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Posts Tagged ‘Prayer’

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September 8th: The Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary

From the Roman Catholic Daily Missal, 1962:

At the time of Mary’s birth the whole world was plunged into darkness. The heathen nations were steeped in vice and pride. The Jews, too, had corrupted their ways and departed from God. Everywhere there was sin and gloom, no bright spot on the face of the earth. But when Marty was born a light arose amid the darkness: the dawn of the glorious day that was to usher in the Redeemer. So, too, the darkness of the sinner’s soul is dispersed by Mary’s holy influence. Where the love of her is born in the soul, all becomes full of light, and Jesus comes to make His habitation there. Mary, in the first hour of her life, brought more glory to God than all of the Saints of the Old Testament. In her were made perfect the obedience of Abraham, the chastity of Joseph, the patience of Job, the meekness of Moses, the prudence of Josue. It is because she is the model and pattern of these and all other virtues that she can communicate them to us.

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The Sacraments of Baptism, Holy Eucharist, and Penance are arguably the three most important Sacraments in the life of the Church.  Without these three Sacraments, according to Jesus, it’s impossible to enter into the Kingdom of Heaven.  Baptism makes us adopted children of God and ushers us into His family.  The Sacrament of Penance removes the stain of sin, thereby allowing us to die in a state of grace worthy of a life in heaven. The Sacrament of Holy Eucharist gives us new life through the Body and Blood of Christ. Yet, we cannot approach the Sacrament of Holy Eucharist if we are in a state of sin; in sin we quite literally cut ourselves off from the Body of Christ. To find life in Christ, we simply must have ready access to the Sacrament of Penance.

Jesus is quite clear – if we die in a state of mortal sin, we’re out, all the way out.  Once we depart this life, there are no “second chances.”  There is no do-over.  We die and our soul receives final, eternal judgment.  To this, consider as well how easy it is for one to fall into mortal sin in today’s “anything goes” secular society which routinely promotes absolute perversion as “good.”  Perhaps more than any other time in history, temptation abounds.

While it’s not wise since it generally arises from being over-scrupulous, there is no theological barrier of which I’m aware that would prevent someone who doesn’t regularly partake in the Eucharist (but attends Mass) from gaining admission into Heaven (provided of course the person satisfies the Precepts of the Church which includes receiving the Eucharist at least once a year during Easter).  Yet, we very clearly risk non-admission into the Kingdom of Heaven by forgoing the Sacrament of Penance – not to mention the additional sinfulness of receiving the Eucharist while in a state of sin, especially mortal sin.

Give all this, why is Sacrament of Penance the least available and least promoted of the Sacraments?  If the parishioners are lucky, the average “Catholic” church today offers the Sacrament of Penance for perhaps thirty minutes in the middle of a Saturday afternoon.  Oh, sure, these churches often claim it’s available anytime – by advance appointment only, please.

Multiple “performances” of the liturgy are available all weekend with morning, matinee and evening shows all designed to work around your busy schedule – no advance reservation required, walk-ins welcome.  If you’re lucky, along with an ad-libbing MC (formerly known as a priest), in some cases, they might even throw in some clowns or “liturgical dances” for your “theological” entertainment.  But need someone to hear your confession?  Not likely.  Besides, once you do get in for your face-to-face wrap session (after all, Confessionals with partitions are so pre-Vatican II) with Father Friendly, he’ll probably tell you your sins aren’t really considered sins anymore, so don’t worry, be happy!

Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.

These churches often defend this lack of access to the Sacrament of Penance by claiming not many people show up on Saturday anyways, so it’d be a waste of time to offer it more often.  The majority of Catholics today suffer under pitiful “catechesis” inspired by the false “Spirit of Vatican II” – a “spirit” completely unsupported by the actual documents of Vatican II.  The average pew sitter is woefully misinformed about the Truths of the Faith.  Is it any wonder they’re not showing up at the confessional – especially when it’s in the middle of Saturday afternoon, which is the one day most families actually get some time in today’s hectic world to spend time together?  Frankly, I’m surprised anyone shows up at all.

However, I believe the movie line applies here, “Build it and they will come.”  Offer the Sacrament of Penance on a regular, accessible basis, teach the faithful about its importance and they will come, for if they truly desire salvation and unity with the Lord, they must come.

