And further, to “discharge my conscience in front of God of my responsibilities as bishop for the universal Church.”  Knowing that he is an “old man” he wanted to stand before God “with a clean conscience.”

The Archbishop added, “The people of God have the right to know the full truth also regarding their shepherds. They have the right to be guided by good shepherds. In order to be able to trust them and love them, they have to know them openly, in transparency and truth, as they really are. A priest should always be a light on a candle, everywhere and for all.”

Critical parts, at least, of Vigano’s charges agains the pope were confirmed by Monsignor Jean-François Lantheaume, the former first counsellor at the U.S. apostolic nunciature: Vigano “told the truth,” he said.

A portion of Archbishop Vigano’s letter, perhaps something of a summary, is duplicated below:

I want to recall [the] indefectible truth of the Church’s holiness to the many people who have been so deeply scandalized by the abominable and sacrilegious behavior of the former Archbishop of Washington, Theodore McCarrick; by the grave, disconcerting and sinful conduct of Pope Francis and by the conspiracy of silence of so many pastors, and who are tempted to abandon the Church, disfigured by so many ignominies. At the Angelus on Sunday, August 12, 2018 Pope Francis said these words: “Everyone is guilty for the good he could have done and did not do … If we do not oppose evil, we tacitly feed it. We need to intervene where evil is spreading; for evil spreads where daring Christians who oppose evil with good are lacking.” 

If this is rightly to be considered a serious moral responsibility for every believer, how much graver is it for the Church’s supreme pastor, who in the case of McCarrick not only did not oppose evil but associated himself in doing evil with someone he knew to be deeply corrupt. He followed the advice of someone he knew well to be a pervert, thus multiplying exponentially with his supreme authority the evil done by McCarrick. And how many other evil pastors is Francis still continuing to prop up in their active destruction of the Church! 

Francis is abdicating the mandate which Christ gave to Peter to confirm the brethren. Indeed, by his action he has divided them, led them into error, and encouraged the wolves to continue to tear apart the sheep of Christ’s flock. 

In this extremely dramatic moment for the universal Church, he must acknowledge his mistakes and, in keeping with the proclaimed principle of zero tolerance, Pope Francis must be the first to set a good example for cardinals and bishops who covered up McCarrick’s abuses and resign along with all of them. 

I encourage my readers to read Archbishop Vigano’s letter themselves. The eleven-page letter of the former Papal Nuncio was released to several news sources and is available on-line.  It can be read in entirety or down-loaded HERE.  It is hard to read, and long and involved, and deeply troubling.  Other well-known bishops and cardinals were also implicated in his letter.  

Pope Francis himself was asked about this letter and his response to it, by news reporters as he was leaving Ireland and the World Meeting for Families.  The Pope answered:

I will say sincerely that I must say this, to you, and all of you who are interested: Read the document carefully and judge it for yourselves.  I will not say one word on this. I think the statement speaks for itself.

The following sentences of the Pope’s answer were added here, from a later, complete transcript of the Pope’s in-flight interview published by the Catholic News Agency:

And you have the journalistic capacity to draw your own conclusions. It’s an act of faith. When some time passes and you have drawn your conclusions, I may speak. But, I would like your professional maturity to do the work for you. It will be good for you. That’s good. (inaudible)

Whatever the full truth, when finally revealed, of this whole horrible episode in the life of the Church, it is certain that we are strongly and urgently being called by God to prayer: to fervent, heart-felt and holy prayer to Mary, to the angels and saints, to God the Holy Trinity, that His perfect will be done, that His Kingdom of truth, of justice, of peace and of holy love come – and may it come soon.  May we all – laity and clergy at all levels of the Church – seek the holiness of life that our Lord deserves of His followers, and that people of the whole world deserve from His witnesses sent to them. 

Maranatha!  Come, Lord Jesus.

