The Way of Saint James

Mary in the field of stars

“You see that a man is justified by works, and not by faith alone.”  James 2:24

“….Let your yes be your yes and your no be your no. ” James 5:12

The Lord has been speaking to me a lot over the past several months about “The Way of Saint James.”  I thought maybe God was speaking to me about taking a pilgrimage to Spain.  He often shows me the starry sky.  But this morning, pondering the readings for this Palm Sunday and the Passion of Christ, it hit me.  He said, “Live the Way of Saint James.”  After reading the readings for the day, I read the book of James.  Here is what I found to be The Way of Saint James;

  1. Count as joy trials and testing of faith.
  2. Ask God for Wisdom, but ask in FAITH.
  3. Let the poor be exalted and the rich be humbled.
  4. Endure trial and you will receive the crown of life.
  5. Don’t let desire conceive sin.
  6. Know everything is a gift from above.
  7. Listen before speaking.
  8. Do not give into anger.
  9. Be meek, it will save your soul.
  10. Do the Word of God, don’t just hear it.
  11. Hold your tongue and live the word of God in your heart through your actions.
  12. Do not show partiality, treat all people with love.
  13. You fulfill the law by loving your neighbor as yourself.
  14. Judgment is without mercy to one who shows no mercy.
  15. Faith without works is dead because even demons believe and shudder, but you must have works.
  16. Teachers of the Gospel will be judged with greater strictness.
  17. The tongue can stain the whole body and send it to hell – tame the tongue.
  18. Bitter jealousy and selfish ambition is earthly and brings disorder and vile practice.
  19. Wisdom from God is pure, full of mercy, and produces good fruit.
  20. Your passions and desires cause war.
  21. You ask for things wrongly when you spend them asking for your own desires.
  22. Friendship with the world puts you in enmity with God.
  23. God gives grace to the humble.
  24. Draw near to God and he will draw near to you.
  25. Purify your hearts.
  26. Do not speak evil against another person.
  27. Do not judge your neighbor, that is not for you to do.
  28. Do not boast, life is a mist, so do as God wills.
  29. If you know what is right and fail to do it, it is a sin.
  30. Living in worldly treasures will rot you, do not lay up treasure.
  31. Be patient for the Lord.
  32. Establish your hearts for the Lord.
  33. Do not grumble against one another.
  34. Be steadfast like Job, the Lord’s purpose is greater.
  35. Do not swear or take oaths.
  36. Let your yes be your yes, and your no be your no, so you won’t be condemned.
  37. If you suffer, pray.  If you’re cheerful, praise.
  38. Anoint the sick, the prayers of the faithful will save the sick and sins will be forgiven.
  39. Confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, and you will be healed.
  40. Whoever brings back a sinner from the error of his ways will save his soul from death and cover a multitude of sins.

 

This is the Way of Saint James.  Live these 40 things and you will be purified.  As with everything, when God speaks to me, I find multiple meanings.  So for me the Way of Saint James means many things, but the main thing is to live the way James taught us in his letter.  May you all have a very Blessed Holy Week.

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You aren’t meant to Suffer alone

RubensSimonCyreneCarriesCross

Rubens – Simon of Cyrene

As they led him away, they seized a man, Simon of Cyrene, who was coming from the country, and they laid the cross on him, and made him carry it behind Jesus. Luke 23:26

By: Ashley Blackburn

In reflecting on The Way of the Cross, it is the Fifth Station where Simon of Cyrene helps Jesus carry his cross. There are many different insights that we can glean from this Station, but there is one in particular that I want to reflect upon deeper as it has to do with redemptive suffering and the Body of Christ.

When Simon is seized from the crowd and made to help carry Jesus’ cross, we have to think this was a very unexpected circumstance.  Simon was coming in from the country, probably coming back from a day’s work. He must have been of very strong stature as he was chosen from the crowd to help with this very physical task. He was unsuspecting and un-involved in the previous events that had taken place with Jesus, including Jesus’ arrest and condemnation, the scourging, the mocking and humiliation, the crowning with thorns, and the brutal moment that they placed the cross on Jesus’ bloodied back.  Simon likely didn’t know who Jesus was, what he had done and what he had preached during his life. From Simon’s point of view, he would have thought Jesus a common criminal who was justly sentenced to death.

