Tuesday, August 31, 2010

What's In a Name?

My Name is Michael not Mike

When I was born on March 13, 1950, my parents named me Michael.  To be exact they named me Michael Anthony, two good and popular names for Catholic children of that era. 

When I was confirmed I got to select another name for myself.  I was young for my grade, about 2 years younger than most in my class, and there was a particular boy that I admired for his kindness to me and to everyone else without exclusion, so I took the name Paul.  As we have grown older, that Paul and I have become friends, and live a short distance from each other.  We do not see each other often, but enjoy the times that we share.

I am not sure why my parents picked Michael for me.  There was no family history of the name, and besides me only one cousin has born the name to my knowledge, Michael Sweet, who was shot and killed in the line of duty as a Metro Toronto police officer on March 14, 1980, on an overnight shift that began on my birthday.  We were not close, but I enjoyed the time that I spent with him as a kid.  As he was a year older than me, I think that his birth gave the idea for the name to my parents.

When I was young, people called me Mike, including and especially my Grandfather, the original Anthony of my name.  Though he was Anthony, he was called Andy by everybody who was an adult.  Andy suited his smile and his laugh, so I never thought about it. 

But, I was never Mike to my mother, I was Michael, and my mother often told a story of her taking me out for a walk in front of our house, when a neighbour from down the street came walking by.  The neighbour asked my name and age, and I responded over my mother saying: "My name Michael Brandon.  He two in March," mimicking words I had heard my mother say.

So, somewhere along the line, I decided that I was not a Mike, but a Michael, and when asked my name or introducing myself, would do so as Michael.  Then, of course, it would drive me nuts, though quietly, when someone who I had just told my name, would then call me Mike, in some sort of effort at familiarity.

The name "Michael" is a humbling name.  It is a Hebrew name, and means rhetorically "Who is like God?", "el" being a word for God.  So, in its meaning, it is something like me calling my blog, "Freedom Through Truth", which is also meant to humble me to seek truth over being right when I write things.  So, for me my name reminds me that I am created in God's image, but that looks can be deceiving, because though created thus, my actions speak louder than my words, and even those are often suspect.

Reflection from the magnificat.ca site here. Saint Michael is not only the protector of the Church, but of every faithful soul. By humility he defeated the devil; we who are enlisted in the same warfare must adopt his weapons — humility and ardent love of God. Regarding this Archangel as our leader under God, let us courageously resist the devil in all his assaults with our protector’s famous exclamation: “Who is like unto God?”

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

Monday, August 30, 2010

It Is Well With My Soul

A Great Song By Horatio Spafford

I just discovered that I first posted this on November 16, 2009.  As I was thinking about spiritual things and about my Saviour this early evening, it came back to me.  Since my auto accident about 6 1/2 years ago, I have had considerable problems with memory, and so when I found the song on You Tube, as sung by Guy Penrod and the Gaither Choir, it was exciting to me.

It did not dampen my enthusiasm when I came back to my blog and found that I had posted the song with the exact video that touched me moments ago, just 9 months ago.  In fact, it was news to me.  They say that the good thing about having a bad memory is that you get to meet a lot of nice people, over and over and over.

Anyway, here is what I posted back then, so you can enjoy it for the first time like me, a second time, maybe.

Horatio Spafford wrote one of the best known hymn of worship known to man. Here is how the song came about from a wikipedia article about it:

"It Is Well with My Soul" is a very influential hymn penned by hymnist Horatio Spafford and composed by Philip Bliss.
This hymn was written after several traumatic events in Spafford’s life. The first was the death of his only son in 1871, shortly followed by the great Chicago Fire which ruined him financially (he had been a successful lawyer). Then in 1873, he had planned to travel to Europe with his family on the S.S. Ville du Havre, but sent the family ahead while he was delayed on business concerning zoning problems following the Great Chicago Fire. While crossing the Atlantic, the ship sank rapidly after a collision with a sailing ship, the Loch Earn, and all four of Spafford's daughters died. His wife Anna survived and sent him the now famous telegram, "Saved alone." Shortly afterwards, as Spafford traveled to meet his grieving wife, he was inspired to write these words as his ship passed near where his daughters had died.
Bliss called his tune Ville du Havre, from the name of the stricken vessel.
The Spaffords later had three more children, one of whom (a son) died in infancy. In 1881 the Spaffords, including baby Bertha and newborn Grace, set sail for Palestine. The Spaffords moved to Jerusalem and helped found a group called the American Colony; its mission was to serve the poor. The colony later became the subject of the Nobel prize winning Jerusalem, by Swedish novelist Selma Lagerlöf.
Out of the tragedies in his life, Spafford, even in his own grief composed these lyrics:
When peace like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.
Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.
My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!
For me, be it Christ, be it Christ hence to live:
If Jordan above me shall roll,
No pang shall be mine, for in death as in life,
Thou wilt whisper Thy peace to my soul.
But Lord, 'tis for Thee, for Thy coming we wait,
The sky, not the grave, is our goal;
Oh, trump of the angel! Oh, voice of the Lord!
Blessed hope, blessed rest of my soul.
And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul.
Horatio Spafford

What an inspirational hymn. Here it is with the story told by Bill Gaither, and then the song sung by the Gaither choir:

Why Parents Drink

A father passing by his son's bedroom was astonished to see that his bed was nicely made and everything was picked up. Then he saw an envelope, propped up prominently on the pillow that was addressed to 'Dad.'

