I like to consider myself a Catholic Christian. These are some of my stories and observations.
I like to consider myself a Catholic Christian. These are some of my stories and observations.
In the final analysis, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway. – Mother Teresa.
Recently, Collin posted another picture of his Sims City Game to my Facebook page. Horrors! I like to think that my Facebook page is all about me. To a point that would be correct. I control my page as best as I can but from time to time Collin interferes. Facebook has become a world-wide phenomenon. It has helped families become better connected. It has given all who participate a vehicle for communication above and beyond the imagination of prior generations. My page tells the world about who I am. I like to think it reflects what I stand for, what I am all about. There is nothing wrong with our daily two minute shout out to the world unless we forget, as Christians, it really should not be all about us.
“When I was a child, I used to talk as a child, think as a child, reason as a child; when I became a man, I put aside childish things.” (1 Corinthians 13:11)
Which is why it is becoming easier to think that the world revolves around us. It was for the better part of human history that we thought the sun revolved around the earth until we discovered that there was a larger point of view and that we were only a very small aspect of the universe. Once we realized that we are not the center of the universe, we begin to mature. Reflecting on Jesus’s Mother Mary, a priest once told me that the basis of all sin is selfishness or self-centeredness. Me first. My needs over your needs. My demands over your demands. My feelings over your feelings. Selfishness looks to see if our needs are being met at the very least the same rate as everyone else then complains and demands its fair share. Would that all things could be equal. But that would not be life as we really know it. Mary, he explained, free of sin, a requirement for being allowed to carry the son of God within her, was free of selfishness. She was able to choose love over hate, gentleness over violence, kindness over anger and others before herself. And this was not because she was a door mat or because she had no self-esteem. It was her choice because full of grace was full of love.
“Love is patient, love is kind.” (1 Corinthians 13:4)
With the advent of our instant mass communication, never before have so many people have their lives affected so quickly by so little wisdom. More and more people can connect but it is almost as if the more we communicate on a mass level the less we connect on a simpler intimate level. We have the ability to broadcast to the whole world our daily thoughts. Disagreements and fights are no longer only between two or three but between hundreds and thousands of people who have never met. Everyone seems to have an opinion that everyone needs to listen to. Anonymity makes it easier to say or write things we would never say or write in a personal way so much so that social graces have become the first causalities.
“If I give away everything I own and if I hand my body over so that I may boast but do not have love, I gain nothing” (1 Corinthians 13:3)
Sometimes the things posted are so hurtful to me that I wonder why I even participate. Oh, I do not mean the wonderful pictures of loved ones. Most everyone I know posts pictures of their loved ones. To love our families and neighbors and friends as we love ourselves is the other half of the holiness equation of loving your neighbor as yourself. Showing genuine delight in one another’s children and grandchildren and spouses and friends makes us part of the greater overall family of God. Caring about other’s losses and hopes and dreams is what makes us brothers and sisters to one another.
“[love] is not jealous, is not pompous; it is not inflated, it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests.” (1 Corinthians 13:5)
At a time when our country is wheeling from so many disasters, the extent of natural disasters are nearly dwarfed by the horrible violence in our land. People scream for more secular laws on the books when they refuse to obey the laws of God already written in stone. They have forgotten, thou shalt not kill, thou shalt not steal, thou shalt not bear false witness and thou shall not commit adultery. But that is the real problem is it not? It is not that there are not enough laws, it is the laws that exist need to be written in our hearts, living in our actions and lingering in our speech. We sowed the whirlwind of violence and hate and we now reap the great and terrible storm. Our houses will fall because we did not build them on the rock of Christ. We built them on the false hope of government handouts and our ten minutes of Facebook Fame.
“[love] does not rejoice over wrong doing but rejoices with the truth.” (1 Corinthians 13: 6)
Too often opinions expressed in twenty worded posts are set up as truth without any evidence or proof when they are merely someone’s opinion at best, or lies at the worst. Then the texts are sent out as obliquely aimed arrows against one another, some of who may have been family and friends. Take no prisoners and extend no forgiveness. The depth and the willingness to forgive one another is directly proportional to our ability and our willingness to love each other. Love is not some accident or magic happenstance, it is a choice. With all the negative posts, the choice is apparently clear and love is not an option for many.
“[love] it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests. It is not quick-tempered it does not brood over injury.” (1 Corinthians 13:6)
When I realized how many times the communication is lacking in love, I am reminded by God that in heaven, those who refuse to love each other now, will most certainly love one another in heaven. Sadly, we only have to wait. Not a matter of if but soon enough. Once we understand that it is not all about us, we can humble ourselves and be a real use to God. Every day there should be a post reminding us that God is in control and we are thankful to him to who knows our needs even before we post them because it should never be all about me and certainly not all about you.
“Love never fails.” (1 Corinthians 13:8)
The rest of the prayer by St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta.
People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered. Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.
