This morning as I prayed the last day of the Novena to Divine Mercy, it seemed to me that the Blog article Thomas posted on April 7 was being re-enfoced by Jesus’ words to St. Faustina :

“Today bring to Me the Souls who have become Lukewarm, and immerse them in the abyss of My mercy. These souls wound My Heart most painfully. My soul suffered the most dreadful loathing in the Garden of Olives because of lukewarm souls. They were the reason I cried out: ‘Father, take this cup away from Me, if it be Your will.’ For them, the last hope of salvation is to run to My mercy.”

Most compassionate Jesus, You are Compassion Itself. I bring lukewarm souls into the abode of Your Most Compassionate Heart. In this fire of Your pure love, let these tepid souls who, like corpses, filled You with such deep loathing, be once again set aflame. O Most Compassionate Jesus, exercise the omnipotence of Your mercy and draw them into the very ardor of Your love, and bestow upon them the gift of holy love, for nothing is beyond Your power.

Eternal Father, turn Your merciful gaze upon lukewarm souls who are nonetheless enfolded in the Most Compassionate Heart of Jesus. Father of Mercy, I beg You by the bitter Passion of Your Son and by His three-hour agony on the Cross: Let them, too, glorify the abyss of Your mercy. Amen. “

Listening to Jesus’ words to all God’s children on this Saturday morning, I could not help but think of Mary, since every Saturday for centuries has been remembered as “Mary’s Day” because of her great Faith — especially as she waited believing Jesus would rise as He had promised.   Mary’s joy remained deep within her heart even while she endured with her Son all His Sufferings and experienced the piercing of her heart spiritually as His was pierced physically, on Calvary.

Mary is interceding with us today for those souls who have such need of God’s Mercy and of her Motherly love for them.  Mary is Mother of Mercy and Mother of the Church given to us by Jesus from His Cross.  Mary’s Joy is a fruit of the Holy Spirit — like the Peace only Jesus can give and not as the world gives.  The Holy Spirit enables us to bring forth the fruits of Love, joy, peace, and more, when we cooperate with the gifts given to us in Baptism.  When we are obedient as Mary was and is,  always to the Will of the Father as Jesus was.

Remembering Thomas’ blog, which I read only 3 days ago, I thought to myself – “God does all things well” — I believe  He put it into the heart of Thomas to write that blog because so many in these critical times, these confusing times and for many very sorrowful times, all of us need to examine our interior lives with deep contrition and fervent prayer for Mercy from the Heart of Jesus poured out in love for us, and seek the holiness St. Peter preached in his first Letter:

“Therefore, gird up the loins of your mind, live soberly, and set your hopes completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.  Like obedient children, do not act in compliance with the desires of your former ignorance but, as He who called you is holy, be holy yourselves in every aspect of your conduct, for it is written, “Be holy because I am holy.” (1 Pet 13-16)

Souls in the Church and the world need Mary’s loving example.  We all need to hear deep in our hearts Jesus’ words to John and to all of God’s children from His Cross: 

“Behold your Mother” (Jn 19:27)

John listened and was was obedient.  He took Mary into not only his home but into his life and learned to see in Mary what Jesus intended all of us to see by the Gifts of our Baptism.   Either we will behold her Who is the Mother of Mercy and Model for the Church or we will fall into that retardation and lukewarmness that so wounds the Heart of Jesus and can lead to death.  We cannot serve 2 Masters, but rather we can  “Behold our Mother”, and see what wonders God do in  us,  By His Grace let us share the joy Mary kept in her heart even in her suffering:

“My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior…” (Lk 1: 46-47)

Come, Holy Spirit fill the hearts of your faithful, as you filled Mary, that we may remain in Jesus,  growing in holiness, giving witness, and praying for His Grace not to become lukewarm but praying  with Jesus through Mary, for all  lukewarm souls to earnestly seek His Mercy! Merciful Heart of Jesus, we trust in You!  Mary, Mother of Mercy, and Mother of the Church, pray for us, and for lukewarm souls especially.

Posted by: Thomas Richard | April 7, 2021

The Way of the Cross – Easier Than the Impossible Alternative

“If a man is not a socialist at age 20, he has no heart; if he is not a conservative by age 40, he has no head.”  This interesting generalization has been attributed as a paraphrase of Winston Churchill.  Scholars reject this, finding older sayings having the same general idea, phrased one way or another to fit the language of their time and culture.  But there is a basic truth, I believe, in the notion at the heart of this:  unworkable ideologies ought to give way, in the human heart, to realistic wisdom – in time, and in maturity.

I heard another quotable common proverb once, relevant to this topic, that goes like this: “Some people never outgrow stupid.”  That’s pretty harsh – even flippant – but it does fit an observation of some very wise spiritual authorities in the Church, concerning the tragic abandonment of our intended vocation in Christ, by many.  He calls us to seek and to find even to the fulfillment of truth, wisdom, and most crucially of holy love (divine Charity).  Yes, sadly – tragically –  many men and women fail to seek, and to persevere earnestly in seeking that life in Christ that He came and gave His all, to give to us.  St. Paul found it, and pointed us to what should be the conscious goal of us all: maturity in Christ.  Seeking with prudence, we are called to persevere: 

… until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ… (Eph 4:13 )

Yes this is our vocation!  Maturity in Christ!  It may not be commonly attained, in this life, but it is our vocation – and His grace is sufficient, if we will but remain, and grow, in Him.