Posted by: Thomas Richard | August 22, 2018

The Memorial of the Queenship of Mary

The Memorial of the Queenship of Mary

author: Deborah Mary Richard

Today, Aug. 22, is the Memorial of the Queenship of Mary. The First Reading for Mass today is taken from the Prophet Ezekiel to the “bad shepherds of Israel.” In these days of crisis for the Catholic Church, facing the terrible “cover-up” scandals involving predatory priests and bishops, it is a sobering passage from Sacred Scripture. I hope every priest, deacon and especially bishops and the Pope hear deeply God’s Word today, for they are successors to the shepherds of Israel and the Word of God is for all of us who have ears to hear:

Reading 1 – EZ 34:1-11

The word of the Lord came to me:  Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel,
in these words prophesy to them, to the shepherds:

Thus says the Lord GOD:
Woe to the shepherds of Israel who have been pasturing themselves!
Should not shepherds, rather, pasture sheep?
You have fed off their milk, worn their wool, and slaughtered the fatlings,
but the sheep you have not pastured.You did not strengthen the weak nor heal the sick
nor bind up the injured.You did not bring back the strayed nor seek the lost,
but you lorded it over them harshly and brutally.

So they were scattered for the lack of a shepherd,and became food for all the wild beasts.
My sheep were scattered and wandered over all the mountains and high hills;
my sheep were scattered over the whole earth,
with no one to look after them or to search for them.

Therefore, shepherds, hear the word of the LORD:
As I live, says the Lord GOD,
because my sheep have been given over to pillage,
and because my sheep have become food for every wild beast, for lack of a shepherd;
because my shepherds did not look after my sheep, but pastured themselves
and did not pasture my sheep; because of this, shepherds, hear the word of the LORD:

Thus says the Lord GOD:
I swear I am coming against these shepherds.
I will claim my sheep from them and put a stop to their shepherding my sheep
so that they may no longer pasture themselves. I will save my sheep,
that they may no longer be food for their mouths.

For thus says the Lord GOD:
I myself will look after and tend my sheep.

Responsorial Psalm (from Psalm 23)

R. The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
In verdant pastures he gives me repose;
Beside restful waters he leads me;
he refreshes my soul.

R. The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.

He guides me in right paths
for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk in the dark valley
I fear no evil; for you are at my side
With your rod and your staff
that give me courage.

R. The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.

You spread the table before me
in the sight of my foes;
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.

R. The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.

Only goodness and kindness will follow me
all the days of my life;
And I shall dwell in the house of the LORD
for years to come.

R. The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.

This Responsorial Psalm for today is beautiful.  The “Good Shepherd Psalm” reminds us:  “The Lord is My Shepherd” .  Jesus is The Shepherd who looks after and tends His Sheep. He calls His Church, Clergy and People, to follow Him – as Mary, His mother and our Mother did on this earth.

Today’s Gospel (from Mt. 20:1 – 16) is an encouragement for all.  Whether we opened ourselves to God’s Grace early in our lives or late, it is finishing the race well that is most important.  While we have time, let us “Behold our Mother” as Jesus told us from His Cross.  Today let us listen to Him, as Mary pondered His Word and as she told the servants of Cana:  “Do whatever He tells you”.  Humility is essential if we want to hear truly!

How Providential then that we celebrate today, this Memorial of Mary as Queen!  Jesus wants us to see in Mary the Model for each human person to become holy as He is Holy.  St. Louis de Montfort, among many of the Saint-Champions of Jesus and Mary, helps us to to understand how important Mary is in God’s Plan.  In his treatise True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin,  St. Louis encourages us all toward holiness.  This holy priest wrote: 

“…in order to empty ourselves of self, we must die daily to ourselves. This involves our renouncing what the powers of the soul and the senses of the body incline us to do. We must see as if we did not see, hear as if we did not hear, and use the things of this world as if we did not use them. This is what St. Paul calls “dying daily”. 

Unless the grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single grain and does not bear any good fruit. If we do not die to self and if our holiest devotions do not lead us to this necessary and fruitful death, we shall not bear fruit of any worth and our devotions will cease to be profitable. All our good works will be tainted by self-love and self-will so that our greatest sacrifices and our best actions will be unacceptable to God. Consequently when we come to die we shall find ourselves devoid of virtue and merit and discover that we do not possess even one spark of that pure love which God shares only with those who have died to themselves and whose life is hidden with Jesus Christ in Him. .. ” (Emphasis is mine)


Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of Your Faithful.
Kindle in us, the Fire of Your Love.
Jesus, we trust in You!
Mary, Queen of the Clergy, Queen of Families, pray for us.