If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies. Succeed anyway.
If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you. Be honest and sincere anyway.
What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight. Create anyway.
If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous. Be happy anyway.
The good you do today, will often be forgotten. Do good anyway.
Give the best you have, and it will never be enough. Give your best anyway.
In the final analysis, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.
“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” (Psalm 34:18)
As young widows, my friend, Terry and I decided to join a bowling league. We were truly terrible bowlers and our only advantage was our high handicap. As time went on, we met others in the league and would go for a light snack after bowling. One person in our group was a vivacious young lady named Josie*. Josie had light brown curly brown hair and an easy laugh. She carried herself in such a way which said, “No inhibitions”. It seemed like she did not have a care in the world but looks are indeed deceiving.
“Not as Man sees does God see because man see the appearance but the Lord looks into the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:8)
She told people she worked for the Democratic Party at an office in Illinois but what she only told a few of us was that she also worked as a stripper in East St. Louis. Then, as if she needed to justify her career choice, she explained how she had been horribly raped as a young girl. Her rapist was unknown to her and she had been so traumatized by the event that she had to be hospitalized as she could not speak or walk for three months. I do not claim to understand why she chose to become a stripper. I did not know her long enough to really know her. It seemed to me that it was her need to prove to the world that she was in control of her own sexual abuse. It has been said that young abuse and rape victims will often trade guilt for the shame of what was done to them in order to obtain a much skewed sense of control back into their lives. It’s a trade that comes with a terrible price of lowering self-esteem and the denial of self-love. I suspect it never occurred to Josie, that her actions as a stripper might provoke in some unstable men the need to seek out young victims to rape. It is the cycle of evil. As things go, I never saw Josie again after the league ended and I often wonder what became of her.
“But I say to you, everyone who looks at a women with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Matthew 5:28)
I met Maggie* under very different circumstances. Maggie was a young prostitute who had been pimped all over the Midwest. Maggie was in a world of trouble. Her pimp had been arrested along with all of his ‘crib’ and Maggie would find out that he knew one of the girls had Aids and he had sex with them all thereby spreading the disease. Maggie probably had Aids. Only God would know how many of their customers would also be infected as well as their mates and offspring. Maggie was lost and afraid. How did she ever get into such a situation? Seems her cousin told her about a guy at a hotel by the airport that had great drugs and she was going to party with him. She invited Maggie along for the party. The drugs were the bait and once high, she submitted to sex. Was she really a willing partner? No one knows but drugs, sex, low self-esteem are a dangerous combination. Drugs eased the pain of being used for sex and sex got money for more drugs and pretty soon the cycle drove her down to the deepest part of the hole a soul can go down and still be breathing.
“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23)
If I could speak to either woman today, I would tell them of the love of Jesus that never wanted them to be hurt or victimized the way they were. Joyce Meyers gave a wonderful series of talks on “Beauty for Ashes”. She speaks of how out of the ashes our lives have become, there is still hope in the God who died to save us. There is still hope for the hopeless. There is help for the helpless and there is love for the loveless. There is a God bigger than our pain. A God who grants forgiveness even when our sins are as red as blood. A God who already provided for the future. A God who is crazy in love with us. A God who does not want either Maggie or Josie to suffer one more day. But He will not force himself on us. He waits knocking at the door to our hearts. I would tell them, “Maggie, Josie, For God’s sake, open the door already! What do you think you have to lose? Haven’t you already lost everything?”
“He has sent me to bring glad tidings to the lowly, to heal the broken hearted. To proclaim liberty to the captives and release the prisoners. To announce a year of favor from the Lord, a day of vindication by our God to comfort all who mourn; To place on those who mourn in Zion beauty for ashes. To give them oil of gladness in place of mourning, a glorious mantel instead of a listless spirit.” (Isaiah 61: 1-3)
Some will tell you that pornography and prostitution are victimless crimes. Some will tell you they are or should be legal. Some will even tell you that no one gets hurt. But I can say that I have never met a girl who growing up said, “I want to be a stripper” or “I want to be a prostitute”. Those who want it to be legal, are blind to the cycle of evil they themselves have succumbed and the victims around them they have helped create as they use someone’s mother, daughter or sister like so much easy prey. Those that sell themselves are more than likely already victims before, during and after. Victimless crimes, I think not. Those who claim so neither understand what real victimhood consists of and what constitutes sin and how that destroys all who are involved. Satan understands this very well. He knows that hurting people hurt others. He does what he can to keep the cycle of pain and sin going strong.
“You say, ‘The Lord’s way is not fair!’ Hear now, house of Israel: Is it my way that is unfair, or rather, or are not your ways unfair?” (Ezekiel 18:25)
*No real names used!!!
