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.

gregoryspainting-e1533602980129.jpg

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

Kerygma
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!

 

notes:

(1)https://renewthechurch.com/2015/02/02/the-kerygma/

(2)http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cclergy/documents/rc_con_cclergy_doc_11041971_gcat_en.html

(3)http://mariancatechist.com

(4)Letter posted on https://www.churchmilitant.com/main/generic/faq-alpha

(5) http://w2.vatican.va/content/john-paul-ii/en/apost_letters/2001/documents/hf_jp-ii_apl_20010106_novo-millennio-ineunte.html

Posted by: Thomas Richard | April 7, 2018

The Choice

St. Augustine saw it clearly, a long time ago (in the AD 400’s) that ultimately there are two options in this world, and only two. There are two cities – two cultures – two lives to choose from: one is for life, the other for death. A man can be for life, or he can be for death. A woman can be for life, or she can be for death. A medical doctor can be for life, or for death. A soldier can be for life, or for death. A political leader can be for life, or for death. A preacher, a policeman, a priest, a politician, a bishop, a banker, a candlestick maker, a monk or a money changer can be for life, or he can be for death. The older I get (a journey that keeps accelerating in pace, faster and faster as the days go by…), the simpler I see that life actually is. The choices all come down, when the dust settles, to one of two: are you for life, or are you for death?

St. Augustine’s insightful words deserve repeating, and pondering:

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. … 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. ….
(Augustine, The City of God, Book XIV, Chapter 28: Of the Nature of the Two Cities, the Earthly and the Heavenly)

St. Augustine points straight and simply to the one single difference that makes all the difference, ultimately: what is loved, finally, in the center – the heart of the human person? What is the guiding intention in the heart? Where does the directional compass of the man’s life point? Where does he turn for counsel in daytime or darkness, in sufferings or comfort, in hopes or fears, in victories or defeats, in vigor or in the shadow of death? Who is King – who is God – in his life? Is he, himself, his own “MVP” (“Most Valuable Person”) in his life? Is he himself King and Lord of his life? Or is the only God who IS, his God?

Of course, few travelers on the road to death realize what is there at the end of their journey. It seems a very pleasant path – or least, it is definitely the best they can find that gives them the most of what they want. It could always be better, certainly! If they could, they would take a job that pays more money and requires less of their time and effort. They would much prefer a nicer house, and longer vacations, and earlier retirement, and a better car, and more money, and a bigger TV, and … well, one could go on and on. No one has everything they want!

Except, of course, for those who want for nothing at all.

Even those who know enough to desire to want nothing – these are on the path to the path to it all. There, maybe, is the beginning: to realize that no “thing” can ever be enough to satisfy a hunger set into our hearts by God our Creator, a blessed hunger for eternal beatitude, eternal good, eternal life. That is the life we were made for and need to search for until we find it! This is the life that Jesus came to give us: “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” (Jn 10:10)

God has given us the path to Him, and to life. Jesus – He is the way and the truth and the life. His way is not that of self-gratification and self-aggrandizement, just the opposite. His is the way of the Cross, of self-denial for the sake of love, of self-emptying for the good of others – even of one’s enemies. To be a Christian is to choose this path – to love this path for His sake – to love the Cross for His sake – to love being last and not first, all and anything for His sake, all for Him – the One who loved us and gave Himself for us, that we might in Him give ourselves away for His sake.

This present post is an extension of the last blog posted, only a few weeks ago: Our Greatest Enemy and Obstacle – The Enemy Within.  It might be helpful to read the two together.

Posted by: Thomas Richard | March 26, 2018

Our greatest enemy and obstacle: the enemy within

It is tempting to see this or that as “the problem” in our lives.  If this were different, if that were changed, if not for this obstacle or that person, and on and on – then, ah yes then, my life would be so much better!  But no, not really.  The greatest enemy and obstacle to our greatest happiness is within us.  I am my own worst enemy, and I work at my own defeat using exactly the most deceitful tragedy that you or I could imagine:  we defeat ourselves precisely by loving ourselves the wrong way, and excessively so at that.  Inordinate self-love is at the root of all our misery, and of all of our sin.  It is inordinate self-love, in the end, that keeps us far from God our Savior and Redeemer, God in Whom is our final vocation, and our complete happiness.

