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Monday, 22 December 2014

What A Weird World

I am sitting in a McDonald's in order to use the Net and almost exactly across from me is the island and rocks where St. Paul endured his shipwreck.

Sometimes the modern world jars one's sensibilities.

The sea is rough today and it is cold.

Here is the passage from Acts, on the event which converted Malta. St. Publius was the first bishop of Malta and a martyr. Local belief is that the people of Naxxar helped St. Paul and his companions and that he traveled as far as the Rabat and Mdina area.

Acts 27:27-28:11Douay-Rheims 

27 But after the fourteenth night was come, as we were sailing in Adria, about midnight, the shipmen deemed that they discovered some country.
28 Who also sounding, found twenty fathoms; and going on a little further, they found fifteen fathoms.
29 Then fearing lest we should fall upon rough places, they cast four anchors out of the stern, and wished for the day.
30 But as the shipmen sought to fly out of the ship, having let down the boat into the sea, under colour, as though they would have cast anchors out of the forepart of the ship,
31 Paul said to the centurion, and to the soldiers: Except these stay in the ship, you cannot be saved.
32 Then the soldiers cut off the ropes of the boat, and let her fall off.
33 And when it began to be light, Paul besought them all to take meat, saying: This day is the fourteenth day that you have waited, and continued fasting, taking nothing.
34 Wherefore I pray you to take some meat for your health's sake; for there shall not an hair of the head of any of you perish.
35 And when he had said these things, taking bread, he gave thanks to God in the sight of them all; and when he had broken it, he began to eat.
36 Then were they all of better cheer, and they also took some meat.
37 And we were in all in the ship, two hundred threescore and sixteen souls.
38 And when they had eaten enough, they lightened the ship, casting the wheat into the sea.
39 And when it was day, they knew not the land; but they discovered a certain creek that had a shore, into which they minded, if they could, to thrust in the ship.
40 And when they had taken up the anchors, they committed themselves to the sea, loosing withal the rudder bands; and hoisting up the mainsail to the wind, they made towards shore.
41 And when we were fallen into a place where two seas met, they run the ship aground; and the forepart indeed, sticking fast, remained unmoveable: but the hinder part was broken with the violence of the sea.
42 And the soldiers' counsel was, that they should kill the prisoners, lest any of them, swimming out, should escape.
43 But the centurion, willing to save Paul, forbade it to be done; and he commanded that they who could swim, should cast themselves first into the sea, and save themselves, and get to land.
44 And the rest, some they carried on boards, and some on those things that belonged to the ship. And so it came to pass, that every soul got safe to land.
28 And when we had escaped, then we knew that the island was called Melita. But the barbarians shewed us no small courtesy.
For kindling a fire, they refreshed us all, because of the present rain, and of the cold.
And when Paul had gathered together a bundle of sticks, and had laid them on the fire, a viper coming out of the heat, fastened on his hand.
And when the barbarians saw the beast hanging on his hand, they said one to another: Undoubtedly this man is a murderer, who though he hath escaped the sea, yet vengeance doth not suffer him to live.
And he indeed shaking off the beast into the fire, suffered no harm.
But they supposed that he would begin to swell up, and that he would suddenly fall down and die. But expecting long, and seeing that there came no harm to him, changing their minds, they said, that he was a god.
Now in these places were possessions of the chief man of the island, named Publius, who receiving us, for three days entertained us courteously.
And it happened that the father of Publius lay sick of a fever, and of a bloody flux. To whom Paul entered in; and when he had prayed, and laid his hands on him, he healed him.
Which being done, all that had diseases in the island, came and were healed:
10 Who also honoured us with many honours, and when we were to set sail, they laded us with such things as were necessary.
11 And after three months, we sailed in a ship of Alexandria, that had wintered in the island, whose sign was the Castors.

Sad times in Britain

And a mum of a British born national cannot get in...go figure.

Community AGAIN

As my regular readers know, I keep writing, "This is my last post on community",

Well, here is another  "last " one.

An interesting discussion with my seminarian son revealed that he thinks one of the biggest problems in Great Britain in the Catholic Church is individualistic faith. He thinks that one of the reasons why priests are so worn out and that the Church is not thriving has to do with individual people not seeing that the Church is community and needs to be built up into an extended family.

