Universalis, About this blog

Friday, December 14, 2018

Why Would Christians Want the World to Love Them? | Word on Fire

Why Would Christians Want the World to Love Them? | Word on Fire

Am I ready? I probably whine and worry too much, but the author of the above is correct: that the non-Christian world would dislike Christians like me should be expected. We were told to expect it, after all, and now that I think about it, this dislike is no more than the first reaction to a massive challenge against how the non-Christian world thinks. Since that challenge is so radical, i.e., the gospel, then of course the reaction would be one of deep suspicion and a lot of opposition. Something worth noting is that this should not have been necessary in previously Christian societies, but that ball was dropped and so here we are.

On a personal note, I have some experience in the challenge of a cross and, thankfully, embracing it. I went from asking for the cross to be taken away to, finally, embracing that it is a necessary burden for Love's sake. Not that the cross itself is the end-all. It simply means that struggle that comes with striving for something truly important. For me, it was for my loved ones, and thankfully, something I read about awhile back finally got through my thick skull: abandoning my cross - my post - meant that people I love would have to carry it for me, more than their share.

So it seems to me, reading the above article, that we cannot let fear of opposition - and any desire to fit in - deter us from that commission to evangelize the world. After all, when we stop preaching the gospel, others preach their own doctrines, which have brought and continues to bring sorrow and disaster to the world around us, even inside our own homes to our families.

We may not live long enough to see the end result of our evangelization, but we can plainly see the result of our lack of evangelization. So persecuted or not, whether softly or at the point of a knife, we can't drop the ball. We've let this madness go on for so long already. The world needs Christ. There is no relief from the evil and madness otherwise.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

So you think you know about euthanasia

Concluding that there is a slippery slope doesn't get much easier than this. In this day and age of available information at one's fingertips, what possible excuse can there be to miss it?

Healing hearts with the gift of Faith

Pope St. Leo the Great, writing about St. Peter healing the lame (Acts 3:6), notes how, healing the man's legs, he also, by the power of God, and only by the power of God, healed the hearts of the multitude who then received the gift of Faith. Earlier I pondered at the idea what this gift of supernatural Faith was for. Why do I pray for an increase in Faith? For many months I prayed for the power to move the mountains in my life. But it occurred to me today to dig deeper. What do the Scriptures say? We live by Faith.

To be broken-hearted is like dying slowly. There is in it a keen feeling of asphyxiation, suffocating in anguish and despair. Faith in God lifts that up and off because there is Someone who saves, Someone who cares enough to journey with us through our sorrows and consoles us with a better tomorrow. This is also why the compassion of Christians, walking beside the downtrodden, is crucial, because it delivers the compassion of God with that human dimension in space and time. Yes, Jesus is the Son of Man, and that indeed is who we Christians are.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

To Christians bewildered by this agnostic generation

I once heard a magnificent talk given by Bishop Robert Baron where he points out the irresistible power of the Church, promised by Jesus at Caesarea Philippi: "and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it." And Bishop Baron points out that gates do not attack, so this is not about the Church being impregnable, but rather it is the Church that marches onward, and the gates of Hades must give way.

How much marching have we been doing, each of us, in or families, in our parishes and schools, in society? For me, not much.

From Haggai 1:1-2:9

The Lord of Hosts says this: Reflect carefully how things have gone for you. The abundance you expected proved to be little. When you brought the harvest in, my breath spoilt it. And why? – it is the Lord of Hosts who speaks. Because while my House lies in ruins you are busy with your own, each one of you.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Utter destruction of one's enemies - by loving them

Keeping in mind that love does not refer here to an emotion, but an active will to the good of the other, Christian charity (caritas, love, aggape) becomes they most potent form of destroying one's enemies by making them enemies no more. This is in keeping with how Christ exceedingly fulfills the old Law in every way, and God's way is not our way.

