The Sacraments.

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.

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Saints and Why We Catholics Love Them.

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

 

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Laws of Nature – Part 3 When the Super-Natural Invades the Natural.

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?

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Laws of Nature – Part 2. It’s All Relative.

“Philosophers play with the word, like a child with a doll. It does not mean that everything in life is relative.”   – Albert Einstein.

Sometime back, I was visiting one of my older brothers when a discussion arose.  He was adamant that truth was relative and subjective to each person’s perspective or what is known as moral relativism which is the belief that what is moral for one person may not be moral for another so that there are no moral absolutes.

“How can that be?” I asked him.

His explanation went something like this; suppose there are two people who live in the same building, but one person lives on the first floor and the other lives on the hundredth floor. When they look at the window, there is a mountain outside but due to where they live in the building, the mountain appears totally different to each person.  Their view of the mountain determines how they view the ‘truth’ of the mountain, therefore the truth about the mountain is relative to each person’s ability to perceive it.

“But,” I asked, “no matter what the mountain looks like to each person, neither can deny the mountain exists so there is an absolute truth about the mountain, is there not?”

Apparently my point was not well taken and the discussion abruptly ended.

Because all of the universe complies with the laws of physics and mathematics, there are certain truths that we can all rely on every day.  In a fight between man and gravity, gravity always wins.*  The notion that truth cannot be measured or learned is simply wrong.  The idea that truth is what each person makes it to be, creates a world full of uncertainty and injustice.   What good would laws against stealing, raping and killing be if the perception of the perpetrator determined the validity of the law?

  “What is truth?” – Pilot to Jesus (John 18:38)

How is it that we can know anything?  For the natural world we have our senses.  We know our surroundings by our sense of touch, smell, taste, hearing and sight.  We derive the rest through inductive and deductive reasoning, scientific experimentation and quantitative proofs, to name a few.   Can we all be deceived at the same time in the same way so that laws really are a matter of personal perception?  Descartes theorized that if there were a demonic god whose sole purpose was to deceive us in everything we know, even if this version of a ‘god’ existed, it cannot stop us from self-awareness – “I think therefore I am” (Cogito ergo sum).**  From the day we are born, we grow and age but we are always who we are.  How can we not be in awe of God’s Holy Name, “I am who am”. (Exodus 3:14)

     “Amen, Amen, I say to you, before Abraham came to be, I AM.” (John 8:58)

Many a good person has reasoned their way around their life in confronting the truth as if they were wandering through dark corridors of an empty building.  It is possible to close all the windows and doors to your mind so that nothing from the outside can come in and change your way of life or point of view.  Self-deception, may well be the most difficult blindness to heal.  It is little wonder that so many will not seek and reach out until they have come to the darkest hour of their life with nowhere else to turn.

     “Ask and it will be given to you, seek and you will find.” (Matthew 7:7)

Many have also come to Christianity in their search for truth.   At some point, we need to come out of the building we are living in, these earthen vessels, and go out and stand on that mountain so that our perception is no longer through dim mirrors and dusty windows but in the fullness of the light.   When we truly seek, we most certainly will find what we are looking for and if we search for truth, we will find it and it will be Jesus.

“I am the way and the truth and the life.” (John 14:6)

We would become neurotic in a world where nothing was constant, in a place where we could not trust where the sun would rise or if it would rise at all.  There is a rhythm to the universe that we take comfort in.  The laws of nature give us stability and the laws of God give us the keys to finding happiness. Laws not given by an evil God bent on making us miserable but a loving God who knows that it is the truth that sets us free.

*wait for part 3 to complain about  gravity.

** Descartes, Renee.Discourse on the Method and Principles of Philosophy.

OK, I just raised the ‘pretentious’ level of this blog by a factor of 10 – so sue me!!  (Just a joke so really, no, don’t sue me.)

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The Laws of Nature.

Part 1.

“Order is heaven’s first law.” ― Alexander Pope,  ‘An Essay on Man’

“Nothing happens until something moves.”   –  Albert Einstein

 

When I was a young teenager, I lent most of my poor modest savings to a boyfriend who dumped me and then refused to pay me back.  I was crushed.  If I had taken away from the experience the notion that you should not trust anyone, I would have fallen victim again in a secondary way because it would have harden my heart with bitterness and not that I did not think twice about lending money after that. The most important lesson I learned from the experience was that those give always have plenty to give and those that take never have anything to show for their dishonesty.  I saw this as things of good value began to fall into my lap.  I also could not help but notice that those who rob banks end up in prison and/or impoverished. I did not know at that time the lesson I learned was a biblical truth.

