Thursday, April 17, 2014

I Am Only Hidden By The Priest

I know all sorts of priests.  Some are friends, some are acquaintances and some are those I encounter in confession but whose faces and names I do not even know.  Some are traditionally-minded while others teeter on the verge of heresy.  Some are good listeners and some give the impression they'd rather I not speak to them at all.  Some are more worldly than others. Some appear to be saintly. Others are more obviously struggling. Some priests offer Mass as if their lives and our salvation depended on them. Others treat the Mass like a stage show where they get to tell jokes or reveal how clever they really are.  Some priests clearly believe that when the raise the Host above them they are receiving into their hands the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ. Others - well, let's just say it's not clear what they believe. 

Yet no matter how faithful, reverent and paternal a priest is or isn't, he is still an alter Christus who can absolve sins, confect the Eucharist, anoint the sick, bury the dead and baptize the newly-born.  They are the most powerful men in the world because the powers of Jesus Christ to do all these things was conferred upon them.  

Our Lord reminded St Faustina that He hears our confession and absolves our sins. 

"I am only hidden by the priest". 

Disrespect any of them and you disrespect Him.  Let (s)he among you without sin cast the first stone. 

On the commemoration of the institution of the priesthood, remember to pray for these men in a particular way, especially the ones who you might think least appear Christ-like. It is for Him alone to judge. It is for us to pray for all of them. 

No priests, no Eucharist. No Eucharist, no life. 

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

His Love Does Not Stop With Our Brokenness

The more we seek His mercy, the closer He will draw us to Him.  Maybe you are reading this blog and haven't been to confession in a long time. Please go. There is no secret that can be hidden from Jesus Christ and no sin He cannot forgive. How happy you will make The Lord by kneeling down before the alter Christus and acknowledging your sins. 

Did you fall off the wagon this Lent?  Maybe set out to make some sacrifices and then never followed through?  Remember how the vineyard laborers were repaid?  You still have a few days left to make things right with Jesus. 

As He told St Faustina, soon our exile will be over, and with it our opportunity to earn merit for Heaven. Think of His Passion and resolve to thank Him by doing those thing most pleasing to Him:

-go to confession
-receive Him worthily in Holy Communion
- seek Him and serve Him in the least of our brethren
- make even the smallest sacrifice and offer it to Him as solace in commemoration of that time when He sought comfort and found none to give it to Him. 

Judas did not seek God's mercy. St Peter had some problems of his own on Holy Thursday but his brokenness did not stop Jesus from loving and forgiving him. 

I heard a sermon today reminding us that the apostles were brave men up until the events of the Lord's Passion. They gave up wives, children and livelihoods to follow Him, not such an easy feat. Surely society at the time had a thing or two to say about their actions.  Clearly, they risked all to become His disciples.  They were rewarded beyond human comprehension. 

What are we prepared to put at stake for Him?

God bless you. 


Monday, April 14, 2014

That Souls May Not Perish

"Souls perish in spite of My bitter Passion. I am giving them the last hope of salvation ; that is, the Feast of My Mercy. If they will not adore My mercy, they will perish for all eternity." -St Faustina's Diary (965)

"Do not grow weary of praying for sinners. You know what a burden they are to My Heart. Relieve My deathly sorrow: dispense My mercy." (975)

Let us in a particular way remember the souls of those priests who submitted to the advances of the devil.  There are so many many of them but who will pray for them if not you and me? 

Pray for the most vile people you encounter. It may be for this purpose that God put them in your path. 


Sunday, April 13, 2014

These Three Virtues

"My daughter, let three virtues adorn you in a particular way: humility, purity of intention, and love." - St Faustina's Diary (1779). 

That is all for today. 

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Minding My Own Plank

This morning I was on the verge of committing a sin of which I have been guilty numerous times before. I had the urge to watch how a particular person was going to receive Holy Communion when that voice chastised me for engaging in such wickedness while waiting to receive The Lord. 

"What do you think is more displeasing to Me: the way I am received physically or the way I am received in a soul? How can you pay proper attention to Me if you are watching others?"

