Friday, April 30, 2010

Despite the Sex Scandal, I Remain Catholic

From Googling God

I found another Catholic Blog today, Googling God.  The writer, Mike Hayes from Buffalo NY, opines personally here about why He remains Catholic.  All I can really say to his points is, ME TOO!!
A friend recently asked me to talk to him about how I’m able to stay Catholic despite the sexual abuse scandal that has reared it’s ugly head in Ireland and soon in Germany.

I thought it was a good question and I’m sure it’s one that many have pondered, especially during lent when more attention seems to be on the Catholic Church.
So here’s my response:

I stay Catholic because well…first of all, I am Catholic. I can’t really change that about myself just as I can’t change my DNA. It’s part of who I am and has contributed to much of my own worldview, moral development and personal prayerlife.

Now that being said, there’s a lot that I find troubling about the church too. I find just as many troubling things about fundamentalism (a lot more here actually), mormonism, Judaism, Buddhism, etc. All religions are man-made developments of what they think God is about and being less than God they are inherently flawed. We just need to admit and deal with that.

Tip O’Neill once said “all politics is local” and the same is said about the church in many ways. Part of my life as a Catholic has been being able to find parish communities that give me life, feed me spiritually and allow me to use my own gifts and talents to serve others. More importantly, I’m able to find those communities or help build them when they don’t exist. Sometimes they change and sometimes I feel the need to move on.
I’m not a mere consumer though. I tend to think beyond the parochial and believe strongly that God is saddened by the sins that are committed by local bishops and priests. But isn’t God just as sad at the sins that I commit as well? So while I’m not a child abuser, I’m sure I have my own failings and so I try to remind myself that I often don’t think I deserve God’s forgiveness but it’s offered to me anyway.

Secondly, we need to remember that human beings are sinful and that includes priests and bishops. Perhaps we’ve placed our expectations of them way too high and when they disappoint us even in small ways (as well as in horrifying ways) we quickly throw the entire church to the wind for a small faction of people who did a lot of bad things.

When it comes to those who enabled the abusers, I tend to put myself in the bishops shoes and realize that the systemic problem is that nobody has trained them in administration. Priests simply get promoted to pastor and bishop and very few know how to do the job and fewer have the gifts for it. That’s a stupid way to run a billion dollar organization, even one that is spiritually based. And it is something that is slowly changing. It’s up to the lay folk to call for greater lay participation in the more temporal affairs of the church.

Secondly, some have scapegoated gay priests when it’s actually the closeted straight priests that have caused the major issue. Pedophillia really isn’t the issue. It’s ephebophilia, which means the following:

There are priests who haven’t integrated their sexuality in a healthy way. Some didn’t deal with the fact that they have same sex attraction (probably during their teen-age years) and thus, they have stunted their sexual development at that level. Which psychologically speaking, means that they remain attracted to that age group and can’t get past that point in their lives. Their sexual development stopped at that age, if you will. It’s a serious problem and while most of the abusers have sought out young boys to act out with, they also for the most part, claimed to be straight men while doing that. There are many good priests with a homosexual orientation who are integrated in a healthy way and remain true to their vow of celibacy. And just as sure as there are married men who cheat on their wives there are also priests, straight and gay, who fail at remaining celibate. We far more forgiving of married men, however, than we are of priests who “cheat.” (not in reference to child abuse here of course, which is indeed different).

I refuse to let people hijack my faith, scapegoat others, or simply stop serving the needs of the poor and the spiritual needs of parishioners.

We are the church…together. And that means that things are often messy. I know I’ve made a bunch of mistakes that I wouldn’t want the Ny times to know about too. So I do my part and hope it’s enough.
I stay because I am part of a family. And at the Thanksgiving meal that happens each week that we call Eucharist, we are sure to find disagreement, horror stories and dysfunction. It’s who we are, warts and all.
And somehow God loves us anyway. Perhaps, it’s too hard for all of us to stay. That’s understandable when it comes to those that have been abused. But it’s not going to help anyone spiritually to simply close the door and turn our backs for good. We need each other and it’s time for all of us to reach beyond our pain, our anger, our disappointment and instead reach out to heal, to welcome, to reconcile and most of all to pray together around the altar where God gives us all of his pain, disappointment and anger and still remains with us…

Even though we hung God from a tree.

Today let us pray for the abused and let us pray for the abusers. Let us pray for our bishops and for our communities of faith. Most of all, let us pray that we notice God in our lives and that we can bring the healing that God offers to us into the lives of others.

Photo credit: Sr Jeremy Midura

The Spirit of This Age

The Evil of Abortion

We are all called to be Rachels, weeping for the evils of this age.  The evil of abortion where our pre-born children are sacrificed to the Spirit of This Age, the devil, is beyond the comprehension of people who believe in the sanctity of life.

I have reproduced the column that Jennifer Hartline has written at Catholic Online here, but ask you to first listen to a Michael Card song that is as prophetic as Jennifer's words.

Here are the first two verses of this prophetic message in Michael Card's version.
I thought that I heard crying coming through my door.
Was it Rachel weeping for her sons who were no more?
Could it have been the babies crying for themselves,
Never understanding why they died for someone else?

The voices head of weeping and of wailing,
History speaks of it on every page.
Of innocent and helpless little babies,
Offerings to the spirit of the age.

Here is what Jennifer Hartline has to say.  It too is prophetic.
The manner of this child's death is horrifying beyond belief, but it's not the location of his death that makes it a homicide!  He was the very same 22 week-old infant hours earlier when he was kicking and growing inside his mother's womb!  He was the very same human being the moment he died as the moment before he was aborted.  That he died slowly, nearly two days after the abortion, only means he was clumsily murdered.

WASHINGTON, DC (Catholic Online) -  I would have taken him in a heartbeat and loved him.  You probably would have as well.  I know there are countless couples out there who would have given anything for the gift of him.  I know when you read about what happened to him, you will be as angry as I am at this moment.  Then you will, hopefully, weep as I am at this moment.  He deserves every tear we can shed and then some.

The story of this horrible evil deserves righteous anger.  It is entirely appropriate to scream and wail.  There doesn't seem to be nearly enough wailing - that may be what is beginning to bother me most.  I am enraged by the overriding hush.

The UK Telegraph reported April 28 that in the town of Rossano, Italy, a 22 week-old baby boy was  aborted alive, wrapped in a sheet with his umbilical cord still attached and left alone to die.  20 hours later, he was discovered by a priest who went to pray beside his body and noticed that the baby was moving and breathing.  Doctors then had the baby taken to a neighboring hospital to be cared for in a neonatal intensive care unit, where he ultimately died, nearly two days after being ripped from his mother's womb and discarded like trash.

His mother decided to end his life because prenatal scans suggested he was disabled.  Suggested.  Possibly disabled; declared unworthy to live.  He was murdered by heartless animals wearing lab coats, who have medical degrees hung in frames on their office walls.  He was handed over to death by the one who was entrusted by God with his care, and he was killed and thrown away by those who take an oath to "first do no harm."

It's time to stop tip-toeing around, sugar-coating our language for fear of sounding offensive.  What's offensive is what was done to this child.  What's offensive is the barbaric execution of babies in the womb in the name of "reproductive freedom."  What's offensive is that societies at large turn their eyes away, pretend not to notice, and justify the evil being masqueraded as a "right."

How I long to hear Rachel weeping!  How I long to see her wail at the top of her lungs, cover her head with ashes and mourn for her children!  "A voice is heard in Ramah, mourning and great weeping, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because her children are no more."  Jeremiah 31:15

Instead, it is the anti-Rachel who presently exerts her influence and power over us.  The anti-Rachel is heard in the voice of Planned Parenthood, NARAL, NOW, Emily's List, Catholics for Choice, Catholics United, the judges and politicians who protect abortion "rights" and yes, our President.  The anti-Rachel sits in the seat of power in our country and around the world, and weeping for our children has been eschewed; now we declare victory and "freedom" won by their calculated deaths.

The anti-Rachel said just today that abortion must be kept safe and legal and whether or not it is rare is beside the point:

"If those 1.21 million abortions represent only the women who could access abortion financially, geographically or otherwise, then that number is too low.  Yes, too low....Do we dare admit that increasing the number of abortions might be not only good for women's health, but also moral and just?"  RHReality Check, "Keep Abortion Safe and Legal? Yes. Make it Rare? Not the Point." by Aimée Thorne-Thomsen

I would love to hear Ms. Thorne-Thomsen defend what was done to that baby boy in Italy this week, and defend it she must if she insists abortion is just and moral! 

Where is the statement from Planned Parenthood extolling the courageous service of this doctor in providing the mother the "reproductive health services" she needed?  It should not make one iota of difference to them how this baby died.  All that matters is that his mother wanted him killed and the doctor tore him out of the womb.  As long as he ultimately died, the details are irrelevant.  After all, abortion is abortion is abortion.  What difference does it make how it's accomplished?  So what if the insentient blob of tissue, the little parasite, the disabled fetus, the unplanned and unwanted intruder doesn't die right away?  Whether in the womb, halfway out of the womb, or delivered and laying on an instrument table, who cares?  So what if it dies hours or days later, having been thrown in the corner with the dirty laundry?