No one seems to be working on that problem in GB. Now, we all know the English characteristic of being very independent, which is a good thing, but this emphasis and reticence to do things together undermines Catholic community.

Many, many years ago, when I was still single and working as a "lay chaplain" with university students in England, I met with Americans who had come from Ann Arbor's great community to try and set up something similar in Chiswick. The efforts all failed. In discussions with those who came over to do this, I learned that the British just did not want Church-based communities.

There could be many reasons for this, including these facts. The first problem would be a recusant mentality left over from the horrible Henrician and Elizabethan persecutions. In other words, Catholics learned to hide, live low-key religious lives, and not draw attention to Catholicism.

A second reason would be the problem with immigrants not banding together as Catholics, as they did in the States. Irish Catholics and English Catholics still have very different models of Church in their souls and do not practice their religion in the same manner. This is more noticeable in some areas in the northern part of GB, and in the "deep south".

A third problem is the gross secular attitudes of many British Catholics. Their social lives have not centered on the Church, as in the States, where, especially in the South and Midwest, the Church was the center of all life, social and private. For some reason, social life in many Catholic areas either never includes Catholic social activities, or very few. The common Church fete is one thing which persists, and maybe a carol service at this time of year. but not the continued weekly getting together of various groups.

A fourth ingredient for failure would be that lay people in England rarely start anything on their own, waiting for a priest to begin projects. This is sad and an indication of a lack of the adult appropriation of the Faith.

A fifth problem is that families, strong Catholic ones, are usually the core of communal Catholic life. Where there are no or few such families, community most likely will not spring up.

I remember going to a Legion of Mary meeting in a huge London parish in 2012. Only six people showed up. I was surprised. This type of grouping seems not to attract the British. Even pro-life groups are small in comparison with the numbers of people in the parishes. The Guild of Titus Brandsma has a very difficult time meeting. Religion is not a priority in some areas of GB.

Maybe Americans are just "joiners" and the British are not so. But, community must happen in England if the Church is to survive. One is never a Catholic in a vacuum. This has never been part of the heritage of Catholicism, nor the way Christ set up His Church. He started with twelve men, and that expanded to 70 disciples and then more and more.

That a young seminarian can see the real need for community is a good start, as when he is a priest, he can work towards this goal. But, people in the pew must want community, must see the need for it.

The group I am friends with here in Malta has been, for four visits, the Magnificat group. This resource builds excellent community, albeit on a small level. In 2012, I wanted to start such a group when I was in England, but could not get any women, but one, interested. See the problem?

British Catholicism will remain weak and even disappear in some areas because of the lack of community. God did not intend for Christians to live in separated lifestyles, going to Mass on Sunday and then, going home and not interacting during the week in any way at all. This model is not one which has been traditional. And, with the death of Christendom, local communities are even more important.

My friends in England know the importance of community, but it takes more than one person, here or there, to create the links needed. Those in the Church are lacking a common vision, a common goal for community.

I can say for sure that false seers, false prophets and unorthodox charismatics in England have ruined broad-based community efforts in many, many places. When people are disobedient to Rome, there is no grace to work together. Sadly, in more than one place I have been for some time, there are too many people following New Age or even condemned seers.

God will not bless such groups and they usually end up either falling apart, leaving the Church entirely, or falling into serious sins.

However, those phenomena are not the only reason for the lack of community in GB. How interesting that my conversation in London, in 1987 and my conversation in Malta in 2014 concern the same, huge and desperate need for Catholic community in GB. Over 27 years, nothing has changed. Perhaps, the Church is GB is destined to be very, very, very, biblically small.

The Trinity Under Threat

Lately, it has dawned on me that there are several threats in this world against the revelation of the Trinity.

Now, as Catholics, we have been given the truth, that God is Three Persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Let me quote the CCC here:

234      The mystery of the Most Holy Trinity is the central mystery of Christian faith and life. It is the mystery of God in himself. It is therefore the source of all the other mysteries of faith, the light that enlightens them. It is the most fundamental and essential teaching in the “hierarchy of the truths of faith.”56 The whole history of salvation is identical with the history of the way and the means by which the one true God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, reveals himself to men “and reconciles and unites with himself those who turn away from sin.”57 (2157, 90, 1449)
235      This paragraph expounds briefly (I) how the mystery of the Blessed Trinity was revealed, (II) how the Church has articulated the doctrine of the faith regarding this mystery, and (III) how, by the divine missions of the Son and the Holy Spirit, God the Father fulfills the “plan of his loving goodness” of creation, redemption, and sanctification.