I know there are many Catholics who use their blogs to complain and/ or point out the faults of others, including priests. I have more than dabbled in this practice myself before concluding there isn't much point in it if by posting nothing will change. Why do I feel the need to affirm over and over that which I know is wrong?  What is the point?  Eventually, such exercises are going to lead my soul into trouble. 

I have done some heavy lifting this Lent and although it is not yet Easter, I already see the fruits of my labors. I do not fret as to whether or not I will be able to keep up these practices because if it's God's will that I do, He will supply the grace necessary to sustain me. But I feel the greatest thing He has accomplished thus far in me is the ability to see how sinful I really am and what it is I must do to make my soul a place of refuge for Him. 

Some years ago I went to confession on Good Friday to a priest who later became a good friend.

"I believe The Lord has called you to a different kind of life. Now go live it."

I believe this too, but I also think I squandered this calling innumerable times.  The beautiful thing is that there is no "this is the last time I'm going to trust you" with Jesus. He doesn't treat me how I treat others. He loves for me to beg forgiveness but He would prefer I think more carefully next time and avoid my constant sins of pride, judgment and other Pharisaical acts that offend Him greatly. 

"Would you be as the mediocre souls?"

My God, let it not be so. 


Friday, April 11, 2014

The Ingratitude of Souls

"My heart drinks only of the ingratitude and forgetfulness of souls living in the world. They have time for everything, but they have no time to come to Me for graces"
St Faustina's Diary (367a)

"To comfort you, let Me tell you that there are souls living in the world who love Me dearly. I dwell in their hearts with delight. But they are few. In convents, too there are souls that fill my heart with joy...Their number is very small.  They are a defense for the world before the justice of the Heavenly Father and a means of obtaining mercy for the world.  The love and sacrifice of these souls sustain the world in existence. The infidelity of a soul specially chosen by Me wounds My heart most painfully. Such infidelities are swords which pierce My heart ." (367b)

It is difficult to read these words, to acknowledge that even among consecrated souls there is infidelity. What little respite the Savior finds, even in places where He should find it most!

How many convents and monasteries do you suppose there are in the world whose charism is focused solely on Christ?  If these souls cannot be faithful, how much more time does the world have?  

And why do we have time for everything but Him?  In the words of St Therese, would you be as the mediocre souls, the souls that offer Jesus nothing but complaints, neglect and indifference?  Is He an afterthought or the center of your life?  

A daily practice of mine is to measure the time spent on foolish pleasures compared to the time I devoted to God.  If I haven't given Him at least one hour a day, I know I've been neglectful and need to cut out some nonsense somewhere.  

The Good God is not much loved in this world. What are you and I doing to change this so that in least in our souls He might find solace and rest? 

Thursday, April 10, 2014

A Man of Suffering

I was waiting for a light to change at a very dangerous and chaotic intersection when I saw him   - a young, unkempt and obviously homeless man way too young to be carrying such a burden. Despite the warmth of the day, he was wearing a winter coat that was on the verge of becoming filthy. His hair was a tad too long and a mess and the beard on his face revealed that his last shave was at least two weeks ago. He wasn't carrying anything. No bag, no suitcase. Nothing. He appeared to literally have nothing than the clothes on his back. 

I have encountered homeless men in this area before a bit like this young man but it's been a long time since I saw someone who struck so heartbreaking a pose.  His face said it all and yet it said nothing. It said: I have nothing. I am exhausted. I have nowhere to go and no one to care. I have reached rock bottom. What his face didn't say is what event or chain of events had brought him to this. 

I wanted to do something but it's not like I could pull the car over without risking a catastrophe. The young man was looking around but I could see he hadn't yet reached the point of desperation where no shred of pride remained.  He wasn't going to beg or ask for anything because he wasn't ready  to face rejection. So he continued walking, trudging along really, with that look of despair nearly unbearable to behold. 

When I got to Adoration I was still letting myself have it for not doing something. What the something would have been I don't know. Bleeding heart or not, I wasn't about to offer a man I don't know a lift or the use of my bathroom to clean up. I couldn't get him out of my mind and kept asking myself why I didn't do something. 

Then that voice that has so often illuminated my path simply said: Why don't you at least pray for him?

So that's what I did. 