With the worst premonition he opened the envelope, and with trembling hands and read the letter.

Dear Dad:

It is with great regret and sorrow that I'm writing you. I had to elope with my new girlfriend because I wanted to avoid a scene with Mom and you.

I have been finding real passion with Stacy and she is so nice.

But I knew you would not approve of her because of all her piercing, tattoos, tight motorcycle clothes and the fact that she is much older than I am. But it's not only the passion...Dad she's pregnant.

Stacy said that we will be very happy.

She owns a trailer in the woods and has a stack of firewood for the whole winter. We share a dream of having many more children.

Stacy has opened my eyes to the fact that marijuana doesn't really hurt anyone.

We'll be growing it for ourselves and trading it with the other people that live nearby for cocaine and ecstasy.

In the meantime we will pray that science will find a cure for AIDS so

Stacy can get better. She deserves it.

Don't worry Dad. I'm 15 and I know how to take care of myself.

Someday I'm sure that we will be back to visit so that you can get to know your grandchildren.


Your Son John

PS. Dad, none of the above is true. I'm over at Tommy's house.   I Just wanted to remind you that there are worse things in life than a Report card That's in my center desk drawer.

I love you.

Call me when it's safe to come home...

Friday, August 27, 2010

Be Holy For I Am Holy - Jesus

Be Perfect Or We Are Out of Here - Catholic Laity

The most difficult vocation I can imagine is that of being a Priest, Deacon or Religious in the Roman Catholic Church.

Over at Illegitimi Non Carborundum, the blog of Father James Farfaglia, the Catholic priest and writer from Corpus Christi Texas, Father wrote about Celibacy and Authenticity here.  His thesis for the article is: "The charism of celibacy has to be lived out with authenticity."  It is well worth reading for those of you who are celibate in vocation, as well as for those of us who, as parishioners, should be celebrating that special charism with you, and encouraging you in that calling.

Meanwhile, Monsignor Charles Pope of the Archdiocese of Washington, DC, has written "On the Silence of Pastors and a Call to Prayer" at the diocesan blog where he does much of his writing here.  He laments the state of preaching in the Church, and quotes the writings of Pope St. Gregory the Great, who was considered Great in part for some very solid teaching, like the excerpts quoted by the good Monsignor.

It is his conclusion that rings most true for me and should for all faithful Catholic Christians.  It is a call to prayer:
Pray, Pray Pray! Well you know what you need to do. Pray for us who are clergy and leaders. An old saying is true, corruptio optimi pessima (the corruption of the best is the worst) or again, I will strike the shepherd and the sheep will be scattered (Matt 26:31). It is easy to criticize the clergy and well we deserve some of it. But realize this too, Satan has targeted the clergy, your bishop and your priests. It is easier for him to knock out the leaders than to go after the whole flock. Hence he targets bishops, priests and deacons. Send up your prayers as a hedge of protection around us. Pray for clergy who have become distracted and worldly. Pray for clergy who fear man more than God. Pray for clergy who have fallen under the burden of office. Pray for clergy who have been deceived by the evil one. Pray, pray, pray!
I know many priests, some better than others that I have met over the years.  I have not met one who I have any reason to believe take his vow of celibacy with anything but the utost seriousness, nor have I met one who is not committed to his vocation to the very best of his ability. 

The priests I have in my heart and mind right now include Father Sam Johnston, an 84 year old retired priest of our London Ontario diocese, who has gotten almost more active since retirement than he was as a very active parish priest, our pastor here at St. George Parish in London, Father John Pirt, who convalidated our marriage with us this summer,  and Father Tim Moyle, who gave us the gift of saying mass for My Dear Wife and I on the day of our convalidation while several hundred miles away.  I think of one particular priest who brings a smile to my face each time I think of him, Father Michael Prieur, a wonderful teacher at St. Peter's Seminary here in London, also a friend of the family, Father Jim Mockler, the pastor of St. Peter's Cathedral Basilica, here in town, and Father Clement Agamba, of Ghana and the Diocese of Tucson, who's prayerful gentle faith has inspired us.  Then, of course, there is Father Francis Jayaseelan, formerly the assistant at St. George's Parish, a Rosarian priest, and the two younger priests, who followed him here to our Diocese from Sri Lanka to take on the responsibility for the Diocesan Shrine.  There are others who I have only encountered through their internet ministry, like Father Dwight Longenecker of Greenville SC, and  in particular those quoted above, Father James Farfaglia, and Monsignor Charles Pope, whose writings and faith are an inspiration. 