The Way of the Retarded Soul

This falling by the wayside, on the path to spiritual fulfillment, has been called the fall of a “retarded soul.”  The Lord intends, with His grace, that we grow in the life of Christ!  But many give up the ascent into Him, rather than progressing in the spiritual life from a beginning in spiritual childhood, into (with God’s grace) a spiritual adolescence, and continuing (with God’s grace) into a spiritual maturity.  Many others do occasionally “fall back,” then repent, stand up, recover, and begin again, earnestly striving to keep faith and grow!  This would be noble, and meritorious.  This, we remember, St Peter himself did several times in Scripture. Jesus foretold him of this, as the Cross and Peter’s great personal trial drew near: 

“Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail; and when you have turned again, strengthen your brethren.” And he said to him, “Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death.”  He said, “I tell you, Peter, the cock will not crow this day, until you three times deny that you know me.” (Lk 22:31-34)

But a definitive and grave “falling by the wayside” is something else.  It may begin as an impossible compromise that the Christian makes, a compromise of the call of Christ and the call of this godless world.  This Christian does not want to abandon God or the world!  He wants them both.  He wants to keep on good terms with both, rejecting neither, offending neither, rocking no boats nor burning any bridges nor turning his back on either God or mammon.  But such two loves cannot co-exist.  With these there is and can be no compromise.  There is no “half-way” between hell and heaven, nor between righteousness and evil.  There can be, and is, on the journey in this world to and into Christ, a journey of increasing purity of love, and firm rejection – purgation – of what is unclean, impure, unholy, evil.  Both may exist in the soul, in this journey – temporarily! – but there can be no enduring compromise, no toleration, only patient and resolute struggle in what is a war between good and evil, as God gives us the light to see and judge the darkness and overcome it in His grace.

No servant 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.” (Luke 16:13)

The truth of the above passage can be more like a brick wall blocking the road, than a mild “Warning”, or a stronger “Stop!” sign.  Contradictions cannot coexist!  Sadly, hypocrisy can “coexist”, at least for a while, and for the lovers of this world, hypocrisy does seem to solve the “religion problem.”  Religious hypocrisy – as if God cannot spot a liar a mile away! – is a preferred “solution” to the crisis brought by the actual teachings of Christ: “You cannot serve God and mammon.”

Such a person can fall, then, away from the way of the Cross – and Life – and in fact choose the self-gratifying love of the things of this world even to the actual rejection and contempt of God.  He may keep up appearances in Church and with his church friends.  He may not admit this interior choice even to himself.  But cloaked in religious hypocrisy and pretense, he has chosen to abandon the path of struggle and ascent, instead to float downstream in self-satisfactions and temporal delights.  This is the way of the retarded soul.

Having rejected God in his heart, he has opened himself to all the lies, the duplicity, the absurdities and insanities of satan.  He has no problem redefining marriage to whatever today’s culture declares to be good. He has no problem redefining “gender” to be whatever the person decides in his inner sense.  “Who am I to judge another?”  Any absolute imposition by an irrelevant “god” (or biology!) is of no significance – we can remake and redefine ourselves, our “partners,” our personal “truth”.  Since there is no “god” there are no absolutes or imperatives, except what the awakened and modern community decides.  Hence, they proclaim, we are free.  This is the way of modern, godless man free of foundation or anchor, free of root, transforming light or living water; his way is death.  This is the way of the retarded soul: seeking himself, he has found slavery, seeking himself, he is an easy victim of the liar and the father of lies.

When such a person takes leadership in government, he works toward only more government: more control and power over others, and more comfort and prestige for himself.  In his mind it is just and reasonable that he lead and control and rule over others!  Any who believe that they don’t need his rule only prove his point: they are incompetent and unintelligent (“the deplorables”); he was born to lead; they, to serve.  This is the professional politician: he rules for the love of ruling.  

When such a person is religious, his ambitions and goals are directed into the world of religion.  If and when he gains for himself a leadership position – and thus power – in a church, he works and plans for more power, comfort for himself and control over others.  He also “rules for the love of ruling.”  This of course merits the just judgments of Christ upon the “scribes, Pharisees and hypocrites” of His day.  This is the “clericalist,” the “professional religionist,” of our day.

Mt 23:4  They bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with their finger.
Mt 23:5  They do all their deeds to be seen by men; for they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long,
Mt 23:6  and they love the place of honor at feasts and the best seats in the synagogues.
Mt 23:13  But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because you shut the kingdom of heaven against men; for you neither enter yourselves, nor allow those who would enter to go in.
Mt 23:15  Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you traverse sea and land to make a single proselyte, and when he becomes a proselyte, you make him twice as much a child of hell as yourselves.