I will go looking for him sometime in the next few days but I will go on foot and with someone. People like him have broken my heart before and The Lord has always given me a second chance and enabled me to find them.  

"There was in Him no stately bearing to make us look at Him, no appearance that would attract us to Him. He was spurned and avoided by men, a man of suffering, accustomed to infirmity. One of those from whom men hide their faces spurned, and we held Him in no esteem." (Isaiah 52:2-3)

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

More Thoughts on Low Mass in the Extraordinary Form

So I made it to the early weekday TLM a few more times since last week. I think if I were able to get to this Mass more regularly I wouldn't struggle so much as I have.  The priest we had these last few times has a tendency to do everything quickly.  I have never heard Latin spoken so fluently or so rapidly. I could barely turn the pages of my Missal to keep up with the prayers at the foot of the altar, which I like to pray silently, as I do all the other parts of the Mass.   Some of the prayers I know by heart ( in English) but not all of them. It's also a bit of a challenge to remember responses when you're accustomed to chanting them but now must speak them. Truth be told, so long as the server is making the responses, I don't feel obliged to say them audibly. 

When I mentioned the "speed" of the Mass to my husband, who was often a server at the 6:30 AM when he was a boy, he said that's how he recalled it. There's no sermon at the TLM I attend and I'm not sure if that's the norm either. 

What is most remarkable is the absolute silence during the Canon, which is what I love and have observed at High Mass as well.  No disruptive cell phones going off in the middle of the consecration and no disruptive sign of peace either. Also, immediately after Mass the priest kneels down and leads us in the Leonine Prayers. 

When I first started to attend the Missa Cantata on Sundays at my parish church, I found it best not to try to keep up but to just watch, pray and absorb.  Eventually you figure things out. Perhaps that might be the best approach with Low Mass as well. One thing for certain: no matter how lost I may become during any other part, this is not the case during the consecration. 

Here is a beautiful passage from the Missal I use, written by Pope Pius XII regarding the Eucharist. 

"The great moment is fast approaching when the High Priest, Jesus Christ, by an unbloody immolation will offer Himself a most acceptable Victim to the Eternal Father, as He did upon the Cross" - Mediator Dei. 

I try to remember this no matter what form I attend. 

I will go to this Mass again when my work schedule permits but I have to say I am very content with the parish where I attend the Novus Ordo after work, particularly when the pastor is the celebrant. He has us chant the Kyrie, Sanctus and Agnus Dei and he never uses an Extraordinary Minister at Holy Communion. He also gives excellent homilies and is a sound and orthodox priest in the confessional as well.    

My one "problem" switching back and forth between forms is that I sometimes forget to say "Amen" before receiving Holy Communion at the Ordinary Form. No priest has made an issue of it. 

I can't say it enough how blessed I have been with all the choices I have for Mass this season of Lent. I can never thank Jesus enough for this supreme gift. 

It's never too late to try to make daily Mass part of our routine. 


Monday, April 7, 2014

" I Cannot Bear It"

I think a fair number of devout Catholic women, at some point in their lives, think about what life would be like as a religious sister. I remember the terror I felt when  I read a bit about Saint Maria Magdalene de Pazzi and her visions of Purgatory.  She saw a nun who was sent there until the end of time because she grumbled so much when she was assigned to Adoration. Make no mistake about it: priests and nuns are held to a different standard than we are.  

The following is one of the more unforgettable excerpts I read in St Faustina's diary, and this passage refers to what happens when Our Lord comes to the heart of a religious that is not true. 

"Write for the benefit of religious souls that it delights Me to come to their hearts in Holy Communion. But if there is anyone else in such a heart, I cannot bear it and quickly leave that heart, taking with me all the gifts and graces I have prepared for the soul. And the soul does not even notice My going. After some time, inner emptiness and dissatisfaction will come to her attention. Oh, if only she would turn to me then, I would help to cleanse her heart, and I would 
fulfill everything in her soul; but without her knowledge and consent, I cannot be the Master of her heart." - St Faustina's Diary(1683).

Wow. 

I always think of traditional nuns as the balm for the wounds in His Sacred Heart.  Our dear Lord cannot even depend on all 
those espoused to Him to offer Him respite from the indifference of the world. 