No, the voices of anti-Rachel cannot be sad for the death of this baby boy.  Death is the necessary fruit of their labors.  The most they can do is plead for the cause of better-trained doctors who are responsible and skilled enough to make sure they get the job done right on the first try.  The tragedy for them here is that yet another doctor has failed to provide women the care they deserve.

The manner of this child's death is horrifying beyond belief, but it's not the location of his death that makes it a homicide!  He was the very same 22 week-old infant hours earlier when he was kicking and growing inside his mother's womb!  He was the very same human being the moment he died as the moment before he was aborted.  That he died slowly, nearly two days after the abortion, only means he was clumsily murdered.

I know there will be many people in many countries who will be outraged over this child's death.  They may weep and feel furiously angry.  But will it matter?  When the next opportunity comes to usher Rachel into the seat of power, that laws of life may be written in place of the current laws of death, will the millions remember this little boy and their anger over his murder?

In our own nation, will the millions who say they recognize the humanity of the child in the womb remember this precious child and finally denounce the mythical "right" of abortion?  Will they take their anger to the ballot box in defense of the sanctity of human life?

Will Catholics in America finally live the undeniable truth of the faith they claim to believe?  Human life is sacred and created by God.  Abortion kills a child.  No one has the right to kill a child.  Abortion is intrinsically evil.  This is what the Church teaches, yet scores of self-described Catholics either brush aside or flat-out reject this truth and carry the banner of "choice" instead.  Why?

Why would this child's death have been legal, moral, just, and acceptable if only he had died immediately?

How long will we choose the curse over the blessing?

Why isn't Rachel's weeping a deafening roar?

Rachel absolutely must refuse to be comforted over the brutal death of this child and every child who is killed in the name of "choice." 

(This boy was killed in Italy, but it happens here in the U.S. more than anyone will admit, despite our Born Alive Infant Protection Act.  Read more at Jill Stanek.)

Jennifer Hartline is a grateful Catholic, a proud Army wife and mother of four precious children (one in Heaven).  She is a contributing writer for Catholic Online.  She is also a serious chocoholic.  Visit her at My Chocolate Heart.
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Holy Ghost Hop


Let the Holy Spirit have his way with you.  Rejoice and be glad, brothers and sisters.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Why G. K. Chesterton Was a Catholic?

From Infallible Blogma

Gilbert Keith (G. K.) Chesterton was a pretty bright fellow, an author of much repute.  Chesterton wrote around 80 books, several hundred poems, some 200 short stories, 4000 essays and several plays.  He was a Catholic theologian, and apologist, when that was not fashionable in England.  He was a colleague of Shaw and Wilde, two better known writers, at least in popular appeal, and was also partnered with the poet and essayist Hilaire Belloc.

He and Belloc were involved in the discussions that came about in regard to an alternative to the ills of capitalism and socialism in our world societies.  They wrote about Distributism, which would have taken the best of both capitalism and socialism and melded them into a more broadly based ownership of tools of production, including land, tools, etc.

He often summarised things into pithy bons mots.  For example, the Times of London asked several eminent authors to write essays on the theme "What's Wrong with the World?"

Chesterton's summary response was:
Dear Sirs,
I am.

Sincerely yours,

G. K. Chesterton
But, nothing that is attributed to him if of greater significance to me than his reasons for being a Catholic later in life, some of the credit for which is due to his friend, Catholic born and raised, Belloc.

He summed up as follows:
“The difficulty of explaining ‘why I am a Catholic’ is that there are ten thousand reasons all amounting to one reason: that Catholicism is true.” – G. K. Chesterton
We write tomes about Catholic this or Catholic that, and our Christian brothers and sisters write tomes about anti-Catholic this or that.  In the end, Chesterton's logic above is sufficient for me.

Sacred Heart of Jesus, I trust in your love for all your children who seek Your Face.

Opening Closed Hearts

From A Living Faith Meditation

Yesterday's meditation in Living Faith was as pertinent to me as the one from the night before, and My Dear Wife did an I told you so after we read it, not really, but in spirit, I know.

The scripture verse for the meditation was Psalm 67 Verse 5: "The nations on the earth you guide."

The meditation, written by Sr. Joyce Rupp O.S.M., a gifted writer goes as follows:
If the nations are guided by the Holy One, why is there such fierce hatred, unending violence and brutal war in many countries? Psalm 67 proclaims that God guides political leaders, but how many of them really listen to this voice of guidance?

During one of  my spiritual direction sessions, I fumed on and on about the man who was the current president of our country.  My spiritual director listened attentively to all I said.  At the end of our session, she reached over and took a tiny heart from the top of a small table.  She then proceeded to give the heart to me and suggested that I pray for the president.  This was the last thing I wanted to do - pray for someone whose leadership seemed beyond repair.  Yet her suggestion was the best advice she could have given me.  God is ready to guide, but we must open our closed hearts and pray that these leaders heed the divine advice given to them.
I confess to having similar feelings about leadership in many of our places in society, the US President, the Canadian Prime Minister, our Bishops and Cardinals in our Church, and elected officials locally and provincially.

But, I have been being drawn to lift them up to the Lord for some time now.  However, I have not been so quick to obey this burden of my heart.

It bothers me to see people trashing the Catholic Church over a sexual abuse scandal that is old news.  I do not think anything can be gained by beating on the Pontiff and Church leaders now, and picking at the Church in general.  Much has been done already, and this will result in more cleansing of the Church from top to bottom.

As well, out political leaders are constantly being beleaguered to do what it politically correct, not what is correct in the eyes of God.

I had concluded that I did not want to waste any more of my energy on this sexual abuse scandal in the Church, and have been praying for the needs of Pope Benedict for a while now, but he is not the only leader that should be in our prayers.

Here is a simple prayer we can pray for all of the leaders, whose exercise of their responsibilities impacts our day to day lives:
Sacred Heart of Jesus, I trust in your love for our political and Church leaders.
I suggest that we pray this prayer 10 times followed by the following short prayer:
Sacred Heart of Jesus, fill me with your blood.
I then suggest that we pray this 10 + 1 prayers, 3 times in succession.

Our leaders may not be leading to our satisfaction, but they may be doing exactly what God wants of them, at any particular moment.  By having a critical attitude towards them, we are hindering their ability to hear the voice of God.  If we lift them up instead, we might just find that God is able to reach them, and we might also be able to recognize their godly behaviour, and encourage more of it through prayer.

Radically Saved

Carman Again

Black is black; white is white.
Hell is hot, and sin ain't right.
God is holy; Christ is comin'
And righteousness will prevail.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Profound Question

Attitude Adjustment

This passage from Chapter 11 of Acts was part of yesterday's Mass readings:

22 The news about them reached the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas (to go) to Antioch.
23 When he arrived and saw the grace of God, he rejoiced and encouraged them all to remain faithful to the Lord in firmness of heart,
24  for he was a good man, filled with the holy Spirit and faith. And a large number of people was added to the Lord. 
It is a passage for our times today, as much as for then.  Claire King writing in Living Faith had this to say about this particular passage:
Because of the persecution of the believers in Jerusalem, a number of Jesus' followers ended up in antioch where the Holy Spirit was cultivating a new kind of church, one that would include both Jews and Gentiles.  The Church leaders in Jerusalem sent Barnabas to go and chekc it out. Barnabas' journey of almost 400 years covered far less ground than the gigantic leap of faith it must have taken for him to open his heart to the possibility that the Spiri of Jesus was moving in a new way in Antioch, yet he chose to respond with encouragement.
What if we were to take up the "Ministry of Encouragement" today, purposely looking for what's going right and taking the time to affirm it?  Can we open our eyes and heart today to all the strengths and virtues present in ourselves, in others, in the workplace, in our community and country?
My Dear Wife read this to us as part of our evening devotions last night, and then asked me what it meant for me?
It was a profound question in light of the persecution of the Catholic Church that has been going on lately, and also in light of my own response to it.  Last year, when I started this blog, I was writing about Human Rights abuses by government tribunals and commissions here in Ontario and Canada.  I found over time that it was a very negative experience and was affecting my own spirit.  I then decided to write about something that I love, my Christian faith, and particularly as found in my own Catholic Church.  Having put that spurt of negativity behind me, I forged ahead, until the new bump in the road of the rehashing of the sexual abuse scandal occurred.

I believe that I have been defending the faith lately, trying to look at things with a more balanced view, but largely I have been directly combating the misinformation that has surfaced.   This has had a negative drag on me spiritually and emotionally.

I have reason to be very sensitive to those who were abused, and tried to express that.  However, there are elements that want to take things that largely happened many, many years ago, and spin them out to write off the entire Catholic Church.