Fr. Jordan Aumann, O.P. has given the Church a great book in his Spiritual Theology.  It can be found on Amazon HERE, and on-line for free access HERE.  A very helpful passage on self-love is below:

Detachment from created things is absolutely indispensable for arriving at Christian perfection, but it would be of little avail to detach oneself from external things if one is not likewise detached from one’s own ego, which constitutes the greatest of all the obstacles to one’s free flight to God. St. Thomas states that egoism or disordered self-love is the origin and root of all sin. St. Augustine says: “Two loves have erected two cities: self-love, carried to the extreme of disdain of God, has built the city of the world; the love of God, carried to the point of disdain for one’s self, has constructed the city of God. The one glories in itself; the other glories in the Lord.”

Precisely because it is the root of all sins, the manifestations of self-love are varied and almost infinite. So far as it affects spiritual things, self-love becomes the center around which everything else must rotate. Some persons seek themselves in everything, even in holy things: in prayer, which they prolong when they find sweetness and consolation in it, but which they abandon when they experience aridity; in the reception of the sacraments, which they seek only for sensible consolation; in spiritual direction, which they consider a note of distinction and in which, therefore, they always seek the director who is most popular, or who will let them live in peace with their egoistic values and selfish aims; in the very desire for sanctification, which they do not subordinate to the greater glory of God and the good of souls, but which they direct to themselves as the best ornament of their souls here on earth and as the source of increased happiness and glory in heaven. We would never finish if we were to attempt to list the manifestations of excessive self-love.

The soul that aspires to perfect union with God must strive energetically against its own self-love, which subtly penetrates even holy things. It must examine the true motive for its actions, continually rectify its intentions, and not place as its goal or the goal of all its activities and efforts anything other than the glory of God and the perfect fulfillment of his divine will. It must keep constantly in mind the decisive words of Christ himself, who makes perfect self-abnegation the indispensable condition for following him: “Whoever wishes to be my follower must deny his very self, take up his cross each day, and follow in my steps” (Luke 9:23).

Posted by: Thomas Richard | March 1, 2018

On the Interior Life – Dom Chautard

Dom Jean-Baptiste Chautard, O.C.S.O., a French Trappist/Cistercian monk and abbot. lived from 1858 to 1935. His widely read and appreciated book, The Soul of the Apostolate, concerns the dynamic and crucial relationship between fruitful work in Christ, and one’s life of prayer, or “interior life.”

The spiritual, supernatural life that is essential to a faithful Catholic Christian, is often referred to as one’s “interior life”. The “apostolate” refers to the work of the Church done in His name – works that all the members ought to contribute to, our share in His mission.  In this time of Lent, especially, as we focus on our inner life, our hearts, our causes and desires that direct us, I want to recommend to my readers a chapter from Dom Chautard’s book – if you go to the link above, to his Book, the chapter is Part 1, 3. “What is the Interior Life?”. The chapter, or the whole book, can be read on-line or downloaded to your computer.  I recommend reading the whole chapter 3 at least.

Here is a brief portion from the eleven “Truths” concerning the Interior Life, from Dom Chautard’s The Soul of the Apostolate:

FIRST TRUTH. Supernatural life is the life of Jesus Christ Himself in my soul, by Faith, Hope, and Charity; for Jesus is the meritorious, exemplary, and final cause of sanctifying grace, and, as Word, with the Father and the Holy Ghost, He is its efficient cause in our souls.
The presence of Our Lord by this supernatural life is not the real presence proper to Holy Communion, but a presence of vital action like that of the action of the head or heart upon the members of the body. This action lies deep within us, and God ordinarily hides it from the soul in order to increase the merit of our faith. And so, as a rule, my natural faculties have no feeling of this action going on within me, which, however, I am formally obliged to believe by faith. This action is divine, yet it does not interfere with my free will, and makes use of all secondary causes, events, persons, and things, to teach me the will of God and to offer me an opportunity of acquiring or increasing my share in the divine life.
This life, begun in Baptism by the state of grace, perfected at Confirmation, recovered by Penance and enriched by the Holy Eucharist, is my Christian life.