From dailygospel.org:

Saint Hilary (c.315-367), Bishop of Poitiers, Doctor of the Church 
On Matthew, IV, 27 

“Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect”

“You have learnt what is said: Love your neighbor and hate your enemy…” In fact the Law required love of neighbor but allowed freedom to hate one’s enemy. Faith demands that we love our enemies. By means of a universal feeling of charity it breaks the movements of violence in man’s spirit, not just by restraining its vengeful anger but even more by pacifying it to the point of making us love those in the wrong. To love those who love you belongs to the pagan and we all have an affection for those who show it to us themselves. So Christ is calling us to live as children of God and imitate Him who, through the coming of his Christ, gives sun and rain to the good and the guilty alike in the sacraments of baptism and the Spirit. In this way he forms us according to the perfect life by means of this bond of kindness to all by calling us to imitate a heavenly Father who is perfect.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Quo vadis?

After the disastrous but salt unsurprising results from the Irish referendum on protecting the unborn (the answer was apparently "No."), my mind keeps turning to the question of where we go from here. Wiser heads than mine have answers, if not matching orders, e.g., evangelize like hobbits would. Or by domestic church. The practical reality though cannot exclude other means: in schools and in parishes.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Why does God permit evil?

An answer came to me in prayer, the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary, and in the sorrows of my own life: God permits evil so that we may reject it and choose good.

Wednesday, May 02, 2018

From a Marian devotee

I thought this beautifully written excerpt would be thought-provoking reading for Christians who wonder at Catholics who pray to Mary. This was written by Saint Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort, who was a true Marian devotee and advocate of the same. It was the gospel commentary from dailygospel.org from today's Mass. The Gospel reading is from John 15:1-8.

[Jesus] is our only master, who must teach us; our only Lord, on whom we must depend; our only head, to whom alone we should belong; our only model, whom we should imitate; our only physician, who must heal us; our only shepherd, who must feed us; our only Way, who must lead us; our only Truth, whom we must believe; our only Life, who must be our life; and our sole sufficiency in all things, that in him we may have all in All. Except the Name of Jesus, there is no other name given under Heaven whereby we must be saved; and apart from Jesus Christ, God has given us no other foundation of our salvation, our perfection and our glory: "for other foundation no man can lay, but that which is laid; which is Christ Jesus" (1Cor 3:11). Every house which is not built upon this firm rock, is founded on the shifting sands, and will inevitably fall sooner or later. Every soul who is not united with Christ as a branch to the stem of the vine, will fall off, wither and become fit only for the fire. If we are in Jesus Christ and Jesus Christ in us, we need not fear damnation; neither angels in heaven nor men on earth, neither demons in hell nor any other creature can harm us because they cannot separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus (cf. Rm 8:38-39).

Saint Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort (1673-1716), preacher, founder of religious communities 
Treatise on the true devotion to the Blessed Virgin, (Article one; First Truth) 

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

The prayer of a pastor

"My sheep listen to my voice; I know them and they follow me"

O Jesus, Good Shepherd, a shepherd who is truly good, shepherd full of lovingkindness and gentleness, the cry of a poor and wretched shepherd rises up to you: a weak and clumsy shepherd, an unprofitable shepherd (cf. Lk 17:10) and yet, in spite of all, a shepherd of your flock. Yes, Good Shepherd, the cry of this shepherd who is far from being good rises up to you. He cries to you, uneasy for himself, uneasy for your flock… You know my heart, Lord, you know my wish is to spend entirely for those you have entrusted to me all you have given to your servant …, and more than anything, to spend myself for them without counting the cost (2Cor 12:15)… Even you yourself did not disdain to spend yourself for them. Therefore teach me, Lord, even me your servant, teach me through your Holy Spirit how to expend myself for them… By your inexpressible grace grant me, Lord, to bear their weaknesses with patience, to sympathize with kindness, to help them with discretion. May your Spirit’s instruction teach me to console the afflicted, strengthen the fearful, raise up those who fall, to be weak with the weak, to share the shame of those who stumble, to make myself all things to all to gain them all (2Cor 11:29; 1Cor 9:19.22). Put true words on my lips, words that are upright and just so that they may grow in faith, hope and love, in chastity and humility, in patience and obedience, fervor of spirit and purity of heart. Since it is you who have given them this blind guide (Mt 15:14), this ignorant teacher, this incapable leader, teach him whom you have installed as their professor, guide the one you have commanded to guide others.