Posted by: Thomas Richard | August 6, 2018

Update on Gregory the Pilgrim

In May of 2015 I met Gregory Wietrzychowski, a painter, a pilgrim, a devoted son of our Blessed Mother Mary, who was on an extended pilgrimage around the U.S. to Marian Shrines, in prayers of reparation for sin. I wrote a blog essay on him and his work HERE. Gregory since completed that pilgrimage, and I’ve heard from him that he started another! He brought me up-to-date with his work of prayer, and he included some experiences near the close of the first journey. I asked Gregory if I could publish his words to bring up-to-date a bit, some of you who have expressed interest in his work of prayer. We did change one name in his account, but all else is as he experienced it.

Update on Gregory’s Pilgrimage….

Hello Thomas !

I am glad you and Deborah are doing well.

I did finish the Pilgrimage in Alexandra, Louisiana in end of November on 2016 so just a bit over two years.

I went back to Clear Creek Monastery in Oklahoma to work on duplicating a painting from the 1400’s by Jan Van Eyck one of his panels from the Ghent Alter Piece in Belgium.

I have been working on it for about a year and a half since I finished the Pilgrimage. I am about two thirds done right now.


Gregory’s Painting – duplicating a work from the 1400’s by Jan Van Eyck: one of his panels from the Ghent Alter Piece in Belgium

For the summer I went to San Francisco to start another Marian Pilgrimage from St. Anne’s church where there is a Shrine to St. Anne to the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Portland, Oregon with the hopes to meet Archbishop Sample.

I made it up to Crescent City, Ca where a Priest Fr. Greg from St. Joseph’s church invited me to pitch my tent in his backyard.

I woke up at 1am and a few minutes later I had a heart attack and went to the Hospital in Crescent City.

Then I went to the Airport and was flown to Eureka, CA. by ambulance plane and taken to St. Joseph’s Hospital where I had emergency surgery to put a stent in to stop the heart attack.

Now I am recovering at a place for now three weeks and in another week and a half I will be going back to Oklahoma by train thanks to my friends at Catholic Charities in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Then I will go back to Clear Creek Monastery to finish the painting for Father Abbot Anderson.

So the recovery is going good a lot of resting and praying. I am meeting people that I would have not met if not for the heart attack and I am offering them up to the Immaculate Heart of Mary for Her intercession for their conversions into the Catholic Church.

I was fortunate to be aware of what was happening during the heart attack and offered the sufferings up for those people in both emergency rooms and the flight nurses to again the Immaculate Heart of Mary for their conversions into the Catholic Church.

So at this facility where I am recovering I came across your blog Thomas and saw the article on my pilgrimage which thank you so much for that and I saw no contact so I just left that small comment.

Two Adventures on the Pilgrimage

I have been asked many times to write a book on the events that happened on the Pilgrimage to inspire a deeper devotion to Our Lady and the miracles that come with those devotions when we put all our trust with Her.

Gregory on Walking Pilgrimage

Gregory on Walking Pilgrimage, 2015

I will attempt to tell you what happened after you and your wife suggested the two places to go visit on the Pilgrimage I was walking in 2015 which was the first of what would take just over two years to finish.

After you dropped me off on the highway I walked the rest of the day. I then pitched my tent in wooded area next to the highway at sunset.

The next day I was walking carrying my backpack and frontal bag in prayer in the morning. It was sunny and very hot and humid the temperature was due to be in the high 90’s for the day with an index of 105 degrees.

There were no trees on the highway and the patchy clouds would occasionally shade the hot sun cooling the air for a few minutes.

I was running out of water in my gallon jug which had a little bit of stale water from the day before when I came across an old chapel.

It dawned on me to go across the divided highway and go to the chapel to check if it had a water spigot which it did, so I turned on the water and this really rust colored water came out. I let the water run and rust cleared, then I dumped the stale water out of my gallon jug. When I placed the water jug under the water spigot five seconds later the water stopped and the water tank went dry. I looked at the gallon jug and had less water than I had with the stale water. I put the water jug up to my nose and it had this very strong pungent sulphur smell. I had no choice but to dump the water out and I said, “God, Your Will be done not mine.”

I went back on the divided highway praying the Hail Mary prayers as I walked. When I was approaching a bridge that crossed a river with a two mile delta after the bridge.