Joyce Meyers, “Beauty for Ashes”, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RrTvgFq89yQ
“If Christ did not want to dismiss the Jews without food in the desert for fear that they would collapse on the way, it was to teach us that it is dangerous to try to get to heaven without the Bread of Heaven.” – St. Jerome
When I first remarried, I was often asked, “Why are you still Catholic?” I must say, that my answer has finally matured. Twenty-five years ago, I was in the midst of blending a family. I was raising my children to be Catholic. My new husband was ex-Catholic, non-denominational Christian. I often felt torn between two churches. Partly because I did not want to get into theological battles all the time and partly to blend the family, I often made compromises of which I am rather sad about today. So my, “Leave it be because I am good” Catholic answer was, “Because the Catholic Church needs good people to stay with it and keep it on the right course.”
Yeah, that was the ugly.
I cringe now just thinking of it. Such arrogance on my part, that if I actually really believed what I was saying, it would have been a sin. For this I should be very sorry. The church of Jesus Christ is doing very well with or without me. I could never hold a candle to the saintliness of many of the devote Catholics I know or who have preceded me. It has survived for almost 2,000 years before me and will be around long after me. It will survive until Christ returns.
Sadly, such an argument worked. Those who would have started theological arguments on my reasons for being Catholic had nothing to say to that. And it worked in part because they believed the Catholic Church was filled with demons and anti-Christ’s. Their unwillingness to accept that their Christian Church’s foundation is within the Catholic Church leads them to find fault with everything Catholic. Yet is it because of the Catholic Church the Bible exists today. Their disdain for the mother Church is sad. That is the bad.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the word was God.” (John 1:1)
It took me a long time in prayer and over the years as I matured, I came to realize that all of the Theological reasons that might be leveled against my staying in the Catholic Church, this is where God has lead me and kept me all of these years. This is the good.
“And the word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.” (John 1:14)
“One does not live on bread alone, but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of God.” (Matthew 4:4)
Many non-denominational Christians and fundamentalists will tell you that they are superior because they believe in the literal interpretation of the Bible. They do, except when it matters the most. They believe the bible literally until they get to John Chapter 6 where Jesus tells his disciples that his flesh is real food and his blood real drink. Then suddenly, Christ was not speaking literally, he must have meant the bread and wine to symbolically stand for his flesh and blood. EXCEPT – that is not what Jesus says. Jesus said, his flesh was real food and his blood was real drink. In a culture where eating the blood of any animal taboo, to say such a thing was unacceptable. And Jesus does not mince words. He states it several times and uses as crude Hebrew word for “eating” that would be equivalent to “gnaw” as if an animalistic verb was needed to emphasis the reality what he was saying. And what happened? Many of his disciples left him. Even after witnessing all of the miracles, even after leaving behind their families, even after giving up their occupations, just to follow Jesus, they become unwilling to accept this teaching as in their words, “This is just too hard to accept.” Of all the times Jesus spoke in parables, if this were some symbolic story, then they would have no reason to depart. If were just an expression and not a reality, Jesus would have explained it to them so they would not leave him as he was trying to draw all men to himself.
Turning to Peter, he asks, “Will you leave me as well?” Peter says, “Lord, you have the words of eternal life, where would we go?” And exactly like Peter, where would I go? This one incredible doctrine is so special, I will not find in any other Christian church. As the priest elevates the host, I behold the Lamb of God in physical form. I take my God into myself. My poor small mind cannot seem to wrap itself around the enormity of the moment. He is still physically with us after 2,000 years. I can reach out and touch him. What a beautiful intimate moment.
“Jesus took the bread, said the blessing, broke it, and giving it to his disciples said, ‘Take and eat; this is my body.’ Then he took the cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them saying, ‘Drink from it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed on behalf of many for the forgiveness of sins.’” (Matthew 26:26-28)
The Catholic Church calls this transition of bread and wine into the body and blood of Jesus, Transubstantiation. There have been numerous instances of the consecrated bread bleeding. In the 8th Century, a priest in Lanciano, Italy was celebrating Mass and praying about his lack of faith in the true presence of Jesus in the consecrated bread and wine. Before his very eyes, the bread turned into real flesh and the wine into real blood. As amazing as this may sound, what is even more incredible is that both the bread made flesh and the wine made blood are still preserved to this day. They have never decayed. In 1971, they were forensically tested. The flesh was shown to be human heart tissue and the blood was human blood of type AB+ (interestingly the same blood type found on the Shroud of Turin and the blood type known as the universal recipient.). Both were still fresh as if just removed from the human body. You can still visit this miracle in the Church of San Francesco in Lanciano, Italy. Through the centuries, there have been numerous instances of the host bleeding.
