Saturday, December 28, 2013
Tuesday, December 24, 2013
Thursday, December 19, 2013
I can think of two examples, from St. Paul and Jesus himself, both praying earnestly for an end or abeyance of suffering. God said "no." To St. Paul he said "my grace is sufficient!" To his only begotten Son, completely innocent and undeserving of suffering, he sent an angel for comfort and strength.
I found myself at a familiar prayer, to be delivered from temptations that I have found particularly vexing for most of my life. There were years when I was safe, and months when I was not. I naturally prefer deliverance without a struggle. Partly because I dread the outcome, partly because I dread the struggle.
Thank God he said "no." A man's got to do what a man's got to do, lest, as in this case, one remains a lesser man, and I do want to be exactly, not one ounce less, who I be, in the timeless sense. Who am I? In the divine plan, one is answered in another: who is Jesus? Son of Man and Son of God, in him I find myself. And so when I ask that this or that unpleasant cup pass from me, I have my answer. Each "no" means "you can do this!" What hope he has in me! Thank God for such love and optimism for this wretch, who is not hopeless -- given such abiding hope so graciously and unbelievably placed in me!
Tuesday, December 03, 2013
And why do we do the dumbest things? Oh, yes, one refers to the other, and I am often guilty of both.
Anyway, I was struck by these lines from two of my favourite contemporary authors: Raymund Feist: "Feelings don't make sense, .. but they can drive us, and that's what you have to understand most of all. People will often do the most imponderable things because of how they feel, not because of what they think." Terry Goodkind's version is simpler: "Passion rules reason," but I think that needs unpacking.
Perhaps that is how Jesus on the cross could possibly say "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." It takes the most clear-sighted human being to see the limits of our humanity, which can mean that reason ends where passions begin, or where passion goes over the precipice. I often overreact when I feel slighted. I'd love it if that was the point when I'd remember: he/she did this really stupid thing because of emotion, not deliberate thought. And I should daily practice ruling my passion with calm, long-sighted reason.
Monday, December 02, 2013
I recently heard a theologian assert that Hmanae Vitae is not infallible teaching, although it is important. This seems to be a good read in support of the encylical: https://www.ewtn.com/library/Theology/AUTHUMVT.HTM. Sometimes, reading about arguments of this sort bring to mind one word: wrangling. Splitting hairs might also be apt. Such discussions are important, perhaps, but they can seem too academic. It reminds me of teenagers trying to wriggle out of what Papa had said. :-) (That was how we addressed our father, growing up: Papa. And we probably did that sort of wrangling then, too, at least some of the time!)
But following the evidence, and we have plenty of it, it does seem that Pope Paul VI was proven right for the most part, and I don't see that he was wrong anywhere.
Tuesday, November 26, 2013
Jesus hath many lovers of His heavenly kingdom, but few bearers of His Cross. He hath many seekers of comfort, but few of tribulation. He findeth many companions of His table, but few of His fasting. All desire to rejoice with Him, few are willing to undergo anything for His sake. Many follow Jesus that they may eat of His loaves, but few that they may drink of the cup of His passion. Many are astonished at His Miracles, few follow after the shame of His Cross. Many love Jesus so long as no adversities happen to them. Many praise Him and bless Him, so long as they receive any comforts from Him. But if Jesus hide Himself and withdraw from them a little while, they fall either into complaining or into too great dejection of mind.
Who could ever love a cross, an instrument of torture? It came to me that "love" is not "a warm feeling of delight" after all. It is an exercise of the will to decide when something has to be done. We will not like the cross, but sometimes, we will want it for what taking it up will accomplish. Perhaps it will actually be for the good of the other.
Wednesday, November 13, 2013
Sunday, October 27, 2013
Saturday, October 26, 2013
Thursday, October 17, 2013
Monday, October 14, 2013
Sunday, October 13, 2013
Sunday, September 22, 2013
Personally, God's hand has been on me over the last few years, starting with MenAlive, which puts things in that order. I had to know what I'd been told time and again (but wasn't listening), that God loves me and grants me his mercy. This gets my attention so I'm able to listen. It gives me hope so I can rouse up, and gives me confidence so I may act. It also fills me with knowledge of his grace, so I can gratefully give back and pass it on.