SECOND TRUTH. By this life, Jesus Christ imparts to me His Spirit. In this way, He becomes the principle of a superior activity which raises me up, provided I do not obstruct it, to think, judge, love, will, suffer, labor with Him, by Him, in Him, and like Him. My outward acts become the manifestations of this life of Jesus in me. And thus I tend to realize the ideal of the INTERIOR LIFE that was formulated by St. Paul when he said: “I live, now not I, but Christ liveth in me.”….

 

Posted by: Thomas Richard | February 8, 2018

A Holy Death

Picture1

Gene

Two faithful Catholic friends many miles away, in Canada, a few years ago met the last trial we will face on this earth: death.  These friends Gaby and her husband Gene followed this blog, sometimes left responses — but we share something much more important than this blog: we share a love of Christ, and His Church.  Some years after Gene’s passing, Gaby wrote her reflections on that time, and shared them with Deborah and me.  The simplicity and depth of Gaby’s thoughts on Gene’s death greatly moved me — I asked if I could post her thoughts here, on the blog.  Gaby graciously agreed, knowing that Gene too would be eager to share anything that might help brothers and sisters in Christ, prepare for and meet that most special day – and meet it well.  Here are her reflections:

September

Monday the 15th of September 2014 : Eugene entered the hospital.

Wednesday 17th of September 2014 : In the morning I saw the psychiatrist, Dr. F. M____, who said Gene will never get better, but he could live like this for years. He had very advanced Dementia, and had all kinds of problems since several years. He had many tests done. He now could not walk alone, he needed help to eat, and he was lost and disoriented.

The Important Decision and the Last Moments

           In the past, Gene and I had spoken about our last wishes. We both agreed to the same wish. In case of severe incurable disease, severe sickness, coma, paralysis, or anything similar, we both want to see the priest, go to confession, and have the last sacraments. This request is absolutely our priority above all else. Afterwards, we both had the following wishes; not to be reanimated, not to be given anything to speed our death, or to lengthen our life. Just let nature take its course.

The doctor explained that as Gene was, he could live a number of years, but choking or pneumonia could take him away anytime. Since he was vulnerable to both of these problems, she wanted to know, that given Gene’s quality of life, did I want them to reanimate him should this happen. I told her what we had discussed, I added that I wanted more time, and I would get back to her.

I then contacted the hospital chaplain so he could give Gene the last Sacraments. This priest, contrary to the purpose of his duty as a chaplain, simply refused!  He promised me he would come as soon as he would be called, day or night, as he was living right next to the hospital. He wants to wait until the last minute. Since Gene was still conscious, and he was in a very vulnerable state, and I knew his desires, this refusal left me most dissatisfied. It left me like hanging in the air. I did not expect this refusal. I could not understand the reasoning, especially since I asked him right there at the hospital! What was the logic? This left me totally perplexed!

I then went to see our parish priest who said he would have done it, if he were at the Oasis, but he did not want to step on another priest’s duty. I could not understand his position, since I knew he had agreed to go see others at the hospital. We sometimes invited him home for dinner. On one occasion, Gene had even asked this priest he agreed to give him the last Rights when the time would come, and our friend had assured Gene in an affirmative answer, that he would. We had been friends since 1974, for 40 years, and yet, when the time came, he refused!