And of course, in pondering and praying for those who are active in ministering their vocation in the free world, I cannot forget Father Gordon MacRae, who ministers from the New Hampshire State Prison, not as a visitor, but as an inmate.  Father Gordon was wrongly accused of sexual molestation, as even a cursory review of the evidence demonstrates, and has spent more than 16 years as an inmate, yet remains faithful to the Church, and faithful to his vows.

These good men have all been called to serve God in a special way, and have been given the charism of celibacy, which helps them in their service.  It is wrong for us to think that the charism of celibacy and the other components of the vocation to priesthood exempts them from temptation, and from being sinners as we are.  They need us to love them, to serve them in turn, to encourage them in their vocation, and above all to pray for them, as Monsignor Pope has asked.  In fact, we should not have to be asked.  This we should know and should do as part of our vocation.

In the morning Liturgy of the Hours which my prayer partners and I pray together, there is a time of intercession as a part of the liturgy.  We add special intentions that come to mind at the conclusion.  A particular intention that I have had on my heart and have voiced regularly lately, and will continue with is somewhat as follows:
We pray for all priests, religious and deacons, as well as those currently in formation, or discerning a call to vocation, that they will follow the Spirit of God in directing them in the path they are to follow in their vocation.  We pray that God will send His angels to minister to their needs, to intercede for those needs to the Father of us all, and that warring angels will protect them from all evil that would come against them to separate them from their vocation.   We pray also that Our Blessed Mother, and all the angels and saints would intercede on their behalf to the Father.
Let us not forget these men, who like our Saviour have laid down the parts of their lives that we the laity take for granted, to be alter Christus for us.

His Grace is Amazing - His Love Everlasting

Church on the Move

Amazing Grace.  Watch this and see how God loves us and heals us.  This comes from Church on the Move, Tulsa Oklahoma.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

A Little Humour for My Age Group

Laugh Along With Mrs. Hughes

Here is a very funny grandmother.

Here's her web site.

Scripture and Tradition - Separating Catholics from Other Christians

Do Our Protestant Brothers and Sisters Get What We Believe?

From Catholics Come Home  come some questions and answers about what we belive as Catholics.

Here are the questions with the answer given to the first one.
Question 1. My Protestant friends say that their church goes by the Bible Alone, but that the Catholic Church has added a lot of man-made traditions to the Word of God…Is that true?
No, it is not true. Protestants have as their sole rule of faith the written Word of God, which we find in Sacred Scripture. The Catholic Church has as its sole rule of faith, the entire Word of God, as it is found in Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition.

All of the Word of God was at one time passed on orally...Sacred Tradition. Eventually, some of Sacred Tradition was written down...this became Sacred Scripture, which is written tradition. However, Scripture itself tells us that not all of the things that Jesus said and did were written down. And listen to what Paul says about "tradition":

2 Thes 2:15, "So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter." Traditions! Traditions taught by word of mouth, in other words, oral tradition, and traditions taught by letter. Traditions which they are being told to "stand firm and hold to". Sacred Scripture and

1 Cor 11:2, "I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions even as I have delivered them to you." The Corinthians are being commended by Paul because they maintain the traditions that he passed on to them. Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition.

2 Tim 2:2: "and what you have heard from me before many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also." What we have here in 2 Timothy is an instance, in Scripture, of Paul commanding the passing on of oral tradition.

1 Thes 2:13, "And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the Word of God which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the Word of God, which is at work in you believers." So, they received as the Word of God that which they heard, not simply that which they read in Scripture.
In other words, the Bible clearly supports the Catholic Church's teaching that the Word of God is contained in both Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition.
Question 2 is Why are Catholic and Protestant Bibles different?  Who originally compiled the Bible?

Question 3 is I had a theology teacher who told me that Adam and Eve were just myths, and that the rest of Genesis was all just legends. . . Is that what the Church teaches?

The big one is Question 4 - A friend of mine said that his church takes the Bible literally, but that the Catholic Church doesn't. . . is that true?

Actually this fourth question has too good an answer to make you hop over and read it at Catholics Come Home, so here it is:
Actually, there is no truth to that, whatsoever. Catholics interpret the Bible in a "literal" sense, while many fundamentalists, Evangelicals, and others interpret the Bible in a literalist sense.

The "literal" meaning of a passage of Scripture is the meaning that the author of that passage of Scripture intended to convey. The "literalist" interpretation of a passage of Scripture is: "that's what it says, that's what it means."
Let me give you an example to illustrate the difference. If you were to read a passage in a book that said it was "raining cats and dogs outside", how would you interpret that? As Americans, in the 21st Century, you would know that the author was intending to convey the idea that it was raining pretty doggone hard outside. That would be the "literal" interpretation...the interpretation the author intended to convey. On the other hand, what if you made a "literalist" interpretation of the phrase, "it's raining cats and dogs"?

The "literalist" interpretation would be that, were you to walk outside, you would actually see cats and dogs falling from the sky like rain. No taking into account the popularly accepted meaning of this phrase. No taking into account the author's intentions. The words say it was raining cats and dogs, so, by golly, it was raining cats and dogs! That is the literalist, or fundamentalist, way of interpretation.