    “Give and it will be given to you.  A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap.  For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”   (Luke 6:38) 

I noticed something else, that the laws of nature mirror God’s spiritual laws. Sir Isaac Newton’s Third Law of Motion, also called the Law of Reciprocal Actions, states that for every action, there is an opposite and equal reaction directly proportional to the net force acting upon it.  So as strange as it may seem to some, by giving we receive.  It is more than ‘Karma’, it is God’s immense design.

   “The heavens declare the glory of God; the sky proclaims its builder’s craft.”  (Psalm 19:1)

Laws of nature are as truly astounding as they are miraculous.  Why should our universe behave according to any law at all, yet it does.   There is no logical reason for why it should conform to laws yet it is totally governed by laws that are unchanging and unbreakable from one end of the universe to the other.  The universe we live in is not only orderly and law abiding, it is mathematically measureable.

 “The law of the Lord is perfect, refreshing the soul.”  (Psalm 19:8)

Giving and sharing the goodness of our awesome God sets our spirits into motion toward heaven which is why God loves a cheerful giver since it is easier to move a soul that is not causing friction with tendrils of greed and resentment.  The more we give, the more we will have to give.  Giving creates a body in motion that remains in motion going forward into time and space as a satellite around the Son held in his presence by the spiritual gravitation of desire and love as he keeps us warm and spinning in his light. We should be compelled to fill the void of hunger and homelessness that appear in our world.  In return we will be filled with joy. Giving endlessly, He will make us a force to be reckoned with and unstoppable.  If we bury our talents in the ground, nothing will happen.  If others come to steal and destroy, they themselves will stumble and fall. We have nothing to lose by obeying the same laws that the entire universe obeys and everything to gain with treasure in heaven that will never rot, rust or be stolen.

“For where your treasure is, there also will be your heart.” (Matthew 6:21)

If we truly all obeyed this wonderful law of reciprocity there would be no hunger or homelessness in our world.  When we get to heaven and look into the eyes of the children who died of starvation what will we be able to say to them?

“For creation awaits with eager expectation for the revelation of the children of God; for creation was made subject to futility, not of its own accord but because of the one who subjected it, in hope that creation itself would be set free from slavery to corruption and share in the glorious freedom of the children of God.”   (Romans 8:19-21)

 

If you are interested in feeding children around the world, there is a wonderful organization called, “Mary’s Meals”, which feeds over 1 million children around the world every school day.

https://www.marysmealsusa.org

 

More on Laws of Nature

http://www.everystudent.com/wires/organized.html  – “Scientists Baffled by Laws of Nature”.

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The Power of the Spoken Word.

“Words are containers for power, you choose what kind of power they carry.”                                      – Joyce Meyer

Some 20 years ago, I had the privilege of going on a mission trip to Jamaica with a wonderful non-denominational Christian organization my husband Chuck belongs to, called the International Fellowship of Christian Businessmen. The lovely ladies of the group took me under their wings so to speak and taught this Catholic something very important about the power of our words.  It’s not that Catholics are not taught not to gossip or about the need to speak truthfully or how God’s holy name should not be taken in vain but we really are not schooled properly in the importance of our words in everyday life.  On the bus ride from the airport to our hotel, one of the ladies spoke to me about how even the simplest of our phrases could call negativity into our lives.

She explained that idioms we might think are harmless and most may well be, are not meaningless.  Even simple phrases that I have said such as, “that would just kill me,” when speaking about something difficult, should not be used.   It gave me great pause to really consider the things I say and I am grateful this lovely Christian woman would take her time to teach me a basic fundamental truth of our spiritual life here on earth; that our words have power.  For our God truly created all that exists by speaking the words, “Let there be” and it came to be.  Since we are created in his image then our words can be a force of good and evil.   By speaking negatively, we come in agreement with thoughts and ideas that are not from God.  The unintended consequence is to put a curse upon ourselves bringing unhappiness, loneliness, and sickness among other negative things.  Whereas people of faith know that when they pray over someone who is sick by invoking the name of Jesus, that person will be healed.  They speak the word of God which is power and life.

Have we never learned that the old adage of, ‘Sticks and stones can break my bones but words can never hurt me,’ is a lie no matter how hard we try to comfort our children with it.   We have the power of life and death with our tongue.  We will someday know how many hearts we have broken by our thoughtless words or how many lives we helped save by our prayers.