Now being met with again another refusal, I was confused, lost, and felt so alone and abandoned. It was a total let down, by the ones who are supposed to be there in time of need! Being refused for a second time, and by a friend, or so I thought… I did not give my answer to the doctor, and I simply lingered as I felt it was too fast and I was disheartened…

I knew Gene was a man of faith and I did not worry about his spiritual state, however, I also knew he would absolutely want the last sacraments! And we both understood how very special this sacrament is, as it can give all sorts of graces. Moreover, it can even eradicate the punishment due to sin, thus crossing the threshold of this world to eternity, going straight to heaven!

It is obvious that some members of the clergy, even shamefully, priests who work with the dying, do not know the teaching of the Church regarding the last Sacraments!!!

In conversation with him, it is easy to see he surely does not know that this is a sacrament of the living, meaning one must be in a state of grace to receive it, and it should be administered as much as possible when the person is conscious. Also, anyone over 65 may receive the last sacraments if they are sick, if they are to be operated, or if they are getting on in years, even if they are not in immediate danger of death. Gene was in a vulnerable condition, that was a situation which should definitely not have been refused, but one cannot argue with this priest, because he knows everything…

I was upset and, so sad. Looking back, I now reproach myself for not being more firm. I wish I would have aggressively demanded what should have been done!

October 2014

           Thursday the 2nd of October 2014: At 7:30 PM Gene choked. They reanimated him and broke his ribs. A member of the family was not pleased I had not said “no code” because she felt it was simply making her father suffer needlessly. I must say if he would have gone that night, I would have found it really difficult because I was not with him, and I was not ready for that shock. I was called at home, and I arrived at the same time as the priest who had a big smile saying: “See! I told you I would be here!”  Ha…! Yes, he was there… however, he would not have arrived on time if Gene had not been reanimated.  Also, now the last sacraments are given in a rush, while my poor husband is in a coma, and while I am busy with the doctor!! This is not the way a good priest prepares a soul to cross the threshold from this world to eternity!! I called the children as I was told my husband could die any minute.

He was moved to the palliative care unit and from that moment on, Gene was not left alone not a single minute. I said the prayers for the dying. I prayed the chaplet of the Divine Mercy, and the rosary. Gene had his scapular medal on him, but I placed his brown scapular and placed his rosary in his hands along with a small crucifix and a Saint Benedict medal. I also sprayed holy water all around him.

L_____ was the first to arrive with G____. I was so pleased when P___, a friend of mine living at the Royal, came in and asked to say the chaplet of the Divine Mercy, out loud. What a gift! I was so pleased with her, I thanked her many times!

Although I was told that Gene would not live until my son could arrive from Fredericton three hours away, there was lots of time because, to the staff’s surprise, he lived for 24 hours. We all had time to speak to him. We were told that hearing is the last sense to leave. I did not know this, so we were told we should speak to him as though he could hear us, although he was in a coma, and had “the rattle of death.”

Friday the 3rd of October 2014: Our children L____, M____, and G____ were at his side, with me, Gene’s sister J____, and her husband J___ arrived in the morning. We all spent the whole afternoon with him. At night, nearing the end, a few times he opened his eyes a small slit, and I had the impression he could see me with one eye. Afterwards, we continued to speak to him, each our turn, for only a short while. On the last hour I prayed out loud, I prayed and cried. When I did not know which prayer to say anymore, because I was lost for words, I sang some old hymns in spite of crying, but I did not want to stop, and sang until the very last minute. The last one was “J’irai la voir un jour” (I will go see her some day). This was one of my mother’s favourites and it’s also one of my favourites.  At 7:40 PM Gene died, and I closed his eyes.

Saturday the 4th of October 2014: In the afternoon, I went to church to meet with the choir director and chose the songs for the funeral, and I requested an “Ave Maria.” I also asked for, “J’irai la voir un jour” as the last song, when the coffin would be carried out the church. Since I have some English relatives, I had requested two beautiful English hymns, but I was disappointed since the man who sings them so well could not come.