If someone 2000 years in the future picked up that same book and read, "It was raining cats and dogs outside," in order to properly understand that passage in the book, they would need a "literal" interpretation, not a "literalist" interpretation. Now, think about that in the context of interpreting the Bible 2000-3000 years after it was written.

Literal, or Catholic, interpretation vs. literalist, or fundamentalist, interpretation.
There is lots of good stuff about the Catholic Church over at Catholics Come Home, presented to invite our fallen away brethren (and sistren) to come back and join us, but it is also a very useful site for those of us who profess to be Catholic Christians to brush up on what we really believe in order to be able to share our faith with those we love, who view Our Saviour Jesus through their own fresh set of eyes.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

A Muslim Mosque at Ground Zero - Interesting Perspective

Time to Wake Up

H/t Father James Farfaglia

Here is an interesting video courtesy of Apologetics Ministries in the US.

Dad Life


Say What.  This is cool.  Hopefully someone will come up with a GrandDad Life vid for us older guys.

H/t Socon or Bust

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Marriage Is Not For The Faint of Heart

Funny How Things Come Together

Monsignor Charles Pope over at the Archdiocese of Washington DC had an interesting article the other day on Marriage. 

His third component in his article was this:
Marriage makes two people one. The trouble comes in determining which one. – One of the biggest problems today in marriage is power struggle. In our modern age we have rejected the biblical teaching of headship in marriage. God establishes a husband in authority in the home. Every organism and organization requires headship. A creature with two heads is a freak. A creature with no head is dead. Having rejected the necessity of headship and the biblical teaching assigning that to the husband (eg Eph 5:19 ff) the result is power struggle between the spouses. Now a husband’s authority is not a worldly, autocratic authority but a Christian, servant based authority (Cf Mark 10:41-45). I have written more on this matter here: An Unpopular Teaching on Marriage. It does not follow that the husband always “gets his way.” Rather, if he is smart, he listens carefully to his wife and her wisdom. Practically speaking women have great authority in the home and its daily running and a smart husband will not seek to micromanage and usurp his wife’s role and her practical authority there and with the children. But in the end, two have to become one. Oneness requires headship, common faith, shared fear of the Lord, and a heartfelt appreciation for the gifts of each.
If you want some interesting reading, go to the comments that follow from this posting.  But, for me this is a very practical teaching that has taken me most of my 60 years on the planet to understand (if only a teeny weeny bit).

I was fortunate to be raised in a good Catholic home, with a mother and father who loved me.  That said, we had our own versions of dysfunction, and for me as a child of the marriage, my own version of turning what I thought I saw into a life long delusion.

My father flew Spitfire warplanes in WWII, as a member of the Royal Canadian Air Force Red Indian Squadron, No. 421.  He and my mother were an item in Timmins in northern Ontario, where he had been working, and remained so when he left Timmins to study Business Administration at the University of Western Ontario, here in London Ontario.  He decided that he wanted to do his part for the war effort to prevent Fascism from reaching our shores, and so he joined up one day in May of 1941.  Between the time of his basic and flight officer training, my mother, who was still in Timmins, made it very clear to him that she did not want him to be worried while overseas about her waiting for him to return, and so they were married prior to his departure.

When my father returned from the war, his health started to deteriorate, and within a few years, he was seriously crippled by arthritis, an autoimmune disease we all know about, but which can be brought on by stress.  I guess getting shot at by German Luftwaffe fighter pilots could be a tad stressful.

So, as a child, what I saw or didn't see was a father who was often not at home, but was in hospital, and I saw a strong woman who was large and in charge.  As a young child, we do not have the advantage of perspective, and so I missed the effort Mom was putting in to keep the family together, while seriously worried for my father.  I also did not realise at the time how much she deferred to my father out of respect for him as her husband.  Further, I did not really see how much my father adored my mother, and lived his life, in faith, for her and our family.

Combine that with the advent of feminism, when women apparently needed men like fish need bicycles, or so said Gloria Steinem, and I entered my 20's somewhat emasculated, along with many of my peers.  I married the large and in charge view of my mother not once, but twice.  Go figure that one.  There are a number of things I have done twice wrong in my life, just to be sure that I understood the pattern before moving on.

It is a not very bright person, who repeats the same errors again (and again if unconvinced) expecting to reap different rewards.

There is not a scintilla of a possibility of a hope that I was the head of the household I was involved in in my first two marriages.

But,10 years ago, I was married for the final time, really truth be told, for the first time, but that is a spiritual statement, and is contrary to the physical evidence I presented above.

My Dear Wife is a very kind, Catholic Christian woman of deep faith, the kind that helped her to overcome serious challenges in her childhood, and in her family dynamic.  Our marriage started out like my two previous ones, where I was looking for someone to handle the tough sledding, so I could be a nice guy, and skate through life.  Well, MDW is not that kind of woman, and we had conflict up the whazoo for several years.  She was not satisfied to just slog through it with me, and she enlisted the help of her best friend, Jesus.  Jesus allowed me to be hit in the back of the head by a Ford Aerostar van 6 1/2 years ago, and I have been unable to return to work since.  She, herself, simultaneously was struck with two autoimmune diseases that have disabled her seriously.