Telling unfavorable reports about others even when it may seem like the truth to us, would be what Mother Teresa of Calcutta would call ‘spreading darkness’.   When asked for details about various meetings with difficult world leaders she would always give a good report.  She said, “It’s better to excuse than accuse,” as accusing would be judging someone.  We can spread darkness or we can spread light, we have the choice every day.

One time, when my daughter-in-law, Abbe was correcting my grandson, Henry’s behavior, she asked him, “Was what you did loving?”  I think this is the perfect model of how we need to evaluate our words each night in prayer before our Father God.  What did I say today and was it loving?   We may need to seek forgiveness for hurtful words. We may need to increase loving words to others.   We just might need to say some loving words to ourselves.  We may need to forgive what was said to us.  And tomorrow we really need to choose our words most carefully.

 

Bible verses to ponder:

Ephesians 4:49

Ephesians 5:4-12

Proverbs 12:18

James 3:8-10

Isaiah 61:1

Genesis 1:3

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A Catholic Answers an Atheist.

“Human knowledge and skills alone cannot lead humanity to a happy and dignified life. Humanity has every reason to place the proclaimers of high moral standards and values above the discoverers of objective truth.”   – Albert Einstein.

 

It was another Facebook posting, (what else these days) by a young man who I have watched grow up, move into academia and settle into atheism.  It was a sad discovery for me to listen to his posting of a man named Sam Harris, Anti-Christian postulate extraordinaire.   His arguments were in a debate with a certain Dr. Craig at Notre Dame.   He started his speech by asking, “What is wrong with spending eternity in Hell?”

WHAT THE ….? Seriously? 

He started his argument with the most difficult question in Christendom, how can Christians explain the problem of pain and suffering in the world created by an all loving, all knowing God.  He said that every year, nine million children die before the age of five, so if God exists He is either impotent or evil.  I would in no way attempt to explain this most difficult questions.  Minds far, far greater than my own have already attempted to answer the question.  Books by Dr. James Dobson, “When God Doesn’t Make Sense”, or C.S. Lewis, “The Problem of Pain” or Phillip Yancy, “May I hate God?” are all works that strive to address this problem.  And yet we will never truly know nor understand until we stand in the presence of God.

If Sam Harris were really disturbed by the nine million children dying of diseases, starvation or violence from war, maybe he should try to do the work of God.  Yet he never acknowledges the murder of pre-birth babies by the hundreds of millions every year sacrificed at the altar of abortion. The real tragedy is not the lives lost due to the natural painful consequences of life and death.  Real tragedy is the selfish decisions made by those in authority or power who could have prevented the deaths and suffering or in many cases caused them in the first place.  In a world where we could feed everyone, children starve because political and economic systems, greed, and sometimes just plain evil preventing them from being feed.  Starvation, murder and rape are tools of evil, but Mr. Harris does not blame evil instead he blames God.

And why would Mr. Harris care for those less fortunate?  He does not believe in hell.  He does not believe in God or doing the work of God.  He will not even acknowledge the incredible and selfless acts of Christians throughout the world striving to alleviate the very suffering for which he condemns God.  In his mind, there is no scientific proof of God or Hell or anything supernatural.  He would have God invade the natural with supernatural events so great that he would never need something called, “faith”.   But when miracles do occur he would be the first to shoot them down with disbelief and attempt to explain them away with some mumbo-jumbo he accuses Christians of using.   He says that Christianity gets millions to believe together what only lunatics can believe on their own.   To me only a lunatic would stand up and say that God is evil when children die of cancer but men are good when they kill millions of babies for their own convenience.

To borrow the argument that God gave to Job:

Where were you Sam Harris, when God took the foundation of the universe within his hands and bound it together until it exploded in the big bang?   Where were you when God spun all the galaxies into space and at the same time was forming the petals on a rose?  Where were you when our image was first formed in his image?  The universe is so vast and complex how would it be possible for us to know and understand the plans of God?  Who can know the mind of God that we can sit in judgment of him?

When I see women and children brutalized by evil, when I see the pictures of Auschwitz, Dachau, or Buchenwald, when I see the effects from war and ethnic cleansings in Rwanda, Cambodia, or anyone of a thousand places around the world, I know without a doubt evil exists and its kingdom is Hell.

St Paul once said that because we proclaim Christ crucified, we are a stumbling block to the Jews and foolishness to the Gentiles.  So if I am a lunatic for believing I am in very good company.   When you see the Christians feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, housing the homeless and visiting the lonely, you see the work of the God you condemned.

 

Bible Verses to ponder:

Job Chapters 38 – 39

1 Corinthians 1:23

Psalm 1:1

Psalm 38:5

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