To Conclude: Seek Righteousness While it is Day…

I say all this as a warning, because many false teachers have gone out among us.  Do not follow those who know not where they are, or where they are going.  “Let them alone; they are blind guides. And if a blind man leads a blind man, both will fall into a pit.” (Mt 15:14)  Do not be led by those who are not themselves being led by the Lord, the Teacher of Truth, the Holy Spirit.  I conclude with words of St. John, which must be heard prayerfully, carefully, deeply:

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are of God; for many false prophets have gone out into the world.
By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit which confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit which does not confess Jesus is not of God. This is the spirit of antichrist, of which you heard that it was coming, and now it is in the world already.
Little children, you are of God, and have overcome them; for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.
They are of the world, therefore what they say is of the world, and the world listens to them.
We are of God. Whoever knows God listens to us, and he who is not of God does not listen to us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error. (1 Jn 4:1-6)

Posted by: Thomas Richard | March 9, 2021

A Debt of Honor Is Owed to Mary our Mother

Is this true, or false: “One is not obliged as a Catholic to honor Mary”?  I heard this the first time a few years ago, to my horror.  I had hoped that such a teaching would fade away quickly; it has not.  Hence, in deeper distress I want to try to say again, no!  This teaching profoundly misrepresents the Catholic Faith, which is permeated and infused with true Marian devotion by God’s intention and design.  We are very poorly presented by those groups in the Church, who profess and proclaim this teaching.

Honor is due – is owed – is deserved to men and women in God’s creation, as God has placed them in His plan and design.  To those to whom honor is due, and to the extent that is owed, justice and charity oblige the faithful to give appropriate and deserved honor.  Justice is simple in the secular and the religious world – return what is due: Pay all of them their dues, taxes to whom taxes are due, revenue to whom revenue is due, respect to whom respect is due, honor to whom honor is due. (Rom 13:7)

True Marian devotion is in decline.  That is my own conclusion, fallible though it is, as I see the Church and the world today: Mary is increasingly marginalized and minimized among Catholics.  God created the church with at least two “dimensions” – a Marian dimension, the righteous feminine side, and a Petrine dimension, the righteous masculine side.  Together they form a Holy Family, the Holy Church.  If one or the other side is suppressed or rejected or minimized, the church suffers a distortion; the mission is wounded perhaps to failure for a time.  

In our time we have lost the righteous balance and unity in Christ; this is a time of distortion in the Church, the evidence: clericalism with all the abuses (sexual abuses and other abuses of power) and spiritual afflictions in which we continue to suffer.  I want to say, we need Mary.

Mary is Mother of the Church:

Catechism 963 – Since the Virgin Mary’s role in the mystery of Christ and the Spirit has been treated, it is fitting now to consider her place in the mystery of the Church. “The Virgin Mary . . . is acknowledged and honored as being truly the Mother of God and of the redeemer…. She is ‘clearly the mother of the members of Christ’ … since she has by her charity joined in bringing about the birth of believers in the Church, who are members of its head.”<LG 53; cf. St. Augustine, De virg. 6: PL 40,399> “Mary, Mother of Christ, Mother of the Church.”<Paul VI, Discourse, November 21,1964>

— If Mary is “clearly the mother of the members of Christ” is she not owed honor from the members?  Is “Honor your father and your mother” God’s will, or not?

Catechism 971 — “All generations will call me blessed”: “The Church’s devotion to the Blessed Virgin is intrinsic to Christian worship.”<Lk 1:48; Paul VI, MC 56> The Church rightly honors “the Blessed Virgin with special devotion. From the most ancient times the Blessed Virgin has been honored with the title of ‘Mother of God,’ to whose protection the faithful fly in all their dangers and needs…. This very special devotion … differs essentially from the adoration which is given to the incarnate Word and equally to the Father and the Holy Spirit, and greatly fosters this adoration.”<LG 66> The liturgical feasts dedicated to the Mother of God and Marian prayer, such as the rosary, an “epitome of the whole Gospel,” express this devotion to the Virgin Mary.<Cf. Paul VI, MC 42; SC 103>

If Catholic devotion to the Blessed Virgin is “intrinsic” to our faithful worship, is our honor of her merely optional?  If our honor is not due, what is due?  Our dishonor?  Our indifference?  A smile and a wave to her from a detached distance?  Catholics, is Mary your Blessed Virgin Mother, or not?  If you are in Christ, she is your mother.  Ask your brother John the Beloved Disciple, who was first to hear and receive this Good News from the Cross, from the dying Jesus Himself, saying to him, “Behold your mother.” (Jn 19:27).  And John “took her into his own.”

How important is the completeness and fullness, the whole-heartedness, the maturity of our worship of Holy God?  Jesus told the Samaritan woman at the well, (Jn 4:22-24):

You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews.
But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for such the Father seeks to worship him.
God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”

The Father seeks those who worship Him not as they “choose” or “prefer” or minimize to what “fits” with what we know now or with all we care to know now.  He is calling us to more!  Indeed, He is calling us to the fullness that has been entrusted to this Holy Catholic Church!  How can Catholic teachers seek to dilute the Faith to “fit” better the non-Catholic world, the very world we are sent into as witnesses of all that He has revealed?  The Church was sent (Mt 28:19-20) to teach all that He commanded – Personally by His words and example, and through His Holy Spirit to the Church as well – the whole Truth:

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age.”

