'Always be faithful to God in keeping the promises made to Him and do not bother about the ridicule of the foolish. Know that the saints were always sneered at by the world and worldlings; and they have trampled them under foot and triumphed over the world and its maxims.'
"Guard against anger. But if it cannot be averted, let it be kept within bounds. For indignation is a terrible incentive to sin. It disorders the mind to such an extent as to leave no room for reason." — St. Ambrose
“A man can join any other movement, group, or cult without provoking hostile comment from his neighbors and friends; he can even found some esoteric sun cult of his own and be tolerated as a citizen exercising his legitimate freedom and satisfying his own religious needs. But as soon as anyone joins the Catholic Church, hatred, opposition appear.”
Pope Francis said that those waiting at the threshold of the Church without going inside are not true members of the Church which Jesus established and on whom it is built.
“We are citizens, fellow citizens of this Church. If we do not enter into this temple to be part of this building so that the Holy Spirit may live in us, we are not in the Church,” the Pope told those present in the Vatican’s Saint Martha guesthouse for his Oct. 28 daily Mass.
Rather, “we are on the threshold and look inside…Those Christians who do not go beyond the Church’s reception: they are there, at the door: 'Yes, I am Catholic, but not too Catholic.'”
The Pope centered his reflections on both the day's first reading from St. Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians and the Gospel, taken from Luke, Chapter 6.
“Jesus prays, Jesus calls, Jesus chooses, Jesus sends his disciples out, Jesus heals the crowd. Inside this temple, this Jesus who is the corner stone does all this work: it is He who conducts the Church,” the pontiff noted, explaining that the Church is built on the apostles.
However, despite the fact that the Twelve were chosen by Jesus, they were all still sinners, the Pope said, explaining that although no one knows who sinned the most, there could have been one that sinned more than Judas did.
“Judas, poor man, is the one who closed himself to love and that is why he became a traitor. And they all ran away during the difficult time of the Passion and left Jesus alone. They are all sinners. But (Jesus) chose (regardless).”
And Jesus, the Pope added, wants everyone to be inside of the Church he founded, not as strangers passing through, but rather with the “rights of a citizen” where they have roots.
The person who stands at the threshold of the Church looking in but not entering has no sense of the full love and mercy that Jesus gives to every person, Francis said, adding that proof of this can be seen in Jesus' relationship with Peter.
Even though Peter denies the Lord he is still the first pillar of the Church, the pontiff explained. “For Jesus, Peter’s sin was not important: he was looking at (Peter’s) heart. But to be able to find this heart and heal it, he prayed.”
It is Jesus who prays and heals, Pope Francis noted, saying that it is something he does for each one of us.
“We cannot understand the Church without Jesus who prays and heals,” he said, praying that the Holy Spirit would help all to understand that the Church draws her strength from Jesus’ prayer which can heal us all.
May it have an effect on the marginally faithful... may it have an effect on all the faithful... may it have an effect on me.
The Lord has strong words towards Christian who avoid overstating their Christianity, the Pope told the congregation on Oct. 27. Such Christians do great harm “because their Christian witness is a witness which ultimately disseminates confusion, disseminates a negative witness.”
At the End Times, the Pope continued, the Lord will say to these “gray” Christians: “You are neither hot nor cold. If only you were hot or cold. But because you are lukewarm – therefore gray – I vomit you from my mouth'.”
Contrasting lukewarm Christians with the “children of light” and the “children of darkness,” the Holy Father described these “gray” Christians as going from one side to the other, making it difficult to determine whether they follow God or the devil.
“They are always lukewarm,” he said. “They are neither luminous nor dark.”
Pope Francis turned his reflection to the day's first reading from Saint Paul, calling on Christians to be children of light, rather than children of darkness. In order to know which sort of children we are, the Pope said, we should consider whether the words we use fall into one of four categories: hypocritical, empty, frivolous, or obscene. Such words, he said, are not used by “the children of light. They are not from the Holy Spirit. They are not from Jesus, they are not the words of the Gospel. . . this way of speaking, always speaking of filthy things, or frivolously, or empty, or speaking hypocritically.”
Instead, the Holy Father said, citing Saint Paul, we are called to imitate God by walking in charity, goodness, and gentleness. “Therefore, be imitators of God and walk in charity. And this is the word of a child of light.”
“There are luminous Christians, full of light,” the Pope said, “who seek to serve the Lord with this light.” He added that there are “dark” Christians “who lead a life of sin, a life far from the Lord.”
Warning against being deceived by statements which are “beautiful, well said, but empty,” Pope Francis challenged Christians to ask themselves: “Am I a Christian of light? Am I a Christian of darkness? Am I a Christian of gray?”