In 1996, in Buenos Aires, Argentina, a consecrated Host was found on the ground. The parish priest decided to place it in a cup of water to allow it to dissolve. Days later it had turned into bloody flesh. Still giving it time to decompose, Cardinal Quarracino and Bishop Jorge Bergoglio (now Pope Francis) placed the host into a tabernacle but when three years later it was still uncorrupted, they had the host forensically tested. Dr. Ricardo Castanon, a Bolivian neurophysiologist took the host to the San Francisco Forensic Institute. He never told them where the flesh had come from. The results were the tissue came from the myocardium of the left ventricle of a human being with the blood type of AB+. Tested again at Columbia University in New York by Dr. Frederick Zugibe, an esteemed cardiologist and forensic pathologist, the samples were said to be from the heart of a human who must have been tortured. Dr. Zugibe was surprised at the samples since they appeared to be pulsating like a living beating heart. Further tests comparing the tissues from the two different Eucharistic Miracles, Buenos Aires and Lanciano, Italy showed the tissue had the exact same DNA even though the time difference between the miracles was 1,200 years.
“And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20)
It is sad to think that other Christian Churches do not have this understanding. I wonder if the bread that is eaten in churches, where they do not believe it is the actual body of Christ, if it still becomes the actual flesh and blood of Jesus. I suspect it may not be since I think many may say they do not want it that way, as real flesh and blood. No matter what, we should never receive the bread of life without worshipping Jesus first.
Just a few other Eucharistic Miracles.
April 11, 2017 Buenos Aires, Argentina. A group of young people were praying before the Blessed Sacrament at the San Miguel drug rehabilitation home in the Guemes neighborhood, when they noticed a change in the Eucharist. A deep red color began to come from the host.
December 25, 2013 at St. Jacek Parish in Legnica, Poland, a consecrated Host was found on the floor and placed in water to dissolve. Instead it turned into flesh. Similar to occurrence in 2008 in Sokolka, Poland.
October 21, 2006, St. Marin of Tours Parish in Tixtla, Mexico. A host about to be distributed was found with red blood on it. Forensic testing showed it to be human flesh with blood type AB+
December 8, 1991, the Marian Shrine of Finca Betania, in Cua, Venezuela. Just as the priest broke the large host into four pieces, which is normal at Mass, he noticed one of the pieces beginning to bleed. Analysis showed the tissue to be from the human heart with blood type AB+.
October 2, 2016, St. Francis Girls High School, Secunderabad, Telangana, India. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oyiQJs8iug8
The Case of Audrey Santos in Worchester, Massachusetts 1987-2007. Series of Eucharistic Miracles.
Better a cruel truth than a comfortable delusion. – EDWARD ABBEY, A Voice Crying in the Wilderness
It was just a small slice of life that I happened to experience. I was at a stoplight waiting for the green. I noticed the small red four door car behind me with four women passengers who just happened to be pointing at the back of my car. I knew immediately what drew their attention was my pro-life bumper sticker. My bumper sticker was not one of the usual types. Those are extremely good stickers, but I happened to like a pro-life group who believed that abortion doctors should be surrounded by a hundred mal-practice lawyers as if in a shark tank. So my bumper sticker said, “Abortion: a doctor’s right to make a killing”. Because of the stigma associated with abortion, women who are injured by incompetent doctors are not likely to sue. They will quietly go through life with all sorts of injuries including infertility and never go after the doctor responsible. These doctors are not loving people. They kill for a living and make damn good money doing it. They are often protected by government officials who take money from Planned Parenthood. But that’s another story.
Apparently the ladies in the car behind me did not care for my bumper sticker for as soon as the light turned green, they passed me, pulled in front of me and slowed down so I could read their sticker and of course they pointed at it with great delight. It read, “If you can’t trust me with a choice, how can you trust me with a child?”
“Well if that don’t just take the cake!”
I had seen the bumper sticker before and always thought that it had to be one of the very worst arguments for keeping abortion legal. What am I to make of it? Are you really telling me that having the right to kill your child before he or she is born somehow makes you a better parent for the ones you choose to bring to life? That because you have this choice to kill your babies before they are born, I can trust you with living children you allowed to live? I can no more stop you legally from aborting your babies than I can stop you from raising the ones you chose to be born, however, your choice does not inspire trust in any way possible.