Pray for priests, but pray for nuns, too. As one Carmelite prioress said, no proposal could be more flattering than the call from Jesus to be consecrated to Him alone.  Pray for nuns and sisters alike to keep no one or no thing in their hearts but their Divine Spouse. 

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Thought for the Day

"The torrents of grace inundate humble souls. The proud remain always in poverty and misery, because My grace turns away from them to humble souls." - St Faustina's Diary (1602). 

That's all. And yes, my statues are draped in purple cloth (that I bought from the Amish). 

Saturday, April 5, 2014

The Struggle of This Soul

"We are sensitive to words and quickly want to answer back, without taking any regard as to whether it is God's will that we should speak. The silent soul is capable of attaining the closest union with God." - St Faustina

During Adoration I grasped that retorts, defenses, excuses, and other reactions to real or perceived criticisms are weaknesses of two kinds. One is pride and the other is judgment.

Our desire to be justified in everything is giving in to pride. Our weakness in responding is both falling to pride and judgment.  How often do we defend ourselves by pointing out the weakness  and failures of our accuser?  By doing so we render judgment.

It occurs to me that we could, in such moments, imitate Christ when He was mocked and laughed to scorn but responded with silence. When His face was spit upon, He offered no response.  What profound effect might our silence have were we to truly imitate Him?

"Where there is pride, I am not there."

Friday, April 4, 2014

"Where There Is Pride, I Am Not There"

I can think of so many ways I commit sins of pride on a daily basis. Yesterday it occurred to me that between the time I left the confessional and returned to my pew, I gave in to pride. It is insidious, just like the enemy himself.

I even gave in to pride IN the confessional when the priest told me I made a beautiful confession and I said thank you.

"Don't thank me, thank the Holy Spirit. It is only by his grace that you were able to make this confession.  Don't take credit that doesn't belong up you."

"Only the humble soul is able to receive My grace." - St Faustina's Diary (1220)

I know when I become stagnant in my spiritual life the first thing I need to take account of is how much pride has infested my soul.  Nothing roots out pride like prayerful mortification. And if we are fortunate enough to be provided with the opportunity to be humiliated, we have to offer it up and forget it immediately. Dwelling on embarrassments is just another manifestation of pride.  When something happens that calls unwanted attention to ourselves, we should consider whether or not it is an act of pride to have to keep apologizing or explaining. Let go of it as soon as possible.

Nothing we accomplish that is any good occurs because of anything we do but rather what God accomplishes through us. Accolades that are dwelt upon are poisonous to our sense of humility. We accept them out of charity and then they, like past injuries borne, must be forgotten lest they, too fester and rob our souls of needed graces.

"Where there is pride, I am not there."

Humility is the nectar that draws Him near.





Thursday, April 3, 2014

Low Mass in the Extraordinary Form

Yesterday, I assisted at my first ever weekday Low Mass.  There is a beautiful parish about 6 miles from where I work that offers a TLM weekdays at 7 am. I have attended Low Mass on Sundays and feasts but these included hymns and homilies. I have to say that I was playing catch-up at times because I was lazy and didn't bring the Missal I use on Sundays.  Therefore I had to read the Epistle and Gospel later in the day.  It seemed like we spent most of the Mass kneeling. I sat way in the back so I could follow the lead of the "regulars."  It was a wonderful way to start the workday.   I went to this church on a whim (more like the urging of the Holy Spirit).  I got lost and thus arrived at 7am on the dot which I hate to do - getting to Mass at the last minute. When it happens on Sundays I don't fret so much because I'm coming directly from Adoration. Going to an unfamiliar church I would especially want to arrive on time but a little humiliation never hurts, especially during Lent.

My other "first" was 7am Mass at the Convent of Divine Love, monastery of the Pink Sisters.  I saw a few of our TLM regulars at that Mass as well.  Both Masses of course made kneeling for Holy Communion the rule and not the exception.

I have been exceedingly blessed this Lent to have such orthodox churches from which to choose. I used to get anxiety in new places but now I just remind myself that while the churches may differ, Our Lord is the same yesterday, today and always.