Watching her get through her days in her faith, loving me, provided a backdrop for me to step up my own game, and to become the man that God wanted me to be, and one she could be proud to have as her husband,was the major impetus for allowing God to guide me on a stronger path as a man.

Along the way, I picked up on something that I did not notice early on, and that was that she expected ME to be the head of the household.  This is not to be confused with lording anything over her.  That is not going to happen.  This is a case of two equal partners, where she wants me to have the last word on certain things, to provide the leadership that she can rely on, and the strength of character that empowers our marriage, and provides her with comfort and shelter.

A major example from yesterday brought perspective to the whole thing for me.  About a year ago, we got rid of our second car, and have survived for the past year with one.  However, My Dear Wife engages in quilting with two guilds and other classes and events, and is also the only active member of her family in the care of her aging mother who lives 25 miles down the road from us.  We agreed that we were in need of another vehicle, and then she stepped back, inviting me to take the lead in the search.  I looked at many available options for a used car, eBay, local dealers etc.  Then one day, we took a new Honda Accord out for a test drive.  Interestingly, MDW did not want to drive this car, but was satisfied to go for the ride.  A new Honda would be about $32,000 out the door, and that stopped me in my tracks, not because we could not afford to do it, but mainly because I was uncertain whether that was a good way to use some of our money.

Finally, yesterday, we went to see the dealer up the road where we had purchased our previous Honda, and were offered a better deal to buy there once again.  We went away and talked about it, and the sly one told me that she was okay with buying this car, but wanted me to make the final decision.  That left me in a quandary.  We told the dealer we would get back to them this morning, and went home.

Last night I prayed specifically about this new car option, and prayed further with one of my prayer partners this morning.  I was finally at peace with US spending this amount of money for a new car, and came home and told MDW what I believed was the right decision for us to make.  She concurred and I set the wheels in motion to complete the transaction.

My Dear Wife trusts that I will not make hasty decisions, though I used to.  She trusts that I will put it to prayer, and she will join me as required.  She trusts that my primary concern in this matter is her safety, her health, our finances, and our well being as a couple, and above that that we will honour God to the best of our abilities.

The Kingdom is a reflection of the King.  In our little kingdom, the queen is the power behind the throne, and I am devoted to the queen.  My Dear Wife never shrinks from sharing her thoughts and opinions on any decisions that presents itself to us.  She is free to make decisions on her own about many things, as am I.  But, we do not make any decisions without mutual consultation, and consultation from above.

Biblical headship has been a hard thing for me to get my head around, largely because I have been lazy, and afraid of the responsibility.  It has taken the love and trust of a very good woman to bring me around to accepting my responsibilities as a husband.

It Takes Courage to Speak the Truth

But What is the Alternative?

Monsignor Charles Pope of the Washington DC Catholic Diocese lets the truth be his guide.  He seeks it, and he finds it.  He seeks it with his heart, and so he finds it with his heart.

On the Diocesan blog site, he writes about St. Ambrose and the Emperor Theodosius, and St. Ambrose letter to the Emperor that led him to deeper conversion, and probably saved his immortal soul.  When presented with evil, St. Ambrose did not back down, but addressed it appropriately, and firmly, in what we now know as his letter number 51, though he probably was very nervous to do so.  It was the Emperor after all, who had the power of life and death over his mortal body.

Monsignor Pope's disclaimer, which is more an exhortation is telling:
I do not relate this story to critique the modern struggle of some bishops (and priests) to speak the truth to those in power. I write rather to encourage us all by an epic tale from the past. It remains true that every bishop has to make prudential judgments in each situation based on the individual politician or prominent person involved, what is best for the faithful, and the common good. Some have judged to speak forth as Ambrose. Others in different circumstances are still pursuing quiet measures. Still others judge that public rebukes in the circumstances they face will only make heroes of the one rebuked. It is a prudential judgment that every bishop has to make. A bishop in the Midwest may face one set of circumstances, a bishop in the northeast another set. The faithful do well to encourage their bishops and priests and pray for them to make good judgments in this regard.
We do well to encourage our bishops and priests by our prayers for them, and by our kindness and love towards them.  We do not do well to criticise them, to judge them, to harrass them, when we do not know all the facts of particular situations, but have just enough knowledge to form an opinion, and then feel it necessary to in turn share that opinion. 

We do well to stand up for what is right, always, and sometimes that balance between the two above options can appear fuzzy.  Humble prayer is a good antidote for fuzziness.

Monday, August 23, 2010

For A Catholic Christian THIS IS IT

The Consecration of the Holy Eucharist

I am a Catholic.  I was a cradle Catholic, but I left.  The Church was not "relevant" for me when I was a 20 year old.  When I was a 30 year old, I heard the voice of God speak to me three words, as I stood in my kitchen.  HE said: "Go to Church."  That was it.  That was all.  There was no more.  I knew my Master's voice, and I obeyed.