“So I have become your enemy by telling you the truth?” (Galatians 4:16)
Statistics for problems related to abortions makes one wonder if post abortive women really can be the very best mothers possible. Within the first year following an abortion, women will seek medical care 80% more for all sorts of medical issues and 180% more for psychosocial problems. (a) Within that first year, post-abortive women were 60 times more likely to die of natural causes, four times more likely from accidents, seven times more likely to die from suicide and fourteen times more likely to die of homicide. (b) The lowest incident of PTST reported was 1.5 percent due to abortion which means 14% of American women suffer from some to all of the symptoms of PTST. (c) Legal abortion is the fifth leading cause of maternal deaths in the United States and this is just from the deaths actually and truthfully reported. (d) One abortion increases your risk of cervical cancer by 2.3% and it increases with each succeeding abortion. (e) Risk for breast cancer increases by 30%. (f) Increased risk of Placenta Previa between seven to fifteen times. Higher chances for preterm deliveries in subsequent pregnancies. (g) Greater risks for ectopic pregnancies. (h) Damage to cervix and uterus resulting in handicaps to newborns of subsequent pregnancies. Of women who have who have a chlamydia infection at the time of their abortion, 23% will develop Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) within four weeks of the abortion. Without the chlamydia infection the rate of PID developing decreases to 5% of the women. (i) The list of negative physical effects of abortions go on and on. Then last but not least:
“Abortion is linked with increase depression, violent behavior, alcohol and drug abuse, replacement pregnancies, and reduced maternal bonding with children born subsequently. These factors are closely associated with child abuse and confirm individual clinical assessments linking post-abortion trauma with subsequent child abuse.” (j)
“Just so, every good tree bears good fruit and a rotten tree bears bad fruit. “ (Matthew 7:16)
With all the negative results possible from the so-called ‘choice’, it would be a wonder if women could survive an abortion much less raise healthy well-adjusted children. I know with God all things are possible, I just wonder at the mountain that must be moved to do so.
Even though I have seen pro-abortion bumper sticker many times before, I have never felt the need to pull in front of people to make them read my bumper sticker, nor have I ever yelled at them, made obscene gestures or keyed their car, some of the things that were done to me because of my bumper sticker. Those who hate truth act such ways. It is not enough that they do what they want and say what they want and put every silly pro-abortion argument out there from TV shows to bumper stickers. They are determined to silence those who speak the truth to them. They do not understand how their choice is murder and makes them act like they are ‘god’ in choosing life or death for the very least of our brothers and sisters. They go after every prolife group in an attempt to keep others from hearing the truth. They are even fighting to force pro-life pregnancy centers to promote abortion. Yet when laws are passed to protect women and children in the abortion process, they fight every step of the way to the Supreme Court.
“…but we have renounced the things hidden because of shame, not walking in craftiness or adulterating the word of God, but by the manifestation of truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.” (2 Corinthians 4:2)
Evil hates the truth because truth shines the light of God on it in such a way as to expose what it really is. It loves the darkness because it can cloak itself so as to continue its painful, hateful acts. It knows that hurting people hurt others. Evil is never truly concerned with the pain it causes, it delights in it. It is over joyed in every baby’s murder. It delights in how many women will be permanently injured because of it. It is pleased in the marriages it destroys and the depression it causes. It glories in the grief it creates. It pretends to be doing good thing when in fact it promotes the darkest of acts.
“..That the light came into the world, but people preferred darkness to light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come toward the light so that his works may not be exposed.” (John 3:19-20)
“For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light, for light produces every kind of goodness and righteousness and truth.” (Ephesians 5:8-9)
If the best argument you have is a poorly conceived bumper sticker to plead your case, then keep on driving because there is nowhere good to park your car.
“Truthful lips endure forever, the lying tongue, only for a moment.” (Proverbs 12:19)
All statistics were taken from:
and much more.
What is a Sacrament? A Sacrament is an outward sign, instituted by Christ to give grace. – The Baltimore Catechism.
“The Sacraments are not legalistic magical rituals they are powerful ancient mystical covenants… They do not make holiness easy, they only make it possible.” – Dr. Scott Hahn
One of the wonderful things about the Catholic Church is how through the guidance of the Holy Spirit it has continued for two thousand years. From its earliest beginnings of the apostles who recognized the need to set up an organization complete with bishops (a), priests (b) and deacons (c), and began the process to form Christ’s church on earth. The holy traditions (d) handed down from the apostles stood firm for 1500 years.
“Now be solicitous for yourselves and for the whole flock in which the Holy Spirit has appointed you as bishops to pasture the Church of God, which He purchased with his own blood.” (Acts of the Apostles 20:28)
So, it is hard to imagine that Jesus Christ would send the Holy Spirit to form his church where all the members would be blind to the truth and most certainly go to hell because of their participation in the Sacraments, until a time when people like Luther would somehow see the truth of the Holy Spirit that no one else in the church would see for 1500 years thereby reducing the number of Sacraments from seven to two. And today people like David J Stewart, would have you believe in his webpage, “Seven Sacraments of the Catholic Church Are of Satan,” that there should be no sacraments at all.
Thank God, David Stewart was born to tell us two thousand years later how wrong we are as Catholic Christians. We have somehow been miss-lead by the Holy Spirit along with all of our brothers and sisters who have lived and died for their faith in Jesus Christ. Never mind that we say, “Jesus is Lord.” Never mind that everything thing the church teaches is biblical. We are doomed. Damned by our flawed belief in Christ for 2,000 years while the Christ who died out of love for us stood by and let it happen. Happen until David Stewart could be born to set us all on the right path. All we need, he tells us is Christ’s righteousness. All of us church going people have had it wrong. Forget feeding the hungry or clothing the naked or housing the homeless. Forget everything except the righteousness of Christ although his website is devastatingly void of how someone should go about to seek the righteousness of Christ.
