Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Laudem Gloriae

"Like Magdalene at the Master's  feet ask Him to set you free."
"God so loves to see a soul recognize its weakness .... and God embraces this nothingness."
"I have a profound compassion for souls that live only for this world and its trivialities; I consider them as slaves."
"Shake off the yoke that weighs you down; these bonds that chain you to yourself and to things less than yourself."
"The happy ones of this world choose the Cross."
"We experience peace when we place our joy in suffering."

From "The greatness of our vocation" paragraphs 5 and 6.

Elizabeth of the Trinity

"The soul that is aware of its greatness transcends all things, including self."
"The secret of happiness is to deny oneself always."
"A good way to kill pride is to let it starve to death."
"Love of God must be so strong that it extinguishes all our self-love."

From "The greatness of our vocation" paragraph 4.

Blessed Elizabeth

"We must live on the supernatural level .... A supernatural soul never deals with secondary causes but with God alone."

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Why do we cry?

Lacrymosa dies illa,
 qua resurget ex favilla,
 judicandus homo reus.
 Huic ergo parce, Deus.

That day is one of weeping,
 on which shall rise from the ashes
 the guilty man, to be judged.
 Therefore, spare this one, O God.

Pie Jesu Domine:
 dona eis requiem.

Merciful Lord Jesus:
 grant them peace.
Today we share in the grief and sorrow of the mothers of the children whose lives were so senselessly ended two days ago. The nation is in mourning. We are shocked and numbed. As if reality had ceased and we were placed in some sort of limbo. Our appetite is gone, life tastes bland. and yet we eat.

It is struggle to walk up the stairs. All our thoughts are turned to the children. We cry and the tears roll down our cheeks and fall... We stop crying, but it is as if the tears are still flowing from our eyes.

For a moment we forget our sadness and then we are called back to that reality. and we feel guilty that we have let one moment pass without mourning. We cannot cry enough tears to express our sadness. A child's laughter and lively step reminds us again of our loss.

It is a feeling of emptiness. As if all the air was sucked out of our lungs. And there is a sinking feeling in the pit of the stomach. As if the world had been turned upside down. A dizziness and nausea.

Instinctively, our thoughts turn to God. We cry out inside. A cry which is a prayer, a lament, like a sorrowful psalm.

Today the Church seemed more crowded than usual. I was in such a state of confusion that I arrived a half hour late and missed the scripture readings and the homily. The prayers of intercession were for the children and their families. Afterwards the eucharist seemed more solemn than usual.

Every prayer and every hymn took on a new meaning. After Mass I prayed a Rosary for the children and their families, repeating the words... "Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death.... at the hour of our  death.... at the hour of our death...." "O my Jesus, forgive us our sins. Save us from the fires of hell. Lead all souls to Heaven.... lead all souls to Heaven.... lead all souls to Heaven.... "

I drove home more slowly than usual, as if I were in a funeral procession I suppose.

I recalled this version of Dies Irae which I had recorded over a year ago, but never posted. It seemed too morbid perhaps. Or it spoke too clearly of the Judgement Day and this is something that we just don't speak about out of concern that others in society might think that we are losing touch with reality. Today death and final judgement are all too much a part of our reality.

Today even nature seems to be in mourning. The sky is grey. It is cold and damp and the seagulls hover above in the chilly air. Although it is day, it feels more like night.

It is the season of Advent. But it does not feel like the advent of the child Jesus, instead it is the advent of the Second Coming. We celebrate both in the Church but this year it is especially His triumphant return at the end of the ages when we will all be judged according to how we have lived our lives that the Holy Spirit seems to be directing our attention towards.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Cruise to Hell

All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, they are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as an expiation by his blood, to be received by faith.
 -- Romans 3:23-25
Michael Voris is at it again. This time the topic is Hell. And Michael pulls no punches and doesn't try to dance around the issues. That's the great thing about Michael V. He's direct and there is no ambiguity in his commentaries. He's not always the most charitable and I think this can be a real problem at times.

But when it comes to the topic of Hell, his approach is the only one that makes any sense for Catholics to take. Although, it doesn't usually work out very well in social conversations. It's hard to convince those who don't believe in Hell or think that everyone is going to Heaven that they are just fooling themselves. Maybe a look of pity at the right time is all we can do to express our thoughts in an effective way.