I was approaching the bridge, I saw this 1967 station wagon pulling a trailer with an outboard motor boat coming off the bridge going opposite my direction. He pulled over and got out of the car and started waving both arms at me. I turned to him and he cupped his hands and yelled, “Do you need some water ?” I was stunned and yelled back, “Yes I do!”

We crossed this very wide highway, met at the center of the divided highway where this man gave me an ice cold bottle of water. It was quite a relief,  I thanked the man and offered him up to the Immaculate Heart of Mary in a prayer as we parted ways, thanking God for this little miracle.

I cherished this bottle of water during my walk in the heat of the afternoon when it came to the time it went empty.

I went the rest of the afternoon without water. In early evening I was at a road crossing on the highway standing on the shoulder asking Our Holy Mother where can I find some water when a moment later these little sprinklers popped out of the ground on this private property adjacent to the shoulder. I got my empty gallon jug and filled it with water. I smelled the water in the jug which had a sulphur smell but it was drinkable.

The next day was a Sunday, it was just as hot as the day before but there were more puffy clouds in the sky to more frequent shade. With it being Sunday I was not able to go to Holy Mass.

During my walk in prayer praying the Rosary making stops when I felt heat radiating from my skin allowing to cool down to avoid heat stroke.

I was walking along the shoulder when a Black Cadillac Escalade SUV pulled up on the shoulder ahead of me. It stopped for a moment then pulled out on to the near lane and turned on a dirt ranch road kicking up dust turned around came up to the highway where it waited patiently to walk up to it.

Now mind you I was going to Mepkin Abbey as my next destination Shrine to Our Lady.

The driver a rather big man with black short hair in his thirties rolled down the window as I approached him and he yelled, “Do you need a ride ?” It was quite similar to the man with the bottle of ice water the day before. I said, “Yes !”
The man asked where I was going and I told him Charleston. The man replied he was going that direction as he got out of the SUV to open the back to put my backpack in. I saw some golf bags with clubs also in the back. The man said he was coming back from a weekend golfing trip with some friends.

I hopped from the humid 90 degree heat into the Cadillac Escalade, it was like heaven. There was  air conditioning and air conditioned seats with accordion shock absorption under the seats which made it feel you where sitting on a cloud.

I introduced myself to the man and told him I was on a pilgrimage walking in a figure eight across the country going to 150 Catholic Shrines dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary.

The man introduced himself as Rodger Truham and asked if I was Catholic which I acknowledged yes. Then Rodger told me he was a United Methodist and that he prays the Rosary. I did a double take kinda of look and replied, “Really!”

Then Rodger said, “When I pray the Rosary I always feel closer to Jesus !  And I pray the Rosary better than some Catholics!”

I was amazed at what Rodger said to me!

Then the phone rang and it was his mother. They were on the phone for sometime. When Rodger was done he told me we were approaching Charleston asking where I would like to be dropped off. I told him the nearest Catholic Church.

Well Rodger said, “I’ll do something better than that, I am going to drop you off at this Monastery named Mepkin Abbey!”

I looked at Rodger in shock because it was like he read my mind and it came out of the blue.

I told Rodger that Mepkin Abbey was my intended destination, as a Shrine to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Rodger then turned up another highway and we stopped at a grocery store where he bought me all this food.

Then back on the highway heading to Mepkin Abbey Rodger said, “Oh!…. There is this other place also a Shrine to Mary in Kingstree!”

Again I said that is my next destination after Mepkin Abbey.

Rodger smiled and said, “Really…Because I have some family friends who run a funeral home next to the Shrine in Kingstree where if you have any problems you go there and they will take care of you. I will call them tonight to let them know you are coming.”

Rodger told me he is directing his family’s funeral home for his mother since his father passed away.

We arrived at the gate at Mepkin Abbey, it was closed and it was getting dark. Rodger got out of the Cadillac SUV and helped me with my bags then gave me a very generous donation with his business card.

We parted ways and I went into the nearby woods and pitched my tent thanking Our Lady for the amazing events that had just occurred.

The next day when the guest house opened I told the Guest Master, a lay person, that I was on a walking pilgrimage to 150 Catholic Shrines dedicated to Mary, if there would be any type of accommodation he could offer? The man told be they were full but to wait in the Chapel because there was a possibility of a cancelation.