In an audience with members of an international Marian movement, Pope Francis warned that the sacrament of marriage has been reduced to a mere association, and urged participants to be witnesses in a secular world.
“The family is being hit, the family is being struck and the family is being bastardized,” the Pope told those in attendance at the Oct. 25 audience.
He warned against the common view in society that “you can call everything family, right?”
“What is being proposed is not marriage, it's an association. But it's not marriage! It's necessary to say these things very clearly and we have to say it!” Pope Francis stressed.
He lamented that there are so many “new forms” of unions which are “totally destructive and limiting the greatness of the love of marriage.”
Noting that there are many who cohabitate, or are separated or divorced, he explained that the “key” to helping is a pastoral care of “close combat” that assists and patiently accompanies the couple.
Pope Francis offered his words in a question-and-answer format during his audience with members of the Schoenstatt movement, held in celebration of the 100th anniversary of its founding in Germany.
Roughly 7,500 members of the international Marian and apostolic organization, both lay and clerics from dozens of nations around the world, were present in the Vatican’s Paul VI Hall for the audience.
In his answers to questions regarding marriage, Pope Francis explained that contemporary society has “devalued” the sacrament by turning it into a social rite, removing the most essential element, which is union with God.
“So many families are divided, so many marriages broken, (there is) such relativism in the concept of the Sacrament of Marriage,” he said, noting that from a sociological and Christian point of view “there is a crisis in the family because it's beat up from all sides and left very wounded!”
Hard to believe it's been more than three years since I wrote this:
I've got a confession to make.
I'm regularly praying the Rosary. There, I said it.
For months now and daily during the work week, I'm up at 4:15 AM. It's still dark. Quite dark. I find my Droid X and the Rosary App I downloadedfor free, I find my beads given to me by the angel who ran our RCIA program at St. Joan of Arc's and I head quietly downstairs to my living room, my dog Harley following sleepily and looking at me as if I've lost my marbles, communicating with his eyes that he'd much rather be back in his bed.
I've hesitated to write about it for a variety of reasons, most having to do with an ego yet too large. Doing something I once vigorously opposed is somewhat problematic and of course I'm not the most pious feller publicly and so this sort of thing is likely seen as unusual by those who know me (or who think they do). And frankly there will be some who see it as a weakness, as something less than manly, as something done more usually by females, most of them of the blue haired variety. All these folks are wrong and I'm as wrong for worrying an iota about it.
I continue to pray the Rosary daily though now it takes me less than 20 minutes usually, I combine it with a walk and I no longer need an app to git'r done. It's become something I seriously look forward to doing every day and I know that it's changing me. I do.
Growing up, I’d occasionally catch my father as he finished praying the Rosary early on Saturday mornings (begun in peace when the rest of us were asleep), or notice he’d left his handsome set of beads lying out on a coffee table. I had the blessing of his example. Other men know their fathers have placed a Rosary in their locker at work (try and find a Catholic firefighter who doesn’t have either a Rosary or a saint’s medal) or even just keep one in their pocket, where from time to time they’ll pause and touch the beads. But for those men who haven’t “seen” or “heard,” how do we make sense of the Rosary as a manly devotion?
1. The Rosary is covert. A fierce point of intimidation of being a man of faith in our culture is the fear that we will amount to being hypocrites (and we know how much Jesus loved that…). In the face of our own weakness, we want to be authentic about who we are, what we’re capable of, and what we believe. Rather than broadcasting or projecting a false image of ourselves as mighty saints, men prefer to keep things on the down low. The problem is this principle of authenticity—which is truly noble—can be our undoing. When we’re not grounded in something solid, we’ll drift away. We’re not all called to some kind of grandiose witness, like martyrdom or preaching, but we do need to be faithful. The Rosary offers a structured program for building up the foundation of faith in our souls in secret, so that when the storms come our hearts will be strong enough to be true.
2. The Rosary arms us for spiritual warfare. The fact of the matter is that spiritual life is war (cf.CCC 2725). St. Paul puts it this way, “For we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Eph. 6:12). To contend in the battle, we must put on the armor of Light (Rom. 13:12)! Dominican friars wear the Rosary on the left side, the side which bore the sword for knights of old. In the battle of the spiritual life, prayer is the only weapon, and it must be used. Frequently. Unceasingly. Devotion to the Rosary reclaimed the life of the 19th-century Italian lawyer Bartolo Longo (who had become entrapped in the world of the occult and often dreamt of taking his own life), and without a doubt, devotion to the Rosary will help us overcome the evils which plague us. The temptations and cycles of sin of the 21st century do not own us, for the Rosary narrates the greatest conquest of all time: the victory of life and light over sin and death.
Br. Briscoe has two more reasons to substantiate his thesis.