One writer told me that people still attending the Catholic Church stirs up the angst in abuse victims, which statement amazed me.  If when I do the dance of my life, you feel angst, that is not about me, at all, at all.  That in this case, is about victims of something horrible visiting that victimization on others, because they have not been able to deal with it properly, and find the healing of their own hearts.  The particular writer is very active in the self proclaimed "righteous" pursuit of all priests and former priests who were ever involved in abuse, and wanting to take down the institutional Church with it.
Those of us who are Christians are called to live out the Gospel in its entirety, whether it be in the Catholic Church or elsewhere.  We are called to be like Polyanna in one of my favourite quotes from the 20th Century: "If you look for the good in people, you will surely find it."  Barnabas was a lot like Polyanna, though his theology and philosophy was a bit deeper; but then he was real, she celluloid.

Today, Let us be like Barnabas, and encourage ourselves and others to live the life that God has called us each to, a live of joy in the midst of trials, and of grace from God.  Let us lift each other up in prayers for repentance and reconciliation and prayers of healing like the one at the end of yesterday's post I borrowed from "Time to Heal Clergy Sex Abuse".

Let us pray for our own healing of memories and that of those inside and outside our families that we are called to love as I have amended it here:
Lord Jesus, through the power of the Holy Spirit, go back into my memory and the memory of my family members and those whose sorrow has come to my attention, as we sleep. Every hurt that has ever been done to us, heal that hurt. Every hurt that we have ever caused another person, heal that hurt. All the relationships that have been damaged in our whole lives that we are not aware of, heal those relationships. 
But, O Lord, if there is anything that we need to do, If we need to go to a person because he or she is still suffering from our hands, bring to our awareness that person. We choose to forgive, and we ask to be forgiven. Remove whatever bitterness may be in our hearts, Lord, and fill the empty spaces with your love. Amen.  
Original found at Daily Word of Life: Catholic Prayers
As St. Francis said, May we be instruments of peace.

Sacred Heart f Jesus, I trust in your love for all who read this message, for their loved ones, and for all those who are against us in this world.

The Third Heaven


What will heaven be like?

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


From "Time To Heal Clergy Sex Abuse: It's Friday, TIME TO PRAY"

About a month ago, a Catholic Blogger calling herself Sister Bernice decided that she had had enough of the Sexual Abuse scandal and wanted to do something to help the healing process.  So she created "Time to Heal Clergy Sex Abuse: It's Friday, TIME TO PRAY."

She got my attention with her Blog subtitle "One Irish American Catholic Woman's Contribution to Spritiual Renewal ."  As an Irish Canadian Catholic Man, there are enough parallels for me to pay heed to her words.  After all, wise Irish Catholic men listen to Irish Catholic women.  

But, she gets my attention now with the wisdom of what she write.

She stated as her purpose:
I’ve created this blog to participate in the healing process of the Catholic Church sex abuse scandal.  The Holy Father has recommended several “concrete” methods to do this.  I hope this method will contribute to the larger.

For all the victims of Clergy sex abuse, I pray for you.

For the Church, I pray for you.

Dear Holy Father, you who have done much to heal this although it is unrecognized and you are often blamed, I pray especially for you.

For myself, I pray that my prayers are effective, that I will be spared sniping from the Wolves and that others will join my prayers and effort.

For this I pray to the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
Last Friday she posted about the Unrelenting continuation of the media frenzy here:
There continues to be unrelenting reporting of the church sex abuse scandal.  In some ways this is rightfully so.  People have been hurt and the church has not been responsive, proactive nor sensitive.  It has been in fact unChristian.  Why?  That is for others to discuss and so the press does a service.  But the reporting is also skewed, dangerous and re-victimizing.

There is a lot of anti-Catholic bias and anti-papal ideology being expressed-the sins of a few are being visited upon all.  I doubt many Catholics really pay attention to the Vatican – most Catholics don’t but what is the Vatican.  It is not a corporation.  It is the “rock” upon which a church stands.  It houses Peter.  Peter’s job is not to be the head administrator.  His job and the others working there are to be the head priests.  A responsible job – yes but they aren’t overseers of the clergy.  They are overseers of the faith.  Their job is to protect and witness to the faith, providing the necessary means to protect the sacraments.  Canon law is not criminal law.  The press treats the Church as if it is a separate and parallel government in the United States with canon law equivalent to civil law - that’s absurd.   And while the Holy See does have its sovereignty and the Pope is head, actual governance is the responsibility of the bishops in each diocese.  It is almost similar to state vs. federal responsibility but the responsibility is not government and policy – it is doctrine and sacraments.  There is  a huge difference.  As a a lay person reading canon law there is a policy recognizing civil responsibility as do the treaties that the Holy See signs.  In those treaties, governments do recognize the right of canon law.  Why don’t we hear more about the complexity of these issues – why is it black and white reporting and analysis?

None of the above excuses the inaction of bishops but the issues are also dangerous for the lawyers contentions can be applied to every school district, every social service agency, every community group, every individual.  So, will we start suing one another over failures to report sexual abuse, especially in the past?  I’m sure I just made people really angry because the victims do deserve justice and healing.  They deserve recognition.  BUT, the abuse of the Church is small compared to the rest of society.   No, this is the tip of a very large iceberg and do we want to go there?  Are there other avenues for justice?

Do lawsuits really help or do they re-victimize the victim?  Even if a settlement is reached, the victim is rarely comforted, they don’t really win.  They are caught up in the legal process and must endure endless attacks of the spirit.  This is especially true when the guilty party is really the perpetrator, and not the hierarchy, but it is the hierarchy being sued.  We can complain about the bishops but they still didn’t do the crime.  And, each bishop’s decisions will have mixed reasons and motivations when examined.  I think this is the most interesting part of the story and actually a very human, not bureaucratic part of the story.  What do  you do when faced with this situation?  All of you should shout – fire the priest.  So we fire the priest, we take him to court, he’s fined, imprisoned, he’s out again, he abuses again.  This is a no-win situation that society needs to face.  But if you are that lonely bishop what do you do?  if you believe in the sacraments, now you have a bigger headache on your hands.  It doesn’t matter should be the answer - call the police, fire him anyway but the rub is that until the mandated reporting law in `1974, this dilemma was faced by many an administrator throughout the country and why the Church cases open Pandora’s box.  Paradoxically, the outcry against the church may also be the outcry for us to become a better society, to become better parents – how do we put this in action?  And so, victims are re-victimized because they are fighting for an end to abuse and suffering but it won’t end unless people embrace morals and values that say this is wrong and really mean it.  That parents stop abusing first, and that adult be adults.  And what actually teaches this – religions.  To try to topple any church is to kill the solution.

So, I pray and invite all of you to as well for the conversion of the Church, the bishops, the priests and the laity.  I pray for the healing of the victims so that they will have peace in their lives.  And, I pray for society to embrace the loving kindness of the Lord and to follow His way.

To that end: I pray the sorrowful mysteries, Pope Benedict's prayer for the Irish victims, and the following:


Lord Jesus, through the power of the Holy Spirit, go back into my memory as I sleep. Every hurt that has ever been done to me, heal that hurt. Every hurt that I have ever caused another person, heal that hurt. All the relationships that have been damaged in my whole life that I am not aware of , heal those relationships. But, O Lord, if there is anything that I need to do, If I need to go to a person because he or she is still suffering from my hand, bring to my awareness that person. I choose to forgive, and I ask to be forgiven. Remove whatever bitterness may be in my heart, Lord, and fill the empty spaces with your love. Amen.  found at Daily Word of Life: Catholic Prayers

Sheep Are By Nature Dumb

But Given Half a Chance Will Follow the Shepherd

Jennifer Hartline of My Chocolate Heart and Catholic Online wrote a beautiful piece about God's merciful forgiveness, and our reticence to believe that we can be forgiven here, with the same reproduced at Catholic Online here.

It was brought back to memory and to reality this morning for me.

Today after morning prayer, I went for breakfast with my dear friend Deacon George Sebok.  I should have known that something profound might happen, when My Dear Wife had told me last evening that if I wanted to go out for breakfast this morning, that she would still be able to make her own appointment, as I would be home in time for her to take the car.  She was very specific about this, which struck me as odd.  With her statement in mind, I asked George if he had time for breakfast, which he declined.  Then, he turned back to me and said yes.

With a man of such powerful but simple faith as my brother George, it is wise to listen, and to let the Holy Spirit guide our thoughts and words.

He ministers in the local hospitals in a chaplaincy role, one for which he is ably suited by demeanor and wisdom.  One day, he walked into the room of an elderly Catholic man, who was a war veteran, and had had heart surgery.  He asked the man if he would like to receive the Eucharist, and the man declined with eyes down.  As George recalls it, he blurted out instantaneously: "Why?"  The man told him that in the war he had done things he was ashamed of, and did not feel worthy to receive Communion.  George asked him if he has since gone to confession about whatever it is he did.  He said he had, but that he still felt unworthy.

