Coming Soon…

I heard through the Internet grapevine that Pope Benedict XVI’s second installment of Jesus of Nazareth will be released in the Spring of next year (2011)! I’m looking forward to it, and you can be sure I’ll review it ASAP.

Meanwhile, check out the first volume if you haven’t already: Jesus of Nazareth !

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Miracles

He that believeth in me, the works that I do, he also shall do; and greater than these shall he do.

John 14:12

Reading Fr. Hebert’s Saints Who Raised the Dead and now enjoying Joan Carroll Cruz’s Mysteries, Marvels, Miracles in the Lives of the Saints has been enlightening and reassuring. It certainly has proved very interesting as well. The sheer volume of miraculous events, confirmed by doctors, non-believers, etc. is staggering.

I’ve always been a rather cautious (some might say “overly cautious”) person, and I think a healthy dose of skepticism is all right. Not skepticism in the sense that all things are impossible, but in the sense that natural causes and reasons should be considered. Attributing the miraculous to everything right away would be cause for accusations of gullibility, and a lessening of belief, as well as occasions of mockery (think of people who claim to see pictures of the Blessed Virgin Mary in perishable things like toast). So, I do think we have to be careful. But I also see the need to recognize that we ought to give credit where credit is due. When it has been determined that there is no natural explanation for an event, it’s safe to term it ‘miraculous’ and give thanks to God through Whom all things are possible.

It is disturbing that there is a definite trend in modern “scholarship” to deny the miraculous. Instead of believing that Our Lord miraculously mulitplied the loaves and fishes, many modern “scholars”/”theologians” ask us to believe that there were traveling bread caravans that provided the extra food, or that everyone really had their own food and shared to make sure others had enough. Really?! Why would the Gospel writers feel the need to fabricate miracles after witnessing the greatest miracle of all? It does not make sense. When we start denying the miraclous in little things, we doubt the big things, and eventually… everything.

Miracles are real. Miracles are not impossible. God is still present and very much active in the world today. We need to refresh our memories with the history of our Salvation and the awesome things God has accomplished.

Read up on miracles. Read some good accounts of the miraculous (such as has been recorded in the 2 books I mentioned above). Pray, and give thanks.

“The Last Acceptable Prejudice” continues

The television (the tabernacle of Satan, as Fr Groeschel would say) is tuned to a show which shall remain nameless. I did not choose the show, and have been making a concentrated effort to ignore it. However, the past several minutes have consisted in repeated insults against the Catholic Church, and a long segment praising homosexuality…

It’s one thing to disagree with a thing from a rational perspective, and quite another to level insults, poke fun, and dismiss a thing irrationally.

More and more it seems like the Catholic Church is everyone’s favorite punching bag. The York Times, The Boston Globe…most news outlets in general. And apparently, with the testimony of this particular talk show, the Church is the best new punchline for everything. Especially whatever of the Church’s teachings that [the insulters] misunderstand.

This latest episode consisted in mocking the Eucharist (a very grave offense), one of the hosts talked about receiving [from the Chalice] multiple times when she went to Mass because she was “still thirsty” (an alcoholic insinuation). I pray it was a joke. More concerning than if she received mulitple times (which is unnecessary and obviously disrespectful), is the flippancy with which she dismissed the Most Sacred Blood of Our Lord. She preferred its alcholic accidents to its supernatural graces. The Eucharist is not wine. It is not a symbol. The substance of the wine is changed (into the Most Precious Blood of Jesus Christ), even though the accidents remain the same (it still looks, smells, and tastes like wine–but it is not). Her dismissal of the Precious Blood, mocking the fact that its accidents remain, is a mockery of the price of Salvation. It’s disgusting. It’d disheartening.

I worry about the state of the world.

I pray during this month of the Precious Blood that more Christians become aware of the price of their Salvation and turn in love to the Precious Blood that poured forth from Our Lord on the Cross and made present in the Chalice during the Most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

Marian Consecration

The more we honor the Blessed Virgin, the more we honor Jesus Christ, because we honor Mary only that we may the more perfectly honor Jesus, since we go to her only as the way by which we are to find the end we are seeking, which is Jesus.