And on the other side of the debate is Father Barron. Not my favorite priest. I would describe him as lukewarm. He is always accommodating to the secular culture and that to me is a warning sign. Any truly faithful Catholic should be well aware that we are in a culture war and on one side is the authentic Catholic Church and on the other side is the popular culture. If you find yourself getting very good press from the popular press then you should consider that you are way off the mark. I don't think Michael Voris is getting any great reviews in any popular media. Father Barron on the other hand fits right in and he seems to like it that way.

Sad, sad that Father Barron is now head of Mundelein Seminary, but not surprising given the history of that institution and the history of the Catholic Church in Chicago. Need we mention Alinsky, Obama and their connections to the Chicago Church? Mundelein was the source of the priests that started the whole "community organizing" work within the Catholic Church. Mundelein was also one of the sources of the sort of theology that became known as the "spirit" of Vatican II. (Maybe I can go into detail on another day. Just take my word for it. I have the facts to back this up.)

Well it seems like a good time for a quote from Pope Pius X:
The number of the enemies of the cross of Christ has in these last days increased exceedingly, who are striving, by arts, entirely new and full of subtlety, to destroy the vital energy of the Church, and, if they can, to overthrow utterly Christ's kingdom itself.
The partisans of error are to be sought not only among the Church's open enemies; they lie hid, a thing to be deeply deplored and feared, in her very bosom and heart, and are the more mischievous, the less conspicuously they appear. We allude, Venerable Brethren, to many who belong to the Catholic laity, nay, and this is far more lamentable, to the ranks of the priesthood itself, who, feigning a love for the Church, lacking the firm protection of philosophy and theology, nay more, thoroughly imbued with the poisonous doctrines taught by the enemies of the Church, and lost to all sense of modesty, vaunt themselves as reformers of the Church; and, forming more boldly into line of attack, assail all that is most sacred in the work of Christ, not sparing even the person of the Divine Redeemer, whom, with sacrilegious daring, they reduce to a simple, mere man.
Yes, that's not a "spirit" of Vatican II style of writing, but the Church didn't just come into being in the 1960s. It's been around a lot longer than that. Something like 2000 years. A long time.

When the children at Fatima saw a vision of Hell that Our Lady showed to them, their lives were immediately changed. This is all the proof that I need of the existence of Hell.
Jacinta would often sit on the ground or on a rock, and she would say, growing pensive: “Oh, hell, hell! How sorry I am for the souls that go to hell! And the people who are there, being burned alive, like wood in a fire!” And she would kneel down, half trembling, with her hands joined, to recite the prayer Our Lady had taught us: “O my Jesus, forgive us, deliver us from the fire of hell, lead all souls to Heaven, especially those who are most in need”… And Jacinta would remain kneeling for a long time, repeating the same prayer.
I still hold out some hope that after we die and we go before Christ for judgement that we will have a last chance to choose salvation, but how can those who have spent their whole lives avoiding the light of Christ recognize that light in the moments after their death and move towards it. They will more likely be attracted to another "light", just as they have been in their earthly life. And they will follow that reddish glow downwards into the realm of Lucifer "the light bearer". At first it will seem appealing and warm -- like a cruise to the Caribbean. But then the temperature will suddenly go up and they will find themselves in a sea of flames. This is what the children at Fatima saw -- souls burning in Hell.

I have a personal belief that the Catholic Mass prepares us for our encounter with Christ. That it is like a dress rehearsal for that day of judgement, so that when we come before God we will already have some idea what to expect. We will fall on our knees and ask forgiveness. We will hunger for the body and blood of Christ in the Eucharist. We will recognize the music of the choirs of angels and this will guide us towards Christ the Son of God. We will see a woman with a crown of stars and recognize her as Mary praying for our souls at that moment of death. Just as she prayed at the foot of the Cross at the moment of Christ's death.

I can only pray that the children that are going through CCD classes in preparation for their First Communion will be told about Hell. And I hope it scares the hell out of them. It is a scary thought to burn for all eternity.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

What is faith?

"If then your whole body is full of light, having no part dark, it will be wholly bright, as when a lamp with its rays gives you light."
 -- Luke 11:36
I was thinking about faith in this "year of faith" declared by Pope Benedict XVI. The Holy Father tells us that the Church does not ask for blind faith. He explains that faith and reason are not only compatible but complementary. Faith gives deeper meaning to reason.