I am now 60 years old, and I still go to Church.  But, more than that I attend and participate in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass whenever I can.  I love the Mass, and above all I love the Eucharist.

When my prayer partners and I gather in the chapel at St. George Parish, here in London Ontario in the mornings to pray the Breviary, Christ is present with us in the reserved Eucharist, reposed in the tabernacle in front of us.

The Eucharist is He who died to save us, and He who was then resurrected for us.  I do not know how it is so.  It looks like bread and wine to my naked eyes, but to my eyes of faith, and to my heart, it is My Saviour.  If you believe it, you know it to be so.  If you do not believe it, there is no way to prove it to you; it must be experienced.

The nourishment that comes from this Real Food must be consumed, must be incorporated into your very being.  You may believe by faith alone in the Eucharist, but it is there to be experienced, to become part of your life, that Grace, that indescribable joy that comes from being One with Our Lord and Saviour.

Here is where it all begins, in the Consecration narrative, and in the grace that flows from God that makes this bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Jesus, the Christ.  Yet, it is not a re-enactment of the Passion and Death of Jesus.  IT IS the Passion and Death of Jesus.

Time has not stood still.  No, time does not stand still.  Yet, there is no time and space in God.  He is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow as well.  He is present at this moment, employing the hands and heart of an Alter Christus, a priest, to bring Himself to us, in our state of life, this moment in our history.

It is a Mystery.

Recently, Father Tim Moyle, an internet friend, said Mass for My Dear Wife and I on the deck of his cottage on the Ottawa River, on the day that we had our marriage convalidated.  That was and remains a very precious gift to us both.  While we were becoming the sacrament of Marriage with and for each other, he was bringing us Jesus in the Eucharist, hundreds of miles away, and yet with us, crossing the bounds of space and time, as only God can do.

h/t Where the Rubber Hits the Road

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Men - Be Men Not Boys

Monsignor Charles Pope

Over on the Archdiocese of Washington blog site is some of the teaching of Monsignor Charles Pope, a priest of that Diocese on marriage.  This particular teaching revolves around 3 humorous, but insightful sayings he has picked up over the years:
1) Some want their marriage to be ideal and if there’s any ordeal they want a new deal
2) Honey, if you ever leave me, I’m going with you
3) Marriage makes two people one. The trouble comes in determining which one.
I am graced to be married to the woman of my dreams, to have as a marriage partner someone who loves me for me, and allows me to love her for her, and for us Christ is at the very center of our marriage (more on this another time). 

But, it was not always so.  In the video, attached, Monsignor Pope talks about a man leaving his father and mother and clinging to his wife, while boys play the field.  For most of my life, including two failed attempts at marriage, I was a boy, not because I played the field so much as because I did not cling to my wife, and set my childish tendencies behind me, and cling like mad to the woman to whom I was married.

Read the linked article please, and watch the video below.  It speaks to me and to my heart, and I hope it will do so to yours as well.

There is also a video of a sermon on Marriage that he gave and which is available on You Tube

Here is a link to Monsignor Pope's own web site where some of his teachings can be heard and seen.

h/t Where the Rubber Hits the Road

Monday, August 16, 2010

Not A Groundswell But Significant None the Less

Glen Coffee and Grant Desme Leave Professional Sports for Jesus

On Friday, Glen Coffee, a second year running back on the San Francisco 49ers roster abruptly retired after just one season this past Friday.  He claims that he is doing what The Lord has asked him to do previously, but which he was reticent to do.  Some writers are claiming that he did not have a good training camp, and blah, blah, blah.  It is possible his camp was not up to par for his skills, as he was working through a very tough decision.  Here is a link to a recent interview with him.  He was no slouch as an athlete, as described here on wikipedia.

Back in mid January, 2010 Grant Desme, a 23-year-old minor league outfielder in Oakland's system, also retired from professional sport to follow a calling, but this time into the Catholic priesthood.

The story was first reported by Fox Sports' Jon Paul Morosi. Desme was ranked the A's eighth-best prospect by Baseball America after hitting .288 with 31 home runs and 89 RBIs in A ball in 2009 and he was just named MVP of the Arizona Fall League.

Said Desme on a Friday afternoon conference call when announcing his retirement from pro sport:
"I'm doing well in baseball. But I had to get down to the bottom of things, to what was good in my life, what I wanted to do with my life. Baseball is a good thing, but that felt selfish of me when I felt that God was calling me more. It took awhile to trust that and open up to it and aim full steam toward him ... I love the game, but I'm going to aspire to higher things."Desme spoke with Baseball America last year about baseball being only "a game" and we wish him success on his spiritual path. In a selfish age when churches struggle to recruit young male Americans, his sacrifice of possible riches is a very admirable thing.
Here is what Deacon Greg Kandra had to say about Grant Desme back in January.