The Bible very clearly says that Catholics are worshipping the Lord IN VAIN!!! He tells us from his website. But he never sites the chapter and verse where it actually says this. I think it takes a hell of a lot of arrogance to wake up one day and think the Holy Spirit has revealed something to you that He could not get across to billions of people for 2,000 years. Every split from the mother church has seemingly caused the gospel to be watered down as if making the path to righteousness should be easy (e).
“Then he said to all, ‘If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.’” (Luke 9:23) (Similar verse in Matthew 16:24)
I have had the pleasure of listening to a talk given by Dr. Scott Hahn (f) on the Sacraments. He made a wonderful compelling case for sacraments to be ancient covenants. He said that God did not just want a personal relationship with him, He wanted a deeper relationship much more like a divine covenant and Dr. Hahn compared it to the difference between a friendship and a marriage. We have many personal relationships with friends but one special covenant relationship in marriage. For all the Christians who claim to have a personal relationship with Christ, that is good thing, but it is only just a good beginning.
It is little wonder then, the words Christ would use at the last supper over the bread and wine were the words used in the Jewish marriage ceremony. “This is my body, this is my blood” so that two would become one flesh. Christ truly wants to be one with us in a way unlike merely a personal relationship.
One such argument I have heard against the Catholic Church from many non-denominational Christians, is that Catholics believe that simply participation in the sacraments will save them. Then quoting Paul, non-Catholic suggest that these ‘works’ are just what will not save a person. I would also be offended at the possibility of a Catholic who would only use the sacraments to try to make themselves look holy when they have no intention of being part of Christ’s mystical body. However, I do think they are rather confused. The primary ‘works’ that Paul preaches against are the Jewish traditions and most notably the act of circumcision. Yet, non-Catholic Christians have at least two sacraments, Baptism and the Anointing of the Sick and even though they do not call these ‘sacraments’, I dare say that they do indeed follow the Catholic definition of a sacrament as they are an outward sign, given to us by Christ, to give grace. By any other name, it is still a sacrament.
So if God wants a covenant relationship with us, He would certainly use a number of signs and symbols in each act while we participate by taking oaths. Water in baptism and the promise to raise our children in faith and reject the lies of Satan, bread and wine in communion (g) part of one body, anointing of oil in the covenant of priesthood, confirmation (h) and prayers over the sick and dying. And yes, we have seven which appears to be a most common holy number in the bible (i) but all are part of the traditions handed down to us by the apostles through knowledge of sacred scripture and revelation of the Holy Spirit. “The oaths,” Dr. Hahn tells us, “[we take in the sacraments (j)] are the means of transforming our personal relationships with Christ into a covenant relationship.”
Betty Brennan, in her testimony of going from a Satanist to a Roman Catholic (k), explains that even Satanist know and fear the power of the Sacraments. They copy the Sacraments in their own rituals for their own purposes. What we as even good Christians cannot discern, even witches can tell the difference between a consecrated host and a non-consecrated host even if the one consecrated host is mixed in with 200 unconsecrated hosts.
I pray we never take for granted the wonderful gift of the sacraments and continue to participate in them as part of the mystical body of Christ.
“See what love the Father has bestowed on us that we may be called the children of God. Yet so we are.” (1 John 3:1)
a. “Therefore, a bishop must be irreproachable, married only once, temperate, self-controlled, decent, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not aggressive, but gentle, not contentious, not a lover of money.” (Timothy 3:2-3)
b. “Presbyters [priests] who preside well deserve double honor, especially those who toil in preaching and teaching.” (Timothy 5:17)
c. “Similarly, deacons must be dignified, not deceitful, not addicted to drink, not greedy for sordid gain, holding fast to the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience.” (Timothy 3:8-9)
d. “Therefore, brothers, stand firm and hold fast to the traditions that you were taught, either by an oral statement or by a letter of ours.” (2 Thessalonians 2:15)
e. “I have been crucified with Christ, it is no longer I that live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20)
f. Dr. Scott Hahn, “So Help me God. The Promise and Power of the Sacraments.” Lighthouse Talks, Augustine Institute 2016.“Do this in memory of me.” (Luke 22:19)
h. “Now when the apostles at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent to them Peter and John, who came down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit; for it had not yet fallen on any of them, but they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then they laid their hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit.” (Acts of the Apostles 8:14-17)
i. 7 Days of Creation (Genesis Chapter 1) 7 churches (Revelation Chapter 1) 7 flaming torches (Revelation 4:5) 7 trumpets (Revelation Chapter 8) 7 last plagues (Revelation Chapter 15) 7 bowls (Revelation Chapter 16) 77 times 7 to forgive brother (Matthew 18:22) boy sneezes 7 times as Elisha raises him from the dead (2 Kings 4:35) 7 years of abundance and 7 years of famine (Genesis Chapter 41) 7 years of famine (2 Kings 8:2)
j. Sacrament. From the Latin sacramentum, a word which denoted the oath of loyalty sworn by soldiers to their earthly lord, the emperor. It was applied by Tertullian around 200 AD to the Christian mysteries, by which man adhered to God. It thus acquired, as a technical term, the same implication as the Greek word mysterion, mystery, which is used to this day for the sacraments in Eastern Christianity.
k. Betty Brennan, “Former Satanist Becomes Catholic” Lighthouse Talks, Augustine Institute 2017.