This sounds like what the Holy Spirit is stirring up through Pope Francis. Sounds like Good News to me!
Friday, September 13, 2013
This text might be suggested: "Why do you observe the splinter in your brother’s eye and never notice the plank in your own? How can you say to your brother, “Brother, let me take out the splinter that is in your eye,” when you cannot see the plank in your own? Hypocrite! Take the plank out of your own eye."
But that cuts out the next part of that sentence. Here it is in its entirety:
Take the plank out of your own eye first, and then you will see clearly enough to take out the splinter that is in your brother’s eye.’
So according to the whole sentence, indeed the according to the whole parable, it's not a prohibition to correct someone when necessary to do so. Rather, it is a practical preparation for doing so, in order to be more effective at it. That's actually important, because true charity means willing the other's good, rather than abandoning him/her to whatever he/she prefers, and its periils. It's never pleasant, especially on the receiving end, but if I'm about to walk off a cliff, I'd rather be warned about it.(Ref: Luke 6:39-42, from Universalis.com)
Wednesday, September 11, 2013
You must live your whole life according to the Christ you have received – Jesus the Lord; you must be rooted in him and built on him and held firm by the faith you have been taught, and full of thanksgiving. Make sure that no one traps you and deprives you of your freedom by some second-hand, empty, rational philosophy based on the principles of this world instead of on Christ. In his body lives the fullness of divinity, and in him you too find your own fulfilment, in the one who is the head of every Sovereignty and Power. In him you have been circumcised, with a circumcision not performed by human hand, but by the complete stripping of your body of flesh. This is circumcision according to Christ. You have been buried with him, when you were baptised; and by baptism, too, you have been raised up with him through your belief in the power of God who raised him from the dead. You were dead, because you were sinners and had not been circumcised: he has brought you to life with him, he has forgiven us all our sins.
Monday, September 02, 2013
The spirit of the Lord has been given to me, for he has anointed me. He has sent me to bring the good news to the poor, to proclaim liberty to captives and to the blind new sight, to set the downtrodden free, to proclaim the Lord’s year of favour.Nice start, but then he shakes things up --
‘There were many widows in Israel, I can assure you, in Elijah’s day, when heaven remained shut for three years and six months and a great famine raged throughout the land, but Elijah was not sent to any one of these: he was sent to a widow at Zarephath, a Sidonian town. And in the prophet Elisha’s time there were many lepers in Israel, but none of these was cured, except the Syrian, Naaman.’
I don't like confrontations. It's messy, but seems to me that I have no choice if I am to follow my Master. Last week he was hurling "brood of vipers!" and "hypocrites!" at certain authorities in his time. I would hate to be on the receiving end of that, but what if there is need to correct my brother or sister or child if they were risking something perilous to their lives? God help me say what needs saying with true love, which must sometimes be tough love (for their sake!), But I truly would prefer if I can speak with gentleness in my voice, even if the words must be unyielding and inevitaby shaking things up.
Most of all, may those who love me speak so to me when needed, which is very often, and may I have the honesty and humility to take their words to heart, and so amend my life as it depends on my willingness to be corrected!This is apt from The Imitation of Christ (from today's Office of Readings), spoken from the Lord's perspective:
I visit my elect in a double fashion: that is, with temptation and with consolation. And I read to them two lessons each day: one to rebuke them for their faults; the other to exhort them to increase their virtue.
Saturday, August 24, 2013
(Lk 9:23) And he said to all, If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.
Someone wrote someplace, "love until it hurts" or maybe "it ain't love if it don't hurt." And who can forget that eloquent rock ballad, "Love Hurts" of decades ago? But what's love got to do with the cross? Everything -- just take a look at your nearest crucifix, or single mother or father getting by somehow, the heroic son or daughter caring for their ailing parent. They're everywhere, these cross-carrying heroes, imitating the one whose sacrifice is one with theirs, making theirs worth it (and doable).
Tuesday, August 20, 2013
I, too, must be about my Father's business but how? I won't be writing the next Apologia, nor start being a catechist without training, much less a deacon. I need teachers; I need to listen and ask questions. I need to clean up my act as husband and father first. And I think I should see my spiritual director again. It's been a few months.
"Keep Thou my feet; I do not ask to see the distant scene; one step enough for me. I was not ever thus, nor pray'd that Thou shouldst lead me on; I loved to choose and see my path, but now lead Thou me on!" (From a hymn by Blessed John Henry Newman.)