George then spoke to him about the grace of God in confession, that there is nothing that God cannot forgive to a contrite heart.  The man then agreed with him, and started to weep, and straightened up in his bed.  He then told George that he had not been to confession in many years, so did not think that he should receive the Body and Blood of Our Saviour.  George said that if he promised to go to Confession at his earliest convenience that he would give Communion to him.  The man agreed and eagerly received the Blessed Sacrament.  As Deacon George noted to me, the man's health perked up quickly and he was released a few days later.

I then was reminded of my own similar experience.  After a disabling auto accident several years ago, I went into a depression, and a doctor prescribed psychotherapy for me.  During the two years that I underwent therapy, some unusual things happened.  During a particular stretch of a few months, I had visions at most sessions, and they built upon each other, until they culminated in this final one I am about to relay.

At this particular session, I was opening up about some of the sin in my life, particularly in areas related to sex.  I was particularly ashamed of my past behaviour, and even of tendencies I had and am susceptible to in my daily thought life.  I had been to Confession about my behaviours, and had received absolution from the priest and the graces of Confession.  Yet, I could not believe that God could forgive someone as sinful as me.

During this one session, I had a particular vision of being in a boat that was traveling downstream in the current of a river.  This followed on from earlier visions, same boat, same river, no paddles, me sitting in the middle of it.  But, in this vision, I was aware of my own sinfulness, and feeling bad that I was not worthy of God's love, and forgiveness.  Then I noticed that there was a dark tarp on the floor of the boat.  It was as though I had never seen the tarp before, though it was obvious that it had been there all along.  In my sadness, I lifted up the tarp to see what was under it.  As I lifted it up, light exploded from under it, and enveloped me.  I knew that it was the grace and love of God for ME, ME the sinner.  HE LOVED ME.

What I realised was that that love and grace was there all along, and I in my spiritual pride (not humility) had refused to receive it.  If God says I have been made worthy by His redeeming sacrifice, who was I to refuse to receive that free gift?  Yet, I had refused to receive it, like the unopened present beneath the Christmas tree.

Here is how Deacon George had explained God's view of our sins to the former soldier.  He said that when we ask God to forgive our sins, that He puts them behind Him, and that He never looks back.  HE NEVER LOOKS BACK.  So, when we remember our past sins and mull over how unworthy we are, He does not know what we are talking about, not because He can't remember them, but because He refuses to ever remember them again.  He forgave them already.

My Brothers, and Sisters, there is nothing that you have done that God will not forgive you for.  I know.  He forgave me for all the hurtful things I have done to date, and He will forgive me again, though I seriously do not desire to sin against Him.   It is not an act of humility to think we are not worthy of God's forgiveness.  It is an act of spiritual pride, and directly contrary to God's very own word, and His Word made flesh in Jesus.

If you have sinned and know it in your heart, and if you have asked God to forgive you, let it go.  He has.  If you have refused to let go of sins forgiven, then confess that spiritual pride, and move on.

Sacred Heart of Jesus, I trust in your love for me.

A2J - Addicted to Jesus


Whatta you gonna be addicted to?

Monday, April 26, 2010

Sexual Abuse and Forgiveness

All of us have experienced trauma in our lives, and to a greater or lesser extent that trauma has shaped us, and our view of the world.  But, some of our brothers and sisters have experienced trauma, accompanied by pain and sorrow that we cannot easily fathom.

LONDON, ONTARIO. Freedom through Truth blog.  Let us start with trauma we can probably all relate to.  There is the story of the two year old who is taken to hospital by his mother, and left there to receive surgery for a hernia problem.  The two year old does not grasp his mother's pain at leaving him.  He sees only strange faces, and the bars of the bed he is put in, which are higher than he is tall, and he sees in his child's mind that his mother has abandoned him.  As years pass, his father spends long stretches in hospital, with his mother at his father's side, leaving baby sitters to care for him and his sister, and he feels abandoned again and again, and becomes emotionally distant.  Then, in adulthood, he marries a woman like his mother, and before she can abandon him, he abandons her emotionally.  To prove it is not a fluke, he marries again with the same result.  He  marries yet again, and tries to do the same thing, but this time, he seeks help as he finally sees the pattern in his life.

That child made a mountain out of a molehill.  He did not know any better, and his parents, in their own pain, were not able to help him better.

But, there are men and women, who as children suffered traumas that make that molehill into an anthill.  Many, too many to count, young people were sexually abused when their father, who was drunk on evenings when their mother went out, came into their bedrooms and had his way sexually with them, and then made them promise to keep it their little secret.  Others went to a parish rectory, where a friendly priest became too friendly, and took advantage of them there, or on a sleep out somewhere else.  Others were abused by a teacher, family member, or connection to the family.

These children suffered trauma that most of us cannot imagine.  Their very childhood was stolen from them, their innocence, and any possibility that up would be up, and down down.  This, dear readers, was a mountain, not one made out of a molehill, but a true mountain, of the Himalayas variety for these precious young people.

And how has society dealt with this mountain for our brothers and sisters?  For many years, we in our society have tried to make a molehill of this mountain.  The Church, in the past, hid behind transfers of offending priests, with secret files of letters and complaints buried in the back of filing cabinets.  At the same time, the rest of society tried to pretend that this scourge on children was not happening.  Children were to be seen and not heard, and to be secretly used and abused by some.

How can this happen in a just society?  I for one do not know, since I have never seen a just society, and do not expect to see one in my lifetime.  How then, can this happen in any society?  It happened and happens even today because seemingly good people turn their backs on things that appear wrong to them.  It happens because otherwise intelligent people are silent to evil.

The Catholic Church has made itself a much safer place for young people today, and continues to do so.  Many settlements have been negotiated or litigated for victims of abuse within the Church.  Yet, still the specter of old abuses raises its ugly head.  That this specter is raised seemingly only in the Catholic Church, when only a small portion of all the abuse has happened within it, seems contextually incorrect.  But, in truth I think it is not.

What has been missing from the one place where it should be able to be expected is forgiveness, and the seeking of forgiveness, on a far grander scale than has occurred to date.  The souls of those abused, and of their abusers have hung in the balance, and we have stood by.

Victims of abuse, in living out the trauma visited on them, have lashed out at their abusers and at one of the institutions, the Catholic Church, that shielded abusers for so long.  So, we, the Catholic Church, have given the loudest ones money, to mollify them.  Still, it does not go away.  It becomes dormant for a few years, but now it rears its ugly head again.

If this has all been repaired, and prevented from recurring, why are the victims still crying out, and lashing out?  Clearly, the abuse and its tentacles that have worked their way into their lives and into their very souls have not been removed.  Peace has not been achieved for them.

We, the Church, not they the Church leaders, must love all of the abused, no matter what turns their lives have taken.  As well, we must forgive them for their often unkind characterizations of the Church as a whole, and for their expressed anger towards our beloved Church.  More importantly, we must seek their forgiveness, and take responsibility for the times that we turned our backs when things were not right, and did not protect them from harm. Finally, we must thank them for raising this once again.

Unless we do all of this, there will never be healing of the hurts that have been inflicted on our brothers and sisters, and they in turn will have to continue to lash out at the only source of their pain that they know.  The cycle will continue, unless we make the changes necessary, which can only be discerned by love, forgiveness on both sides, and taking responsibility.

If We the Church reach out with hearts and minds open to those We the Church have hurt and abandoned, we will not bear responsibility for the loss of their souls and our own.

If We the Church do this, then other institutions where abuse has happened, and families where abuse has happened, can look to us to see what happens when forgiveness flows, and we can start to bring light to this troubled world in this particular area of sexual abuse.

We have the power of God and His grace to set the captives free, and the first captive to be freed is ourselves.  We are all the Body of Christ, the abused, the abusers, and all of us who have stood by.  If one of us is hurting, we are all hurting.

Sacred Heart of Jesus, we trust in Your love for Your Body here on earth.  Guide us to love one another, as You have called us to do.  May we be instruments of Your Peace here on earth.

Latin Mass April 25, 2010 Washington DC

Basilica of the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington DC 

From the Moynihan Report comes a report on this special first Latin Mass in 40 years, at the largest Catholic Church in America, the celebrant homilist was His Excellency Bishop Edward Slattery of Tulsa, Oklahoma.  He gave a wonderful homily that can be summarised as follows:
If then someone asks of what we spoke today, tell them we spoke of the truth. If someone asks why it is you came to this Mass, say that it was so that you could be obedient with Christ. If someone asks about the homily, tell them it was about a mystery and if someone asks what I said of the present situation, tell them only that we must – all of us – become saints through what we suffer.
Having read the summary, you may wish to read it all.  Here it is, as reproduced from What Does the Prayer Really Say.