St. Louis de Montfort, True Devotion to Mary

I sought out Marian devotion when I was feeling helpless. I was spiritually drowning by things that don’t matter now, and I was desperate for Faith. I had a priest bring me a scapular (from Rome), and enroll me in the Brown Scapular*. I found a copy of St. Louis de Montfort’s True Devotion to Mary and devoured it. I started the 33-day Preparation for Total Consecration, and consecrated myself to the Blessed Mother on August 15, 2006 (the Feast of the Assumption of Mary).

I think in our modern struggles to be ‘ecumenical’, many Catholics overlook Marian consecration in fear that it might take away from Jesus. They couldn’t be any more mistaken. And they’ve obviously never read St. Louis de Montfort’s True Devotion to Mary. Marian devotion is something essential to Christian faith because how we view Our Lady defines how we think about Our Lord. I’ve been in ‘debates’ about Marian doctrines where the other person has retorted that Mary “was merely a vessel for the birth of the Savior” as though God just uses people and then throws them away after He’s accomplished His designs. That’s not how God has revealed Himself to us. Mary was not a vessel, she was (and is) a mother. She became the mother of Jesus Christ the instant the Holy Spirit overshadowed her and she conceived, in her womb, the Son of God. Thus, Mary is the Theotokos (the God-bearer)… the Mother of God (“Mother of my Lord” cf. Luke 1:43). And she followed her Son to the Cross, where her own soul was pierced as Simeon the prophet had foretold (cf. Luke 2:35). Clearly, she was not forgotten in the plans of God…

… all generations shall call me blessed

Luke 1:48

But what is consecration to the Blessed Mother?  In short, it is the way “to Jesus, through Mary”. As St. Louis de Montfort opens his True Devotion, it was through Mary that Our Lord Jesus Christ came into this world and so it is through her that we ought to go to Him. The great truth of Catholic Marian spirituality is that Mary always leads to her Son, Jesus. Always.

Whatsoever He shall say to you, do

John 2:5

Consecration is about conformity to Jesus Christ. We find our perfection in Him. To this end, and our growth in perfection, St. Louis de Montfort proposes a method of preparation and consecration that is 33 days of preparation + the day of consecration, or about 5 weeks. You can find various books and preparations for consecration according to St. Louis de Montfort that vary slightly. The preparation included in True Devotion to Mary consists of a preliminary period (12 days) to free ourselves from the “spirit of this world”, and then a second period of 3 weeks wherein the first week is devoted to knowledge of ourselves, knowledge of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and knowledge of Jesus Christ which is then crowned by our consecration. It is admitted that this preparation is flexible, and Fr. Helmuts Libietis has done a fine job of compiling a good preparation based on St. Louis de Montfort’s that is divided into 5 weeks, and 4 short meditations for each day followed by the prayers which St. Louis de Montfort suggests for that week titled Consecration to Mary. Slightly different, and perhaps a bit more time consuming than the basics which St. Louis offers in True Devotion, but nonetheless I have personally found Fr. Libietis’ preparation to be doable, and of great assistance in truly getting into the spirit of preparation that St. Louis de Montfort sought. It’s a good help.

So in offering and consecration ourselves to Mary, we seek conformity to her Son. Who was the perfect disciple? Mary. There’s a part in the Sacred Scriptures (which many often mistakenly view and use as an anti-Mary tract) where a woman cries out from the crowd after Jesus has exorcised a demon, “Blessed is the womb that bore Thee, and the paps that gave Thee suck” and Jesus responds, “Yea rather, blessed are they who hear the word of God, and keep it” (Luke 11:27-28). Anyone would have to agree that Mary fulfilled this blessing in a very singular way: she received the Annunciation of the coming of the Savior through the Angel Gabriel, and she responded that the will of God should be done unto her, and then she conceived the Word of God and kept Him, in her womb for 9 months, and thereafter in her Immaculate Heart. Yes, Mary was indeed Blessed to be the Mother of God; but she is blessed even moreso in hearing and keeping the Word of God.  Our Lord’s response to the woman in the crowd was in no way a degradation of Mary as His mother.

Imitation of Mary is imitation of Christ.