Simon’s day was suddenly interrupted and he was thrown into the Passion of Christ without his even consenting. His life was put on hold. Whatever plans he had for the rest of his day were thwarted.

He was forced into physical suffering, as well as humiliation seeing that he was helping a seeming criminal.  This suffering that Simon was to endure was not something he knew was coming, it was not something he prepared for, and it was not something he was justified in having been given to him.

This is exactly how suffering comes to each one of us.  We are often times seized and thrown into it. It is typically unexpected and it interrupts our daily lives.  All too often we think of suffering as a punishment, that it comes to us due to our sin. But the lives of the saints, those who lived very holy lives, lived lives filled with suffering.  These saints were able to, much like St. Paul, rejoice in their suffering for they knew that in their weakness they were made strong through Christ who strengthens them. By keeping their eyes on Christ and awaiting the hope of his saving grace, these ordinary men and women were lifted up to be honored as faithful servants of the Lord.  The lives of the saints show us that there must be something more to suffering than what we are able to see on the surface.

Jesus’ Passion was not endured alone.  None of us, not even Jesus, are meant to carry our burdens alone.  Along The Way of the Cross, Jesus had Simon to help him carry the cross, but there were also other people who were there to help him carry his burden.  His Mother Mary was there and her simple glance gave Jesus courage. Veronica, who forced her way through the crowds and past the guards in order to wipe the face of Jesus, showed Jesus tremendous compassion by wiping away the ugliness of his suffering and demonstrating his dignity in this simple act.  Jesus could have stopped his Passion at any point, but he didn’t, he fully accepted the Father’s Will. The people we meet along The Way of the Cross show us that our own burdens, when fully accepted, can be lightened through the compassion, love, support, and physical help of our neighbor.

Simon’s acceptance of the cross, even though it was unwarranted and unexpected, demonstrates to us how we are to accept our own participation in the Body of Christ through Redemptive Suffering.  Much like Simon experienced, in our suffering Jesus is there with us. We are not in it alone. Simon could have missed the opportunity to share in his own redemption by rejecting the cross. He may not have been able to get himself out of the situation, as the Roman soldiers would have probably killed him, but he could have carried the cross in anger, bitterness and resentment.  We can glean that Simon didn’t do this because he is not spoken of again after this point. He quietly accepts the suffering and endures it in union with Jesus; thus fulfilling the mission and purpose he was given. What could have destroyed Simon’s spirit, was actually the very thing that brought about his redemption. No one is able to escape suffering, but through it we are offered the opportunity to help Jesus carry the cross. Our suffering will no doubt interrupt our lives, change our plans, and throw a wrench in the trajectory of our lives, but it will also lead to our redemption.

God, who is outside of time, is able to see the whole picture, not only of our individual lives, but of all of creation.  As the Body of Christ, we all are suffering in our own unique ways, some in big ways and others in smaller ways. But together we make up the perfect sacrifice of Christ, which is done once and for all for the redemption of the world.  This is how we, as Saint Paul says, “fill up in {our} flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ.” -Col 1:24  This means what I am going through today is united with Christ’s Passion, which happened on earth over 2000 years ago. All of our suffering is a participation in this one act, through our union with the Body of Christ, which is outside of time.  What peace and hope we can gain from this truth. No matter what suffering may come our way, it can be offered in union with Christ’s Passion. Through our acceptance of it, just like Simon accepted the carrying of the cross, we are led with Jesus along The Way of the Cross, the way that leads to our redemption. When we choose to reject our suffering, we are in essence choosing to reject our redemption.  Jesus was not meant to carry the burden alone and when we unite our sufferings in union with his, we are in essence helping Jesus carry the burden of the cross just like Simon of Cyrene.