We are wounded by God because in being touched by Him we have been opened to a whole new way of living and seeing the world. Opened in this way we respond by going out of ourselves, offering ourselves up. As St. John of the Cross puts it “…after wounding me;/ I went out calling you, but you were gone.” These wounds then are wounds of love, of openness to the Other.
Such openness takes the form of a wound because we are not yet able to fully embrace God while we remain in sin and imperfect. There is no other way: We must be open to God before we can be filled by God.
As we come closer to Him, however, our wounds only worsen, as it were, as the dross of sin is melted away from our souls.
Not exactly what we hear from the televangelists, from the name it and claim it crowd, the prosperity gospel-arians, the well coiffed get rich quick theologians, all who flood the airwaves with their heretical bottom-of-the-birdcage-make-Jesus-your-Savior-and-be-happy claptrap.
If I've learned anything about faith, orthodox, traditional, historic faith (and not the sort of shallow, Hallmark sentimentalism too many are selling and too many more, so very sadly, are buying), is that faith can in fact be most painful.
Faith that lasts, faith that overcomes, faith that sustains, perseveres and eventually brings the greatest of comfort is faith that comes paradoxically from wrestling with God and from the pain God allows to happen in our lives. It's the faith taught by the Saints and especially by their lives. It's the faith passed down over the ages. The faith taught by the Church. It's the faith we all seek though many of us unknowingly, even blindly.
Pope John Paul II, in his Apostolic letter titled Salvifici Doloris (On the Christian Meaning of Human Suffering), wrote:
A source of joy is found in the overcoming of the sense of the uselessness of suffering, a feeling that is sometimes very strongly rooted in human suffering. This feeling not only consumes the person interiorly but seems to make him a burden to others. The person feels condemned to receive help and assistance from others and at the same time seems useless to himself. The discovery of the salvific meaning of suffering in union with Christ transforms this depressing feeling. Faith in sharing in the suffering of Christ brings with it the interior certainty that the suffering person "completes what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions"; the certainty that in the spiritual dimension of the work of redemption he is serving, like Christ, the salvation of his brothers and sisters. Therefore he is carrying out an irreplaceable service. (SD 27)
I've not yet suffered like a Saint. I hope in fact to never have to but I'm conforted by the fact that should Saintly suffering come, I'm enmeshed in the faith they used to overcome it.
God help all who suffer see You in that suffering and might they be sustained by that seeing.
Real forgiveness is hard because it address people, you know, sinned, dammit! They don’t deserve forgiveness.
Correctamundo. People who have sinned do not deserve forgivenness. A helluva a lot of them don’t (or won’t) even admit they’ve sinned, much less gotten around to asking for forgiveness. Jesus’ extremely hard command is still plain:
And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against any one; so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. (Mk 11:25).
Note the completely unqualified nature of that command. Nothing about the sinner apologizing. Just “forgive everybody everything, always, and forever”.
“But then they’ll have gotten away with it!”
No they won’t. God is still God. He sees if and when they repent. The forgiveness is for your sake as much as theirs. Forgive and they won’t own you anymore. Hold to bitterness and their cold clammy hand will still grip your ankle 25 years after they have died (and perhaps all the way to hell). Forgive. Let them go. Be free. Let God worry about their destiny.
Mark Shea should be a regular read for anyone wanting to take Catholic faith seriously. And yes, I'm completely aware some Catholics will disagree.
What I love about Mark is this. You can disagree with him all day long but you better bring your "A" game when doing so. And the plus side of that is you've studied what you believe and why and you've come to know more about the Catholic faith.
I honestly believe the historic Catholic faith and I wish to proclaim it in its glorious fullness, and this includes the church’s moral teachings. I not only want to proclaim it, I want to live it, fool and failure that I am.
However, what I resent is the present assumption that if you wish to live and proclaim the fullness of Catholic doctrine, dogma and discipline then you must immediately be some sort of legalistic, harsh, unwelcoming, Pharisee.
It is assumed that you don’t have a sense of humor or humanity, that you are intentionally harsh and that you probably pull the wings of flies for fun.
No doubt there are some who wish to follow the fullness of the historic Catholic faith who lapse into Pharisaism, sober seriousness, legalism and downright ugliness. We’ve all met them. No doubt there are some who stumble into strict negativity and tumble into sour self righteousness. In their zeal for clarity of teaching they lose charity.
There are conservatives like that and guess what? There are progressives like that too–but the other way around. They are just as ugly, self righteous, seriously smug and judgmental as the conservatives they despise, and they are just as blind to their self righteousness as the other side. In their zeal for charity they lose the clarity of the faith.
A plague on both their houses.
We needn’t go there. We mustn’t go there. There is another way.
Read the whole thing. I did and and it's a personal roadmap of sorts for me... and probably, for others, something we who are passionate about our faith need to read and often.