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Friday, November 17, 2017

False prophets

I am going to stretch my hand over the prophets who have empty visions and give lying predictions; they will not be admitted to the council of my people, their names will not be entered in the Book of the House of Israel, they will not set foot on the soil of Israel; and you will learn that I am the Lord, since they have misled my people by saying: Peace! when there is no peace.

Instead of my people rebuilding the wall, these men come and slap on plaster. Tell these plasterers: It will rain hard, it will hail, it will blow a gale, and down will come the wall. Will not people ask: Where is the plaster you slapped on it? Well then, the Lord says this: I am going to unleash a stormy wind in my anger, torrential rain in my wrath, hailstones in my destructive fury. I mean to shatter the wall you slapped with plaster, to throw it down and lay its foundations bare. It will fall and you will perish under it; and so you will learn that I am the Lord.

-- Ezekiel 13:1-16

"The truth will set you free." Do people still know this saying? How can they when they do not believe in objective truth? They prefer putty. It had become a matter of what one can get away with claiming. People in authority treat and invent theories and claims as mere commodity to buy and to profit by, labeling them "truth." It will all be for nothing, but in the meantime, our children are collateral damage, victims of lies and deception.

How long, O Lord? How long?

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

The Kingdom of Heaven begins for us here below

The reign of God I will show you clearly that you must receive the whole Kingdom of Heaven here below if you also want to enter into it after your death. Listen to God speaking to you in parables: “To what shall I compare the reign of God? Listen well. It is like mustard seed which a man took and planted in his garden. It grew and in truth, it became a large tree.” That seed is the Kingdom of Heaven, it is the grace of the divine Spirit, and the garden is the heart of each human being, where the one who has received the seed conceals the Spirit in the depths of his being, in his most inward parts, so that no one might see it. And he watches over it with all his care so that it might grow, so that it might become a tree that rises up towards heaven. So if you say, “It is not here below that all who have fervently desired the Kingdom will receive it, but after death,” you are overthrowing the words of our Savior God. And if you don’t take the seed, that mustard seed, as he said, if you don’t sow it in your garden, you will remain completely sterile. At what other moment will you receive the seed if not now? The Master says: “Here below, receive the deposit; here below, receive the seal. Light your lamp already here below. If you are sensible, I will become the pearl for you here below (Mt 13:45); here below, I am your wheat and like a mustard seed. Here below, I become leaven for you and I make your dough rise. Here below, I am for you like water and I become a soothing fire. Here below, I become your garment and your food and all your drink, if you desire this.” That is what the Master says. “Thus, if already here below, you acknowledge me as such, you will possess me there as well in an ineffable way, and I will become everything for you.”

-- Symeon the New Theologian (c.949-1022), Greek monk, saint of the Orthodox churches

From DailyGospel.Org for today's gospel commentary

Friday, October 27, 2017


"These two stages sum up the whole of the spiritual life: when we contemplate ourselves we are troubled, and our sadness saves us and brings us to contemplate God; that contemplation in turn gives us the consolation of the joy of the Holy Spirit. Contemplating ourselves brings fear and humility; contemplating God brings us hope and love."

- From a sermon by St Bernard of Clairvaux, on the stages of contemplation

Assuming that we see truthfully, we cannot help but note our imperfections, particularly in past decisions and actions we've taken. But we go further if we have faith, that God saves, and in Jesus Christ we have the grace to improve, and what disappoints us in ourselves will be overcome with patience, effort and contemplation. Jesus is the image of the Father but he is also our image, in our rebirth as children of God, so in him the two images meet. And so we can go from disappointment at what we have been to amazement at what we are becoming, particularly in the ways of Love: forgiveness, patience, kindness, courage, selflessness, humility, joy, perseverance. All these become ours as we become Christ through daily practice and contemplative prayer.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