So why did the saints rejoice in their suffering?  Suffering is not something good or anything that is joyful to experience.  What could they be talking about then? The saints had a deep understanding of the union of Jesus and his Passion through their suffering.  They knew that their suffering united them with Jesus in a real way. They understood and fully believed that their suffering was their way of the cross that led to their redemption.  Now this is true faith. This is the faith that saves us.

 

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Made Perfect in Weakness

Saint Paul (2)

Saint Paul lays down his life for Christ

“I greatly rejoice that time flies so quickly, because that means so much less time to spend in this world, where there is nothing to attract me. My heart goes incessantly in search of a treasure, an immense treasure that I do not find in creatures; a treasure that will satisfy me and console me, and give me rest.” – Saint Gemma Galgani

 

A version of this article was submitted to the National Catholic Register and can be read here.

By: Susan Skinner

I read this article the other day about a Priest’s “coming out” as gay.   In it he says, “But God brought me out of this depression by the grace of accepting God’s complete love for me and simple acceptance of being gay.”

I want to ponder this for a minute.  God deeply loves this priest, as he loves all people.  And he most certainly is walking with him. How can we know this?

When Adam and Eve sinned the very first sin in the Garden, and God asks them “where are you?” (Genesis 3:9), we know that God is still in the garden with them.  He didn’t leave them, it is they who are hiding from Him.  He is still right there next to them even though they sinned.  From this we can conclude that God loves us always no matter what we do, but he did give them consequences for their sin.  It wasn’t an acceptance of it.

This first sin, brought death into the world, it brought disordered desires, it separated us from the union and harmony we had once had; union with God and all of creation.

So God sent his only Son.  1 John 3:8 tells us;

“Everyone who commits sin is a child of the devil; for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The Son of God was revealed for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil.

Jesus was sent to the earth to destroy the works of the devil.  That is, to destroy sin which is acting upon disordered desires, and to restore harmony, and union.

What does this have to do with this Priest’s “coming out”?  Well, the bible teaches, as does the Magisterium and Catechism that homosexual desire is disordered.  Many desires we have can actually be disordered and any society that cannot distinguish between true love and desire, is bound to be disordered.  God has written on our hearts how sex and sexuality is to be properly ordered and Saint John Paul II in his series of homilies on the Theology of the Body outlines this clearly.

Sex is an appetite or desire.  It can be twisted by Satan just as any appetite or desire can be.  We all know Priests, like the rest of us, have desires. They don’t have to tell us they are attracted to women or to men, or to anything because their CALL is to order themselves properly towards God.  The Priest in this article says it doesn’t matter. But it does matter. We are all called to Sainthood, not to identify ourselves by an earthly desire. So the question becomes, does this announcement draw others towards Sainthood?  We wouldn’t celebrate a man who was married announcing his attraction to other women, we would call him to order himself towards God. This is no different.

But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away; it is better for you to lose one of your members than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.  Matthew 5:28

In that verse from Matthew, it doesn’t sound like Jesus wants us to entertain our disordered desires.  In fact, it sounds like he tells us if we head down that path we may end up in hell.

The Priest essentially announced to everyone that he has a disordered desire, but he named it as his identity.  He said “I am gay.” I would say that is not who he is. I would say he is a loved child of God who has a desire towards the same sex.  He tells us he is celibate, which is wonderful, because he took a vow of celibacy. If he uses his announcement to reorder himself towards God, and help others to do so, than what a beautiful thing.  But if he uses it to justify sin and leave people, namely those who are not priests and do not have the vow of chastity, stuck in disordered desire, then woe to him.

This is not a call to condemn anyone with same-sex attraction, for what they are experiencing is a real desire. But the lie they are being told is that this one particular desire is their identity. The truth is that our identity does not come from any one worldly desire. It comes from our dignity as beings created in the image and likeness of God. All of us need to be ministered to and walked with out of our earthly desires and into the light of truth.  Our final destination is not of this world. It is the restored and complete union with God Our Father in Heaven. There is no sex in the afterlife so why would God want us to identify ourselves with something that is only of this world?  