So what is faith? I came up with a personal definition that I would like to share:
Faith is an act of the will that opens our mind and heart to God.
It is "an act of the will" because we must choose faith. It is not a matter of being brainwashed somehow. That is not faith. God gives us the free will to love him or not. Faith is an act of love. It is that first glimpse of the face of God that touches the deepest core of our being. But more than that it is believing that the One that is the source of this mysterious love is real. Even if we can't touch Him or speak to Him directly. Still we can feel His presence. And we can allow Him to work within us.

When we "open our mind and heart to God", He begins to transform us from within. We begin to find peace within that does not depend on our physical surroundings. It does not come from our possessions or from our friends and family. It does not depend on our state of health or whether we feel pain or sorrow. It is a transcendent peace that brings us closer to God in an intimate embrace of love.

We are born again as we go back to our creator and re-enter the bosom of God, and we become totally dependent on God to guide our every thought and action. We come completely under the care of God the Father, creator of the universe and all that is in it.

God is a mystery, but He is also a reality that is woven into the fabric of our lives. To deny God is to turn our eyes away from the Truth.

Faith is opening our eyes and looking towards God and allowing His light to penetrate us, to illuminate us and ultimately for His light to come pouring forth from us and turn us into a lamp of God for all the world to see.
"And night shall be no more; they need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light."
 -- Revelation 22:5
 + + +

Here is an excerpt from an address given by Pope Benedict on November 11, 2012 on the topic of faith and reason.
Today I want to focus on the reasonableness of faith in God. The Catholic tradition has from the beginning rejected fideism, which is the will to believe against reason. Credo quia absurdum (I believe because it is absurd) is not a formula that interprets the Catholic faith. God, in fact, is not absurd; if anything, He is mystery. Mystery, in turn, is not irrational, but the overabundance of sense, of meaning, of truth. If, when looking at the Mystery, one's reason sees darkness, it is not because there is no light in the mystery, but rather because there is too much of it. Just as when a man turns his eyes to look directly at the sun, he sees only darkness; but who would say that the sun is not bright? On the contrary, it is the source of light. Faith allows us to look upon the "sun" that is God, because it is a welcoming of his revelation in history and, so to speak, truly receives all the brightness of the mystery of God, recognizing the great miracle: God has approached man and has offered himself to be known by man, deigning to stoop the creaturely limits of his reason (cf. Vatican Council II, Dogmatic Constitution Dei Verbum, 13). At the same time, God, with his grace, enlightens reason, opens new horizons for it, immeasurable and infinite. For this reason, faith is a strong incentive to seek always, to never stop and never grow quiet in the inexhaustible discovery of the truth and of reality. The prejudice of some modern thinkers is false, according to which human reason would be as if blocked by the dogmas of faith. The exact opposite is true, as the great masters of the Catholic tradition have shown. St. Augustine, before his conversion, sought the truth restlessly in all the available philosophies, finding them all unsatisfactory. His painstaking rational search was for him a significant pedagogy for the encounter with the Truth of Christ. When he says, "believe, in order to understand, and understand, the better to believe" (Sermons, 43, 9: PL 38, 258), it is as if he were recounting his own life experience. Intellect and faith are not strangers or antagonists before divine Revelation; rather, both are conditions for understanding its meaning, to receive its authentic message, approaching the threshold of the mystery. St. Augustine, along with many other Christian authors, witnesses to a faith exercised through the use of reason; he thinks and invites us to think. Following in his wake, St. Anselm will say in his Proslogion that the Catholic faith is fides quaerensintellectum, where the search for understanding is an act within belief itself. It will be especially St. Thomas Aquinas - thanks to this tradition - who will confront the reason of the philosophers, showing how much new fruitful vitality comes to rational human thought from the ingrafting of the principles and truths of the Christian faith.

The Catholic faith is therefore reasonable and also nourishes confidence in human reason. The First Vatican Council, in its Dogmatic Constitution Dei Filius, affirmed that reason is able to know God’s existence with certainty through the way of creation, while there belongs to faith alone the possibility of knowing "easily, with absolute certainty and without error "(DS 3005) the truths concerning God, in the light of grace. The knowledge of the faith, furthermore, is not opposed to right reason. Blessed Pope John Paul II, in fact, in the Encyclical Fides et ratio, summed it up thus: "human reason is neither annulled nor debased in assenting to the contents of faith, which are in any case attained by way of free and informed choice"(no. 43). In the irresistible desire for truth, only a harmonious relationship between faith and reason is the right path that leads to God and the fulfillment of self.