I went ahead into the Chapel. There I prayed the Rosary, when half through the Rosary the man enters the Chapel telling me there was a cancelation and I could stay for three nights.

It was such a beautiful Monastery, the monks were very nice and the food very good. The silence was excellent where I prayed my Reparation Prayers to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary. I do this at each Marian Shrine I visited on the Pilgrimage.

After I spent three days at Mepkin Abbey I started my next walk to Kingstree in prayer. When I walk I pray the Our Father, Hail Mary and the Glory Be not in that order and I change the prayers as I walk and meditate. I pray the Rosary.

I also pray the daily Office, Terce, Sext, None and Vespers from the books I bought at Clear Creek Monastery. I just kneel on one knee on the side of the shoulder off the highway and pray the Office.

So on the third day of the pilgrimage from Mepkin Abbey to the Shrine of Our Lady of Joy in Kingstree, I was offered a ride about ten miles from a very nice man who dropped me off in Kingstree. I then pitched my tent next to the Shrine and in the morning I put my tent away.

I looked and saw the funeral home of Rodger’s family friend. There was a car in the parking lot and a hearse parked next to the main entrance.

I went to a large statue of Our Blessed Mother in the backyard to pray my morning devotion to Her. I then prayed this very long of Litany of Saints with about two hundred Saints in the Litany.

As I prayed this Litany of Saints about half way through I was approached by a woman who was the assistant to the Priest Fr. Stan.

She introduced me to Fr. Stan, a wonderful Catholic Priest and an expert on Marian Shrines. We had Holy Mass then Fr. Stan took me and his assistant to a restaurant where we chatted and I told some of the wonderful experiences and miracles I had witnessed on this very special pilgrimage and adventure with Our Holy Mother.

So later I asked Fr. Stan if he could touch a cloth to all the first class relics he had out in the Church. Fr. Stan touched the first class relics with the different pieces of cloth which then, the cloth turns into a 3rd class relic.

Then Fr. Stan told me there was going to be a conference tomorrow morning for thirteen women that were coming there from a town fifty-five miles away.  Fr. Stan told me I was more than welcome to take notes and then have Holy Mass.

Fr. Stan such a wonderful Priest and his knowledge of Our Lady and also St. Joseph was truly special. He invited me to stay in his guest house overnight.

The next morning I set up the tables in the community house next to the Chapel. Then the women arrived who were elderly and middle aged, and were really excited to hear Fr. Stan speak.

So I sat through the conference in the back taking notes, listening intently, when at the end Fr. Stan said, “We have a man here this morning who is doing a walking pilgrimage in a figure eight across the whole country. Gregory !….Can you stand up and tell these women what happened to you when that man in the Cadillac Escalade picked you up in Jacksonboro!

So I got up and proceeded with telling everything.… After I was done telling the story, Fr. Stan asked,”Now Gregory can you be so kind and tell these women the name of the man who offered the ride for you and where he is from ?”

I said, “His name is Rodger Truham and he is from Georgetown, South Carolina.”

All thirteen of the women gasped and turned their heads to me, wide eyed in total surprise. Then one of the women said, ” We all have known Rodger Truham since he was this high, a little boy !”

There was not a dry eye in the room including Fr. Stan. Our Lady of Joy filled that room of her Shrine so full of Joy it was impossible to not cry with the joy ! Truly a miracle !

This was just a small portion of other miracles that had happen on the pilgrimage and it was also an adventure with Our Lady in prayer and in abandonment to Her as a child to Mother in total trust.

Thank you Thomas !

God Bless.

Gregory the Pilgrim.

Posted by: Thomas Richard | July 26, 2018

Betrayal of the Gift

Human sexuality as created and intended, is sacred – a gift from God, and a reflection of God.   This is why sins against sexuality as God intends are particularly offensive and grave.  And among sins against sexuality as God intends, the rejection of the divine creation of reciprocal complementarity of the sexes, the masculine and the feminine mutual potency in human sexuality, is especially egregious.

The Latest Trauma on the Subject:

Church Militant website has a deeply troubling headline, “IRISH BISHOPS SELL OUT MARRIAGE FOR MONEY.”  One more knife in the heart of faithful Catholics is twisted in the twisted contortions of the Church in Ireland in her dealings with the advancing “Freedom From God NOW” movement.  (I just made that name up; the actual movement is very real and present, however.)

