Wednesday, August 31, 2011
Monday, August 29, 2011
Thursday, August 18, 2011
"Then the priest invites those present to take part in the Act of Penitence, which, after a brief pause for silence, the entire community carries out through a formula of general confession. The rite concludes with the priest's absolution, which, however, lacks the efficacy of the Sacrament of Penance."
God has not willed to reserve to himself all exercise of power. He entrusts to every creature the functions it is capable of performing, according to the capacities of its own nature. This mode of governance ought to be followed in social life. The way God acts in governing the world, which bears witness to such great regard for human freedom, should inspire the wisdom of those who govern human communities. They should behave as ministers of divine providence.”
Subsidiarity teaches us that all functions, from health care, to industry to education should be performed at the “most local” level possible to avoid interfering with each individual’s God given free will and to preserve each individual’s dignity. In the end, violating subsidiarity will lead to violating the sanctity of each Human Life. When the society as a whole is valued at the expense of the rights of the individual, individual humans become dispensable. Our bishops clearly spoke out against this double-edged danger prior to the Health Care Law’s passage. We thank them and pray for their continued fortitude in standing up for the Truth of Jesus’ teachings on the value of each of our lives. We also thank and pray for all of the Catholic doctors, nurses and staff who have historically brought so much health care and blessing to our nation, and who will continue to do so as long as they are able.
We are all called to live a chaste life. That’s right; not just priests and religious, but all of us. Falling under the cardinal virtue of temperance, “which seeks to permeate the passions and appetites of the senses with reason,” chastity applies this virtue to our human sexuality. It is not the same thing as celibacy or abstinence, but refers to the, “successful integration of sexuality within the person and thus the inner unity of man in his bodily and spiritual being. It involves the integrity of the person and the integrality of the gift.” Our sexuality is a gift we freely choose to give over to God in the consecrated or ordained life, or to God through our spouse in the married life.
This form of self control is a, “long and exacting work. One can never consider it acquired once and for all. It presupposes renewed effort at all stages of life. It can be more intense in certain periods, such as when the personality is being formed during childhood and adolescence.” Like all of the virtues, we work on, fail at, go to confession for, resolve to do better at chastity, all of our life. We assist ourselves in this pursuit through frequent reception of the Sacraments and fidelity to prayer.
As usual, the Church wants what is best for us, a true understanding, integration and enjoyment of God’s gift of our sexuality. The world tries to sell us a cheap imitation (the words “dumpster diving” come to mind). Chastity is a way we honor our own and others’ dignity. It is a facet of our lives, most beautiful, and most easily scarred. Protect it as you would any other precious gem. But don’t forget, God can polish any “scratch” in His confessional.
All quotes are from the Catechism of the Catholic Church 2337-2345, which is definitely worth a read. www. Chastity.Com is also a great source of information.
Wednesday, August 17, 2011
Early in the 18th century Jean-Pierre de Caussade, a Jesuit priest, spiritually advised nuns to actively surrender their wills to God. In the book compiled from his letters, The Sacrament of the Present Moment, de Caussade teaches us to be in constant communion with God that we might do His will for us, not just every day, but every hour and every moment. By reading de Caussade’s book, we learn to receive the blessings of the present moment, whatever it holds, and to walk in God’s will for our lives.
Often in August our brains go into overdrive; we start planning for the hyper-busy months to come. Is this why God gave us August? Is this why He gave us a lush, hot month which just about throws itself at us trying to get our attention with its beauty and abundance? No, August is a time to slow down enough to listen to what God is calling us to do and not do. Soon enough the voices of the world will crowd in with ideas of how we should spend the precious resource of our time. Let us use August to allow God to free us from the dead wood of false obligations and free us to do the things He wills, including re-creating ourselves.
Expounding on Mary’s ability to be present, de Caussade wrote:
Her spirit, ravished with joy, looked upon everything that she was called to do or suffer each moment as the gift of God, who always fills with blessings a heart that is nourished neither by the world nor by fantasy, but by Him alone.
By using God’s gifts for His purposes we grow closer to each other and to Him. When we go our own way we may experience worldly success, but not lasting fulfillment and joy. How often have we been frustrated trying to bring our own plans to fruition, but amazed by how easily work flows when we act on God’s plans? God wants our work to fulfill us and our rest to restore us. He wills all good things for us. August is the perfect month to give God’s plan a try. Let us be present to Him. Let us be absent from regret and anxiety. May we thus realize the gift that God gives us in the present moment.