You cannot be half a saint; you must be a whole saint or no saint at all. -St. Therese of Lisieux
A joke recently sent to me by our friend Dave Geisinger made me smile:
At a motivational seminar 3 men are asked to come up to the stage. They are all asked, “When you are in your casket and friends and family are mourning upon you, what would you like to hear them say about you? The first guy says, “I would like to hear them say that I was the great doctor of my time, and a great family man.” The second guy says, “I would like to hear that I was a wonderful husband and school teacher who made a huge difference in our children of tomorrow.” The last guy replies, “I would like to hear them say…… LOOK!!! HE’S MOVING!!!!!”
All jokes aside, it made me think, just what would I like people to say over me when I die. After some thought, I decided I would like to hear them say, “She was a true Christian.” Not perfect of course and not saint material (I know better and thank God for his forgiveness!) but that I certainly had my heart in it. How sad it would be if someone said, “You know she was a Christian.” And the other responded with, “No way!” or “You don’t say, I would never have guessed that.” I mean, if you could not tell if someone was a Christian by the way they talk or the way they acted or by doing the works of God our Father, then being a Christian was in name only and a bit meaningless. How sad to go through life pretending to be something you really are not then get to the gates of Heaven and be asked, “Who are you?”
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father.” (Matthew 7:21)
Which brings me to the subject of Saints and how much we Catholics love them. Men and women of faith are declared saints by the church through a process called Canonization. This process begins after a person deemed holy by the faithful dies and the church begins an inquiry into this person’s life looking for proof of this person’s exceptional virtue or martyrdom. If this person passes all the scrutiny of the local bishop and then the panel of Cardinals for the Congregation for the Cause of Saints, the pope may declare them venerable. Then, except in the case of martyrs, there must be evidence of at least one miracle showing this person is in heaven and can intercede for those of us on earth who call upon them.
“The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” (James 5:16)
For Catholics, the saints are our heroes; the ones who really lived and sometimes died for their faith. The ones we saw run the good race to the very end in extraordinary form. They are our older brothers and sisters. The ones who lived so well for Jesus that their prayers moved the hand of God pushing away mountains of sickness, bringing light to those who lived in darkness, and hope for those who lived in despair. They left the world a better place because they found the pearl of immense price and never stopped seeking possession of it. Saints are the ones we look up to and when we read about their lives, it makes us want to live better for Christ. We understand that they were human. We would never say that they were God. Just as I might ask a friend to pray for me does not take away from Christ his being my mediator with the Father, I am able to ask the saints to pray for me since they may approach the throne of God in a way no one in the land of the living may.
“No, you have approached Mount Zion and the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and the countless angles in festal gathering and the assembly of the firstborn enrolled in heaven, and God, the judge of all, and the spirits of the just made perfect;” (Hebrews 12:22-23)
I know a lot of non-Catholics will say that as believers we are all saints spelled with a small s. This is true, yet for Catholics there are some who rise above and beyond the levels of the small s. They who are apart from the body are very much alive in the Christ for whom they loved. For if they were not truly alive in Christ then our faith has lost its meaning. Did not Christ not only rise from the dead but also walked the earth and ate and drank? Did Christ not also speak with Moses and Elijah who had been dead for many centuries? (Matthew 17:3) These concepts are not beyond the power of the Most High. These beliefs expand our vision of life and death beyond the known universe.
“First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all men, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life, godly and respectful in every way. This is good, and pleasing to God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim. 2:1–4).
Of course I have my favorites. It’s hard not to. And I have had the good fortune to see two saints in person, St. John Paul II and St. Teresa of Calcutta. Neither of them knew me when they walked the face of the earth, but both know and love me now and will even more completely love me when I am with them in heaven. To think that I cannot right now go to them in faith and ask them to pray for me is unthinkable.