In exchange for no, not 30 pieces of silver, but €1.4 million, the Church’s Catholic Marriage Care Service – “ACCORD” – in Ireland has agreed to counsel same-sex couples and to provide “marriage” preparation for them.  Pause, please, and let that sink in for a moment or two.

From ACCORD’s website, we read,

From small beginnings and limited funds ACCORD has developed and grown to become the largest and only nationwide marriage care service in Ireland. The organisation has always endeavoured to meet the challenges presented to ensure it is focused and able to meet the needs of clients.

This is made possible with the support of our funders –

The Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference
The Family Support Agency
Health Service Executive
DHSSPS and relevant Trusts in Northern Ireland.

Yes, Bishops of the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference are holding hands with the Irish secular state in helping to grow legitimacy and stability for same-sex activity and even the (self-contradiction) of same-sex “marriage,” in their country, in the once Catholic nation of Ireland.

Same-sex coupling, and what they call marriage, are growing.  Both are being “normalized” and welcomed in the social and legal and increasingly the religious “communities” around the world.  Any sort of discrimination or overt non-acceptance of the “LGBTQ” lifestyle, is or may soon be criminal or at least socially repugnant and unacceptable among the people who they think “matter” in society.

The Trauma, Because Same-Sex Intimacy is Wrong

St. Paul saw a turning to same-sex relationships even in his day.  He wrote:

Rom 1:20  Ever since the creation of the world his invisible nature, namely, his eternal power and deity, has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse;
Rom 1:21  for although they knew God they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking and their senseless minds were darkened.
Rom 1:22  Claiming to be wise, they became fools,
Rom 1:23  and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man or birds or animals or reptiles.
Rom 1:24  Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves,
Rom 1:25  because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed for ever! Amen.
Rom 1:26  For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. Their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural,
Rom 1:27  and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in their own persons the due penalty for their error.
Rom 1:28  And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a base mind and to improper conduct.

What is So Wrong?

What is so wrong about same-sex desires?  Why does it matter?  Why does the Church say, of the very desire, that it is “intrinsically disordered” and of the acts, “grave depravity”? (CCC 2357)  Why does Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit in the book of Romans, describe it as he does in the passage above?  The answer may be found in Paul’s description of the moment of choice, when men chose to depart the good and turn to the evil:

… for although they knew God they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking and their senseless minds were darkened.
Claiming to be wise, they became fools,… (Rom 1:21-22)

In the early moments of creation, God made human persons in His divine image and likeness, His “likeness” being especially linked to the separation of humanity into two different kinds – male and female – the two possessing in their natures a reciprocal complementarity that attracted them each to the other, and in the union of the two was the potency, with the cooperation of God Himself, for the creation of new human persons also in the divine image and likeness.  The two, in other words, were made sharers in God’s work of filling the earth and bringing creation to fruition: multitudes of human persons covering the earth, sharing in the divine will, in divine love, in union with divine happiness, glorifying God in His creation before all the angels, before all creation.

This gift and His others gifts, God set within Adam and Eve.  They did not embrace and guard His gifts; they fell, and in falling, the whole creation was subjected to futility – to death – to inner frustration, conflict and confusion.  And in the fall, they both lost the divine likeness given them by God.  That likeness, disfigured by sin, would not be recovered until Christ established it again in humanity, by opening the door for us to His life.

But confusion, disfigurement, disorder, futility – these describe the choice for a homosexual lifestyle: the gift of the divine likeness is again rejected in this choice: His way is not received and embraced with thanksgiving in this choice; He is again is rejected.  The gift is rejected; specifically, His gift enabling the miraculous participation in the divine creation itself, through the reciprocal complementarity of the male with the female, embracing the potency infused by God, embracing human oneness in a manner and with a heart like unto His own, it is all rejected.  God Himself is in this way rejected, in preference for one’s self-will, indeed lusting for an image of oneself, male with male, female with female, to mutually dishonor and become one flesh with an image of oneself. 