Jesus Christ our Saviour, true God and true Man, ought to be the last end of all our other devotions, else they are false and delusive. Jesus Christ is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, of all things. We labor not, as the Apostle says, except to render every man perfect in Jesus Christ; because it is in Him alone that the whole plenitude of the Divinity dwells together with all the other plenitudes of graces, virtues, and perfections. It is in Him alone that we have been blessed with all spiritual benediction; and He is our only Master, who has to teach us; our only Lord on whom we ought to depend; our only Head to whom we must be united; our only Model to whom we should conform ourselves; our only Physician who can heal us; our only Shepherd who can feed us; our only Way who can lead us; our only Truth whom we must believe; our only Life who can animate us; and our only All in all things who can satisfy us. There has been no other name given under Heaven, except the name of Jesus, by which we can be saved. God has laid no other foundation of our salvation, our perfection or our glory, than Jesus Christ. Every building which is not built on that firm rock is founded upon the moving sand, and sooner or later infallibly will fall. Every one of the faithful who is not united to Him, as a branch to the stock of the vine, shall fall, shall wither, and shall be fit only to be cast into the fire. Outside of Him there exists nothing but error, falsehood, iniquity, futility, death and damnation. But if we are in Jesus Christ and Jesus Christ is in us, we have no condemnation to fear. Neither the angels of Heaven nor the men of earth nor the devils of Hell nor any other creature can injure us; because they cannot separate us from the love of God, which is in Jesus Christ. By Jesus Christ, with Jesus Christ, in Jesus Christ, we can do all things; we can render all honor and glory to the Father in the unity of the Holy Ghost; we can become perfect ourselves, and be to our neighbor a good odor of eternal life (2 Cor. 2:15-16).

If, then, we establish solid devotion to our Blessed Lady, it is only to establish more perfectly devotion to Jesus Christ, and to provide an easy and secure means for finding Jesus Christ…

St. Louis de Montfort, True Devotion to Mary, #61, 62

Good Reads about the Mother of God:
True Devotion to Mary by St. Louis de Montfort
The Secret of Mary by St. Louis de Montfort
The Secret of the Rosary by St. Louis de Montfort
The Glories of Mary by St. Alphonsus Liguori
Consecration to Mary by Fr. Helmuts Libietis

*The Brown Scapular

Sex-Ed, in Kindergarten?!?

This is just disgusting:

MONTANA PARENTS WEIGH IN ON PROPOSED KINDERGARTEN SEX-ED

According to the 62-page draft proposal, beginning in kindergarten, school nurses will teach students proper terms such as “nipple, breast, penis, scrotum and uterus.” Once they are promoted to first grade, children will learn that sexual relations could happen between two men or two women. By the time students are 10 years old, instruction will include the various ways people can have intercourse, be it vaginally, orally or through “anal penetration,” according to the proposal.

Melanie Reynolds, a district health officer, defended the proposed curriculum, saying early education and intervention was needed to prevent HIV infection or other sexually transmitted diseases. She cited a report that said 40 percent of reported Chlamydia cases in county were people between the ages of 14 and 18, the Helena Independent Record reported.

Angela Helland-Hansen told the board that she was surprised to see that staff from Planned Parenthood were included in the committee that developed the document.

Why are we allowing Planned Parenthood to help with this when they stand to profit from these people who will be their future clients?” the Record reported.

They think telling 10 year olds how to have sex will help lower the rate of STDs and teenage pregnancy?!? Seeing that Planned [Barren]hood helped develop the curriculum it should be quite obvious that they are not concerned about childhood development or education, but only concerned about how to make money in the future (more children having sex + more younger children having sex = more STDs + more teenage pregnancies = boatloads of money + funds + grants for Planned [Barren]hood). If this passes, the public ought to be ashamed for having been duped!

I’m not opposed to teaching children age-appropriate anatomy, etc…. working with children now, and being more concerned about child abuse– children knowing the proper names for their body parts is a good thing. Do they need to know what all those parts can be used for? Certainly not when they’re 5… and not even when they are 10! If you don’t want 10 year olds having sex, don’t teach them how to do it… that’s a no-brainer.