We have much to discuss – you and I …

… much to speak of on this glorious occasion when we gather together in the glare of the world’s scrutiny to celebrate the fifth anniversary of the ascension of Joseph Ratzinger to the throne of Peter.

We must come to understand how it is that suffering can reveal the mercy of God and make manifest among us the consoling presence of Jesus Christ, crucified and now risen from the dead.

We must speak of this mystery today, first of all because it is one of the great mysteries of revelation, spoken of in the New Testament and attested to by every saint in the Church’s long history, by the martyrs with their blood, by the confessors with their constancy, by the virgins with their purity and by the lay faithful of Christ’s body by their resolute courage under fire.

But we must also speak clearly of this mystery because of the enormous suffering which is all around us and which does so much to determine the culture of our modern age.

From the enormous suffering of His Holiness these past months to the suffering of the Church’s most recent martyrs in India and Africa, welling up from the suffering of the poor and the dispossessed and the undocumented, and gathering tears from the victims of abuse and neglect, from women who have been deceived into believing that abortion was a simple medical procedure and thus have lost part of their soul to the greed of the abortionist, and now flowing with the heartache of those who suffer from cancer, diabetes, AIDS, or the emotional diseases of our age, it is the sufferings of our people that defines the culture of our modern secular age.

This enormous suffering which can take on so many varied physical, mental, and emotional forms will reduce us to fear and trembling – if we do not remember that Christ – our Pasch – has been raised from the dead. Our pain and anguish could dehumanize us, for it has the power to close us in upon ourselves such that we would live always in chaos and confusion – if we do not remember that Christ – our hope – has been raised for our sakes. Jesus is our Pasch, our hope and our light.

He makes himself most present in the suffering of his people and this is the mystery of which we must speak today, for when we speak of His saving presence and proclaim His infinite love in the midst of our suffering, when we seek His light and refuse to surrender to the darkness, we receive that light which is the life of men; that light which, as Saint John reminds us in the prologue to his Gospel, can never be overcome by the darkness, no matter how thick, no matter how choking.

Our suffering is thus transformed by His presence. It no longer has the power to alienate or isolate us. Neither can it dehumanize us nor destroy us. Suffering, however long and terrible it may be, has only the power to reveal Christ among us, and He is the mercy and the forgiveness of God.

The mystery then, of which we speak, is the light that shines in the darkness, Christ Our Lord, Who reveals Himself most wondrously to those who suffer so that suffering and death can do nothing more than bring us to the mercy of the Father.

But the point which we must clarify is that Christ reveals Himself to those who suffer in Christ, to those who humbly accept their pain as a personal sharing in His Passion and who are thus obedient to Christ’s command that we take up our cross and follow Him. Suffering by itself is simply the promise that death will claim these mortal bodies of ours, but suffering in Christ is the promise that we will be raised with Christ, when our mortality will be remade in his immortality and all that in our lives which is broken because it is perishable and finite will be made imperishable and incorrupt.

This is the meaning of Peter’s claim that he is a witness to the sufferings of Christ and thus one who has a share in the glory yet to be revealed. Once Peter grasped the overwhelming truth of this mystery, his life was changed. The world held nothing for Peter. For him, there was only Christ.

This is, as you know, quite a dramatic shift for the man who three times denied Our Lord, the man to whom Jesus said, “Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church, that the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”

Christ’s declaration to Peter that he would be the rock, the impregnable foundation, the mountain of Zion upon which the new Jerusalem would be constructed, follows in Matthew’s Gospel Saint Peter’s dramatic profession of faith, when the Lord asks the Twelve, “Who do people say that I am?” and Peter, impulsive as always, responds “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.”

Only later – much later – would Peter come to understand the full implication of this first Profession of Faith. Peter would still have to learn that to follow Christ, to truly be His disciple, one must let go of everything which the world considers valuable and necessary, and become powerless. This is the mystery which confounds independent Peter. It is the mystery which still confounds us: to follow Christ, one must surrender everything and become obedient with the obedience of Christ, for no one gains access to the Kingdom of the Father, unless he enter through the humility and the obedience of Jesus.

Peter had no idea that eventually he would find himself fully accepting this obedience, joyfully accepting his share in the Passion and Death of Christ. But Peter loved Our Lord and love was the way by which Peter learned how to obey. “Lord, you know that I love thee,” Peter affirms three times with tears; and three times Christ commands him to tend to the flock that gathers at the foot of Calvary – and that is where we are now[This Mass is the foot of Calvary but so is this modern world!]

Peter knew that Jesus was the true Shepherd, the one Master and the only teacher; the rest of us are learners and the lesson we must learn is obedience, obedience unto death. Nothing less than this, for only when we are willing to be obedient with the very obedience of Christ will we come to recognize Christ’s presence among us.

Obedience is thus the heart of the life of the disciple and the key to suffering in Christ and with Christ. This obedience, is must be said, is quite different from obedience the way it is spoken of and dismissed in the world.

For those in the world, obedience is a burden and an imposition. It is the way by which the powerful force the powerless to do obeisance. Simply juridical and always external, obedience is the bending that breaks, but a breaking which is still less painful than the punishment meted out for disobedience. Thus for those in the world obedience is a punishment which must be avoided; but for Christians, obedience is always personal, because it is centered on Christ. It is a surrender to Jesus Whom we love.

For those whose lives are centered in Christ, obedience is that movement which the heart makes when it leaps in joy having once discovered the truth.

Let us consider, then, that Christ has given us both the image of his obedience and the action by which we are made obedient.

The image of Christ’s obedience is His Sacred Heart. That Heart, exposed and wounded must give us pause, for man’s heart it generally hidden and secret. In the silence of his own heart, each of us discovers the truth of who we are, the truth of why we are silent when we should speak, or bothersome and quarrelsome when we should be silent. In our hidden recesses of the heart, we come to know the impulses behind our deeds and the reasons why we act so often as cowards and fools.

But while man’s heart is generally silent and secret, the Heart of the God-Man is fully visible and accessible. It too reveals the motives behind our Lord’s self-surrender. It was obedience to the Father’s will that mankind be reconciled and our many sins forgiven us. “Son though he was,” the Apostle reminds us, “Jesus learned obedience through what He sufferered.” Obedient unto death, death on a cross, Jesus asks his Father to forgive us that God might reveal the full depth of his mercy and love. “Father, forgive them,” he prayed, “for they know not what they do.”

Christ’s Sacred Heart is the image of the obedience which Christ showed by his sacrificial love on Calvary. The Sacrifice of Calvary is also for us the means by which we are made obedient and this is a point which you must never forget: at Mass, we offer ourselves to the Father in union with Christ, who offers Himself in perfect obedience to the Father. We make this offering in obedience to Christ who commanded us to “Do this in memory of me” and our obediential offering is perfected in the love with which the Father receives the gift of His Son.

Do not be surprised then that here at Mass, our bloodless offering of the bloody sacrifice of Calvary is a triple act of obedience. First, Christ is obedient to the Father, and offers Himself as a sacrifice of reconciliation. Secondly, we are obedient to Christ and offer ourselves to the Father with Jesus the Son; and thirdly, in sharing Christ’s obedience to the Father, we are made obedient to a new order of reality, in which love is supreme and life reigns eternal, in which suffering and death have been defeated by becoming for us the means by which Christ’s final victory, his future coming, is made manifest and real today.

Suffering then, yours, mine, the Pontiffs, is at the heart of personal holiness, because it is our sharing in the obedience of Jesus which reveals his glory. It is the means by which we are made witnesses of his suffering and sharers in the glory to come.

Do not be dismayed that there many in the Church have not yet grasped this point, and fewer still in the world will even consider it. You know this to be true and ten men who whisper the truth speak louder than a hundred million who lie.

If then someone asks of what we spoke today, tell them we spoke of the truth. If someone asks why it is you came to this Mass, say that it was so that you could be obedient with Christ. If someone asks about the homily, tell them it was about a mystery and if someone asks what I said of the present situation, tell them only that we must – all of us – become saints through what we suffer.

Inspire: Unfailing Love and a Heart Like Mine

From Jennifer Hartline at Catholic Online

This delightful article appeared this morning at Catholic Online, from a very gifted Catholic writer, who shares from her heart, which appropriately enough is where Our Saviour has taken up His residence.  Enjoy.
You and I are loved beyond our comprehension.  No language exists that can capture the quality of His love for us and the lengths to which He has gone to rescue His lost children.  Only the Word Himself can say it. He who owed me nothing at all, who had nothing to prove, patiently and gently proved to me that He rescued me from hell for the sake of pure love.  Endless, unfathomable love... poured out on me, His beloved daughter.

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Catholic Online) - Do you ever feel as though you're climbing an enormous mountain of rock, and there's a particular ledge you just cannot surmount?  You claw your way up the steep face but can never pull yourself all the way up to the top.  You slide down, again and again, and land on your rump in a heap, discouraged to the point of despair.  This rock face may be a particular wound in your heart or a stumbling block in your faith that you can't seem to get past.  Anybody out there relate to this?

