Friday, August 31, 2012

Ora et labora -- Pray and work

"Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."
Matthew 11:28-30
Labor Day certainly isn't a particularly Christian holiday. If anything it tends to make one think of socialism or even marxism.

One of the principal themes that has emerged from my writings in Public Vigil is the Kulturkampf or culture war between secular humanism and the Church. One day I plan on writing an article about the original Kulturkampf led by Chancellor Bismarck of Germany against the Catholic Church. This was a milestone in modern history for secular humanism. It is my belief that the seeds of the Jewish persecution led by the Nazis in the early 20th century were planted during the persecution of Catholics in Germany in the late 19th century. But that is a topic for another day.

The question I want to raise is whether Labor Day is another manifestation of secular humanism, and I think the answer is that it can be certainly viewed that way. Labor Day is a glorification of the worker. From a Christian perspective whenever man is glorified over God this always leads to bad consequences -- bad fruit.

We have been taught and trained to view the world from a secular humanist perspective. But when we truly accept Christ as our master and Lord we find that the whole world appears differently. What before was "good" may now be another of the traps and snares of the devil. The philosophy of secular humanism is so deeply embedded in our culture that it has managed to redefine words such as "good" and "freedom". To escape from this secular humanist pit requires one to become the "new man" which St. Paul speaks of in his letter to the Ephesians. The "new man" accepts the will of God in his life. He accepts the yoke of Jesus. And he throws off the yoke of the "world". The man which has converted his life to Jesus undergoes a radical transformation as he is reborn through the grace and power of the Holy Spirit.

This does not happen overnight. And just how it happens is a mystery of God. But it clearly happens and the world begins to appear in a totally different light. Priorities shift and in some cases become completely inverted. What was important before, now may have no importance at all. The most important thing becomes not this life, but the next. The eyes shift their gaze towards heaven. Hallelujah!

But I was talking about Labor Day. I was thinking about the passage where St. Paul says that those who do not work should not eat. (2 Thessalonian 3:10) This is a very famous passage and often quoted. It fits in well with the Protestant work ethic. But from what I now understand, St. Paul directs his comment to those who had come to believe that the coming of Christ's Kingdom was eminent.

Imagine that you are expecting that Christ will come again in all His Glory within your lifetime. Shouldn't you be doing everything you can to prepare for His coming? Shouldn't you be spending all your time in prayer rather than in mundane work?

I don't have to imagine the answer to those questions because it was not that long ago that I myself experienced a growing feeling that Christ's return was imminent. I felt no desire to work, but spent many hours in reflection. I wish I could say that I was constantly praying, but I did spend time reading the Bible and the writings of St. Teresa of Avila. And I grew much closer to God.

So I think that sometimes part of the transformation to the "new man" is this very clear awareness that Christ could return at any moment "like a thief in the night". Therefore we must be alway prepared like the wise virgins with their lamps full of oil. And in fact that day could be today or tomorrow or next week or next month or next year. But Jesus also tells us that no one knows the time, not even the angels. (See Mark Chapter 13.) Only God the Father knows the hour of the coming of the New Jerusalem. Hallelujah!

But St. Paul reminds us of the value of work, of labor. He himself insisted on working at his trade as a tentmaker so that he would not be a burden on the early Christian communities where he was staying.

So there is a proper Christian interpretation of the value of work. Jesus also reminds us of this in his parables. But all work ultimately must glorify God or it loses its meaning. And life itself loses its meaning.

This is the great failing of secular humanism. When viewed through its distorted lens, life has no meaning. If there is no God and no Heaven, then life has no purpose. When the Truth is lost, we become lost.

The latest manifestation of just how lost we have become is the push for "physician assisted suicide". This is another concept that would have been unspeakably absurd just a few short years ago and now has begun to gain public support.

It is another theme of Public Vigil that secular humanism grew out of the eugenics movement of the 19th century. So it should be no surprise when it returns to its eugenics roots through such evils as abortion of an unborn child as the best "choice" for a poor mother and "voluntary" suicide for the elderly. From a eugenics perspective the weak and sick are a burden on society, so they should be eliminated.

It is one of the great ironies of our times that secular humanism should claim to champion "human rights". How can this be when it does not recognize the sanctity of human life? Without God we are nothing.

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Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be world without end. Amen.

For the Kingdom and the Power and the Glory are Yours. Now and forever. Amen.

I have been meditating on the meaning of the word "glory". What do you glorify in your life? Is it God or man?

We think that we do not worship idols like the people in the Old Testament and even the Greeks in the New Testament, but we have more than our share of idols in the "modern" world. Above all the idol that we worship is Man.

Man -> Humanism.

Think for example of the recent Olympics. This is a modern reenactment of an ancient pagan festival to glorify Man. Not that sports are bad. But without Christ at the center of our lives and at the center of our society and our culture, even the good things can turn to bad. Our talents and our efforts are wasted pursuing some elusive goal that in the end has no meaning.

With Christ in our lives even our pain and suffering and sorrow has meaning and leads us closer to God and eternal life. Amen. Hallelujah!