Monday the 6th of October 2014: The funeral was at 2:00. I was most surprised to see my H______ nephews from Fredericton. J____ and his wife H_____, came in spite of having her leg in a cast. J____ came in spite of the fact that he had a very serious injury on his foot, due to diabetes. And P___ came from Three Rivers. It was a real treat to see them! I so appreciated their presence! They are my deceased sister’s sons! M____, our son, did the reading, and L____ our daughter, did the prayers. Father W____, our friend, who had known us for 40 years, spoke very well. He mentioned that Gene was very musical. It was a small but nice funeral.

Gene had many talents, he was especially good at playing Chet Atkins’ unique finger style technique. He played Leona Boyed’s Classical style, and he also enjoyed playing some Flamingo. His music was soft and peaceful. However, he was a withdrawn, shy person, and preferred to play mostly for himself.

Picture2T____, a good friend of mine, send me a picture of a man in the arms of Our Lord. This is the picture of a suffering skinny man holding the crown of thorns. When I saw this, it went straight to my heart, as I found it so striking and with a definite association with Gene… At the end, Gene was skin and bones; he had suffered much through the years. He told me he offered all his sufferings for the conversions of our children.

At the funeral mass this sad picture, along with Gene’s picture playing the guitar, were on the communion rail for all to see.

After the funeral mass, we went downstairs for a nice lunch. It was good to meet members of the family, especially the relatives we had not seen for a long time, and also the many friends.

Tuesday the 7th of October 2014: The burial was at Notre-Dame du Rosaire at 2:00 PM. Now, the custom is that nobody goes to the graveyard anymore. However, I definitely wanted to go, and our children seemed eager to accompany me. The funeral director said a few prayers; I sprayed holy water all over and around the coffin. M____ and G___ are the ones who held the ropes to lower the wooden box. G___ later told me he was pleased to do this, as it was like a “closing, his last goodbye”.  Yes, it was our final goodbye… but he is not forgotten…

****************************************************************************

Posted by: Thomas Richard | January 4, 2018

Reevaluating Time Schedules…

These are trying days!  The world has been living under the shadow of nuclear war for a long time now – as a child the 1940’s, I remember the drills in school to prepare for a nuclear attack.  We were to duck under our desks, head between our knees, hand over back of neck, eyes shut, waiting for further instruction.  I suppose the adults understood more clearly the world-wide catastrophes that would follow, after the explosive effects began to smother and strangle, and radiation began to poison, life throughout the biosphere.

It is difficult to imagine such horrors, but even the possibilities cast new light on the end-time prophesies of Holy Scripture.  What seemed so impossible if not very distant, in these end-time prophesies, is beginning to be yes, possible, and maybe not as distant as we would like.  A boy-god king in North Korea has weapons of mass destruction – nuclear, chemical, biological – and he seems to have nothing inside himself to restrain the beast.  The world has had such rulers before, but never before have they had such deadly power to inflict catastrophic horror upon so many, around the whole world.

Being a Christian is a great comfort, in such a time.  We have a foundation of faith that helps us to understand the temporary – the passing – nature of this life here and now.  This life is a trial, a life-long moment of testing, and also of opportunity to build upon and strengthen the foundation of our individual lives with lasting values, with enduring treasures, with eternal blessings.  We are invited to, and we must, use our moments well.

Therefore it is said, “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give you light.”
Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise,
making the most of the time, because the days are evil.
Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.
And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery; but be filled with the Spirit,
addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with all your heart,
always and for everything giving thanks in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God the Father. (Eph 5:14 -20)

In his Letter to the Ephesians Paul used the familiar analogy among all humans, of battle, of war, to help Christians see more deeply into the struggles we face.  Our battle, finally, is a spiritual and interior one:

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.
Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
For we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.
Therefore take the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
Stand therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness,
and having shod your feet with the equipment of the gospel of peace;
besides all these, taking the shield of faith, with which you can quench all the flaming darts of the evil one.
And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
Pray at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,….(Eph 6:10 -18)