Addendum

Yes Kathy, these are the same "Pink Sisters" that are also in Missouri. They live a contemplative life and have Perpetual Adoration.  Their chapel is open to the public 12 hours a day every day except during the Easter Triduum. 

Allison, one of these days we WILL finally meet.  If you miss Father, you should come to Mass one Sunday when he is the celebrant. 

Manny, thank you for all your comments. One of these days I will catch up with you on little Matthew's latest adventures :)   

God bless you all!


Wednesday, April 2, 2014

The Misery of a Soul

"My daughter, write that the greater the misery of a soul, the greater its right to My mercy"-St Faustina's Diary (1577)

Yes, Christ died for the ungodly. In His words to St Faustina, He gave His assurance that He wants to save all souls.  Yours, mine, and theirs. There is no Chaplet of Fraternal Correction.  This is left to those with the faculties to dispense such correction by virtue of their ordination. The rest of us are charged to pray for ourselves and those sinners who have not learned to trust in His mercy.

One of the trials of this Lent has been a sudden preoccupation with the moment of my own death and the torment of the enemy that may accompany it.  It is like a dark curtain that separates night from day and permits no light to permeate it. This is when Christ urges us to trust His mercy most. Show Him a heart contrite and humble but also completely trusting in His promises and He will take care of everything else.

The pains of Hell are very real but should not be the impetus in winning souls. Rather, let us sinners realize that the greater our offenses, the greater His joy when we implore His mercy and pray for others to do the same.

"I cannot punish the greatest sinner if he makes an appeal to My compassion but on the contrary, I justify him in My Unfathomable and inscrutable mercy.  

...he who refuses to pass through the door of My mercy must pass through the door of My justice."  St Faustina's Diary (1146) 



Tuesday, April 1, 2014

How Carefully Do We Pray?

I will return to my meditations on Divine Mercy very soon. For now, here is something I read on the FSSP's Facebook page. It really hit home with me in my struggle to pray with reverence, focus and proper devotion. 

If we spend time in prayer in a poor and careless manner, we are robbing time of God- St Francis DeSales 

This has surely been me on too many occasions. The Lord is helping me but He does not want me to forget how poorly I manage without His constant help.  I picture myself as a child on a bike from which the training wheels have been prematurely removed.  If the adult guiding the bike lets go, I crash in seconds. 

When I write about prayer and I am critical, it is not intended as pointing at anyone other than me.  What I share is most certainly a current or past struggle that I discuss  in the hope it might be helpful to someone else. 

I mention the Rosary, Adoration and Mass so often not to boast but to invite more of you to take advantage of these spiritual treasures.  I squandered many years away from The Lord, dining on the empty pods the swine rejected, that I can never demonstrate the love and devotion adequate to repay His kindness and mercy toward me. 

I also know the surpassing value of these devotions and so I want everyone to avail themselves of them.  

An 8.0 magnitude earthquake just struck Chile. There are still many people missing in the recent mudslides that struck in Washington state.  This has been one of the harshest winters in recent memory. I believe if these are not signs that The End is closer than we think, they are, at the very least, a wake-up call. A price must be paid for a world that aborts its most vulnerable, engages in unjust war and wanton destruction of life and embraces abomination as the New Normal. 

The sacraments and prayer are our lifeboats.  Use them for all they're worth. 


Sunday, March 30, 2014

Jesus Hung Between Two Thieves

Every Lent something very simple strikes me in a powerful way.  While praying before the Monstrance, the realization that the Son of the Living God died between two common thieves struck me like a bolt of lightning. Humility  and mortification until His dying last. Associating with sinners right until the end. 

One day while preparing for confession in front of a life-sized crucifix, I thought of my sins and said to myself, quite in error:
Christ died so I could do these awful things. 
And a voice corrected me, saying:
No, He died because of these awful things you did. Show your love by resolving not to do them again. And if you give in to human weakness and fragility yet again, remember that He fell 3 times on the way to Calvary. Ask for His help and pick up your cross. 

A Note About Comments

Please know that I read and appreciate every comment. Publishing them is a source of pride for me so please understand why I read them but don't publish them. If you would like a personal response please provide your email. I assure you it will not get published and I will respond to you personally as soon as I'm able. 