Our walk in this world should be oriented toward truth and away from sin, toward self sacrificial love and away from indulging in our selfish desires, toward obedience to the Father and away from being prideful, toward the imitation of Jesus who was obedient to the Father, even to the point of death on the cross. Why are we ignoring what God has already revealed about this?

In his own human nature, Saint Paul too had a weakness, though he did not announce what it was, because he knew that his weakness was not his identity.  He kept that between him and God, and God’s grace was sufficient to lift him to perfection in his weakness. Paul instead united it to the cross.

“…because of the abundance of the revelations. Therefore, that I might not become too elated, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, an angel of Satan, to beat me, to keep me from being too elated. Three times I begged the Lord about this, that it might leave me, but he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” I will rather boast most gladly of my weaknesses,  in order that the power of Christ may dwell with me. Therefore, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and constraints, for the sake of Christ; for when I am weak, then I am strong.”                                2 Corinthians 7:-10

People with same-sex attraction, who unite this weakness to the cross, are living Redemptive Suffering.  These are the champions of faith and they should be applauded. But the lie that has a stronghold on our culture has successfully convinced a great majority of us that our sexual desires define WHO we ARE. In this we see a culture with an acceptance of sin or sinful desire, instead of a call to reorder our desires back to God. We have confused who we are with what we desire.

If any of you have ever read the Litany of Humility, you see the call to be rid of fear and desire of anything but God alone.  Yes God accepts us in our weakness but he doesn’t want us to remain there. He calls us to a higher union with him to let go of those desires. He doesn’t validate them and leave us stuck in them.  He gives us the grace to overcome them when we choose to pick up our cross and follow him. Humility teaches us to love the way Christ did. He was obedient to the Will of the Father even unto death. We see a glimpse into the human desire of Jesus in the Garden when he prays “take this cup from me”. His human desire is  to not suffer and die on the cross, but his love and obedience to the Father reigns over his human desires. Because of the example of Jesus we see great Saints like St Paul, follow this same path of loving obedience.

One final thought, both in this article and in a statement another famous Priest had regarding the anger people have towards this particular sin, it is asserted that the people who are angry must have pain, or perhaps even hidden homosexual inclinations.  I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that this is wrong headed.  There is such a thing as Holy hatred. It is the curse God gave Satan for taking our Dominion. The enmity God put between mankind and Satan, is a holy hatred of sin. We are supposed to hate sin (not people, but sin).  We get angry because when we have the truth of what our sexuality is for, we want to protect that truth and thus have an aversion to the perversion of it. Sin should make us mad. We are fighting powers and principalities that are out there trying to deceive and trick us into turning away from God. So we must get on your knees to pray and let God deal with the people.

A parallel lie that has a stronghold on our society is a twisted understanding of mercy. There is a distinct difference between extending mercy to the sinner, which is our call as Christians, and accepting the sin. Sin is a direct rejection of God and thus a movement away from Him. It should never be tolerated by society. But in our call to mercy and love for one another, we must rise up and lead each other out of our sin and help strengthen and reorient each other back to God. We should not judge or condemn people, but we should also not accept or dismiss their sin for the  sake of tolerance. Priests, ministers and lay people all should be accompanying people on their faith journey and this accompaniment should lead us all to heaven, not on the path to hell.

This is not a call to shoot poison arrows at people or Priests who struggle with same sex attraction, for this is a huge cross to bear.  It is a call to get on our knees and pray for them ardently that they will be obedient to Christ and His church and will unite their sufferings to the Cross and help others to do so as well, for this is what brings glory to God’s kingdom. This is the radical love that Jesus demonstrated on the cross. This is what we too are called to imitate.

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The Spirit of Arius – Are you ready for Persecution?

John resting on Jesus

“…The beloved of the LORD, he abides in safety beside him; He shelters him all day long; the beloved abides at his breast.”  Deuteronomy 33:12

Lately it seems that people within the church have a lack a belief.  I have sat through homilies in my life where a Priest has proclaimed there was no multiplication of loaves and fishes and there was no star of Bethlehem.  I have read article after article recently where Bishops and Priests defy church teaching and call upon those who agree with church teaching to be fired from their jobs.