We owe Him that!  All disciples whom we hope to prepare for Him, deserve to hear and to learn all that He has entrusted to His Church.

Vatican II echoed Marian devotion and honor passed on to us, from ancient times to today in the Catholic Church (Lumen Gentium #52,53):

Joined to Christ the Head and in the unity of fellowship with all His saints, the faithful must in the first place reverence the memory “of the glorious ever Virgin Mary, Mother of our God and Lord Jesus Christ”.

The Virgin Mary, who at the message of the angel received the Word of God in her heart and in her body and gave Life to the world, is acknowledged and honored as being truly the Mother of God and Mother of the Redeemer….. She is “the mother of the members of Christ . . . having cooperated by charity that faithful might be born in the Church, who are members of that Head.” Wherefore she is hailed as a pre-eminent and singular member of the Church, and as its type and excellent exemplar in faith and charity. The Catholic Church, taught by the Holy Spirit, honors her with filial affection and piety as a most beloved mother.

We “must in the first place reverence” her memory but honor is optional? Mary “is hailed as a pre-eminent and singular member of the Church, and as its type and excellent exemplar in faith and charity” – but honoring her is not owed her?  She is not deserving of the honor due to her because of the place given her by God in His Church?  Is she not worthy of honor as our Mother in Christ, she who is “the mother of the members of Christ . . . having cooperated by charity that faithful might be born in the Church, who are members of that Head”?

Friends, the fullness of divine revelation given to the Catholic Church is immense!  We cannot teach or share everything in the Faith all at once – the Body of Teachings is too big, too rich, too full.  But we can and we ought not ever dilute to the point of misrepresenting the fullness of the Truth, presenting partial truths in ways that mislead, whether intentionally or unintentionally.  Many today are presenting Mary and her place in the Gospel in ways that seem to me to be intended to ease the acceptance of the Catholic Faith by today’s protestantized, secularized modernists who have become “consumers” in this “discretionary market of weekend religion providers.”  And many “salesmen” are “competing for a decreasing available market share.”  

Yes, I know how cynical that sounds.  But these times demand facing hard realities.  The Catholic Faith is not an optional dessert for people who are already overweight from foods they did not need.  The food the Church is entrusted with is essential, necessary for Life and urgently needed as the night approaches.  A Church seeking to grow, revealing only parts of the Truth to a lost people weak and dazed in the spiritual famine of the modern West, is making poor use of the time – and there is or may be precious little of it left.  We need, today, in this cold and hard world, our Mother Mary!  The modern hard and sterile clerical church (not the Church intended by Christ!) needs her maternal, feminine, motherly and faith-filled gifts today, as perhaps never so urgently before.  The bureaucratic institutional and impersonal church needs a mother – the very mother intended for her from the beginning!  Our Mother Mary deserves the honor, the love, the devotion, the place among us that God intends.  We had better begin to listen to Him, and the sooner the better; the clock is ticking.

Friends, ask your pastors to provide the needed catechesis and spiritual formation that we need in these dark times.  We need to learn to pray, and to read and listen to and hear Holy Scripture.  We need food for the interior life.  We need to become better formed, in other words, into the image and likeness of God our Creator and Redeemer.  

And his gifts were that some should be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ;
so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the cunning of men, by their craftiness in deceitful wiles.
Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ,
from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by every joint with which it is supplied, when each part is working properly, makes bodily growth and upbuilds itself in love. (Eph 4:11-16)

See also:

The Church Needs Mary

Foundations of Marian Devotion in the Early Church

Posted by: Thomas Richard | March 1, 2021

A New Day is Dawning

In an essay published on this website on June 15, 2019, I wrote in Will God Give Us a Third Chance? my great concern for the Church, still at that time asleep in a comfortable status quo, still taking her ease.  A hungry pack of thieves and robbers – growing and expanding their power in America, in the world, and in the Church! – had continued their subterfuge with growing success.  I saw at that time – with dismay – the unconcern spread wide, far and high in the institutional Church.  And now, today, March 1, 2021, with many in the Church and the world still preoccupied with only what is within arm’s reach, and blind to what is climbing over the broken and weakened walls, invading and in-filling both Church and State – today I was on the verge of despair.

BUT!  This morning I see a sign of great hope.  A strong and faithful bishop, Bp. Joseph Strickland of Tyler, Texas is cooperating with a small group of committed laity to build with his permission in his diocese a multifaceted Catholic Center  – an intentional faithful Catholic community, “Now in the planning stages, Veritatis Splendor will be a spiritual home where Christians can develop, nurture and preserve all of the chief truths and teachings of Christendom.”

I invite my readers to read the wonderful news in the National Catholic Register, HERE.