Thank you and God bless you! 

Distractions During Prayer

A reader left me a comment asking what they could do to minimize distractions during prayer, and especially while praying the Rosary. I have taken this problem to confession on the occasions where I thought I did not work hard enough to focus and lift my mind as well as my heart. One of my confessors, who is in his late 80's, told me he hadn't found a way yet to overcome distracted prayer during the Rosary. Another confessor likened distractions to a pile of debris floating down the river.

"Don't poke a stick in the pile," he told me. " We have this need to take a stick and poke apart whatever makes up the pile. That's exactly what we do every time we chastise ourselves for giving in to distraction. Let go of it as quickly as possible and return to your prayer. "

Sometimes if I am saying the Rosary versus praying the Rosary, I can almost hear a voice bringing me to a halt and asking:  Is this how you address My mother?

It certainly isn't the way I want to pray the Rosary and so if I find this happening to me a lot there are a few things I do.

One, I have a lovely book of chaplets that includes a beautiful set of mediatations for every decade in the original 3 mysteries. It takes a little bit of juggling but I read the fruit of each mystery at the start and then each of 10 thoughts or meditations for each Hail Mary in the decade.  The book was compiled by Patricia Quinallanti and is available through Leaflet Missal Company.

For instance, the first sorrowful mystery is Christ's Agony in the Garden. Each Hail Mary honors some aspect of what took place in Gethsemane.

-to honor Christ's desire to be comforted by an angel
-to honor the beads of sweat and blood that poured down His face
-to honor the love He had for Peter, James and John in bringing them with Him to the garden
-to honor His haste in healing the ear of the servant

And so on.  If you pray these meditations often enough they will be easy to call to mind.

Another thing to consider is where you pray. I'm not an advocate of multi-tasking while praying the Rosary, such as cooking or doing other household chores.  To each his own but it's not something I'd make a habit of. I have found that it is impossible for me to pray a Rosary before bed. It's a struggle to stay awake until the end and feels like something I squeezed in instead of making the time to pray it right. I might pray an extra Rosary this way but again I don't personally find it something I want to do on a regular basis.  I also don't find it is efficacious to pray the Rosary in the car unless I have a CD to pray along with, like the one I bought last year from St John Cantius in Chicago. One of my numerous shortcomings is yelling at other drivers who act like fools on the highway. I don't really want to interrupt a Hail Mary with "get in your own lane you (fill in the blank)!"

The place I am least likely to be distracted is before the Tabneracle or Monstrance, particularly if there is a Crucifixion scene above them.  This is not always possible and for some of you it may be a rare opportunity, depending on where you live. I am fortunate that I live in a city where there are a number of chapels or churches that offer adoration. If you don't have access to such a chapel, find a quiet corner in your home. You can also find Eucharistic Adoration on the Internet.  When a priest I knew could no longer make it to chapel, he kept his computer open to a perpetual adoration chapel that had live streaming. 

I have no shortage of religious statues, etc and I find it is much easier to pray while at home if I have one of these images before me.  You could even print an image you like from the Internet. 

Perhaps the thing that helps me most of all is pleading for Jesus and Mary to assist me to pray with focus, reverence and devotion. I also try to clear "the tape that keeps running in my head", as one priest described it, well before I get to the chapel.  

I wouldn't fret too much about distractions and I certainly would never let them deter me. I have come to understand that nothing prolongs distraction like self-attachment, so cleaning up one act will help to clean up another, so to speak. 

St Teresa of Avila likened distractions to bees. You wave them away and then you carry on. Souls are depending on us. Let's continue to labor for them and, ultimately, for Jesus. 

Saturday, March 29, 2014

The Pharisee in All of Us

If I were going to be completely honest, I would have to confess this: I have erroneously identified with the humble tax collector and not the Pharisee. It would take a marvelous effort on my part, aided by the Divine hand of God, to ever make it possible for me to burn every Pharisiacal tendency I have once and for all.

If we feel inclined to look smugly at other Catholics of any ilk, we're guilty. I don't get off the hook because I admit my faults and someone else doesn't. The moment we make a judgment about someone else or their motives, we've blown it. Time to get on our knees and plead for mercy. I wonder when I will ever learn.