Paul’s exhortations are good ones, my friends: we need to take them seriously!  We need to guard our hearts (a breastplate of righteousness), to be careful to love and value all that God loves and values!  We need to guard our minds, our thinking (the helmet of salvation), to be careful to protect right thinking, discerning truth from lies!  We need “the shield of faith” in this battlefield of amoral and godless political correctness.  We need “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God,” because He, the living Word, is Truth.  Jesus Christ taught us,

“I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me.” (Jn 14:6)

So many people – so many Catholics! – continue to use up so much precious time, with trivial pursuits.  As if we had “all the time in the world”!  No, for every man and woman there is a last day, a last hour, a last breath.  And a last time for prayer, for Holy Scripture, a last time for worship in Holy Mass, a last Holy Communion, a last act of holy charity for God, for a friend, for a stranger, for an enemy.  A last moment to live the life of Christ here and now, for the glory of God.

Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of the time, because the days are evil.

Posted by: Thomas Richard | December 9, 2017

St. Therese of Lisieux and “Spiritual Childhood”

Many spiritual men and women in the Church have reflected long and beautifully, on the remarkable example of St. Therese of Lisieux.  This holy woman, who died so young at age 24, left a legacy and a light of holiness that have helped and guided many to a deeper spiritual life.  Here is a brief part of a biography of the saint (1):

At the age of 14, on Christmas Eve in 1886, Therese had a conversion that transformed her life. From then on, her powerful energy and sensitive spirit were turned toward love, instead of keeping herself happy. At 15, she entered the Carmelite convent in Lisieux to give her whole life to God. She took the religious name Sister Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face. Living a hidden, simple life of prayer, she was gifted with great intimacy with God. Through sickness and dark nights of doubt and fear, she remained faithful to God, rooted in His merciful love. After a long struggle with tuberculosis, she died on September 30, 1897, at the age of 24. Her last words were the story of her life: “My God, I love You!”

The world came to know Therese through her autobiography, “Story of a Soul”. She described her life as a “little way of spiritual childhood.” … Therese’s spirituality is of doing the ordinary, with extraordinary love.

There is a radical difference between the holy “spiritual childhood” that Therese lived – which is a spirituality many have sought to learn from and grow into – and the contrary spiritual imperfection for a Christian of “childishness,” that is, spiritual immaturity and an obstinate resistance to grow in the life we are called to, in Christ.

What are the differences?  I will quote Fr. John Harden, S.J., listing his six descriptors of spiritual childhood, and after each one I will comment, I hope in ways that can help answer the question.  Here are the six descriptors by Fr. John Harden (Fr. JH) (2), followed by my comments (TR):

1. Fr. JH: Spiritual childhood knows nothing of spiritual pride. It never glories in whatever graces it receives from God, but acknowledges them as sheer gift of His love.

[TR Comments:  The lack of spiritual pride indicated is not present in a childish adult, certainly, but instead the reverse is found: prideful attribution of all of one’s spiritual “accomplishments” to one’s own efforts – whether the “accomplishments” are real or only imagined.  Divine graces received – whether real or falsely presumed – are considered only due and deserved in justice.]

2. Fr. JH: Spiritual childhood realizes that natural means cannot achieve sanctity. Without prayer, the sacraments, and cooperation with graces received, holiness is a mirage.

[TR Comments:  The childish Christian has little if any grasp of the concept “sanctity”, nor of the call to holiness.  These realities, being of the supernatural, are hardly within the horizon of the childish one.  His universe is of the natural, the senses, the material, the tangible, the concrete.  His prayer life and his sacramental life are shallow at best, and seem to him entirely adequate and satisfactory as they are.]

3. Fr. JH: Spiritual childhood has no illusions of self-reliance in danger and temptation. Immediate petition for divine help is the only guarantee of being able to overcome the surges of passion or the instigations of the evil one.