Every Mass offered by priests of SSPX and FSSP, to give but two examples, offer the Sacrament of Penance before the Mass – in addition to offering it at other times as well.  Quite a novel concept – the faithful show up at the church, participate in the Sacrament of Penance and then actively participate in the Mass with clean souls!  The Sacrament of Penance is offered on a regular, accessible basis and all the faithful participate.  Why is this process so difficult for regular “Catholic” parishes (or “communities” or “worship spaces” or whatever they’re calling themselves today) to implement? [Note: SSPX is mentioned here as an example to show that even a group with questionable standing in the Church at least understands the great importance of access to the Sacrament of Penance.]

Why, fathers and bishops, do so many of you insist on denying, or at least making very inconvenient, access to the Sacrament of Penance?  Sacred Scripture teaches that you are responsible for the souls of the faithful.  With responsibility comes accountability: You will be held to a higher standard than the un-ordained laity.  Stand up and follow many of your Holy Brethren by breathing new life into the Sacrament of Penance and leading the faithful into active participation in this live-saving and life-giving gift of God.

Ave Maria!

+JMJ

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The Consuming Fire

The Consuming Fire: A Christian Guide to the Old Testament.  By Michael W. Duggan.  Our Sunday Visitor, 2010.  686 pages, softcover.  $29.95

Reviewed by Steven Schultz, MA

I fear far too many Catholics operate under the mistaken assumption that the New Testament somehow replaced the Old Testament, or at least rendered it to relative unimportance.  This unfortunate notion causes many of us to give the Old Testament nothing more than a passing glance.  Not only is this notion unfortunate, it’s downright dangerous to our salvation.

The New Testament is the fulfillment of the Old Testament.  Therefore in order to truly understand the New Testament, we must truly understand the Old Testament.  Reading the New Testament, we should be struck by the fact of how thoroughly everyone – Jesus, the Apostles, their fellow Jews – knew the Old Testament (or for them, the Scriptures).  Keep in mind, the Apostles were simple working people, yet they all intimately knew the Old Testament.  Why should we hold ourselves to any lesser standard?

Beyond this, the Old Testament is fundamental to our spiritual perfection as Christians and to our salvation.  We are called to live in Christ – to transform ourselves in Christ.  St. Irenaeus terms the process “recapitulation” in Christ.  Our Lord fulfilled and perfected the Old Testament. Therefore, in order to recapitulate ourselves in Christ, we too must live through His perfection of the Old Testament.  Like the Apostles, we too must know and understand the Old Testament to truly and fully live in Christ in light of the New Testament.

Since many of us have “lost touch” with the Old Testament, reading it can prove an intimidating task.  However, in The Consuming Fire, Michael Duggan provides us a great aid in taming this daunting process.  Dr. Duggan is an Associate Professor of Theology and Religious Studies and the inaugural holder of the CWL Chair for Catholic Studies at St. Mary’s University College in Calgary, Alberta.

The first edition of The Consuming Fire was released by Ignatius Press in 1991.  It has long since gone out of print.  This near edition, appearing nearly twenty years later, is thoroughly revised and updated.  Significant Biblical scholarship has added greatly to our knowledge of the Old Testament since 1991.  Dr. Duggan incorporates this latest scholarship into the new version of The Consuming Fire.

Dr. Duggan sets the stage for our journey by providing introductory chapters on the development of the Old Testament, in particular the Tanakh (the Hebrew Bible) compared to the Septuagint (the Greek Bible), as well as background on the people, places and history of Old Testament times.  He then takes us through every book of the Old Testament, explaining and relating them not only to the other Old Testament books, but to the New Testament as well.  Each chapter concludes with suggestions for meditative reading along with an outline of the book(s) covered in that chapter.

I have only minor criticisms of this book.  First, I find the section of color maps to be of poor quality.  According to the copyright information, the maps apparently come from a 2005 do-it-yourself software program and they look like it.  Quality maps would have greatly enhanced this solid work.  Also, I take issue with the author’s use of “Old Covenant” and “New Covenant” instead of “Old Testament” and “New Testament,” along with his use of “BCE” (Before Common Era) and “CE” (Common Era) instead of “BC” and “AD.”  He claims to do so out of “respect” and an attempt not to “offend” others.  Frankly, I find this complete silliness.

The book is directed towards Catholics.  The terms cited above are standard, traditional Catholic terms.  I don’t expect other religions to alter their terms in order to not “offend” me.  I’m strong enough in my faith that, for example, hearing a Jewish person refer to the Torah or a Muslim talk about the Qur’an doesn’t shake my belief in Jesus as Messiah.

Instead of watering down our terms as a way of being “politically correct,” I believe much more profitable discussion and interchange of ideas takes place when we’re honest about our fundamental beliefs.  I’ve enjoyed extremely profitable discussions with people of radically different belief systems.  We never felt the need to resort to “politically correct” silliness in order to avoid “offending” and thereby appear “tolerant.”