The website of the planned Center, named Veritas Splendor (named after the papal encyclical of Pope St. John Paul II, The Splendor of Truth) is a must-see as well. You may well want to write for more information.

I also include below the three main points of my 2019 essay published on this website:

Point 1 from 2019, “Will God Give Us a Third Chance?” – the danger is dark and deadly:

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

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

Point 2 from 2019, “Will God Give Us a Third Chance?” – God sent an unexpected reprieve:

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

Point 3 from 2019, “Will God Give Us a Third Chance?” – The Church continues in wide-spread famine:

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

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

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

BUT no, here in 2021 we are not deserted or abandoned: God has heard the cries of His poor.  The Splendor of Truth continues to radiate.  The most Holy Spirit is moving still, and awakening His people – even if only a few at a time. He can work grand transformations in a glance, in a blink, in a moment, and mountains can move and deserts can erupt in fruitfulness, all in His perfect time.

To quote from the Sunday morning Liturgy of the Hours, in this time of Lent, now March 2021:

Today is holy to the LORD your God. Do not lament, do not weep; for today is holy to our LORD. Do not be saddened this day, for rejoicing in the LORD must be your strength! (Nehemiah 8:9,10b)

Posted by: Thomas Richard | February 7, 2021

Open Letter to Preachers

My ideas about Jesus will not give me peace.
A preacher’s or pastor’s opinions about Jesus will not give me peace.
My theological or doctrinal conclusions about Jesus will not give me peace.
Nor will yours, give me – or you – peace.

My talking to Jesus will not give me peace.
Your talking about Jesus will not give me peace.
Sitting and talking and listening in a group (with workbooks!) about Jesus will not give me peace.
My reading the Bible, seeking to find my understandings, my opinions, my thoughts – myself – in the Bible about myself or about Jesus, will not give me peace.

My prayers to Jesus – if only monolog about me, my thoughts, my hopes, my fears, my wishes, my opinions – will not give me peace.
Neither will my silent daydreaming, even before the Blessed Sacrament, even though giving me a reprieve from the external noises of the world, give me peace.
“Helping” Jesus know ME is useless: He knows me, better than I do myself.
What do I need?  I NEED TO KNOW JESUS.  And I need to come to know myself as He knows me.

I need to seek Him where He reveals Himself – where He reveals Holy Truth – where He uncovers what is hidden by the noise and business of the world, by the clutter and deceptions and hiding places of my own heart.  I need to seek Him where He has been waiting for 2000 years now: In Divine Revelation, in the Holy Scripture, in the parables and testimonies and mysteries of His sacred acts and His precious words in Holy Scripture.

I NEED TO LISTEN TO JESUS – I NEED TO HEAR HIM!
 –
Lectio divina, rightly understood and practiced with right disposition can enable a hungry soul to encounter Jesus in Holy Scripture.  Nothing more fancy, no “Complete Program for Today’s Busy Adults!” on today’s Christian or Catholic market can replace the work of the Holy Spirit in a hungry seeker of Truth, who listens to His Word, and trembles in reverence before the Holy.

Isa 66:1-2  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?

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.

Posted by: Thomas Richard | January 13, 2021

Is the Vaccine Moral?

The following interview on Lifesight News sheds light on the question that I doubt has been considered in the Church, thus far.  I doubt that the Church, in her present moral discernment on this question, was given the science and the facts involved. The interview is hard to listen to – in places technical beyond the scope of most – but the moral question, I think we can all respond to.

I think we all need to hear this, and seriously consider it.  May the Lord give us light, and the courage to remain in the light!

Link, to the 1 hour Interview:

https://www.lifesitenews.com/blogs/the-unborn-babies-used-for-vaccine-development-were-alive-at-tissue-extraction

The Catholic biologist and vaccine researcher’s book is available at the Kolbe Center (link in the title:)

 Vaccination: A Catholic Perspective, Biologist Pamela Acker.

The unspeakable, inhuman horror of abortion has deeply penetrated the fabric of modern American culture.  God sees it all.  We the Church will have to answer for this, first.  The author’s summary, at the end of the interview, included simply don’t take it!  It is not good for your soul, and it is not good for your body.

The USCCB has two papers on the issue, that ought to be heard as well:

MORAL CONSIDERATIONS REGARDING THE NEW COVID-19 VACCINES

and:

Answers to Key Ethical Questions About COVID-19 Vaccines

We really need to pray about the decisions we come to.  At this point, personally, I am back in the “undecided” camp.

Posted by: Thomas Richard | January 7, 2021

A Parable for Dark Times: the Ten Maidens with Lamps of Oil

In the parable of the wise and the foolish virgins, Jesus teaches something very important for these times – for our times, difficult as they are – and for the times to come, soon.

To summarize the teaching (Mt 25:1-13), Jesus spoke of five wise and five foolish virgins who went to meet the Bridegroom in the night, in the procession to take His Bride to their new home.  This is one among many parables of Jesus having relevance for all times, but especially as the end times come closer and closer.  In the darkness of those times coming, light – spiritual light – is crucially and urgently needed.