Both of these young men are Ordinary Heroes, in passing on the lures of the world, to find out what God is calling them to.  That is far more inspirational to me than Chris Bosh and James Lebron jumping from the basketball clubs that drafted them to the Miami Heat to try and form an unbeatable combination.  Messrs. Coffee and Desme are leaving that world for peace and eternal security, which can only be found in submitting to God's will for your life.

It is difficult for an elite athlete to pass up riches for something of the heart, and many will look at Messrs. Coffee and Desme and say they were not in the same league as the superstars I mentioned above.  With that I concur, but their league impresses me more than King James and the former CB4's world, though I will still enjoy watching King James, CB4 and D Wade play.

I look forward to hearing of the lives of Glen Coffee and Grant Desme.  They will do simple things that will make the world a better place because of their faith in their Lord and Saviour.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Hail Holy Queen - Salve Regina

Gregorian Chant Comes Alive

One of my favourite prayers is the "Hail Holy Queen".  I include it in my own personal daily morning litany of prayers.

Here it is sung in a more traiditional Latin version and in Gregorian Chant.

The English words of the prayers are:
Hail, holy Queen, Mother of Mercy,
our life, our sweetness and our hope.
To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve;
to thee do we send up our sighs,
mourning and weeping in this valley of tears.

Turn then, most gracious advocate,
thine eyes of mercy toward us;
and after this our exile,
show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus.

O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary.

V. Pray for us O holy Mother of God,

R. that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

The Latin almost exactly as sung here is excludes the final prayer and response:
Salve, Regina, Mater misericordiae,

vita, dulcedo, et spes nostra, salve.
ad te clamamus
exsules filii Evae,
ad te suspiramus, gementes et flentes
in hac lacrimarum valle.

Eia, ergo, advocata nostra, illos tuos
misericordes oculos ad nos converte;
et Jesum, benedictum fructum ventris tui,
nobis post hoc exsilium ostende.
O clemens, O pia, O dulcis Virgo Maria.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Invasion of the Granparent Huggers

It's D Day - D Day the grandkids arrive for a week

My Dear Wife and I are preparing for the imminent arrival of our grandchildren, our 2 year old grandson, and 4 1/2 year old granddaughter.  Oh, and they have parents too, who will be accompanying them.

We saw them for a few hours last week to get in the right frame of mind for this delightful onslaught.

So, blogging will be lighter than it has been lately, which has been pretty light.

Before, I step back from the keyboard though I wanted to acknowledge the 11 th wedding anniversary of one of my favourite Catholic bloggers, Jennifer Hartline at my Chocolate Heart, and her husband Major Christopher Hartline of the US Army.  It was 11 years ago this past Saturday that they were joined in Holy Matrimony, and they have built a family on the love that they committed to that day.  Congratulations to you both and to your family.  May God contineu to bless you union.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Bishop Fulton J. Sheen and the Devil

Sounds From A Wise Man in the Past

Bishop Sheen was a great orator and was one of the earliest to use media effectively to spread the Good News in the middle of the last century.

Here is a series of YouTube clips from one of his preachings about the Devil, which I came across yesterday at Sancte Pater blog.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Resurrection Sunday Morning Dance

1300 People in Budapest Dancing and Praising Jesus Christ

God's not dead.  He is alive and He resides in the hearts of His people.


Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The Most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass

Eternity Stepped into Time so We Could Understand

Over at Where the Rubber Hits the Road, my internet friend who I hope I have the pleasure of meeting face to face some time, Father Tim Moyle, is "Taking the Summer to Reflect upon the Beauty of the Mass."

He has posted two videos to date, one of the Kyrie, and another of the Kyrie and Gloria from the Mass of Rejoicing.   For a Catholic Christian, there is nothing more profound than the Mass and I am looking forward to more from Father Tim.

The Mass is important because it is the place where time steps into eternity.  I subtitled this piece "Eternity Stepped into Time so We Could Understand" which is a line from the beautiful song "The Final Word", which is from Michael Card's "The Life" trilogy set of cd's.  When Jesus came to be here on the earth, eternity did step into time.  He is eternal, and He, the Creator of the universe, chose to come down to earth with His created ones.

But, He is not bound by time and space.  He is God, after all, the alpha and omega, the beginning and the end.  He is timeless.  That is a hard concept to grasp for us earthbound clock watchers, who rush to an appointment at X o'clock, or to get to the store before it closes at Y o'clock.  We go to a movie at Z o'clock.  You get my point.  We are bound by time . . . and space.

So, when that realisation dawned on me many years ago, it was a real Aha moment for me.  He, the God of all creation is everywhere, all the time . . . oops, always.

OK, so I get eternity stepping into time, but the concept of time stepping into eternity.  What's with that?