God is Not Nice

Interesting title and theme for this book. Up there with "Reality Bites" (the expression), I think. Must get my hands on it. God is not nice perhaps but he is perfectly good.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

when anyone preaches to you without mentioning Jesus Christ

do not let the congregation of God be blasphemed because of the behaviour of a few foolish persons. For Woe to him who makes anyone blaspheme my name without a cause.   Be deaf therefore when anyone preaches to you without mentioning Jesus Christ, who was of the family of David, who was truly born of Mary, who truly ate and drank, was truly persecuted under Pontius Pilate, was truly crucified and died in the sight of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth; who was also truly raised from the dead, when his Father raised him up — just as his Father will raise us up, believers in Christ Jesus without whom we have no true life.

-- From St Ignatius of Antioch's letter to the Trallians

Friday, October 06, 2017

If God is no longer important...

.. the criteria for establishing what is important is displaced.

"In the consciousness of the people of today, the things of God and thus of the liturgy do not appear at all urgent. There is an urgency about every possible thing. But the matter of God does not seem to be urgent."

Perhaps it is a matter of perspective. God is the only foundational perspective, as he is the only firm foundation. What can happen to a building or some framework without a firm foundation?

Anything, of course.

Tuesday, September 05, 2017

Please pass the grace

Just in time for the great marriage debate in Australia today, Bishop Robert Barron writes up, in good news fashion, comparing Grace with Karma. Read it twice. Better yet, listen to his podcast of it (Word on Fire). He did not have our current issues in mind, but I think this is a challenge for Christians in Australia: how are we doing in the debate about same sex marriage today? If all we are about is condemnation, fire, brimstone and no, no, and no, then we're not preaching good news. We'd be talking at the other side, not dialogue at all. Instead, I think we should pass the grace on and say:

Here is the Christian institution of Marriage. These are the gifts flowing from it. This is the grace of God in action through families built on this version of Marriage. It is indissoluble, built as a total, exclusive self-giving as exemplified by Christ for his bride, the Church (us). It is fruitful if we die to ourselves and live for each other. We don't always get it right, and it's not easy, but when we get it right, it's pretty good, and it makes us better people. We build families this way, where our children learn about love, patience, kindness, delighting in one another, creatively rich in our diversity - yes, a man and a woman, united as one body. We all learn resilience and support for one another amidst challenges. We learn and practice forgiveness over and over again because we are not perfect, and marriage, and our kids, teach us that about ourselves. They also give is every opportunity to get it right (eventually). Day by day, at each episode, with each drama we find ourselves in, this develops our character. The civilization we enjoy today was built on this institution. It has tamed our barbarous ways. We've been making a hash of things because we've trashed marriage and family in the last half-century. We can get things right again if we go back to how it was instituted in the beginning. This is the grace of Christian marriage. It is built on firm foundation, unassailably beautiful in physical form, philosophy and theology.

We are not screaming "no" at you (on the other side). We are inviting you to consider our "yes" to all the above.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Matthew 22:34-40:

Jesus said, ‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second resembles it: You must love your neighbour as yourself. 

Why is the command to love God the first command? It isn't because he needs anything from us. Why should adults secure their own oxygen masks in an airplane emergency before helping others? Because if we're not alright, we're no good to others. To love God above anything with everything we've got is to get our ideals right, to set a real foundation for what our life will be about. First off, what is truth? Next, what does it truly mean to love? Knowing God will teach us that because God is Truth and God is Love. Truth is reasonable, so it is not whimsical, and can be grasped with or reason. Truth can be objectively known, and is not subject to contradictory opinion. Truth can be tested, and is a necessary foundation for everything else that follows. And Love.. Love is a verb. It does not rely on arbitrarily changing moods and emotions. It is to will the good of someone else, and act accordingly. It is not self-seeking, for if everyone loves like that, then we are reduced to beasts.