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Remember that tomorrow, Saturday, is the first Saturday of the month. Every Saturday is a special day that we remember the Blessed Virgin Mary, but the first Saturday has special significance because of the importance of going to Mass in accordance with the petition of Our Lady of Fatima.

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17 This then I say and testify in the Lord: That henceforward you walk not as also the Gentiles walk in the vanity of their mind, 18 Having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their hearts. 19 Who despairing, have given themselves up to lasciviousness, unto the working of all uncleanness, unto the working of all uncleanness, unto covetousness. 20 But you have not so learned Christ; 21 If so be that you have heard him, and have been taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus: 22 To put off, according to former conversation, the old man, who is corrupted according to the desire of error. 23 And be renewed in the spirit of your mind: 24 And put on the new man, who according to God is created in justice and holiness of truth.
 - Ephesians 4:17-24

Monday, August 13, 2012

Does prayer make a difference?

It is the only thing that makes a difference. Everything else we do to promote good is meaningless and fruitless without prayer. We must begin and end our days and all our activities with prayer.

Even if we were somehow able to solve the world's material problems -- hunger, poverty -- we would still be living in a world of evil without prayer. Take for example contraception and abortion as solutions for hunger and poverty. How can we say that we can feed the poor by killing millions of unborn? The evil that this promotes would rise up like a foul stench and choke every living thing. In fact this is already happening.

St. Teresa of Jesus writes about this in the story of her life. She says that she created her convents to fight the evil of the Protestant attack on the Church in the time of she was living. She says that a few faithful Catholics praying could do  more to stop this attack than armies or great wealth. Jesus tells us that faith can move mountains. We have the examples of the saints and the martyrs of the Church.

Pray, and ask God for forgiveness. We are not innocent. It is through our own fault that the world has become what it is.

We are living in a time when Christ is being constantly crucified. We need the faith of a Mary Magdalene to see through these desperate times to the Resurrection.

And if you find yourself crying as you pray, then that is a blessing. It is Christ pouring down holy water from Heaven on us.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Is it cool to be Catholic?

"Preach the word, be urgent in season and out of season, convince, rebuke, and exhort, be unfailing in patience and in teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own likings, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander into myths."
2 Timothy 4:2-4
Cool and Catholic do not combine. The definition of cool has a strong anti-Catholic component. Wherever you see cool, think secular humanism. Cool is a cultural expression of the philosophy of humanism, which is marketed to the young and the naive -- including many older people who should be wiser.

What is it to be cool? It is supposed to be cool to be different, but actually cool is about fitting into the popular culture -- which is a product of humanist influences.

Cool does not arise from the bottom up. It does not originate in the streets. It is manufactured by the powerful -- whether through marketing campaigns or through well-funded "community" organizations. Sometimes a trend will emerge from the streets and be assimilated by the mass media. But this is done very selectively.

Does a Catholic World Youth Day get promoted by the mass media, even when it attracts millions of young people from all over the world. Of course not. This is not cool.

Cool is about fitting in. It is all about peer pressure and belonging to a group. This is most important to young people who are searching for an identity. There are whole industries which are dedicated to exploiting innocent young people.

Cool is sexy and sexy is cool. Sex is the apple that is used to tempt young people -- and old people -- away from God. It is manipulated by the powerful to form the "traps and snares" of the evil one.

Sex is good when it is an expression of love within marriage. Love is good, because God created man and woman. The highest form of love is love of God. When we pray we are spending time with God and we deepen our relationship with Him. Why not pray a rosary with your potential future spouse rather than engaging in sex? Praying together is a powerful experience which creates a strong bond between two people and God. Is God part of your relationship or does he get cast aside?

Don't be cool, be Catholic. You will be happier. The pursuit of being cool ends in frustration, disappointment, disillusionment, despair, depression and even death. The pursuit of being Catholic ends in joy, serenity, true happiness, true peace, inner tranquility and eventually a seat beside the throne of God.

The saints never sought to be cool, you shouldn't either. Set your eyes on heaven, put your faith in Jesus Christ, love God with all your heart.
But my eyes are toward thee, O LORD God;
  in thee I seek refuge; leave me not defenseless!
Keep me from the trap which they have laid for me,
  and from the snares of evildoers!
Let the wicked together fall into their own nets,
  while I escape.
Psalm 141:8-10

The tears of the Virgin

And the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God."
Luke 1:30

The tears of the Virgin

She cries for Jesus, her son
She cries for us
Bittersweet tears of sorrow and joy
Knowing that God's will must be done

Behind her, the wailing of women
Before her, the crucified Christ
Beside her, John the disciple

Within her Immaculate Heart
Pain, suffering
Ripping her apart

Her faith is not shattered
Her heart remains true

She prays for forgiveness
For all those who hate
For all those who spit upon
And humiliate
Her son, Emmanuel

O Virgin most holy
Pray for us too
Through our fault
Through our fault
Through our most grievous fault
This bloody day has come