In this way, rejecting God’s glory, man glorifies himself and thus dishonors God deeply, intrinsically, a sin and an act of disorder at the foundation of one’s being human.  It is deeply, deeply wrong about a matter so deeply, deeply important: fidelity to the divine image and likeness.  As the Catechism teaches concerning homosexual acts: “Under no circumstances can they be approved.” (CCC 2357)

Our Call to Mercy, and Witness

Jn 8:10  Jesus looked up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?
Jn 8:11  She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and do not sin again.”

The Church calls us to be merciful, and to love with His love all for whom He died!  Sexual temptations can be very, very strong, as are the pains of loneliness and isolation.  The Church – the members of His Church – must reach out with compassion to all who are apart from His love and truth.  As much as we can, we must try to help “come home” the many who are lost in these dark times.  We must try to help them “go, and sin no more.”  The Catechism closes the section with this:

2358 The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God’s will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition. 

2359 Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection.

Amen to that.

Posted by: Thomas Richard | June 12, 2018

Kerygma, Hierarchy of Truths, Card. Burke and Alpha

There are books and programs in circulation today among Catholic parishes and dioceses, which offer themselves as means for renewal – for evangelization – among Catholics. These books and programs focus on what they understand to be the kerygma – the preaching of the Gospel – of New Testament times. I wrote a blog essay (1) on the need for this basic preaching, a need that exists because so many Catholics have been “sacramentalized”, and “institutionalized” as Catholics, but never “evangelized” to become deeply converted personally to Christ as His disciple.

Catechesis – “religious education” as it used to be called in the recent past – ought to recognize and begin to correct the problem, by persistently stressing our fundamental need to be given over to Him, to Christ, with all our heart, mind, soul and strength! We ought never to reduce catechesis to detached, classroom-like teaching of mere ideas about religion (even about the true religion of the Catholic Faith! Catechesis must always be what it always has been – a spiritual “passing on” of holy, divine, living Truth concerning God and life in Him. Catechesis must always be an encounter with the living God, a transforming experience, a meeting with Jesus, a movement of continuing conversion and communion in Him.

So, the kerygma – the Gospel as first taught – is necessary. We must know – with a knowing that demands response and obedience – that Jesus Christ is our saving Lord and God. That in Him is Life, and apart from Him is death.

BUT – yes, there had to be a “but” – The beginning is not the entire truth. The call to salvation is not the whole life of salvation. The kerygma is not the whole Gospel. And the contemporary books and programs that present meals and videos and fellowship and talk about Jesus and how wonderfully He can improve our lives, is not the totality of God’s call to and intention for us. The Catholic Faith has been growing in the Truth of God since those early days of the preaching, in the early days of His Church – as Jesus promised it would!

Hierarchy of Truths
A Church directory for catechesis – and for catechists who teach the Faith – the General Catechetical Directory, 1971 (2), includes a discussion of truths that must be included in a Catholic catechetical program. Certainly it does not list everything that must be included, but it gives four basic headings under which the necessary truths can be organized: a “hierarchy of truths” that flow from these fundamental four. The paragraph is this (formatted with bullet-points for clarity):

GCD #43 — In the message of salvation there is a certain hierarchy of truths, which the Church has always recognized when it composed creeds or summaries of the truths of faith.

This hierarchy does not mean that some truths pertain to faith itself less than others, but rather that some truths are based on others as of a higher priority, and are illumined by them. On all levels catechesis should take account of this hierarchy of the truths of faith. These truths may be grouped under four basic heads:

  • the mystery of God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, Creator of ail things;
  • the mystery of Christ the incarnate Word, who was born of the Virgin Mary, and who suffered, died, and rose for our salvation;
  • the mystery of the Holy Spirit, who is present in the Church, sanctifying it and guiding it until the glorious coming of Christ, our Savior and Judge; and
  • the mystery of the Church, which is Christ’s Mystical Body, in which the Virgin Mary holds the pre-eminent place.

These four basic heads of truths include some very, very telling doctrinal requirements for a catechetical book or program to be truly Catholic! I say “telling” because some of the very popular current books and programs for catechesis, circulating today among Catholic parishes and dioceses, are exposed by these requirements as not Catholic, but are better characterized more as quasi-Catholic or even Protestant. Some are embarrassingly silent concerning the rightful place of the sacraments – especially the Holy Eucharist, – of the work of the Holy Spirit in the Church in the development of doctrine and transmission of Sacred Tradition – indeed silent concerning the place of the Church itself, and of the significance and importance of Mary, mother of God, mother and model for all Christians, Mary the pre-eminent member of His Holy Church.