“Jesus said to them, ‘A prophet is not without honor except in his native place and among his own kin and in his own house.’ So he was not able to perform any mighty deed there, apart from curing a few sick people by laying his hands on them. He was amazed at their lack of faith.” Mark 6:4-6

I have stated before that a Priests mission is to Guard the Divine.  They are also called to protect the souls in their care, yet it seems some disregard this duty as well. They want to allow reception of communion for non-Catholic spouses.  I wonder if they forget, there is already a process for discernment of receiving the Eucharist for non-Catholics, it is called RCIA.  And it is the model for the whole church, for it calls souls to conversion of heart and true unity.  For Christ says;

“I am the good shepherd, and I know mine and mine know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I will lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. These also I must lead, and they will hear my voice, and there will be one flock, one shepherd.” John 10:14-16

This oneness does not come from a false unity that disregards the law.  It comes from embracing the fullness of truth.

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.”  Matthew 5:17

Bishops who do not try to convert souls, towards the fullness of the truth, are treading on dangerous ground with their own souls.  If you train someone to receive Christ without true conversion of heart which requires unity with the church and her teachings you are culpable for teaching falsehood.  We are commanded to bring them to truth.

“My brothers, if anyone among you should stray from the truth and someone bring him back, he should know that whoever brings back a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.” James 5:19-20

I can only come to one conclusion when I read these stories.  The Spirit of Arius is alive and well.  In an effort to bring Christ’s humanity to us, they are forgetting His Divinity.  We all know Jesus took on our humanity.  He did so to bring us Divinity and save us from our sins, not accommodate them.  The job of the church and her leaders is to lift us toward the Divine, not let us wallow in sin or stay divided from unity with the truth.

“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.  And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to be with you always, the Spirit of truth, which the world cannot accept, because it neither sees nor knows it. But you know it, because it remains with you, and will be in you.” John 14:15-17

I think we all have seen persecution comes from the secular world towards us in the church.  But what we didn’t expect was the persecution that would come from inside the church herself if you try to remain faithful to her teachings and live in love.  But there are those who came before us who did know.  Think Joan of Arc and Padre Pio.  The church is going through a Passion.

“Before Christ’s second coming the Church must pass through a final trial that will shake the faith of many believers. The persecution that accompanies her pilgrimage on earth will unveil the ‘mystery of iniquity’ in the form of a religious deception offering men an apparent solution to their problems at the price of apostasy from the truth. The supreme religious deception is that of the Antichrist, a pseudo-messianism by which man glorifies himself in place of God and of his Messiah come in the flesh.  – Catechism of the Catholic Church 675

So what do we do.  Remain faithful and pray.  Do not shoot poison arrows back when they get shot.  Get on your knees and pray.  It is precisely in these times we, the laity, must be fearless in speaking and living truth.  This does not mean screaming at or attacking people with how “right” we are.  It means remaining in love and peace as we live and speak.

The church holds the truth and the gates of hell shall not prevail.  I have had two things happen in my prayer over the past year.  The first is that God has shown me living water flowing from the altar at the consecration.  HE IS THERE, renewing us with the Eucharistic Sacrifice.  I also keep having the song, “Lord prepare me to be a sanctuary” play over and over in my head.  The second thing I get shown is a Map that has apparition sites of where Mary appeared.  I could not for the longest time figure out why I was shown this map.  But the other day God whispered to me, “The apparition sites, they are where people go and live the way we should be living.  When you go what you see is people praying, people going to Mass and people going to Confession.”  They are living the Sacramental life.

Persecutors, whether inside the church or outside, whether a communist government or an age old heresy, we must know they can try take the Sacraments from us but they cannot take the Sacramental life in us. They cannot take the living water flows forth into us from these places.  We can make this living water flow to the world.  We must never cease praying for our Priests, Bishops, and the Pope.  And we must know for sure that anyone who takes on Christ and His Mother, will not prevail.