There's a certain rock face that I have struggled to climb all my life; that is, until now.  This Eastertide the Lord has answered my deepest, heartfelt cry and I cannot help but share it with you.  Not so that you'll be amazed or burst into applause, but that you might be encouraged not to give up.

I do not know when, where, or how it became part of me, but from a very young age, I have carried a yoke of rejection and disfavor.  I've worn it like an invisible scarlet letter on my chest, like a secret between me and God.  Despite an aching desire to please the Lord, to serve Him, to follow Him and be like Him, there was ever-present in my deepest heart a nagging voice that said, "You're a disappointment to Him.  You can tag along if you like, but you're nothing special.  He'll probably never notice you."

None of the usual suspects are to blame -   I had loving, attentive and holy parents and a happy family.  I was raised in the Church and I knew that Jesus died for my sins that I might be saved for eternity.  I was never harmed by anyone.  Yet this heartache never really left me, and I can't count how many times I  cried rivers of tears as I begged Jesus to love me as I loved Him.  A corner of my heart seemed always fractured by this shaming belief that I was a disappointment to God.

My head knew that Jesus did love me; my heart and soul were never truly convinced.  I lived with this bizarre dichotomy inside - part of me knowing the truth and part of me doing continuous battle with that nagging doubt, that despairing voice that kept me bound by fear and a belief that I was inadequate, unworthy, and undesirable. 

So great was my frustration with my fractured heart that I finally cried (literally) to Jesus and said, "Forget about healing my heart.  It's too pitiful.  Just rip it out and give me Yours instead."  (Perhaps the best prayer I've ever prayed!)  In His perfect wisdom, He began showing me that what had started as insecurity had morphed into a habit of self-pity and self-loathing.  He gently revealed that I was eating the strange fruit of pride.  This "Oh woe is me, Jesus doesn't love me!" stuff is a beguiling impostor of lowliness!  How is it possible that pride and feelings of worthlessness can go hand in hand?  But they often do... and in me, they were two sides of the same coin.

Thanks be to God for His great mercy that allowed me to finally recognize this in myself.   Without realizing it, I'd taken the long road trip from a little girl who wasn't really sure what made her special to a grown woman who'd decided she was only special because she was the one soul on earth whom Jesus could never really love.

Somewhere along the way my sincere pleas for Jesus' love warped into a blasphemy I wasn't even consciously aware of.  I was calling Jesus a liar.  I was saying His heart had room for everyone but me.  I was saying the blood He shed washed everyone clean but me.  I was "special" in my unworthiness.  I required more than every other soul on earth.  Pretty arrogant, eh?  Pride is a clever chameleon.

Yet He, with perfect irony and poetry, stooped low enough to show me how great a price He paid for my sinful, pitiful heart.  He who owed me nothing at all, who had nothing to prove, patiently and gently proved to me that He rescued me from hell for the sake of pure love.  Endless, unfathomable love... poured out on me, His beloved daughter.

His severe mercy that plunged me into a brutally honest evaluation of myself had brought me so much healing and restoration.  Little did I know that on Good Friday He would blow away the last remaining bits of debris and plant confidence in place of doubt.

I sat and watched "The Passion of the Christ" alone in my living room just before midnight.  I'd never seen the movie before and I could barely make it through the brutality.  The scourging was the worst part.  I cried out loud to my television, "Stop it!  Stop it!  Leave Him alone!"  Say what you will about artistic license and whether it really was as bloody, violent and merciless as it was portrayed, but for my money, it rang true.  I
think the movie got it as right as possible.

Seeing Jesus' savage death unfold before my eyes, my heart was pierced with these words: "I did this for you.  I chose to suffer all this agony for you and if you were the only soul to ever live, I would have done it only for you.  This is how much you are worth to Me."

Loosed in that moment was the last brittle claw of doubt and insecurity and it fell off my heart like dead wood.  My Jesus reached down for me and pulled me securely to the top of that rock, and planted a confidence in my heart that was immovable.

You and I are loved beyond our comprehension.  No language exists that can capture the quality of His love for us and the lengths to which He has gone to rescue His lost children.  Only the Word Himself can say it.

You and I are wretched with sin; full of pride and selfishness; hard-hearted and easily tempted; slow to learn and slow to love.  All that is true.  Truer still is that the perfect Lamb of God has taken our punishment upon Himself, made Himself the sacrifice for our sins, plunged into hell and conquered death forever - all out of love.  Truer still is that you and I are precious to His heart and worth the price of His own blood.  Any feeling or thought or voice that says, "No, that's not true" is just the hiss of a snake.

If this matter isn't settled completely in your own heart, I pray it will be today.  You are loved!  I offer you the most amazing little prayer that was given to me by my pastor; a prayer for truth that has been very powerful for me:  "Lord, tell me who You are, and then tell me who I am."  I know He delights in answering those questions for me!

Jesus answered my prayer for a "heart transplant."  That particular rock I believe I will not climb again; now on to the next one.  Do not lose hope, weary climbers, but persevere in faith!  He who loves us so deeply will not leave us in a heap on our rumps, but will set our feet high on that rock, where we will testify to His transforming love.

Jennifer Hartline is a grateful Catholic, a proud Army wife and mother of four precious children (one in Heaven).  She is a contributing writer for Catholic Online.  She's also a serious chocoholic.  Visit her at My Chocolate Heartb
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Deacon Keith Fournier asks that you join with us and help in this vital mission by sending this article to your family, friends, and neighbors and adding our link ( to your own website, blog or social network. Let us broadcast, we are PROUD TO BE CATHOLIC!

Who's in the House? JC


I am not a fan of hip hop, but this hop is hip man.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Tears of a Woman

This Arrived by Email Recently

A little boy asks his mother: "Why do you cry?"

"Because I am a woman." She answers.

"I don't understand," he says.

His mother hugs him and says: "And you never will."

Later the little boy asked his father: "Why does mommy cry?"

"All women cry for no reason," is all that his father could answer him.

When he became an adult, he asked God: "God, why do women cry so easily?"

In response God said:  "When I created woman she needed to be special.  I created her shoulders strong enough to bear the weight of the world . . . and soft enough to be comfortable."

"I gave her the strength to give life, and the kind that accepts rejection that often comes from children."

"I gave her the strength to go on when everybody else gives up, the strength to care for her family despite illness and fatigue."

"I gave her the sensitivity to love her children, even when they have hurt her deeply."

"I gave her the strength to  endure her husband's faults, and to stay at his side without weakening."

"And finally, I gave her tears to be shed whenever she needs them to be shed."

"You see, My son, the beauty of a woman is not in the clothes she wears, nor is it in her face or in the way she does her hair."

"The beauty of a woman resides in her eyes.  It is the door to her heart; the door where Love resides."

"And it is often through her tears that you see her heart go by."

Music for Good Shepherd Sunday

Jesus is the Lamb - Carman

Here is what Carman has to say about the Lamb of God.

Good Shepherd Sunday - April 25, 2010

Thoughts for Today

On this Sunday, the readings focus on Jesus as the Good Shepherd.   We have Psalm 100 about us being His people, the sheep of His flock.  Then we have the second reading from the Book of Revelations in Chapter 7 when John describes a vision he has of people standing "before the throne, and before the Lamb."  The Gospel was about the sheep hearing Jesus' voice from Chapter 10 of John.

In Summary, the readings today are about Sheep - dumb, and Shepherd - smart.  We need a good shepherd, otherwise we are like the people in the First Reading from the Book of Acts, Chapter 13, where the Jews rejected the Gospel, and Paul and Barnabas moved on to the Gentiles.

Thinking on this, I was reminded of a paragraph from Jennifer Hartline's Sunday Praise piece from last evening:
The unfailing Love of Jesus! I wish I had a microphone to the whole world so I could say, "Everybody shut up and listen to me!  Jesus LOVES you even though you're a miserable, sinful, sometimes rotten human being and you're doing stupid things with your life!  Knock it off already and live like you're LOVED, CAUSE YOU ARE!!"
Sheep need a Good Shepherd to guide them, because sheep are by their nature dumb as posts.  How often do we turn away each day from the paths that the Lord has set us on.  Fortunately, He comes after us each time, whether we know it or not.  While we wander in the dark, or in unhealthy directions, the Good Shepherd seeks us and calls to us.

Why don't we hear Him calling to us?  There is too much noise in our society for us to hear, unless we consciously block it out.

So, "Knock it off already and live like you're LOVED, CAUSE YOU ARE!!"  To act like your loved, listen for the voice of your lover, Jesus.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Praise The Lord - 4th Sunday of Easter 2010

Sunday Praises

There is always so much to praise Our wonderful Lord for, if we look at His world with open eyes, and more importantly open hearts.