Mt 25:1  “Then the kingdom of heaven shall be compared to ten maidens who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom.
Mt 25:2  Five of them were foolish, and five were wise.
Mt 25:3  For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them;
Mt 25:4  but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps.
Mt 25:5  As the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept.
Mt 25:6  But at midnight there was a cry, ‘Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’
Mt 25:7  Then all those maidens rose and trimmed their lamps.
Mt 25:8  And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’
Mt 25:9  But the wise replied, ‘Perhaps there will not be enough for us and for you; go rather to the dealers and buy for yourselves.’
Mt 25:10  And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast; and the door was shut.
Mt 25:11  Afterward the other maidens came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’
Mt 25:12  But he replied, ‘Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.’
Mt 25:13  Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.

Obviously in the parable, we are to conclude that the oil is the point: we need to have sufficient oil – we cannot overlook the oil; it is absolutely necessary.  To run out of this oil, in the darkness and trial of the end times, will mean that the door to the holy wedding feast of heaven will be closed in our faces!  To have no oil, when we stand before Christ on Judgment Day, will move Him to say to us, “Amen I say to you, I do not know you.”

What therefore is this oil, and where do we get it?  Where do we get as much of it as we will need?  How do we guard it, and protect it, lest we lose it on the way?

Among other uses, such as for ointment, for skin beauty, for incense and other uses, oil is for anointing and for light in lamps.  Because of its importance in the anointing of priests, of kings and prophets, and because of its use in lamps for light, the symbol of both Christ Himself and the Holy Spirit come forth for us in this parable.  That is to say, when we stand before Christ the Judge on Judgment Day, He will look into our souls to see what?  He will look to see Himself as light in our souls – He will look to see the anointing oil of the Holy Spirit upon us and within us.  He will look to see His Life in us!  Thus He will “know us” if we are His own, of His own very Life – or He will not “know us,” if we are empty of His Life, if there is in truth, no Life in us.

The Interior Life.

The crucially important Life spoken of here is given to us by God Himself sacramentally in Baptism, in the infusing of all the holy gifts of Baptism: sanctifying grace, the supernatural virtues of faith, and hope, and holy charity, the supernatural moral virtues, the seven-fold gifts of the Holy Spirit, and all the virtues and gifts that flow from these, comprising the truly faithful Christian life.  This life is also called the Interior Life, and the Life of Prayer, understanding that prayer is in truth, holy communion with God.  St. John Vianney wrote, “Prayer is nothing other than union with God.”  The Interior Life is, in essence the life of divine love within us, moving us and vivifying us to live His Life here and now in this world, as we walk ever closer to our final embrace of union with Him and with all who are in Him, in eternity.

So the question of the oil – what it is, and how do we keep it safe as we walk toward that Day – is the question of the Interior Life, the life of grace, the life of prayer, the life of Christ in us.  And this oil is not a dead or static “thing”, it is a spiritual living reality that must be lived in our human living – it must be a Life that gives life to all that we are and do.  The spiritual, interior life is not something that can be locked up to be kept safe – it must be lived out and growing, ever growing and maturing – ever giving forth His Light! – or it will stagnate and wither and die within us.  It is given to us like a baby – beautiful and lovable – but like a baby it cannot remain a baby: it is given, it is destined, to grow, to mature, to become “the measure of the stature of Christ” within us.

Eph 4:11  And his gifts were that some should be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers,
Eph 4:12  to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ,
Eph 4:13  until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ…

Go Rather to the Dealers and Buy for Yourselves. (Mt 25:9)

Thus the wise virgins said to those too foolish to see that each person needed to gather this spiritual life into themselves – that they too needed to have “oil” to give light in their own lives, that they could not simply borrow spiritual life from another.  No, each person must gather this oil for themselves, in their own due diligence, in their own prudent use of time in their own lives: to grow in Christ.  Each person must stand before Him and give account for themselves: how did we, each of us, use the time given us, to live the essential purpose for our lives:  “Why did God make you?”  “God made me to know, to love, and to serve Him in this life, and to be happy with Him forever in the next.”

Growing in the Interior Life

How do we actually grow in the life of Christ?  The four pillars of the Catholic Faith give the answer.  We need to know, and to grow in, the Truth of the Faith – her doctrines, her teachings, the holy truths given us by God through His Church.  We need to live the Truth of the Faith: we need to live righteous, moral, holy lives faithful to our Lord.  We need to grow in grace, through the sacraments received with right disposition, and lived faithfully.  And we need to grow in prayer-communion with God.  Many Catholic adults have grown many years in the ways of the world, but precious little in the ways of God – and yet the ways of God are the ways that will endure for eternity!

The Catholic Church has been entrusted with precious, costly, priceless gifts of spiritual truth.  Many go forward to receive communion; few are present before God at home with their well-worn Bibles, holding tightly to His every word, His every truth, His every whisper of the ways to Him that please Him.  Many receive Him for a moment in Eucharist, but have no time to seek Him in timeless intimacy of silence and solitude, in hunger and emptiness, in cries to heaven in the darkness of prayer.  Many even of many years, remain far from “mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.”

