Tuesday, June 30, 2009
When teaching the children about St. Paul, they can all tell me that his name was Saul and he was knocked off his horse by a blinding light and was cured and became a follower of Jesus. Sounds so simple. We have to realize that Saul was blind for three days before he experienced his "resurrection" and then truly saw the "light". I wonder what hell he descended to for those three days, what did he truly "see" before his resurrection? This is not so simple. When we experience a conversion, a metanoia or a change of heart, many of us will experience this gradually but for some it will be that God knocks us on our behinds to get our attention. When this happens do we see God working in our lives? God reveals many things to us we don't want to acknowledge. For our sakes He wants us to see our sinfulness, the ugliness in our lives before we can freely turn to God and be the person He created us to be. This conversion is truly a blessing, a miracle happening in our lives. Like St. Paul do we recognize the miracle happening in our lives? Do we recognize ourselves as 'Temples'? Sin and ugliness can be extremely painful especially when it's our own sin and pain. For God it's the struggles of our lives that make them worth living, living in Christ.
Friday, June 26, 2009
Yesterday when I heard about Ms. Fawcett's and Mr. Jackson's deaths I thought of a delightful and quite imaginative book written by Dr. Peter Kreeft called Between Heaven and Hell. It is written in dialogue prose and focuses on a conversation taking place between President John F. Kennedy, C.S. Lewis, and Aldous Huxley, who die within hours of each other in November of 1963. I wondered if Ms. Fawcett and Mr. Jackson were engaging in a similar conversation. The dialogue is philosophical in nature regarding the truth of heaven, hell and purgatory. It is quite thought provoking to say the least.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us that "Death is the end of man's earthly pilgrimage, of the time of grace and mercy which God offers him so as to work out his earthly life in keeping with the divine plan and to decide his ultimate destiny" (CCC 1013). The Church encourages us to live our life in Christ and to prepare for our death to this earthly life and to live in the fullness of life with Christ in heaven. The question then becomes how do we prepare and are we prepared to let go of this earthly life and live in Heaven? Christ came to show us how to prepare. He was the perfect man exemplar for us. The teachings of the Church remind us of our obligation and responsibilty to live our baptismal call. It is through Baptism that sacramentally we have already "died with Christ" in order to live a new life, (CCC 1010).
There are people who believe that Faith alone will get them to heaven. Jesus taught us the corporal works of mercy and gave us the Beatitudes. The Beatitudes give us attitudes to adopt in living our vocation characteristic of the Christian life with the promise of sharing in the Kingdom of God, our just reward. This is about action, the workings of Christ, not just faith alone. Christ was all about faith and actions.
The Church teaches that heaven is the state of supreme and definitive happiness, the goal of the deepest longings of humanity (CCC 1023). Human beings are all about happiness and the perfect happiness can be found resting in the presence of the Face of God, the Beatific Vision. Whereas hell is a state of self-exclusion from communion with God and the blessed. This self-exclusion is a free choice to refuse to believe and be converted from sin (CCC1033). It comes down to our choice and the choices we make in living our life here on earth. It begins here and now. Purgatory, the Church teaches, is a final purification after death for those in friendship with God, a final cleansing of human imperfection before being able to enter the perfection of heaven, (CCC 1031). I have been taught that one must walk through fire so to speak for this cleansing to take place, sounds painful to say the least.
So, what's it going to be, heaven, hell, or purgatory? God is our Judge, but the choice is up to us?
Monday, June 22, 2009
As I mentioned in an earlier post, Pope Benedict XVI has declared this the "Year for Priests", note: not the year of the priest. Now one might ask, why do priests need a special year set aside for them? Believe me they do! I get a lot of questions about priests and the priesthood, the most common of course being why can't priest get married?, and why can't girls be priests? Questions that will be addressed at another time when I've got more time to devote the space to a proper answer worthy of the Sacrament.
One of the things impressed on me as I studied the sacraments was the commitment it takes to one's calling in life. This is especially evident in the Sacrament of Holy Orders and Matrimony. The children will ask me if a man who is a priest decides he doesn't want to do it anymore can he quit? They ask if the Pope decides he doesn't want to be Pope anymore can he quit? It is difficult to find the words to explain to them the commitment these men have made to the Church and that this is a lifelong commitment. So many of the children come from "broken" homes and don't see commitment in their lives, they have difficulty grasping this concept. I try to impress on the children I teach that these men pray a long time about this "calling" from God and is this the right thing for them. The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that to be a priest is a vocation, a calling, not a "right" (CCC 1578). A man doesn't wake up one day and decide "I think I'll go apply for a job as a priest, I might like to do that". A man commits himself to service for the Lord and the Church.
Now once this decision by a man has been made to follow the Lord's call to the priesthood, Heaven help him! He is pegged. At a time when he should be supported and prayed for, lauded and celebrated, he is attacked. Much of this attack comes from the devil and well-meaning friends and family who have no earthly idea why he would want to do such a thing. So yes there needs to be set aside a year for priests because once a man does become ordained into the priesthood the attacks just keep on coming. Some attacks can be very violent and malicious, but some a quite subtle but stinging just the same.
Priests need prayers to stay committed to the sacrifice they have made. I was reminded this past weekend with the gospel story of the calming of the storm, how priests have their own storms that need calming, they are human and experience anxiety and fears just like everyone else. We need to be mindful of the commitment the priest has made to set aside time in prayer, amd his dedication to the Sacrament of the Most Holy Eucharist. We als0 must remember he is praying for our salvation, he is committed to seeing us into heaven and he is our father and we must be obedient to him and to listen to him as we listen to our own fathers. It is difficult at times to hear the truth but our priests want only that for us, to know the truth about God and to learn the truth about what our Church has to teach us.
Please stop frequently and offer up a prayer of thanksgiving for our priests. We are blessed for the priests who have served us and for those who will come after us.
Friday, June 19, 2009
Today marks the celebration of the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. It has also been designated the "beginning of a "Year for Priests" in celebration of the 150th anniversary of the "dies natalis" of John Mary Vianney, the patron saint of parish priests worldwide" to quote our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI.
I recently took a catechesis class where the instructor made an effort to impress that we as catechists need to focus once again on the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states, "He has loved us all with a human heart. For this reason, the Sacred Heart of Jesus, pierced by our sins and for our salvation, 'is quite rightly considered the chief sign and symbol for that... love with which the Redeemer continually loves the eternal Father and all human beings' without exception" (CCC478).
Ask any little child where Jesus is and he will tell you in his heart. Jesus poured out his divine love from the pierced human heart of his very human body. The heart has long been the symbol of love. In this instance Jesus shows his love not only for the Father but the love He has for all mankind. From this heart of Jesus poured forth the life giving sacraments of Baptism and the Precious Blood of the Eucharist. From his side came his Bride, the Church. He gave us life, our hearts beat because his most Sacred Heart made it so. Who wouldn't want to spend time in devotion to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus? Would this devotion lead us to love with the kind of love Jesus shared, with a sacred heart? To focus on the Sacred Heart of Jesus might move us to be more forgiving, to show more kindness, to help us when we need patience with whatever task or "cross" that God brings to us.
Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on me
Most Sacrd Heart of Jesus, have mercy on me
Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on me
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Friday, June 12, 2009
Monday, June 8, 2009
Wednesday, June 3, 2009
Monday, June 1, 2009
*picture compliments of Fr. Z's blog "what the prayer really says"