Tuesday, August 13, 2013
These antiphons from tonight's Evening Prayer are most illuminating, when taken together:
The Lord surrounds his people with his strength.
Unless you acquire the heart of a child, you cannot enter the kingdom of God.
Tuesday, August 06, 2013
O God, who, in the glorious Transfiguration of your Only Begotten Son, confirmed the mysteries of faith by the witness of the Fathers and wonderfully prefigured our full adoption to sonship, grant, we pray .. that, listening to the voice of your beloved Son, we may merit to become co-heirs with him.
and the reading quotes from Romans 8:16-17.
The Spirit himself gives witness with our spirit that we are children of God. But if we are children, we are heirs as well: heirs of God, heirs with Christ, if only we suffer with him so as to be glorified with him.
and so we pray with "the hope of being transfigured at the last day," always by the grace of God!
Friday, August 02, 2013
The thought came to me as I prayed the fifth sorrowful mystery of the rosary, the Crucifixion, which is at the core of our Christian faith. How can this horrible event and scene be at the core of what we believe, witness to, exult in and celebrate? How? because this isn't the last scene. There is the Resurrection. And so one may dare - must dare - to hope beyond what society might say is beyond hope, and to live that hope, commit action and decisions to that hope. To do so on thoe grounds just makes sense..
Wednesday, July 31, 2013
Ignatius was passionately fond of reading worldly books of fiction and tales of knight-errantry. When he felt he was getting better, he asked for some of these books ... But no book of that sort could be found in the house; instead they gave him a life of Christ and a collection of the lives of saints ...
By constantly reading these books he began to be attracted to what he found narrated there. Sometimes in the midst of his reading he would reflect on what he had read. Yet at other times he would dwell on many of the things which he had been accustomed to dwell on previously. But at this point our Lord came to his assistance, insuring that these thoughts were followed by others which arose from his current reading.
While reading the life of Christ our Lord or the lives of the saints, he would reflect and reason with himself: “What if I should do what Saint Francis or Saint Dominic did?”
And not to forget (almost did), what of myself?
St. Ignatius de Loyola, pray for us!
Friday, July 26, 2013
Sunday, July 14, 2013
- Legal abortion comes to Ireland, riding a wave of falsehoods
- In the Philippines, another assault on the integrity of marriage
It is no coincidence that both countries have been bowled over by controversial legislation on matters of marriage and family, and the sanctity of human life. These are the most remarkably Catholic countries in their respective regions. Being Catholic these days means a notable distinction in our views these matters. In many ways, this is a sad distraction from the new evangelization, but perhaps it speaks volumes about the centrality of human life and marriage to the orthodox Christian life. Mess with those and what does one end up with?
Friday, July 05, 2013
Maybe he did it because that agony was efficacious in other ways.
Maybe he carried the cross because we would have to carry ours. By carrying his cross, maybe it makes it *possible* for us to carry ours as a supernatural act of love, with supernatural fruits for eternity, because we'd be carrying ours with him.
Who can avoid the cross anyway? If we wish to be his disciples, why would we want to?
There was a striking line in Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ" that one of the thieves uttered: (paraphrased) why do you embrace your cross, you fool?
We'd be fools with Christ for embracing our daily cross with him, not because either of us are eager for pain as its own good, but because it is inescapable at times when we love others, because love hurts indeed.
And so the king of love carried his cross, so that we need not fret that our agony is wasted when we carry ours: how can it, when it is united with him and his act of redemptive love?
Monday, June 24, 2013
Sunday, June 23, 2013
Monday, May 27, 2013
Monday, May 13, 2013
according to this NCRegister article. This remarkable observation from someone in the area struck me: 'it is easier for Northern Catholics to take their faith for granted because most of their friends belong to the Church. “It doesn’t really challenge the Catholics there to know their faith as well or be able to explain it clearly..'
Challenges can be very good for the faith, no?
Saturday, May 11, 2013
And such contempt for big families, by the way, is no longer unexpected even here in Melbourne. The mindset of two-children families appears to be typical fare. We get stared at openly when we have all four children with us out and about. It no longer bothers me. My wife has been told more than once that we have too many -- four kids!