[TR Comments:  For the childish Christian, spiritual dangers that ought to concern him do not, and temptations that are very dangerous for him are not recognized.  Sin itself is hardly his concern – as lacking for him as is his concern for holiness.]

4. Fr. JH: Spiritual childhood presupposes a lively faith in God’s existence. In fact, as a person grows in spiritual childhood, there is a keen awareness of God’s presence in everything that touches one’s life.

[TR Comments:  For the childish Christian, “faith” is more a vague word for a very vague concept, than a vital living reality.  If he were asked “Does God exist?” he would most probably answer “Sure!”  The question would be of the same category as, “Does the sun exist?” – this is the category of presumptions largely irrelevant to the childish one’s life, which is about personal gratifications here and now.]

5. Fr. JH: Spiritual childhood has a practical confidence in God’s power and mercy. Thus the virtue of hope becomes so strong that no matter how humanly impossible the future may seem, there is peaceful trust that God will provide loving care.

[TR Comments:  All of these realities – confidence, divine power and mercy, hope, trust in God – are supernatural realities immediate and present in the spiritual childhood of one authentically in the beginnings of the life of grace.  But they are present in the childish Christian – if at all – in an attenuated and minimal degree, largely overwhelmed in the natural world of the senses, the material, the tangible.  The childish Christian wants what he wants when he wants it, and he wants it now.]

6. Fr. JH: Spiritual childhood has confident recourse to Divine providence. It sees the hand of God behind every so-called happening, and believes there is no such thing as chance.

[TR Comments:  For the childish Christian, “luck” is a far more realistic factor in life than “Divine providence.”  There is good luck and there is bad luck, and gambling is more reasonable than praying, unless one is praying for good luck.]

Fr. John Harden continues (3),

If we look still closer at St. Therese’s importance for our times, it becomes even more clear as we see the virus of pride infecting so many people in our day. As the popes are at pains to explain, whatever else the modern world needs, it is a rediscovery of the meaning of Christ’s teaching about becoming like little children. He could not have been more solemn than when He warned us, “Amen I say to you, unless you turn and become like little children, you will not enter into the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3). This injunction was always necessary but it is crucial today when human achievements in the material world have intoxicated millions with self-conceit and widespread oblivion of God.

In Baptism, the beginning of the life of grace, a new vital force has been received into the soul of the recipient.  This vital force is the life of God, in which we can have a personal human participation.  This promised gift is the new heart, and right spirit, prophesied of old and begun in human history through the outpouring of the love of Christ through His Holy Cross.  This life is intended by God that it grow, that it mature, and reach fruitfulness.

Because the life of grace in the soul is intended to grow and mature, it is a travesty and an affront to God, that His precious gift – of His precious life – be stifled and choked and abused and wasted, in a childish life-long tantrum of self-centeredness!  But in the child-like innocence of beginning, in the openness of authentic fertile childhood, His life is glorified and the child in Christ grows, as it is intended to do.  St. Therese shows us the fruit of faithfulness to His grace, and the world and the Church are blessed by her life, brief though it was.

St. Therese, pray for us.


references:

(1) https://www.littleflower.org/therese/

(2) Fr. John Hardon, S.J. – http://www.hardonsj.org/st-therese-lisieux-practiced-virtues-spiritual-childhood/

(3) ibid.

Posted by: Thomas Richard | November 24, 2017

America, One Last Chance, Revisited

One year ago after the surprising, stunning upset of the presidential election of Donald Trump, I wrote a blog post of my thoughts. I was grateful to God, to the point of tears in my praise and relief and thanksgiving! I had seen much of the America I grew up in, slipping away under increasingly “progressive” godless and man-centered secular ideology – that is, Big Government take-over of more and more of America, leaving less and less of all that had made this nation good in the past, and thus in many senses “great.”