On Teresa Tomeo’s radio show May 29, 2009, she and Janet Morana were discussing a study released on the cost to the US Government of treating and dealing with the “human wreckage” related to alcohol and drug abuse. The obvious connection which came to their minds was that a good portion of this, in both women and men, was caused by abortion. No professionals believe or inform their patients that abortion causes psychological problems which lead to behaviors such as alcohol and drug abuse. Ignoring this truth amounts to malpractice, not to mention the fiscal costs to our society. We cannot be healed of what we will not admit is a wound. The cost of abortion, to the individual and to society outweighs the supposed benefits handily. This is very important information from a secular point of view. This has nothing to do with religion or even morality. Abortion costs our society dearly.
There is one point that I would like to make to compliment what my fellow patriots in the pro-life movement say. Abortion is the cause of many deep, lasting and costly problems. However, I do not believe abortion is the root cause. Abortion is the terrible and disgusting flower, or weed, of another root. I believe that root is the degradation of the feminine person. A girl or woman who has been affirmed in her femininity and personhood would not consider abortion as a solution to a “problem”. Indeed such persons would not likely be in a position to have an “unwanted” pregnancy in the first place. The cause of abortion is that we are raising little girls to be prostitutes. For several generations we have taught them that their value lies in what they give to or trade with society first through their sexuality, second through their ability to generate income. Gone is the value given to them first as daughters of God, second as bearers and nurturers of life. In denying the true value of the female person we destroy her ability to care for herself and make choices which respect her own integrity and humanity. By the time many girls are at an age to become pregnant and make their choices, they have been wounded and damaged to such a degree that their choices are necessarily selfish ones. No one has taken care of them; they must take care of themselves.
Of course the corollary of this attack is the destruction of true masculinity. Its retributions are just as severe and as related to abortion as the destruction of femininity. A boy or man who has been affirmed in his true value, first as a son of God, second as co-creator and protector, would abhor the idea of killing his own child. A man raised in the truth of his masculinity would regard his purity and eventual vocation in such a way that he would be much less likely to be in a position to support the ending of his child’s life for his convenience or perceived material necessity.
This cycle of human degradation feeds upon itself. There is more human wreckage now than a generation ago. There will be exponentially more a generation from now if hearts and minds (and laws) are not changed. A society in denial teaches the wounded and proud young American that abortion is sanctioned and thus a valid “choice”. We have generations of legalized American murderers. The dignity of the human person disappears. We see and are living with the fruit. A child sexually abused by her stepfather or teacher or brother survives by counting on herself and what the world tells her will bring her happiness and peace. The world denies the truth of who she is but she has no reference point to see the lie.
We in the pro-life movement must see in every angry pro-choice person a wounded lamb whom God desires to heal. We must pray first and foremost for conversion of each soul. We see the promise of the youth. We speak out and teach truth. We pray to avoid the prophetic words of Blessed Mother Teresa, “The fruit of abortion is nuclear war.” We see that abortion is in itself the terrible fruit, or flower, or weed, of the enemy’s lie about the dignity of the human person. The attacks are personal, individual and devastating. Let us pray personally, individually and with the assurance of where the great power lies. Jesus, I trust in You.
From one of my pastor's, Fr. Joe Gatto, homilies: We are all called to take ourselves out of the center of the circle, or to allow Jesus to do so, and place Him there instead.
From spiritual directions of our dear Franciscan, Fr. Francis: Write our hurts in the sand where the winds of forgiveness can blow them away. Carve our blessings in stone to keep them always before us.
So, Fr. Francis, what should we do when we are offended? His answer was to first discern whether they even meant to offend you. Are they even aware of what they are saying or doing? It is rare that intent is malicious.
This has been rolling around in my soul. What keeps bubbling up is: Don’t Take Offense. If you do, what you receive is offense. Instead, receive the wound, the hurt, and then give it to Jesus. If you are offended, you are in the center, you are not seeing the offender’s wounds and you cannot pray for them. You end up ruminating on the wound, or even the perceived wound, instead of moving forward with grace that can help the offender.
Jesus was not offended by His rejection, trial, scourging, being spit upon, being humiliated. He was not offended by His Passion and Death. He was wounded throughout, but always kept before Himself our need for forgiveness, mercy, atonement and salvation. He alone had the right to be offended, yet He forfeited that right for us.
When someone does something offensive to you, receive the hurt, give it to Jesus, ask for the wisdom to see the offender’s wounds and offer the suffering and a prayer for their conversion and healing. In this way you receive grace, forgiveness and mercy yourself. Choosing the other way, being offended, all you receive is offense and you still do not avoid the hurt.
My response to Fr. Francis’ thoughts on discerning intent is yes. This view will allow you to offer suffering and pray for the offender, who is himself or herself a wounded lamb. However I would add that someone can unintentionally wound you. A drunk driver can be as deadly as a crazed killer, malicious intent aside. The wound, the hurt is still real and still needs to be given to Jesus. Don’t take offense, receive the wound and offer His Mercy. This is how we receive His Mercy and His Peace.