  • Let us all look hard and straight at the signs of the times! (~Mt 16:3) 
  • The day is far spent, the night draws near.  (~Lk 24:29)
  • Let us in urgency make the most of the time, for the days are evil. (~Eph 5:16) 
  • Let us work the works of the one who sent us.  Night comes, when no man can work. (~Jn 9:4)
Posted by: Thomas Richard | December 2, 2020

The Two Churches – Thyatira, U.S.A.

Rev 2:18  “And to the angel of the church in Thyatira write: ‘The words of the Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and whose feet are like burnished bronze.
Rev 2:19  “‘I know your works, your love and faith and service and patient endurance, and that your latter works exceed the first.
Rev 2:20  But I have this against you, that you tolerate the woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess and is teaching and beguiling my servants to practice immorality and to eat food sacrificed to idols.
Rev 2:21  I gave her time to repent, but she refuses to repent of her immorality.
Rev 2:22  Behold, I will throw her on a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her I will throw into great tribulation, unless they repent of her doings;
Rev 2:23  and I will strike her children dead. And all the churches shall know that I am he who searches mind and heart, and I will give to each of you as your works deserve.
Rev 2:24  But to the rest of you in Thyatira, who do not hold this teaching, who have not learned what some call the deep things of Satan, to you I say, I do not lay upon you any other burden;
Rev 2:25  only hold fast what you have, until I come.
Rev 2:26  He who conquers and who keeps my works until the end, I will give him power over the nations,
Rev 2:27  and he shall rule them with a rod of iron, as when earthen pots are broken in pieces, even as I myself have received power from my Father;
Rev 2:28  and I will give him the morning star.
Rev 2:29  He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’

Verses 19-20.  There are two “Catholic” Churches in the West; in the USA; in the [fill in your local area], perhaps in your very parish: two.  There is one, beloved of the Lord and true to her roots: “”‘I know your works, your love and faith and service and patient endurance, and that your latter works exceed the first.”  And there is the other, still here from antiquity, still clinging to the fiction of loyalty to two masters, God and Mammon: “You tolerate the woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess and is teaching and beguiling my servants to practice immorality and to eat food sacrificed to idols.”  

In this “church of the other”, the fiction endures that “Yes, of course we can serve both God and Mammon!  No we must not “love the one and hate the other”!  That is not reasonable or practical at all!  God is reasonable – God is practical!  God and Mammon can walk together, and work together!  We will accompany the world, and the world will embrace us!”

Verses 21-23.  God has been very patient with us, but the sin has only deepened its roots, and widened its branches, and multiplied its wayward children, and pierced the hearts of the faithful of the Lord.  The immorality only multiplies, the lusts of the flesh and of the world and the boastful arrogance of the heart only grows bolder; their abominations cloaked in purple, crowned as princes they strut in cathedrals with heads held high, mocking the God whose Cross they trample upon with laughter.  They are the princes of Jezebel, adorned and preening, invaders of the Temple of the Lord.  They rape the innocent, they rob the trusting, they sabotage the promises of Christ and the hopes of His children for their own lustful ambitions and cold, sterile hearts.  

The time is approaching, it is certain, it draws nearer and nearer.  Their dark master knows this; his hatred now enflamed, only rages more; his victim-slaves ever blind, only advance faster to their death.

Verses 24-28. The promises of God are eternal because He is, because His Truth is, because He IS, and in the end, evil is not.  The glory of God He holds as a secret only whispered now, but it is a Hallelujah! that shouted will fill the Creation – and every faithful soul – on that Day. 

Verse 29.  It is a gift, to have ears to hear.  The Word He speaks, is a Gift for the hearing of those He calls.  The Word He gives, finding place in a human heart, is a treasure more precious than an infinity of universes each more full with worldly riches than the other.  These days look dark, brothers and sisters, but the light that is eternal is just beyond the horizon.  One day – surprise!  It will come.

Posted by: Thomas Richard | November 6, 2020

Final Update: Gregory the Pilgrim

On the road, 2015, in ministry of reparation, in prayer for us all.

I first met Gregory in 2015; I wrote a blog entry on him and his beautiful, heroic vocation of personal reparation for the sins of the world. The blog entry is Reparation: Freely Suffering for the Good of Another.

I heard from Gregory again in 2018, and wrote a second blog entry to “update” my readers on his pilgrimage of prayer, on foot and in poverty, across this country, to religious sites honoring especially our Blessed Mother Mary. Her intercession, for the good of others, was the burden he carried in his heart. This blog entry is Update on Gregory the Pilgrim.

Now, today in 2020, I received a blog Comment about him, that he was taken from this earth following complications of Covid-19. The final message we have from him is a text message he wrote to his friend Tinsley – posted on the Facebook page “Gregory the Pilgrim” dedicated to him and his pilgrimage. Tinsley wrote:

got this text from Gregory last night he has Covid and pneumonia he has been in the hospital for the past two weeks please pray for him!!