I praise God this week for the 2 days that My Dear Wife and I spent in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan earlier this week, and I also praise God for the 3 days that MDW spent with friends on a quilting shop hop back in the UP until this evening.  New quilting projects that I can assist her with, and I have some of my own that I am working on as well, and I am enjoying it immensely.

I Praise God for the opportunity I have to pray together with my prayer partners in the weekday mornings, and for the opportunity we had to share breakfast on Friday with another deacon friend of ours.

I am especially thankful to have spent a couple of hours with a beautiful brother, who used to work for me when I owned my own business many years ago, who has been having a fine career in information technology. Above all he has had a wonderful journey of faith that has brought him from Sri Lanka to Kenya, to Canada, where he has married, and raised  two wonderful daughters, and he shared some of that with me this week.

And as well, I praise God for the opportunity that I have through this blog to be uplifted by the journeys of other faith filled Christians I encounter through this writing and reading.  I am inspired by Chocolate Hearts, Rubber Hitting the Road, Online Catholics, Social Conservatives, Blue Waves, prayerful deacons, and others who speak the truth that is in all of our hearts with love and authority.

I praise God for Father Sam Johnston, who though diagnosed with cancer of the colon, will submit to the will of His Saviour, and whatever happens, God will be glorified by his faith in his and our Saviour.

Here, on earth, I praise God for the partner I have in life, whose smile I awake to each morning, and whose beautiful heart enriches my days.

Sacred Heart of Jesus I trust in your love for Father Sam and all those who come to mind this week, who have shared a moment or an hour in my thoughts, prayers, and well wishes.  You are the Lord of Lords and the King of Kings, and there is none like You.

Rooting Out the Rot in The Catholic Church

The Sex Abuse Scandal Redux Should Open Our Eyes

Steve G. had posted an article at SoCon or Bust that is an eye opening summary of some of the seamier side of life in the Catholic Church. 

This is now a time when the Vatican is calling for and seeking "transparency"  relative to sexual abuse matters, as spoken by Reverend Federico Lombardi from the Vatican as reported here at the New York Times, and quoted:
“This is the age of truth, transparency and credibility,” said the spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi. “Secrecy and discretion, even in their positive aspects, are not values cultivated in contemporary society. We must be in a position to have nothing to hide.”
In the article below from SoCon or Bust, we are reminded that transparency in some areas is only a start.  And if we are not faithful to the witness of Our Saviour, but are disobedient, His will cannot be thwarted, and He will use whoever He needs to, who is faithful, to get His work on earth accomplished.

Getting to the roots of the sex abuse scandal

In recent years, the Church has made great strides in improving its handling of sex abuse cases.  This is a good sign.

But I’m afraid that many Catholics have adopted a rather narrow approach to this scandal.  They’re are not seeing the big picture, namely that the sex abuse scandal is just one manifestation of a much broader problem of lax discipline, lack of orthodoxy and dissent.  In a nutshell: lukewarm Catholicism.
Without minimizing the horror of sexual abuse, the reality is that the Church faces many other problems as well:
  • Bishops, priests and religious that dissent from core Catholic teachings (even on such issues as abortion).
  • Bishops and Cardinals accepting bribes to hide scandals.
  • The decay of Catholic schools and universities.
  • Rotten development agencies like Development and Peace.
  • Almost universal acceptance of contraception among the laity.
  • Many Catholic couples shacking up before marriage.
  • Seminaries forming future priests into dissenters.
  • The demise of confession in favour of general absolution.
  • The abusive granting of annulments.
  • Widespread liturgical abuses.
  • Etc.
I’m not saying that these problems are on par with the sexual abuse scandal.  I’m just saying that these are additional major problems that have the same root cause:  lukewarm Catholicism.

Unfortunately, little to nothing is being done to address this broader problem in a systematic and comprehensive way.  We only see piecemeal actions on the hottest issues, primarily the sex abuse scandals but also some efforts by a handful of good bishops regarding communion for  pro-abort politicians.
Why have these two issues drawn the most attention?  Undoubtedly because of the severity of these crimes.  The sexual abuse of children is among the gravest of sins.  Similarly, sacrilegious reception of communion by politicians is extremely serious  because the Eucharist is the holiest and most sacred treasure of the Church. Another important reason why the sex abuse scandal has been prioritized is because it gets huge media attention. As shallow as that may sound, it’s true.  How else can we explain that many bishops kept a lid on these crimes until they were exposed by the media?  I think this problem has now been resolved for sex abuse scandals, but not for other problems plaguing the Church.

Consider this:  if Development and Peace were doing something illegal by worldly standards and was being exposed by the mainstream media, how fast do you think the Canadian bishops would have reacted and taken corrective action?  Faster than it takes a Ferrari to go from 0 to 60.  But since they’re “only” violating the Church’s teaching and being ignored by both the secular and Catholic media, the issue is brushed aside and ignored. The Development and Peace scandal is going from 0 to 60 in about 10 years.

Make no mistake:  there is a huge similarity in the modus operandi of the bishops that hid predator-priests from prosecution through denials and obfuscation and the M.O. of the Canadian bishops that are hiding and denying the truth about Development and Peace. The scandal is very different, but the underlying culture of hiding problems and being above reproach is the same.  Very little has changed.  Even the most faithful bishops in this country are gun-shy when it comes to openly denouncing the Development and Peace scandal.  Have they not learned anything from the sex abuse scandal?

Lukewarm Catholicism is a systemic problem that requires a comprehensive big-picture strategy.  I don’t have a miracle solution, but we should be thinking big.

If not, God will be forced to kick our butts to solve our problems despite us instead of with us.  You don’t believe me?  Think back to the early Church.  At the beginning of the Acts of the Apostles, the Church in Jerusalem was growing rapidly and everyone was experiencing great joy.  They went to the Temple to hear readings from the Old Testament.  They gathered daily for the Eucharist and to hear the teaching of the Apostles.  They shared their property so that nobody was lacking.  Good times.  So good, in fact, that they appeared to have forgotten Christ’s orders to go beyond Jerusalem and evangelize the rest of the world:
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. (Acts 1:8).
Since the Church was too comfy in Jerusalem, God intervened.  Acts 7 ends with the stoning of Stephen, the first martyr, which triggered persecutions:
That day a severe persecution began against the church in Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout the countryside of Judea and Samaria. (Acts 8:1)
Is it just a coincidence that the disciples were scattered precisely to where Christ had ordered them to evangelize?  I think not.  And what fruits came of this scattering?
Now those who were scattered went from place to place, proclaiming the word. (Acts 8:4)
The Church got her first missionaries.  But it took a persecution to get them moving.

It’s our duty to try and fix the problem of lukewarm Catholicism.  But if we don’t, God won’t hesitate to send us persecutions to clean house.  The lukewarm will then bail out of the Church and be pruned away, leaving a more fervent Church for the future.  That’s the last resort.  It would be most uncharitable for us to sit back and wait for God to do this.  After all, we want the lukewarm to convert, not to apostatize and be lost.  So let’s get moving.

- Authored by Steve G 
This is a thoughtful piece of writing, and we would do well to ponder it and take it to heart.

Pope asks Bloggers to Give Internet a Soul

Vatican Radio Reports on The Pope and the "Digital Witness" Conference

H/t Fr. Tim Moyle

Vatican Radio carries this report of the Pope speaking to the Digital Witness Conference today.
(24 Apr 10 – RV) The need to give the Internet a soul and humanize the dynamics of the digital world was at the heart of Pope Benedict XVI’s message Saturday to participants in a conference on modern means of mass communication.

Promoted by the Italian Bishops Conference, “Digital Witness” draws together experts in information technology, social networking, web journalism and blogging to focus on the language we use and the way we communicate as Christians in the online society.

Pope Benedict told participants that the task of every believer who works in media, is to ensure the “quality of human contact, guaranteeing attention to people and their spiritual needs”. “This is increasingly urgent in today’s world”, he said, at a time when Internet appears to have a “basically egalitarian” vocation, but at the same time, “marks a new divide", the "digital divide" that "separates the included from the excluded"

"The dangers of homologation and control, of intellectual and moral relativism are also increasing, as already recognizable in the decline of critical spirit, in truth reduced to a game of opinions, in the many forms of degradation and humiliation of the intimacy of the person"

Thus said the Pope we see, a "spiritual pollution" that brings us to no longer "look one another in the face”. So we must “overcome those collective dynamics that risk reducing people to "soulless bodies, objects of exchange and consumption”. The media must become a “humanizing factor”, focused "on promoting the dignity of persons and peoples". Only then, will "the epochal times we are experiencing be rich and fertile in new opportunities":

"Without fear we must set sail on the digital sea facing into the deep with the same passion that has governed the ship of the Church for two thousand years. Rather than for, albeit necessary, technical resources, we want to qualify ourselves by living in the digital world with a believer’s heart, helping to give a soul to the Internet’s incessant flow of communication".