Other than these relatively minor criticisms, I find The Consuming Fire an excellent and profitable book.  Through it, we can come to know more fully the Old Testament and thereby come to know more fully the New Testament and our obligations in Jesus as Christians.

This review was written as part of the Catholic book reviewer program from The Catholic Company. Visit The Catholic Company to find more information on The Consuming Fire and be sure to check out their great selection of baptism gifts while you are there.

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The Temptation of Christ (Scheffer, 1854. Image: Wikipedia)

One of the fundamental causes of all our problems today, particularly in respect to dissent from the Magisterium of the Church, has to do with asking the wrong question.

When we encounter one of God’s teachings we don’t like or don’t understand, our secularized, self-centered society has taught us to ask:

“What’s wrong with the Church that they don’t get it?”

The “it” in this case being secular society’s philosophy of anything goes as long as it makes you feel good.

The question we should actually ask in these situations is:

“What’s wrong with me that I don’t get it?”

The “it” in this case being God’s plan for the eternal salvation of our souls.

True happiness and true freedom come only when we freely submit our will to the will of God.

“My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt.” (Matt 26:39)

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Monsignor Charles Pope posted an excellent piece on the Archdiocese of Washington blog entitled “The Politician and the ‘Private’ Sin: Christine O’Donnell Runs Afoul of the ‘New Morality.’”  Msgr. Pope uses the “controversy” generated by recent airing of old video showing O’Donnell denouncing masturbation as a springboard for a discussion of the Catholic view of sexuality and masturbation.  Please follow the link above and read his full article.  Msgr. Pope’s teaching is spot-on and delivered with excellent pastoral care and wisdom.

I’m firmly convinced one of the greatest causes for a negative reaction against the Catholic Church today and for producing dissent from Church teaching by many “Catholics” is the very “closeness” of the Church herself.  Because the Church is so “familiar,” many people believe they’re complete experts on what the Church teaches based on nothing more than their own opinions and hearsay, particularly “Catholics” who vaguely recall Sister So-and-so (often a feminist dissenter – such as in my “Catholic” grade school) saying something about something in grade school Catechism class during the 1970s or 1980s.  Yet, what they think the Church teaches has little to no connection to her actual teaching.  Sexuality is a prime example.

Most people, and far too many “Catholics,” believe the Church teaches that anything connected with the body or with sex is “evil” and “dirty” – and that we should feel “guilty” for having any sort of “sinful” thought or feeling about sex.  This is pure rubbish!  Nothing could be further from the truth regarding actual Church teaching on human sexuality and the human body.

The Church has consistently taught that because Jesus was fully divine and fully human (two natures in one person), the human body is not inherently “dirty” or “evil.”  Any teaching to the contrary is heresy – and in fact the Church has fought many heresies founded upon the notion of the human body as “dirty” or “evil” since the days the early Church.  God would not have become fully human if He viewed our bodies and our sexuality as “dirty” and “evil.”  Instead, He gave us our bodies and everything associated with them, including our sexuality, as a gift of His free will.  Therefore, the Church has always held the body, and sexuality by connection, are wonderfully beautiful gifts from God.

The Church teaches that, as a gift from God, we should treat our sexuality with the utmost reverence and respect as we’d treat any other great gift given us by someone who cares deeply about us (and no one cares more about us than God).  As part of caring for and treasuring this gift, we should keep it oriented towards its divine purpose – the physical union of man and woman in marriage to produce children.  We don’t like to hear it today, but orienting our sexuality towards any other purpose goes against its nature and against God’s intention.

Instead of treating our sexuality with such respect, many of us discard it to the dung heap.  In a perverse twist of reality, our secular society claims this dung heap is “good” while Church teaching (which is the message of God and not man) is “bad.”  Secular society completely objectifies sexuality.  We are consistently taught, particularly through pornography, to treat people as nothing more than sexual objects for our self-centered sexual pleasure – including even our own bodies.  We’re taught to not worry about the true purpose of sexuality (little lone its beauty) by using contraceptives, and if those don’t work, “eliminating” the “accidental” “product” of a sexual encounter “gone wrong.”  After all, as Barack Obama believes, we wouldn’t want to “punish” anyone with a baby for a “mistake.”

We’ve truly become blind people wondering around in the dark eating from the trash heap while believing it’s a gourmet meal.  God offers us true light, true vision and a Heavenly banquet, yet we refuse His offer, believing we know better than Him the purpose of our humanity and sexuality.  The Church offers a guiding hand to help lead us blind souls into the light, yet we slap it away.  Why have we allowed Satan and his demons to blind us so?