Ave Maria ! ! !
Hi Tinsley.

I woke up 2 am not breathing.
So they told me the I need to be put on a ventilator with an induced coma.
I said no.
So they put me on a high pressure oxygen mask.
And now there going to move me to ICU.
My spiritual director told me to trust in the lord and go on the ventilator.
So I think this could be it with the ventilator.
So Tinsley please pray for me and if I pass on to the lord, that Christ will give me a Catholic burial somewhere.
Thanks for being such a good Sister and friend to me.
God Bless you Tinsley !

I post this brief note pondering deeply our need today for Gregory’s calling: persons willing to offer their own hardships and sufferings for the good of others. I am reminded of the prayer of Jesus (Luke 23:34) in the horrific sufferings of His Cross:

Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.

Every one of His followers has a cross to carry. May we each carry our cross in His Holy Charity, remembering and receiving the burdens of those who “know not what they do” in their offenses against Him and His Blessed Mother – today and every day.

Posted by: Thomas Richard | November 1, 2020

Deep State, Deep Church

When my daughter was a little girl, we would sometimes play “Let’s have tea” together, with her little tea-set, with some dolls set at her “table”, with herself and me sitting cross-legged on the floor. It was all pretend – no liquids involved, nothing actually swallowed, but both of us would act out the fantasy and have a conversation consistent with the “make-believe” of the game. It was appropriate to her growing into her future life as a woman and mother, as were my own make-believe games when I was a boy, with my toy guns and wars with imagined enemies (war was actually the reality for many, many of the men and fathers of those days). Something very different is going on now. 

Today, many manifestations of childhood continue into the teen years and beyond, into young adulthood and further – a “Peter Pan” culture of many biologically grown men and women, clinging to childhood in many diverse ways. “Virtual reality” seems to many to be more real, and better, than the dysfunctional pretenses (to them) that others call “reality.” So they redefine reality. Pretend becomes real; real becomes pretend.

Thus today human nature itself is up for correction.  Persons born male can cancel nature and assert “I am woman!”  Persons born female can cancel nature and assert “I am man!”  Persons born male or female can cancel nature and declare their feelings for persons of the same sex are such that they want to be sexually intimate, or even “get married.”  Thus God Himself is up for correction.  God, the Creator and Designer of human nature, and of the human family of husband, wife and children, can be cancelled and replaced.  Man/Woman is in charge of their own persons and relations: God’s way is mere “suggestion”, open to “improvement.”

This would be called mental illness, if it were not insisted on by so many people – it has been made “politically correct” – and therefore very gravely concerning – troubling – for the life of the society and culture. The Church must live, and preach, and model reality. What God has made, is good. In His Goodness and Truth, is our happiness.

This mental illness has become, as intended by the spirit of its ultimate source, a world-wide pandemic, of which Covid-19 is a prophetic example.  Two important forces are at work in the spread of the illness.  The secular “Deep State” is working toward globalism: one united government, one world currency, a world subjugated to a ruling elite who, in Augustine’s classic “The City of God”, are those leaders opposing God in their earthly City of Man: they “rule for the love of ruling.” These include the professional politicians of either party, but mostly Progressive Democrats.  They rule because they are the elite – they know better than we, how to control our lives.  And there is a religious “Deep Church”, including those professional church leaders – of religions world-wide – who also “rule for the love of ruling,” who plan and execute their ascent to positions of influence and control in the “hierarchy,” to advance themselves and not for the glory of God and the salvation of souls.  Both of these branches of the controlling elites are rooted deep in this world and the loves and lusts for the things of this world.

The true and holy Church of our Lord Jesus Christ must – must – remain in the eternal and supernatural Truth of our Lord.  We are told this very seldom, but we must hear it loudly and clearly, as the works of evil erupt more and more, in the corruption of its lies, its contradictions, its shallow religiosity and compromised morality.  We must know this: He alone is True, is Truth, is Life itself.  We must commit to be faithful to live and careful to grow in – and not retreat from – His Life.  The holy virtues given us in Baptism are meant to guide us and mature us in His supernatural Life.  The lukewarm, the tepid, the compromised, the two-souled, those who want to strike a deal with the devil and take pleasure in the lusts of this world while not getting God too angry – those embrace a fantasy.  Weakened by the ways of this world, they stumble and fall in failure to carry the Cross that Jesus has laid upon all His own.

Is this come upon us? –

The coming of the lawless one by the activity of Satan will be with all power and with pretended signs and wonders,
and with all wicked deception for those who are to perish, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.
Therefore God sends upon them a strong delusion, to make them believe what is false,
so that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.
(2 Thes 2:9-12)

Brothers and sisters, arise.  His grace is sufficient.  His call is empowering.  His will will win.  Listen to Him, and embrace His call with the fervor that is due.  Act in the light of the supernatural gifts He has given: Faith in the Triune God in heaven; Hope in the glory of His Life eternal; Charity in union with His Own in His Trinitarian Mystery and among His own holy people gathered into His Son.  The glory of such Light will overcome the deepest darkness of a lost world shackled to futility and death.

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