- Saint Aelred of Rielvaux (1110-1167), Cistercian monk

From DailyGospel.org

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Preach it, (Msgr) Pope!


Sunday, April 01, 2018

Risen, just as he said

Christ is Risen! Alleluia!

While I love the Mass in general, there's nothing like the celebration of the Easter vigil. The darkness, the Paschal candle and then people lighting their candles from it and then from their neighbors, and the growing sea of tiny flames as they keep going until every person's candle is lit. And then the readings, starting from the creation account in Genesis, then the Exodus rescue, then from Isaiah and Ezekiel, until we reach the New Testament readings where it culminates in Jesus Christ, the Paschal Lamb, sacrificed, and then the Resurrection. Then we have baptisms and confirmations, the creed and then the Eucharist. It is beautiful! And powerful!

Yes, my wife and daughter are away on holiday, and yes, my sons were blowing out my candle when I wasn't looking. And yes, one of them decided to break up his remaining candle into tiny pieces and pull out the wick. And he dribbled a bit of wax on his pants and maybe the floor. And yes, he's too old to be fooling around with it like that (at 16), and yes he and his younger brother were sniggering at the size of the feet of the guy in front of us, for everyone to see his shoulders shaking uncontrollably. And yes, they also saw me trying to keep them quiet a number of times during the Mass.

But all my sons were with me and were fine. They weren't miserably begging off the Mass, nor miserably begging to go after an hour. They weren't grumpy at having to stand and kneel and sit and on and on. Mind you, I wish they'd been more prayerful throughout, as they should, but they were with me through more than two hours, and sang and chanted and prayed through some if not most of that. Grace doesn't come from us. As Lito would say, it's 'extra nos', outside of us, coming from God, unmerited. Our receptiveness depends on our disposition, of course, but not Grace. My sons are young. If they don't resist too much, they will mature, and I will pray for that all my life and after. God is patient, rich in kindness and mercy, slow to anger and abounding in love.

It's Easter. Christus Resurrexit! Alleluia!

Monday, February 26, 2018

Beware the paradigm shift

.. for you might just get it. The pastoral angle is attractive, just as emotional, romantic highs are, but what does it profit us if we wander away from truth?

Show me, Lord, your way,
So that I may walk in your truth.
Guide my heart to fear your name.
  -- Psalm 85 (86)

Promises of paradigm shifts, like hasty science, buzz words and sound bites, tend to leave a lot of details out. The whole point of the journey is perfection, so of course there is struggle. Devaluating the struggle for the sake of expedience  - wouldn't that risk making any struggle optional, perhaps arbitrary, to commit to (or not) as with the demands of discipleship in general?

Friday, February 23, 2018

Aim higher

Because we can. As a great saint wrote, "Why fly like a barnyard hen when you can soar like an eagle?"

Wednesday, January 03, 2018


From St Augustine's tractates on St John,
The twin commandments of love:

".. As far as teaching is concerned, the love of God comes first; but as far as doing is concerned, the love of our neighbour comes first. Whoever sets out to teach you these two commandments of love must not commend your neighbour to you first, and then God, but God first and then your neighbour. You, on the other hand, do not yet see God, but loving your neighbour will bring you that sight. By loving your neighbour you purify your eyes so that they are ready to see God, as John clearly says: If you do not love your brother, whom you see, how can you love God, whom you do not see?
    You are told “Love God”. If you say to me “Show me whom I should love”, what can I say except what John says? No man has ever seen God. But you must not think yourself wholly unsuited to seeing God: God is love, says John, and whoever dwells in love dwells in God. So love whoever is nearest to you and look inside you to see where that love is coming from: thus, as far as you are capable, you will see God. .."

From Universalis.com (Office of Readings 3 January, 2017)