Thursday, May 09, 2013
Friday, May 03, 2013
Saturday, April 20, 2013
Friday, April 19, 2013
Tuesday, April 02, 2013
"Indeed, the Baptism that makes us children of God, and the Eucharist that unites us to Christ, must become life. That is to say: they must be reflected in attitudes, behaviors, actions and choices. The grace contained in the Sacraments of Easter is an enormous source of strength for renewal in personal and family life, as well as for social relations. Nevertheless, everything passes through the human heart: if I allow myself to be reached by the grace of the risen Christ, if I let that grace change for the better whatever is not good in me, [to change whatever] might do harm to me and to others, then I allow the victory of Christ to affirm itself in in my life, to broaden its beneficial action. This is the power of grace! Without grace we can do nothing – without grace we can do nothing! And with the grace of Baptism and Holy Communion can become an instrument of God’s mercy – that beautiful mercy of God."
Monday, April 01, 2013
- From Ex 14:15-15:1, Moses stretched out his hand over the sea and, as day broke, the sea returned to its bed. The fleeing Egyptians marched right into it, and the Lord overthrew the Egyptians in the very middle of the sea. The returning waters overwhelmed the chariots and the horsemen of Pharaoh’s whole army, which had followed the Israelites into the sea; not a single one of them was left. But the sons of Israel had marched through the sea on dry ground, walls of water to right and to left of them. The passage across the sea, or the salvation of Noah and all aboard the Ark, have been cited Biblically and by Church Fathers as a clear type of Christian baptism: the waters that bring death and new life.
- From an antiphon today:
O God, through the light of the New Testament you have revealed to us the meaning of the miracles you performed in the earliest times.
The Red Sea was a symbol of the baptismal font,and the people freed from servitude prefigured the sacraments of the Christian people.Grant that all nations who have receive Israel’s privileges as a reward for their faithmay be regenerated by sharing in your Spirit.Through Christ our Lord,Amen.
- From Ezekiel 36:16-28, I am going to take you from among the nations and gather you together from all the foreign countries, and bring you home to your own land. I shall pour clean water over you and you will be cleansed; I shall cleanse you of all your defilement and all your idols. I shall give you a new heart, and put a new spirit in you; I shall remove the heart of stone from your bodies and give you a heart of flesh instead. I shall put my spirit in you, and make you keep my laws and sincerely respect my observances. You will live in the land which I gave your ancestors. You shall be my people and I will be your God.
- From Psalm 41(42),
Like a deer that longs for springs of water,
so my soul longs for you, O God.
My soul thirsts for God, the living God:
when shall I come and stand before the face of God?
- From Romans 6:3-11,
When we were baptised in Christ Jesus we were baptised in his death; in other words, when we were baptised we went into the tomb with him and joined him in death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the Father’s glory, we too might live a new life.
If in union with Christ we have imitated his death, we shall also imitate him in his resurrection. We must realise that our former selves have been crucified with him to destroy this sinful body and to free us from the slavery of sin.
Wednesday, March 27, 2013
Sunday, March 17, 2013
Thursday, March 14, 2013
Wednesday, March 13, 2013
Sunday, March 10, 2013
Thursday, March 07, 2013
Sunday, March 03, 2013
He told this parable: ‘A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came looking for fruit on it but found none. He said to the man who looked after the vineyard, “Look here, for three years now I have been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and finding none. Cut it down: why should it be taking up the ground?” “Sir,” the man replied “leave it one more year and give me time to dig round it and manure it: it may bear fruit next year; if not, then you can cut it down.”We are living that year of favour, and our divine gardener is ever so diligently fertilizing our souls with grace. If we would only appropriate (borrowing from Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa and St. Bernard) this grace that he freely gives! If we had faith but the size of a mustard seed .. !
"I always knew that the Lord is in the barque, that the barque of the Church is not mine, not ours, but His - and He shall not let her sink. It is He, who steers her: to be sure, he does so also through men of His choosing, for He desired that it be so."In these days when the episcopal See of St. Peter is vacant, are we in the same boat as the Orthodox, or the Protestants? No, I do not think so. For we expect the resumption of the norm established by the Apostles. We do not take this situation as normal, to have no pope. And even so, we had popes, the most recent one still alive at that, and his pastoring does not disappear with his abdication, nor that of his predecessors. It is a moment of silence when he utters nothing for the meantime. For now, Peter rests. When the time comes, he will rise up again, to teach again with the keys of the kingdom; to strengthen his brother bishops; and feed the flock in the Petrine way.