Saint Athanasius, pray for us.

 

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Pondering China – Rise of the Dragon

the gates of hell

The gates of hell by Auguste Rodin

“And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” Matthew 16:18-20

Recently I read an article about how the Vatican was asking the Catholic Chinese Bishops to step down so some state appointed Chinese Catholic Bishops could take their place.  I took this to prayer and asked God about it.  I often hesitate to say what I feel God say to me in prayer because sometimes he speaks a word and phrases and it is often subject to my own interpretation of what’s being said.  If there is one thing I know, it is that I do not know the mind of God and that his plans are greater than anything I can imagine.  So keeping that in mind, I ask you all to pray over what I am about to say because more than anything that is actually what I feel God telling me… TO PRAY.

When I asked about the deal with China, the response I heard in my head was, “you cannot drive out Satan with Beelzebub.”

Upon further reflection I remembered that God had told me the church was the center of everything.  It isn’t governments, though in our worldly view they often seem more powerful.  But we must remember the words of Jesus to Pilate;

“You have no power over me if it had not been given to you from above.” John 19:11

The church is the authority on earth of the Kingdom of God.   The Sacraments are what put us in, and keep us renewed in Covenant with God.  This means that the decisions that the church makes are of utmost importance.  Once we are in covenant through Baptism, we are indelibly marked with sacramental grace, the covenant cannot be broken.  But it can be violated.  Violation of covenant actually invites curses upon you.  We see this time and again throughout the bible.  It is our free will asking to be handed over to demons.

And now, priests, this commandment is for you: If you do not listen, And if you do not take to heart giving honor to my name, says the LORD of hosts, I will send a curse upon you and your blessing I will curse. In fact, I have already cursed it, because you do not take it to heart. Malachi 2:1-2

So back to China.  It appears Russia, as predicted in Fatima,  did help spread the error of her ways by helping communism in China, which took hold there after World War II.  The Catholic Church in the past always fought communism, even as other governments had gotten in bed with them.  In China there have essentially been two Churches, one Catholic that is underground and loyal to Rome and one that is approved by the Chinese Government.  The Government had their own Bishops.  These state appointed Bishops were not validly ordained from my understanding.  I believe it was Pope Pius XII who wrote Ad Apostolorum Principis, which ex-communicated them.**(see update below)  If this is incorrect, I am sure someone out there can correct me, and I welcome that because I actually would like nothing more than to be wrong about this.  If the Vatican backs non validly ordained Bishops to shepherd the people, they are actually participating in a violation of covenant.  This is because there is no Apostolic succession and therefore, further violating covenant, any act of Consecration of the Eucharist would also be in violation of covenant.  The Eucharist and Confession are where we receive the sanctifying grace to keep us in the will of God and perfect us.  It is how we are perfected.  If the Vatican backs this illegitimacy of Sacraments, they are in grave violation of covenant that brings us sanctifying grace.  What happens when the church herself violates covenant?  All hell breaks lose.

“Then another sign appeared in the sky; it was a huge red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and on its heads were seven diadems. Its tail swept away a third of the stars in the sky and hurled them down to the earth. Then the dragon stood before the woman about to give birth, to devour her child when she gave birth.” Revelation 12:3-4

So what are we to do?  Well first of all, as I stated earlier, PRAY!!!  God has shown me that prayer changes things.

But remember, also, the gates of hell shall not prevail.  Remember that the church is the BODY of Christ, and Jesus Himself is the HEAD.  Jesus said he established an everlasting covenant.  This means that, though there can be violation, it cannot be broken.  God will fight for us. 

We are adopted sons and daughters of God through Christ’s sanctifying grace.  The church is both institution and people.  We the people of the church must be living sanctuaries.  We must hold the truth of the new covenant of Jesus Christ written in our hearts.  The devil can reek havoc on the institution but he cannot break the bonds of Christ with his faithful.  He cannot come near the light of Christ in our hearts, if he does he will be destroyed.

If the church institution herself violates the covenant and invites curses upon the institution,  it is through Mary and the Eucharist that the battered church will rise again and be rebuilt.