Furthermore, shoving a liberal sexual education curriculum down the throats of 6 and 7 year olds by teaching them about homosexuality is just plain wrong (…speaking of HIV and other STDs). I can be lambasted with “intolerant” and “hate speech” accusations all day long, but the truth of the matter is that ‘tolerance’ does not exist. Everyone is intolerant of something… at the moment, those who want me to be “more tolerant” are the ones engaging in “intolerance”. My opinions, arguments, thoughts, and feelings, don’t matter and are considered “wrong” so I should change in order to be “tolerant”.

But why am I the one that has to change? Can they prove me to be in the “wrong”? (No) Arguments about “tolerance” are a waste of time. The real argument is truth. What’s true? What’s right? What’s just?

The more the the world embraces liberalism, the further the world falls away from Truth, Righteousness, and Justice.

Truth matters.

My Anniversary… belated.

Ugh, this is like a bad joke about husbands forgetting their wedding anniversary! I’m usually so good (exacting, even!) at remembering dates. Yet, without fail, I always remember the “anniversary” of my reconciliation to the Catholic Church a few days AFTER the fact. It’s such an important anniversary, and I could kick myself for failing to remember even a few days before! Somehow I am going to make myself a reminder for next year.

Anyway…

As of July 1, 2010, I have officially been reconciled (and a fully practicing Catholic) for 8 years! Deo gratias!

I try to keep track of my anniversary so that I can not only remember and give thanks to God for the grace He has given me; but also to give myself a little hope. I have come a long, long way. If ever I look back and discover my faith hasn’t grown, I’ll know I’m headed in the wrong direction.

One thing I can witness to as being true: you ask God for grace and He will give it to you, without fail. Give Him the smallest opening, and the Holy Spirit will flood your soul.

“Ask, and it shall be given you: seek, and you shall find: knock, and it shall be opened to you. For every one that asketh, receiveth: and he that seeketh, findeth: and to him that knocketh, it shall be opened.”

Matthew 7:7-8

I have come a very long way in 8 years. I am intensely grateful for the grace that God has given me, and I pray that He will continue to bless me and keep me open to His will and Divine Providence.

In thanksgiving, please pray for the priest who heard my Confession that day 8 years ago.

O Jesus, Eternal High Priest, live in [Fr. E], act in him, speak in and through him.
Think Your thoughts in his mind, love through his heart.
Give him Your own dispositions and feelings. Teach, lead and guide him always.
Correct, enlighten and expand his thoughts and behavior.
Possess his soul; take over his entire personality and life.
Replace him with Yourself.
Incline him to constant adoration and thanksgiving; pray in and through him.
Let him live in You and keep him in this intimate union always.
O Mary, Immaculate Conception, Mother of Jesus and Mother of priests, pray and intercede for [Fr. E]. Amen.

For what it’s worth, I updated the “About” section to include my (not so sensational) “conversion story”. Or at least the beginning of it. Enjoy.

Independence Day

I saw a shirt a few years ago with a big American Flag on it, it read, “In America we’re born to be free, too bad we aren’t free to be born!” and was followed by several statistics on abortion. It’s the perfect t-shirt slogan about abortion in this  country.  How ironic. Abortion is a travesty of “freedom”.

In truth, we have lost the meaning of freedom. Our modern world has completely forgotten the truth. Instead of reality, we seek only convenience.

There is no world in which the pursuit of the common good can allow for the death of anyone, no matter how young or helpless. Murder is senseless, even more so as a ‘solution’. However, abortion is not merely murder. I don’t think there’s a word to describe the utter horror of abortion. A mother slaughtering her offspring–in the womb. No woman, no person, has the ‘right’, the “freedom” to kill anyone. To decide who lives and who dies. Especially a mother. A mother is charged with the sacred duty of protection. It’s her job to protect, defend, and love her child. Murder is a gross denial of motherhood. A dross denial of the dignity of being a woman. To murder your own child is the most abhorrent act possible.

The late Pope John Paul II once said, “a nation that kills its own children is a nation without hope.” This Independence Day, we, as a nation, celebrate our freedom and the hope of the “American Dream”. Abortion is the destruction of freedom, the destruction of hope, and the destruction of the American Dream.

More pictures

End abortion. Fight it. Pray for God’s mercy and justice.

Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle. Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him we humbly pray, and do thou, O prince of the heavenly host, by the power of God cast into Hell Satan and all evil spirits who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.