Monday, February 18, 2013
Saturday, February 16, 2013
Thursday, February 14, 2013
Tuesday, February 12, 2013
Today, I heard with sorrow that Pope Benedict XVI is abdicating his office as bishop of Rome by the end of February. It was not a passing sorrow, but a sickening distress, having followed his work and teaching (though not closely enough!) and knowing what need the Church and the world has for him. My sorrow was compounded by hearing the thoughts of a certain media favorite, a priest with heterodox leanings, on the radio. Here was someone who should really know better, who had nothing good to say about the situation, but was opening his mouth anyway. Later it hit me that I should not fret so: the same person who raised up Peter and Paul as our able shepherds also raised up Blessed John Paul and Pope Benedict. Whatever befalls the Church, we have the promises of Christ that the gates of Hell will never prevail. The keys of the kingdom will be passed on to a successor bishop of Rome, and ultimately, it is Christ who reigns.
In the meantime, I will pray for Pope Benedict, grateful for his devoted service to the Church and her Master, praying for his well-being as he will continue guiding the barque of Peter up to the end of this month. I also resolved to give up worrying over the empty comments from the ignorant and heterodox. I don't think it is my place to search for such baying and raucous cawing, only to waste time and temper in posting comments. If I should meet such untruths within earshot, however, maliciously delivered or not, that would be a different story...
Better thoughts than mine on Pope Benedict's abdication can be found at Jimmy Akin's blog..
Monday, February 11, 2013
Tuesday, February 05, 2013
Saturday, February 02, 2013
Friday, January 25, 2013
Tuesday, January 22, 2013
Does this still hold true to Christians today? Yes, of course it does, for it is still God's will that his people -- his children! -- be happy for ever -- and to live! "The glory of God is man fully alive!" So wrote St. Irenaeus. Fully alive with the Holy Spirit in Jesus Christ.
Jesus did not come to abolish the law but to fulfill it. And he has, and so the decrees and laws and customs continue today, but in light of the New Covenant in Jesus, everything is made new, made greater. The two greatest commandments sum up the Law and the Prophets. The sacraments are holy customs to keep, not as mere customs anymore but as signs that actually convey grace, too. And we have the Church, a family structure that is also a kingdom, a royal priesthood, where everyone is already priest, prophet and king, but still on the way to perfection. With the authority of Christ, through his apostles and their successor bishops, Church dogma and laws are still ordered towards the same end: so that we may be happy for ever and live. And so we believe as the Nicene creed sums up. We worship in the celebration of the Eucharist. We are edified in prayer and by Scripture and Tradition. We begin, are nourished and healed along our journey, and end our race by God's grace in the sacraments. We live in harmony and order with our fellows through the decrees of the Church. We glorify God in all ways through the rich diversity of customs, art and all expressions of our faith in Him.
What of this warning by Moses: "Do not follow other gods, gods of the peoples round you, for the Lord your God who dwells among you (!) is a jealous God; his anger could blaze out against you and wipe you from the face of the earth. Do not put the Lord your God to the test as you tested him at Massah." In light of the New Covenant, we know that God's displeasure need not blaze out as it did in the Old Testament. It is terrible enough when we cut ourselves off from him (not the other way around), and so reject his love and his grace, and thus sever our union with him. Jesus is, for us, the mercy of God, the love and compassion of God, the reconciliation with the Father, expressed today not with sacrifices at the temple but through his sacrament of Reconciliation. So there is no excuse even for those who have fallen away: "a humbled, contrite heart you will not spurn" indeed because God is love and mercy.
Truly, The Law of the Lord is perfect: it revives the soul. The rule of the Lord is to be trusted, it gives wisdom to the simple. The command of the Lord is clear, it gives light to the eyes. He who loves his neighbor has satisfied every claim of the l aw: the whole law is summed up in love." (From the responsory in today's Office of Readings.)
Monday, January 21, 2013
Sunday, January 13, 2013
May you who read this be graced with such an awareness of your own baptism: you are God's child in Christ, beloved, with whom his favor rests.