“When the dragon saw that it had been thrown down to the earth, it pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child.  But the woman was given the two wings of the great eagle, so that she could fly to her place in the desert, where, far from the serpent, she was taken care of for a year, two years, and a half-year. The serpent, however, spewed a torrent of water out of his mouth after the woman to sweep her away with the current. But the earth helped the woman and opened its mouth and swallowed the flood that the dragon spewed out of its mouth.” Revelation 12:13-17

The devil may try to wage war against us, even doing so through the rise of a communist nation, and through the scandal of the church.  But we are to keep our eyes on Christ, remain close to the Sacraments, and to remember that Christ has won the Victory already.  This is not a call to anxiety, or even to shoot poison arrows at any particular person in the Vatican we disagree with, this is a call to prayer.  As Saint Padre Pio said, “pray, hope, don’t worry.”

Pray for the Pope.

Pray for the Vatican.

Pray for our Priests and Bishops.

Pray for the peace that surpasses all understanding.

 

**Here is an article by George Weigel about the situation.

**Here is what Cardinal Zen had to say.

**Here is an article from EWTN library describing the complicated situation in China.

 

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Scandal

Judas kisses Jesus

Judas kisses Jesus

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 2 Corinthians 12:9

 

There are many scandals in the church today.  What are we to make of it?  This is a homily given by my cousin Father Joel Rogers, from the Fathers of Mercy.  Listen to him.

Why Scandal?, by Father Joel Rogers.

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Guardians of Divine Life

2011-burke-pilgrimage

“No, the end for which God has instituted the priesthood has been to appoint on earth public persons to watch over the honor of his divine majesty, and to procure the salvation of souls.” –  Saint Alphonsus Maria de Liguori

By: Susan Skinner and Ashley Blackburn

I was listening to a podcast of Venerable Fulton Sheen on womanhood and he said something that struck me.  He said, “women are the guardians of human life.”  In that moment, God whispered to me, “and men are the guardians of Divine Life.

I pondered this for a while, not exactly sure what God was saying to me.  I remembered a little while ago, He had spoken to me about the two ways life is brought to us.  One way is through woman, in the form of children; and the other through the male Priesthood, in the form of the Eucharist.

Women are the guardians of human life, and men are the guardians of Divine Life.  I went back in my prayer to ponder the fall of man.  Adam was created by God from the dust of the earth and Genesis 2:15 tells us;

And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.

If Adam is to “keep” the garden, this requires guarding it to keep it from deteriorating. So in a sense, he guards the natural world, but it is more than this.  This is also spiritual task for Adam.  Adam himself reveals God spiritually in the world.  He is the keeper of the garden, the guardian, so to speak, of the creation of God.  He is given the task of naming the animals.  Why is this task so important? Because their name reveals who they came from.  The naming of something connects the object with the source from which it came. I went to a retreat where the speaker told us how God revealed Himself to Moses as, “I AM”.  And the speaker went on to say that when we all introduce ourselves, we actually put God first, as the source from which we came, “I am Susan.”  This speaks that I came from God.  Adam was in charge of this naming.  He connected the spiritual world with the physical world through the names.  Adam became the guardian of the Divine on earth as the one who named all things.  What a shame that in today’s day and age, “I am” has been replaced by “I feel.”  We are no longer grounded in the truth from which we came.

I went back to what Venerable Fulton Sheen stated, that woman is the guardian of humanity.  He called her the “custodian of life.”    This is because in our very bodies, we are designed to give life.  Our bodies nourish and protect our children.  Even those of us who do not bear children, by our compassionate natures we are spiritual mothers to all of humanity. When we embrace womanhood, as it was designed, society is actually better.

But the devil tempts both men and women.  When Eve was tempted by the serpent, she was tempted in her human desires and she gave in.  But it wasn’t just her who fell. Adam was with her.  He took it and ate it too.  He did not guard God’s creation.  He did not keep the garden as he had been commanded to do.