North Dakota Approves Petition for Abortion Decapitation, Skull Crushing Ban

Silent No More

From a report at Catholic Online comes this from LifeSiteNews (  This is sickening, but true.
It says a lot about how far we've sunk as a godly nation that we would need to pass a law banning the decapitation and skull crushing of babies waiting to be born.  The barbarians of old were not even as savage as some abortion 'doctors.' It's supremely ironic that we accuse Islamic governments of savagely decapitating their own people, yet they accuse Western governments of savagely decapitating their own children.

DICKINSON, North Dakota ( - A North Dakota grassroots pro-life organization is announcing the official beginning of an effort to circulate petitions for an initiated measure that would prohibit physicians from decapitating and crushing the skulls of living unborn children. 
'The Baby Decapitation and Skull Crushing Ban' was approved for circulation by the North Dakota Secretary of State and Attorney General on Thursday. Daniel Woodard, head of the state-wide Stop Decapitation Network, aims to collect 12,844 signatures in order to place the measure on the 2010 or 2012 ballot. The ban would become law if a majority of North Dakotans vote for it.
The Petition Title reads: "This initiated measure would create a new chapter to the North Dakota Century Code making it a crime for a physician to knowingly decapitate or crush the skull of a living unborn child or to incidentally cause serious bodily injury to the mother due to a resulting skull fragment; medical treatment could be used to save the life of the mother if the death of the child is incidental to the treatment."
"It says a lot about how far we've sunk as a godly nation that we would need to pass a law banning the decapitation and skull crushing of babies waiting to be born," said Woodard. "The barbarians of old were not even as savage as some abortion 'doctors.' It's supremely ironic that we accuse Islamic governments of savagely decapitating their own people, yet they accuse Western governments of savagely decapitating their own children.
"This insane slaughter of others must stop now. None of it is justified."
The Stop Decapitation Network's press release pointed to federal testimony by an abortionist describing the gruesome process of decapitating and crushing unborn babies' skulls to complete abortions.
During a federal district court case out of New York on March 31, 2004, abortionist Timothy Johnson testified: "When one does a D&E [abortion], technically one of the challenges is to remove the fetal skull, partly because it is relatively large, partly because it is relatively calcified, and it is difficult to grasp on occasion. So one of the common technical challenges of a dismemberment D&E is what is called a free-floating head or a head that has become disattached and needs to be removed.

This can lead to more passages of instruments through the cervix. And technically it is difficult to grasp the head; it is round, it slips out of the instruments that we generally use. Either those instruments or the head can be extruded outside the uterus and cause perforation [tearing]."
Woodard told Thursday evening that he has not heard any opposition to the measure from pro-abortion groups.
Click here for the Stop Decapitation Network's Web site.
- - - is a non-profit Internet service dedicated to issues of culture, life, and family. It was launched in September 1997. LifeSiteNews Daily News reports and information pages are used by numerous organizations and publications, educators, professionals and political, religious and life and family organization leaders and grassroots people across North America and internationally.

Putting Out Into The Deep

Report on NET-TV from Deacon Greg Kandra

Here is a report from the Deacon's Bench about a TV station preaching the Good News from New York City.  This is one way that you can fight the apathy or animus towards God in our society.

Read this:
The good folks at the National Catholic Register have done a story about my station NET:
NET-TV_2-255x174.jpgWhen the Brooklyn, N.Y., Diocese decided to launch a new faith-based cable TV channel to replace their Prayer Channel, they had no trouble with the name: New Evangelization Television (NET-TV).

"I have to start by thanking our late Holy Father John Paul II," says the station's general manager, Christopher Quinn. "We built a channel on the name he chose." From the get-go, Quinn was inspired by John Paul II's directive: "I sense the moment has come to commit all the Church's energies to the New Evangelization."

Besides, Brooklyn Bishop Nicholas DeMarzio has stated two personal goals that NET-TV also adopted: to be present to the people and to implement the New Evangelization for his diocese. Launched in December 2008, NET-TV is fulfilling both goals with its 24/7 programming on two of the area's cable channels plus live and on-demand Internet viewing.

While the station broadcasts daily Mass from the Cathedral of St. James and the Rosary several times a day, it also carries an array of programming.

Among the lineup of series is the highly watched "Currents," the first-ever Catholic daily news show; "Mysteries of the Church," the second most-popular series; "iCTHuS.eQ" for youth, with contemporary Christian music videos (many local) and interviews with Catholic musicians; "Classic Cinema," with family-friendly, faith-based movies; children's shows like "BJ Teddy Bear Club and Bible Stories" and "Cherub Wings"; and local shows that explore New York's churches, food, culture and neighborhoods. The streets of New York are one of NET-TV's "studios."

Quinn explains the rationale for this eclectic programming: "Jesus reached out to prostitutes, so this is our way to go to those who are disenfranchised." Quinn calls the overall approach the same Gospel, "but put it in a new, fresh way to evangelize."
Check out the rest. Your Humble Blogger makes a cameo appearance.
You don't have to live in New York to watch much of the programming.  We have the internet folks, and YouTube, and Pod Casts.  Check it out.

The Grace of the Sacraments

Thoughts from Daily Mass and Reconciliation

This morning I attended the Saturday morning mass at our parish of St. George, here in London.  I really enjoy meeting my prayer partners on weekday mornings to pray the Liturgy of the Hours, and it is definitely grace filled.  But, the mass . . . the mass has the ultimate grace filled experience in the whole of Christianity, the Eucharist.  There is nothing like it anywhere else in the world.

Today's gospel reading was from John Chapter 6 verses 60-69:
Many of the disciples of Jesus who were listening said, “This saying is hard; who can accept it?”
Since Jesus knew that his disciples were murmuring about this, he said to them, “Does this shock you? What if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? It is the Spirit that gives life, while the flesh is of no avail. The words I have spoken to you are Spirit and life.
But there are some of you who do not believe.”
Jesus knew from the beginning the ones who would not believe and the one who would betray him.
And he said, “For this reason I have told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by my Father.”

As a result of this, many of his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer walked with him.
Jesus then said to the Twelve, “Do you also want to leave?”
Simon Peter answered him, “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.
We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.” 
 What happened here was in direct response to the words Jesus had spoken in yesterday's gospel, John 6: 52-59:

The Jews quarreled among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his Flesh to eat?”
Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the Flesh of the Son of Man and drink his Blood, you do not have life within you.  Whoever eats my Flesh and drinks my Blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day.
For my Flesh is true food, and my Blood is true drink.  Whoever eats my Flesh and drinks my Blood
remains in me and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me.  This is the bread that came down from heaven.  Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died, whoever eats this bread will live forever.”
These things he said while teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum.

In the Catholic Church, we believe the words of yesterday's gospel reading literally, "unless you eat the Flesh of the Son of Man and drink his Blood, you do not have life within you."  With the eyes of our hearts, we can see that the Eucharist is in FACT the body and blood of our Saviour Jesus the Christ.  We can (though many do not) see the grace that comes from this Most Blessed Sacrament. 

This morning a young family with three beautiful little daughters were present at mass.  The middle one is about 3 years old, and is not old enough to receive the Eucharist yet, but she reveres Jesus in this holy presence.  As she approached with her family to the Eucharist, she knelt down in front of the priest, with a deep reverence that she was in the presence of God, in the Eucharist.  You can teach a child to kneel down, but you cannot teach a child to display reverence as this little one does.  She knows.

As I pondered the words of the gospel from the two days, and the actions of this child and others as they approached the table of the Lord, I was saddened to think about the separation we have with our Protestant Christian brothers and sisters.   Though they claim to be bible based Christians, and largely they are, they fail to believe these particular words of Jesus, that were said unequivocally, and so they have turned away from the Catholic Church to follow Jesus, but on their own terms.  I know so many devout Christians, not of our faith, and pray that somehow they will find the truth of the Eucharist and join us in it.  They have so much to offer us, from their lives of faith and love, but we too have gifts to give.

On Saturday mornings after mass, our priests hear confessions, and this morning I went to confession with Father John Pert, our pastor who has just come back from a delayed return to Canada from Europe. - something to do with an earthquake and flights canceled.

It had been two months since I last went to this beautiful sacrament, and again the grace abounds from it.  I said to him that I have noticed as it becomes longer since my last Reconciliation, that the urges to sin seem greater and harder to resist.  He then told me what one of his teachers from the Seminary many years ago had told him, that as we get further from our last confession, it is like a slippery slope, and I concur with this assessment.  That priest, who taught him this concept was one of my favourite priests, Fr.  Michael Prieur.  It is a very small world, after all.

For my penance, he told me to prayer for Father Sam Johnston, and once again there was a special grace and understanding that came from that.  I wrote about it here.

I admit it.  I love the Catholic Church, and am like Peter when he said in today's Gospel reading, “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.  We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.”

He is the Holy One of God, and He founded what came to be known as the Roman Catholic Church.

Sacred Heart of Jesus, I trust in your love for all who read these words.