Card. Burke, and Alpha
There are solid Catholic programs of catechesis, and of evangelization! One, the Marian Catechist Apostolate (3) initiated by Servant of God Fr. John Hardon, S.J. (whose cause for beatification is now going forward), is currently being directed by Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke, D.D., J.C.D. Now these are two men whose judgments on the Catholic Faith I can respect! Here is a brief history of the Apostolate, on their website:

Father Hardon’s catechetical mission expanded with the catechetical study program, which he wrote for the Holy See after Pope John Paul II requested Mother Teresa to educate her Missionaries of Charity to become catechists. This catechetical course, studied by the Missionaries of Charity worldwide in their formation, has been adapted into home study courses for laity, entitled the Basic Catholic Catechism Course (16 lessons) and the Advanced Catholic Catechism Course (36 lessons). This course serves as the formation program for the Marian Catechist Apostolate, founded by Father Hardon in 1985 in order to train the laity to be catechists and evangelists in the modern world. This apostolate was directed by Father Hardon until his death, and is now headed by International Director Archbishop Raymond L. Burke.

On the other hand, Card. Burke has written critically (4) on one of the several contemporary programs now presenting themselves as “successful” programs for evangelization for Catholics:

TO: All Members of the Marian Catechist Apostolate
FROM: Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke
International Director of the Marian Catechist Apostolate
SUBJECT: Directive to Marian Catechists regarding the program “Alpha in a Catholic Context”
DATE: December 3, 2015

It has come to my attention that a program called “Alpha in a Catholic Context” has been recommended to some Marian Catechists.

Having studied the program, both from the perspective of doctrine and methodology, I must make it clear that the program may not be used, in any form, in the Marian Catechist Apostolate and that Marian Catechists are not to become involved with it.

While, like so many similar programs, Alpha may seem to offer a more attractive and effective form of evangelization and catechesis, it does not have the doctrinal and methodological foundations required for the teaching of the Catholic Faith. Marian Catechists should continue to use the Catechism of the Catholic Church, together with the courses of the Servant of God Father John A. Hardon, S.J., and my “Commentary on the General Directory for Catechesis.”

I recall to all Marian Catechists the words of Pope Saint John Paul II in his Apostolic Letter Novo Millennio Ineunte [At the beginning of the new millennium] (5) regarding those who think that, before the challenge of a new evangelization, the Church needs to discover “some magic formula” or invent a “new program”: “No, we shall not be saved by a formula but by a Person, and the assurance which he gives us: I am with you.”

The saintly Pontiff reminded us that the program by which we are to address effectively the great spiritual challenges of our time is, in the end, Jesus Christ alive for us in the Church. He explained:

The program already exists: It is the plan found in the Gospel and in the living Tradition, it is the same as ever. Ultimately, it has its center in Christ Himself, Who is to be known, loved and imitated, so that in Him we may live the life of the Trinity, and with Him transform history until its fulfillment in the heavenly Jerusalem. This is a program which does not change with shifts of times and cultures, even though it takes account of time and culture for the sake of true dialogue and effective communication. (No. 29)

The Servant of God Father John A. Hardon, S.J., understood profoundly the truth of Pope John Paul II’s words and, through the spiritual and doctrinal formation of the Marian Catechist Apostolate, as he so faithfully and wisely developed it, Marian Catechists understand the same truth and are not allured or deceived by stories of a “magic formula” or a “new program.” In short, Marian Catechists understand that our program is holiness of life which flows from a profound knowledge and ardent love of Christ Who is alive for us in the Church.

In the days of the heterodox priest Arius, late in the 4th century, his false teaching threatened the first of the foundational mysteries of the Catholic Faith: God is a Trinity.  This grave error became wide-spread, to such an extent that St. Jerome wrote, “the whole world groaned and marvelled to find itself Arian”.  Today, it seems that many, many in the Church are willing to trade pearls of sublime divine Truth, entrusted to His Church, for thin theology embracing what is popular, neither threatening nor demanding, and ecumenically “safe”.  Holy Lord, awaken your Church!






(4)Letter posted on


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