And so we became corrupted.  Our purpose defiled.  And sin entered the world.  But God was not content to leave us apart from him.  He sent His Son Jesus to restore our purpose.  Jesus was the Word made flesh, once again, showing us the importance of words, of naming.  And what did Jesus do?  He re-instituted men as the Guardian of the Divine.
Christ in his fully human and fully divine nature was able to do this within himself. God in all his divinity came to this earth through the instrument of Christ’s human body. He did this 2000 years ago, but then continues to do this today through the church (body of Christ) in the Eucharist. He instituted the Priesthood to share in this role as guardians of the sacraments in which the divine grace flows out upon the faithful. Likewise he lifted up the man’s role in marriage and fatherhood by giving us insight into our Heavenly Father; the perfect example of a loving and good father, who creates, teaches, guards and protects his beloved children.

It is not by mistake that Jesus refers to God as Father. While we sit and watch this this role of fatherhood being attacked by our culture, whether it be through insults, divorce, extreme feminism, pornography, etc we watch also the divine life being attacked in the family. Jesus is no longer a living presence in the family as fathers are no longer guarding the divine life in their own domestic churches. It goes even further than that. Studies have shown that if the Father of a family goes to church and is spiritually practicing, his children will be way more likely to go to church as well than if only the mother goes to church.  The Father is the guardian of the Divine in his family. His role is important to the family because it was instituted by Christ. Jesus’ insight about his Father is all the evidence we need. Paul talks about the body of Christ and how if one part is hurting or lacking, the entire body suffers. This role of the father in the family cannot be replaced or replicated and when it is lacking the entire family suffers.

In the church herself we also see the marriage analogy.  The church is the bride of Christ, and He is the bridegroom.  We are faithful children.  We are sanctified with Sacramental grace through the Sacraments of the Church.  Our Priests are guardians of these Sacraments.  Priests have a duty to create, protect, teach, and guard the life of the church. They participate in the creative action of God through the sacraments, bringing divine life to the earth through their ordination. They teach us through their preaching of the gospel. Protect it through their prayers and guard it through their union with the Magisterium.

What we are seeing today is the Church being attacked from both the inside and the outside.  The secular world mocks the Priests, and inside of the church some of the Priests themselves, the ordained guardians of the church are getting lost in their pursuits. They have forgotten their role, which was instituted by Christ, to be guardians of the Divine. The priests bring us the divine life, through the sacraments, and they guard it so that it remains untainted by this world. When they stop guarding the church, and give into worldly desires or the changing winds of the culture, then the Divine, Jesus in the sacraments, is no longer protected by them and confusion and corruption ensue. The devil would love nothing more than to make Priests stop bringing us the Sacraments.  

Venerable Fulton Sheen stated that the level of society would be at the level of the woman. He said this because women tend to be more civilized and if they deteriorate, the men will only rise to the level the woman sets for him.  I am not one who would readily disagree with someone who I think will soon be a great Saint, but I would add a caveat to what he said. That when men no longer seek communion with the Divine, when men no longer guard the Divine in their hearts, then his assertion is correct.  But if men seek the Divine and guard it in their hearts, society will not only be great, but it will flourish.  But alas, when men don’t guard the divine, everything deteriorates.  We see women today submitting to the culture of sex and relinquishing their duty as guardians of humanity by participating in abortion.  They have bought into the culture of sex through their participation in pornography, contraception, stripping, revealing clothing, physical body enhancements, plastic surgery, prostitution and escorting. With this men have risen to the level of sex abusers, sex addicts, addicted to porn, molesters, etc. Both men and women have become objects to be used where the divine can scarcely be seen.

 
If we could learn only one thing, it’s that everything should flow from the Sacramental life.  When men guard the divine and women, guard humanity, we actually are living in the Divine will.  We must pray for our Priests who bring us Divine Life each week.  We must pray for men to be strong in faith.  Knocking down our men is how the devil gets a stronghold on society.  Knocking down our Priests is the devils ultimate goal, because he wants nothing more than to keep us from a Sacramental Life from where sanctifying grace flows.  

 

 

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