“And when he had taken it, [the scroll] the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding the golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of God’s people.” (Revelation 5:8)
And there is no end to the countless, selfless lives of the ones we call Saints. Their stories abound almost beyond our imagination. Stories of St Theresa of Lisieux who demonstrated sainthood by her “little way of spiritual childhood,” focusing not on doing great deeds but doing even the little things with great love. Or the life of St. Padre Pio who bore on his body the marks of the crucifixion as well as having many other spiritual gifts. Or of the heroic St. Maximillian Kolbe who stood before the Nazi Death Camp guards and offered his life for that of man who had six children. The incredible story of St Dennis, Bishop of Paris in the third Century, who was beheaded and yet picked up his head and walked six miles preaching the sermon of forgiveness and repentance. What is even more amazing is that there are 15 other cephalophoric Saints, (saints known to have survived for a short time after beheading). Or the hundreds of saints whose bodies have never decayed such as St Francis Xavier, one of the founders of the Jesuit order and missionary to Asia in the 1500’s. He succumbed to illness on Shangchuan Island and was buried packed in lime to hasten decomposition so his bones could be transported back to Genoa, Italy at a later time. Despite their best effort, when the coffin was unearthed, the body remained perfectly preserved. In Dec 1974, Newsweek described the body of the saint as being ‘surprisingly well preserved.”
“Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever believes in me will do the works that I do, and will do greater ones than these, because I am going to the Father.” (John 14:12)
Whether we be in the land of the living or alive in Christ in his heavenly kingdom, we are all one in the body of Christ as a true communion of saints. Let’s march on together!
“For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol; nor will you allow your faithful one to see decay.” (Psalm 16:10)
Cruz, Joan Carroll The Incorruptibles. Tan Books and Publishers, Inc. Rockford, IL. 1977
Miracles are a retelling in small letters of the very same story which is written across the whole world in letters too large for some of us to see. – C. S. Lewis
The man on the radio was emphatic that scientists should be able to prove or disprove the existence of God using scientific methods. I admit to smirking as I listened. The natural world has no jurisdiction by which to measure anything within the supernatural world. That which is supernatural cannot be proven or disproven by the simple instruments of the natural world because the supernatural is above and beyond the reach of our senses and anything we use to measure the natural world around us. This is why we call the times when the supernatural invades the natural world, “miracles”.
“As far as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:9)
There are many who insist that miracles never happen. These events are just things we cannot explain as yet. To those who believe in God, everything is a miracle. A case in point is the healing of Gemma Di Giorgi, born blind because she had no pupils. She was taken to St. Padre Pio to be prayed over in the name of Jesus and she regained her sight. Medical science can no more explain how she sees since she still does not have pupils than they can explain how St. Padre Pio had the stigmata or marks of Christ on his body for fifty years which never healed, never became infected and were said to give off a lovely fragrance. Yet these things happened.
“Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (John 20:29)
One of the greatest miracles of the 20th Century occurred in a small Portuguese town called Fatima. This year marks the 100th anniversary of Fatima where three shepherd children claimed to see and speak with the Blessed Mother. Now those that claim this was the devil disguised as an angel of light, consider this; Our Lady of Fatima told the children to pray to Jesus for the repentance of sinners and just as Satan who would not cast out demons, would never tell anyone to pray to Jesus, but this exactly what the Lady of Fatima did. The mark of a true Marian Apparition is that attention is brought to Jesus. Mary is a messenger of Christ.
“Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation and every city or house divided against itself will not stand.” (Matthew 12:25)
“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord” (Luke 1:46)
Fatima is such a wonderful story, I fear I cannot do it justice. For six months these innocent children claimed to see the Blessed Mother of Christ. (Defense of prayer to Mary can be found in my story, “A Catholic at a Dinner Party for Eight”. Published on Aug. 24, 2016) Like a mother worrying over her babies, she told the children if her warning was not taken seriously, war would come again and worse than before. Her last visit on Oct. 13, 1917, resulted in one of the greatest instances of the supernatural invading the natural world, since the resurrection, the Dance of the Sun. Over seventy thousand people witness the sun spin in the sky coming toward the earth and retreating several times. Now lest you think this was due to mass hysteria, consider how people over 70 miles away witness the same event without even knowing what was going on in Fatima.
“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together as a hen protects her chicks beneath her wings,” (Luke 13:34)
The influence of Fatima continues. On May 13, 1984, the largest crowd ever gathered at Fatima to pray for peace. At the same time, the disaster at the Soviets’ Severomorsk Naval Base destroyed over two-thirds of their missiles stockpiled as well as many of their top scientists setting back their nuclear war program many years.
“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14)
For the record, I do not believe in Astrology. I see no reason that the stars in heaven should have any bearing on my fate. I do however believe in signs. Just as the Star of Bethlehem was a sign, another sign is set to appear on Sept 23, 2017, when the sun will rise into the constellation Virgo (the Virgin) with twelve stars above it, the nine stars of the constellation Leo along with Mars, Venus and Mercury and the crescent moon below it. At the same date, the king planet Jupiter, will exit the constellation Virgo where it has been for nine and a half months prior to this beginning on Nov 26, 2016, the official date Pope Francis declared the end of the year of mercy and the feast of Christ the King.
“And a great sign appeared in heaven: A woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars:” (Revelation 12:1-5)
I should think that most people have a ‘miracle’ story of their own to tell and treasure in their hearts. What are yours?