Let's get back to basics. If we don't build our lives on God, anything we build will come to absolutely nothing.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

He who perseveres to the end will be saved

From a sermon by Saint Augustine

Whenever we suffer some distress or tribulation, there we find warning and correction for ourselves. Our holy scriptures themselves do not promise us peace, security and repose, but tribulations and distress; the gospel is not silent about scandals; but he who perseveres to the end will be saved. What good has this life of ours ever been, from the time of the first man, from when he deserved death and received the curse, that curse from which Christ our Lord delivered us? So we must not complain, brothers, as some of them complained, as the apostle says, and perished from the serpents. What fresh sort of suffering, brothers, does the human race now endure that our fathers did not undergo? Or when do we endure the kind of sufferings which we know they endured? Yet you find men complaining about the times they live in, saying that the times of our parents were good. What if they could be taken back to the times of their parents, and should then complain? The past times that you think were good, are good because they are not yours here and now.

(From Universalis.com, Office of Readings today, 23rd August, 2017)

I get the feeling, what with the question before the Australian public about marriage and assisted suicide, as well as the coinciding charges against Cardinal George Pell, that we are hemmed in with but one question: Convenience or fidelity? Are we with the times or with Christ? Modernity or orthodoxy?

Lest we be mistaken again, it was complacency and inaction that got us here. When we stopped flapping our wings, we started falling. When we stopped advancing, comfortable where we were, well that's just an invitation to relinquish our past triumphs.

And so here we are.

Just my two cents worth.

Friday, June 16, 2017

The demands of Christ and joy of heart

From Saint John-Paul II,:
Discourse to young people in the Netherlands, May 14, 1985 

Dear young people, you tell me that you often think the Church is an institution that does nothing but promulgate rules and laws… And you conclude that there is a deep discrepancy between the joy that issues from the word of Christ and the feeling of oppression that the Church’s rigidity gives you... But the gospel shows us a very demanding Christ who invites to a radical conversion of heart, detachment from earthly goods, forgiveness of sins, love of enemies, patient acceptance of persecutions and even to the sacrifice of one’s own life out of love for neighbor. Where the particular area of sexuality is concerned, we know the firm position he took in defending the indissolubility of marriage and his condemnation even as regards the simple adultery committed in the heart. And could anyone not be impressed when faced with the precept to “tear out one’s eye” or to “cut off one’s hand” when those members are an occasion of “scandal”? … 

Moral licentiousness does not make people happy. Similarly, the consumer society does not bring joy of heart. The human person is only fulfilled to the extent to which that person is able to accept the demands flowing from their dignity as beings created “in the image and likeness of God” (Gen 1:27). That is why, if the Church today says things that are not agreeable, it is because it feels obligated to do so, it does so out of a duty to fidelity… 

Does this mean that it isn't true the gospel message is a message of joy? On the contrary! It is absolutely true. And how is that possible? The answer can be found in one word, one single word, one short word, but its contents are as vast as the sea. And that word is love. It is perfectly possible to reconcile uncompromising precept with joy of heart. One who loves does not fear sacrifice but even seeks in sacrifice the most convincing proof of the authenticity of their love.

Source: dailygospel.org

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Thursday, May 25, 2017

The Good Wine First in this Generation

In past generations, the virtue of Patience was extolled: good things come to those who wait, time heals all wounds, save the best for last, delayed gratification. Not now, perhaps. We are steeped in instant gratification, of quick results. Good wine first. Today we eat and drink, for tomorrow we die. Patience is a hard sell these days. Even when the impatient know enough to apply it to other things like baking, cooking, crafts, sports, business, or even the environment. Not in other things that count, though, like health, studies, family life, or relationships. The patient know it to be proper virtue but the impatient won't understand until much later, sometimes not until it is too late.