A number of years ago, I had to travel to Montreal often to go to the corporate office of the company I was a manager with at the time, in my office here in London Ontario.  I stayed at the beautiful old Queen Elizabeth Hotel.  The office of my company was in the Edifice Sun Life kitty corner from the hotel, but across the street was the Cathédrale Marie-Reine-du-Monde.  Every morning I was in Montreal, I attended mass at the Cathédrale before going to work.  Sadly, I do not speak French, though I do understand some of it.  But, it was there that I realised that the Mass was eternal.  The mass being said there was the same mass, different language, but same mass, as at every other Catholic Church.  By attending Mass there, I was part of the universal Church.

It did not dawn on me until this morning, as I was preparing to go to Church for morning prayer, that I had it only partly right.  In fact, when I was at mass at the Cathédrale, I was not only united to the masses being said throughout the world at that moment, but I was also being united with every mass ever said or to be said anywhere in the world.  That is time stepping into eternity.

So, we do not celebrate the Most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass to make Jesus sacrifice on the Cross insufficient, by doing it over and over again.  No, we are witnesses to Jesus death on the cross at Calvary.  If you cannot see it, then close your eyes, and look with the eyes of faith.  Time has been suspended as the Mass commences, and we are there with Him.  It is not a do over, not a continuation, not a remembering only.  It is the actual sacrifice of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus the Christ on the Cross once and for all, for all of mankind.

I came across a Primer for Clueless Catholics on the Most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass here.  It is well worth the read, as it gently explains what the Mass is and what it is not in 8 parts.

Monday, August 2, 2010

When Faced With the Truth Many Hide From It. Why?

Turns Out It's Not About the Facts

Daniel Patrick Moynihan, a former US politican and sociologist, was quoted as saying: "You are entitled to your opinion. But you are not entitled to your own facts."  That said, and that being true, why are there so many differing opinions about things in our world?

In a recent article for her blog, writer Sheila Liaugminas, a very thoughful and reasoned writer pulled together some research and thinking that gave me pause.

She commenced her piece as follows: "Opinions are individual and subjective. But facts are facts. Trouble is, they’re usually communicated or interpreted by someone. That’s where opinion comes back in…."

She quotes from the Boston Globe how facts actually backfire:
Recently, a few political scientists have begun to discover a human tendency deeply discouraging to anyone with faith in the power of information. It’s this: Facts don’t necessarily have the power to change our minds. In fact, quite the opposite. In a series of studies in 2005 and 2006, researchers at the University of Michigan found that when misinformed people, particularly political partisans, were exposed to corrected facts in news stories, they rarely changed their minds. In fact, they often became even more strongly set in their beliefs. Facts, they found, were not curing misinformation. Like an underpowered antibiotic, facts could actually make misinformation even stronger.

It turns out that the uninformed are able to be swayed by facts presented cogently, and maybe even not presented cogently, whereas those perceiving themselves as informed are not only not swayed by facts, but tend to become intransigent in their false beliefs, based on what they have determined previously to be facts. And so, they filter what is not consistent with their beliefs in large part because the emotional cost of being in error is too great.

For the last several months, I have had contact through Father Tim Moyle's blog "Where the Rubber Hits the Road" with a well meaning though ill informed former Catholic, who encountered Jesus along the way, and felt the need to find the real faith, and in his mind at least, the truth about Christianity.  He has made voluminous, fatuous claims about the Catholic Church, based on his readings of deniers of the Catholic Christian faith like Loraine Boettner, and on his own interpretation of the Holy Bible, or at least that large portion of it proclaimed by the Reformers to actually be inspired divinely.

When presented with the actual Catholic teaching, which discredits his set of "facts", he comes back with some other new, but not new, squirm at it, or moves along to some other heresy perpetrated by the Catholic Church.  Many of his worst monologues go unanswered, as those of us who read the screed have better things to do with our time, most of the time, than to respond to silliness.

I fully expected that when presented with the actual teaching of the Catholic Church, rather than the altered one that he has put forward, that he would in fact have no real choice but to return to the Church of his own personal roots.  What I did not realise was that he is so committed to his version of the truth, that finding the actual truth is less important than being right.

This rings a bell with me personally.  Many years ago, when My Dear Wife and I were not getting along all that well, I came to a realisation, with great difficulty I might add, that I had to re-evaluate everything that I thought, believed and held dear to me.  I made a conscious effort to look at things differently, and over a lengthy number of years have come to realise that if I look at things through the eyes of my wife and best friend, as well as my own, that I will get two very distinct views of things, and by being open to this second view that I might learn a thing or three that will deepen my faith, and enrich my life. 

I am aware that I often read things that support my beliefs or criticise those things that I hold as fallacious, so I know that I am not a total truth seeker.  But, it is important, as one of the writers referenced by Ms. Liaugminas, R. R. Reno presented: "we have to want to know ‘the truth’ and “risk error as we leap forward to grasp” it."

She concludes with a G. K. Chesterton quote worthy of thought: "it’s not what you look at, but what you see."

However, I am also struck by a quote on Father Dwight Longenecker's blog Standing on My Head, attributed to a minister of the 1800's who was an acquaintance of G.K. Chesterton, and the subject of a poem of his.  Maurice is quoted as saying: "A man is most often right in what he affirms and wrong in what he denies."