Many Americans in that election cycle knew, in their hearts, that something deep and fundamental had become wrong in America – and needed to be set right. Politicians on both sides of our two-party, three-branch system of government had found ways to deadlock true governance of the country while at the same time assuring their re-elections and self-advancing careers. It had become a “swamp” – and “Drain the Swamp” became a rallying cry for this non-politician, questionably a Republican, ignore-the-rules candidate for President – and he won.

I wrote one year ago, in the blog America: Is This One Last Chance?, and it is true now as then: “Yes I believe it was a miracle! I believe God intervened because of the prayers of His faithful ones.” The following is from that blog post:

Do you know how close we came to losing this nation – to putting this nation of laws, with a Constitution to protect us and our human rights, into the hands of lawless Judges who feel free to make up laws and rights as they see fit? Do you know how close we still are to falling so far from “One nation under God” to a fragmented, shattered confederation of hostile tribes and identity groups under an all-powerful federal rule by whim and imperial fiat? The Lord has been very patient with us, His Church, as the darkness of the world around us continued to grow only darker.

I believe this, however, concerning the Church: He is giving His Church one more chance. He is God and I am not, and I don’t know that I personally would have given us another chance, so prodigal have we been with our blessings. But He is God and He has given us this one more chance to be who we are, and to be what we are sent to be: Light! We are sent to be His holy light in this dark world.

Where has the Church been, through the decades when this nation was in such grave moral decline? The nation morphed from a culture of life to a culture of death – from a predominantly Judeo-Christian nation to a predominantly materialistic and godless one. The light of revealed truth – even the light of the natural moral law – has been receding, dimming, fading into the horizon while an amoral darkness has begun to envelop the country. Barbarism, cruelty, animal-like inhumanity has crept in. And where has the Church been, as this enemy of souls was infiltrating every facet and corner of America?

What has the Church been doing, instead of her holy mission? Whom has she been serving, when she was not serving her Lord and God? What have our parishes and pulpits been occupied with, when they were not occupied with the upbuilding of her people in holiness, and nurturing them toward the fulness and the maturity of Christ?

Has the Church learned anything, this past year? Has the Church changed her sleepy lukewarmness, her unnatural treaty with the world and the loves of the world, her shameless counterfeiting and compromising of her mission to “make disciples, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you”? I see no evidence. I see rearranging the furniture and lowering the shades, lest too much light come in. I hear no wailing with grief at the interior ruination of His Holy City, the hunger of His people abandoned, the CEO bishops, the manager-priests, the preachers reading their mail-order homilies, the shameful excuses for adult formation if and where any at all even exists. Church, will you dare to tempt God, even after He has given you this time to repent?

Isaiah heard this from the Lord, many years ago. It seems relevant to us now:

Isa 66:1  Thus says the LORD: “Heaven is my throne and the earth is my footstool; what is the house which you would build for me, and what is the place of my rest?
Isa 66:2  All these things my hand has made, and so all these things are mine, says the LORD. But this is the man to whom I will look, he that is humble and contrite in spirit, and trembles at my word.
Isa 66:3  “He who slaughters an ox is like him who kills a man; he who sacrifices a lamb, like him who breaks a dog’s neck; he who presents a cereal offering, like him who offers swine’s blood; he who makes a memorial offering of frankincense, like him who blesses an idol. These have chosen their own ways, and their soul delights in their abominations;
Isa 66:4  I also will choose affliction for them, and bring their fears upon them; because, when I called, no one answered, when I spoke they did not listen; but they did what was evil in my eyes, and chose that in which I did not delight.”

I will close this post, with the same paragraph I closed with, one year ago:

The more pressing question is, what will we do now? Will we seek holiness, as is our vocation? Will we be light, as is our mission? Will we be witnesses, as we are sent to be, of His life-giving Spirit? Will we see the one door open before us – the door that may be the last chance we will have – to seek His will and do it? Will we pray with all our hearts to do His will no matter the cost? Will we offer Him all that He has entrusted to us, in hope that He may use it, and us, for the glory of His work in this His creation? Thy Kingdom come, Father! Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven! Hallowed be Thy name.

Amen.

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