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

Jesus Christ prays for us and in us and is the object of our prayers

From a commentary on the psalms by Saint Augustine, bishop

Jesus Christ prays for us and in us and is the object of our prayers God could give no greater gift to men than to make his Word, through whom he created all things, their head and to join them to him as his members, so that the Word might be both Son of God and son of man, one God with the Father, and one man with all men. The result is that when we speak with God in prayer we do not separate the Son from him, and when the body of the Son prays it does not separate its head from itself: it is the one Saviour of his body, our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who prays for us and in us and is himself the object of our prayers. He prays for us as our priest, he prays in us as our head, he is the object of our prayers as our God. Let us then recognise both our voice in his, and his voice in ours. When something is said, especially in prophecy, about the Lord Jesus Christ that seems to belong to a condition of lowliness unworthy of God, we must not hesitate to ascribe this condition to one who did not hesitate to unite himself with us. Every creature is his servant, for it was through him that every creature came to be.

From universalis.com, Office of Readings

Thursday, March 09, 2017

How does God Wish to Destroy His Enemies?

Then Christ came himself, and with his own lips cried out: Come to me, all you who labour and are overburdened, and I will give you rest. How did he receive those who listened to his call? He readily forgave them their sins; he freed them instantly from all that troubled them. The Word made them holy; the Spirit set his seal on them. The old Adam was buried in the waters of baptism; the new man was reborn to the vigour of grace. What was the result? Those who had been God’s enemies became his friends, those estranged from him became his sons, those who did not know him came to worship and love him.

From a homily by Saint Asterius of Amasea, bishop

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

Diadochus of Photiké "On Spiritual Perfection"

Whoever is in love with himself is unable to love God. The man who loves God is the one who abandons his self-love for the sake of the immeasurable blessings of divine love. Such a man never seeks his own glory but only the glory of God. If a person loves himself he seeks his own glory, but the man who loves God loves the glory of his Creator. Anyone alive to the love of God can be recognised from the way he constantly strives to glorify him by fulfilling all his commandments and by delighting in his own submission. It is fitting that God should receive glory, because of his great majesty; but it is fitting for us as human beings to submit ourselves to God and thereby become his friends. Then we too will rejoice in his glory as Saint John the Baptist did, and we shall never stop repeating: His fame must increase, but mine must diminish. I knew someone who was sad that he could not love God as he would have wanted, but who nevertheless loved God so much that his soul was always in the grip of desire for God, for God’s glory to manifest itself in him, for himself to be as nothing in comparison. Such a person cannot be touched by verbal praise or convinced of his being, since his overwhelming humility means that he simply does not think about his own dignity or status. He celebrates the liturgy as, according to the law, priests should; but his love of God blinds him to all awareness of his own dignity. He buries any glory that might come his way in the depth of his love of God, so that he never sees himself as anything more than a useless servant: he is estranged, as it were, from a sense of his own dignity by his desire for lowliness. This is the sort of thing we ought to do, to flee from any honour or glory that is offered us, for the sake of the immense riches of our love of God who has so loved us. Anyone who loves God in the depths of his heart has already been loved by God. In fact, the measure of a man’s love for God depends upon how deeply aware he is of God’s love for him. When this awareness is keen it makes whoever possesses it long to be enlightened by the divine light, and this longing is so intense that it seems to penetrate his very bones. He loses all consciousness of himself and is entirely transformed by the love of God. Such a man lives in this life and at the same time does not live in it, for although he still inhabits his body, he is constantly leaving it in spirit because of the love that draws him toward God. Once the love of God has released him from self-love, the flame of divine love never ceases to burn in his heart and he remains united to God by an irresistible longing. As St Paul says: If we are taken out of ourselves it is for the love of God; if we are brought back to our senses it is for your sake.

(From universalis.com, Office of Readings today)

Sunday, January 01, 2017

Crux commentary on abortion and children with Down Syndrome

Must-read from Charles C. Camosy. It is tragic and ironic for France, known as a bastion of liberty, to censor a documentary movie in order to avoid offense to some. Perhaps it is a mere blip, some individuals in whichever agency makes these decisions made such a call. In any case, it is contrary to the free marketplace of ideas where we are open to challenge and due consideration of other perspectives in search of the truth, which is what truly sets free.