Sometimes I want to ask God to take away my ability to see, hear and speak.   That way I'd never sin again. But what merit would there be in that if I never had to choose to do the right thing?

There is, I believe, another lesson to be learned from the tax collector and that was also the Psalm response at Mass today.  God desires mercy, not sacrifice.   If we are separated from Him by mortal sin, He cannot reside within our souls. But He will wait unceasingly for us to beg for His loving mercy.

There seem to be two polar opposite versions of mercy and each depends on which extreme political wing you ask. On the far left, mercy is patting a sinner on the head and assuring him that God understands and accepts all behavior unless it involves murder. Confession is for the overly-scrupulous and charity is working in a soup kitchen. On the far right are those pre-occupied with the letter of the law, all the while violating the heart of it. Charity is ripping your brother a new one - in plain sight of everyone. And -  getting your hands dirty to care for the under-privileged is nothing more than surrender to pangs of liberal guilt and not necessary in the plan of salvation. 

Somewhere in the middle of those opposing views is the truth. The key to getting it is humility. We need to practice it in every aspect of our lives.  None of us will ever be worthy. More importantly, we will never be denied. The more we look within, the more we will see our own faults and realize where we need to improve.  Jesus eagerly desires that we should come to Him as often as possible to seek His mercy. Then He expects us to extend it to others. If you leave the judgment to Him and extend only the invitation, He will do the rest. 

I think it was Mother Angelica who said that it is a kind of sin against God to believe that there is a sin greater than His mercy.  We must never condemn Him by rendering judgment on another member of His Body. And we must never condemn Him by assuming another member of His body is beyond His salvation. 

As St Faustina wrote of Jesus in her diary: I do not reward for good results but for the labor and suffering undertaken for My sake. 

And as St Monica said: No one is far from God. 

Thursday, March 27, 2014

"Beg For This Grace"

"...I am prolonging the time of mercy for the sake of sinners. But woe to them if they do not recognize this time of My visitation. 

...your duty is not only to write about and proclaim My mercy, but also to beg for this grace for them, so that they too might beg for My mercy."- St Fautina's Diary (1166)

Two of the greatest women the Catholic Church has ever known - St Therese and Blessed Mother Teresa - both understood very well that the words Jesus spoke from the Cross did not refer to physical need. When He cried out, "I thirst!", He did not do so for want of a drink of water. In nearly the final gasp of His Passion, He pleaded for souls to come to Him to slake His parchment. 

Everything about Our Lord's Passion points to His love for poor sinners and His desire for us to glorify His mercy.   

I read some excellent comments on Abbey Roads regarding this very subject, which is our obligation not only to beg for mercy for ourselves but for the entire Mystical Body of Christ. 

Remember the Gospel where the ungrateful servant is forgiven his debt but then has his fellow servant thrown headlong into prison for his inability to pay?

Can you imagine a mother who only cooked enough food to feed herself, and then left her children to fend for themselves because they left their rooms a mess or would not bathe? What kind mother would say: "Oh well, soon enough they'll die of starvation and then I will have the nice, neat house I've always wanted"?

Isn't that what we do when we give up on people because we can't get them to do what they should? Anyone can parrot the rules, but it is love for Jesus Christ and the desire to satisfy His thirst that compels us to reach out and not give up. 

We don't have to compromise the teachings of Holy Mother Church to try to win souls for Jesus. And I say again that if you want to win converts for Christ, you have to act like Him. Bitter, ugly and angry never won any cause worth fighting. 

Remember that bumper sticker? Smile - it will make people wonder what you've been up to

That's what kind of Catholics we have to be in the world. Joy can be infectious. If we don't appear to be happy in the spiritual life, how will that intrigue outsiders or make them want to know more?  If to be Christian means being another Christ, who on earth would want to imitate us if instead we repel people? 

This does not mean we don't take seriously the grip sin has on our society. But if our faith appears to be a burden, and we give the appearance that it is, who's going to want to be like us?   

While we're busy plucking specks, lets not forget the help we need with our beams. And all of us need that help, no matter how holy we think we are.