It’s not a new problem.  It’s actually a very old and very simple problem.  From the time of Adam and Eve, humans have acted like unruly children by “playing God” and thinking they know better what’s best for them than the Father.  The solution is likewise abundantly simple.  We must submit our wills to the will of God.  We must trust that the Father does know what’s best for us.  Only in this decision do we find true freedom and authentic expression of our humanity and sexuality.

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From the Roman Catholic Daily Missal, 1962:

The Liturgy reminds us today of the great commandment of charity towards God and our neighbor. ‘The precept is twofold,’ declares St. Augustine, ‘but charity is one.’ We love God above all and our neighbor for His sake.

Collect

As, quaesumus, Domine, populo tuo diabolica vitare contagia: et te solum Deum pura mente sectari.  Per Dominum nostrum.

Grant, we beseech Thee, O Lord, that Thy people may shun all the wiles of the devil: and with pure mind follow Thee, the only God.  Through our Lord.

Epistle (Eph. 4:1-6)

The unity of our faith, like the unity of the Persons of the Most Holy Trinity, imposes on us the duty of being united in the bonds of charity.

Brethren: I, a prisoner in the Lord, beseech you that you walk worthy of the vocation in which you are called.  With all humility and mildness, with patience, supporting one another in charity, careful to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.  One body and one Spirit; as you are called in one hope of your calling.  One Lord, one faith, one baptism.  One God and Father of all, Who is above all, and through all, and in us all; Who is blessed for ever and ever.  Amen.

Gospel (Mt. 22:34-46)

Precepts of charity towards God and towards our neighbor, given by our Lord Jesus Christ.

At that time, the Pharisees came to Jesus, and one of them, a doctor of the law, asked Him, tempting Him: Master, which is the greatest commandment in the law?  Jesus said to him: Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart, and with thy whole soul, and with thy whole mind.  This is the greatest and the first commandment.  And the second is like to this: Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.  On these two commandments dependeth the whole law and the Prophets.  And the Pharisees being gathered together, Jesus asked them, saying: What think you of Christ?  Whose son is He?  They say to Him: David’s.  He saith to them: How then doth David in spirit call Him Lord, saying: The Lord said to my Lord: Sit on My right hand, until I make Thine enemies Thy footstool?  If David then call Him Lord, how is He his son?  And no man was able to answer Him a word; neither durst any man from that day forth ask Him any more questions.

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Padre Pio

Month of Our Lady of Sorrows

Sunday, September 19 – 17th Sunday after Pentecost (Traditional) / 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time (New)

St. Januarius (Gennaro) (304), Bishop, Martyr, Patron of Naples and Companions (Traditional, New)

Our Lady of La Salette, 1846

Monday, September 20

Sts. Andrew Kim Taegon, Priest, Paul Chong Hasang, Catechist & Companions (1839-1867), Korean Martyrs (New)

St. Eustace and Companions (118), Martyrs; St. Eustace, Patron Against Fire (Temporal or Eternal) and of Those in Difficult Circumstances (Tradiational)

Tuesday, September 21

St. Matthew (65), Apostle, Evangelist, Martyr, Patron of Bankers and Accountants (Traditional, New)

Wednesday, September 22 – Ember Wednesday in September (Traditional)

(Day on Which Fasting and Partial Abstinence Formerly Required)

St. Thomas of Villanova (1555), Bishop, Religious, Patron of Valencia (Traditional)

St. Maurice and Companions (c. 285), Martyrs (Tradiational)

Thursday, September 23

St. Pio of Pietrelcina (Padre Pio) (1968), Priest, Religious, Stigmatist (New)

St. Linus (79), Priest, Martyr (Tradiational)

St. Thecla (1st c.), Virgin, Martyr, Invoked for the Dying (Traditional)

St. Constantius the Sacrisan (1st c.) (Historical)

Friday, September 24 – Ember Friday in September (Traditional)

(Obligatory Day of Abstinence from Meat or Substitution of Some Other Sacrifice)

Our Lady of Ransom (1218) (Traditional)

St. Pacific of San Severino (1707), Priest (Historical)

Saturday, September 25 – Ember Saturday in September (Traditional)

(Day on Which Fasting and Partial Abstinence Formerly Required)

Blessed Herman the Cripple (1054), Religious, Author of the Salve Regina (Historical)

St. Finbar (Barry) (633), Bishop (Historical)

St. Cleophas (1st c.) (Historical)

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