236      The Fathers of the Church distinguish between theology (theologia) and economy (oikonomia). “Theology” refers to the mystery of God’s inmost life within the Blessed Trinity and “economy” to all the works by which God reveals himself and communicates his life. Through the oikonomia the theologia is revealed to us; but conversely, the theologia illuminates the whole oikonomia. God’s works reveal who he is in himself; the mystery of his inmost being enlightens our understanding of all his works. So it is, analogously, among human persons. A person discloses himself in his actions, and the better we know a person, the better we understand his actions. (1066, 259)
237      The Trinity is a mystery of faith in the strict sense, one of the “mysteries that are hidden in God, which can never be known unless they are revealed by God.”58 To be sure, God has left traces of his Trinitarian being in his work of creation and in his Revelation throughout the Old Testament. But his inmost Being as Holy Trinity is a mystery that is inaccessible to reason alone or even to Israel’s faith before the Incarnation of God’s Son and the sending of the Holy Spirit. (50)
242      Following this apostolic tradition, the Church confessed at the first ecumenical council at Nicaea (325) that the Son is “consubstantial” with the Father, that is, one only God with him.66 The second ecumenical council, held at Constantinople in 381, kept this expression in its formulation of the Nicene Creed and confessed “the only-begotten Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, light from light, true God from true God, begotten not made, consubstantial with the Father.”67 (465)
243      Before his Passover, Jesus announced the sending of “another Paraclete” (Advocate), the Holy Spirit. At work since creation, having previously “spoken through the prophets,” the Spirit will now be with and in the disciples, to teach them and guide them “into all the truth.”68 The Holy Spirit is thus revealed as another divine person with Jesus and the Father. (683, 2780, 687)

246      The Latin tradition of the Creed confesses that the Spirit “proceeds from the Father and the Son (filioque).” The Council of Florence in 1438 explains: “The Holy Spirit is eternally from Father and Son; He has his nature and subsistence at once (simul) from the Father and the Son. He proceeds eternally from both as from one principle and through one spiration.... And, since the Father has through generation given to the only-begotten Son everything that belongs to the Father, except being Father, the Son has also eternally from the Father, from whom he is eternally born, that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Son.”75

247 The affirmation of the filioque does not appear in the Creed confessed in 381 at Constantinople. But Pope St. Leo I, following an ancient Latin and Alexandrian tradition, had already confessed it dogmatically in 447,76 even before Rome, in 451 at the Council of Chalcedon, came to recognize and receive the Symbol of 381. The use of this formula in the Creed was gradually admitted into the Latin liturgy (between the eighth and eleventh centuries). The introduction of the filioque into the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed by the Latin liturgy constitutes moreover, even today, a point of disagreement with the Orthodox Churches.

248 At the outset the Eastern tradition expresses the Father’s character as first origin of the Spirit. By confessing the Spirit as he “who proceeds from the Father,” it affirms that he comes from the Father through the Son.77The Western tradition expresses first the consubstantial communion between Father and Son, by saying that the Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son (filioque). It says this, “legitimately and with good reason,”78 for the eternal order of the divine persons in their consubstantial communion implies that the Father, as “the principle without principle,”79 is the first origin of the Spirit, but also that as Father of the only Son, he is, with the Son, the single principle from which the Holy Spirit proceeds.80 This legitimate complementarity, provided it does not become rigid, does not affect the identity of faith in the reality of the same mystery confessed.

The threats to the truth of the Trinity being professed in the world come from three sources. I shall name these in order to show that Catholics must be clear on the teaching of the Trinity, and uphold the doctrine of the Trinity, without error.
First of all, the Muslim religion denies the Trinity. Jesus is not God and there is no Holy Spirit. There is only one god and not Three Divine Persons. Some historians of religion state that the Muslims accepted this simplistic belief as the belief in the Trinity is a mystery and difficult for some people to accept. This interpretation of their denial of a revealed truth given hundreds of years earlier could be true.
Second, I have been reading commentaries from theologians on Vassula Ryden and she confuses the nature of the Three Divine Persons. I suggest going back and looking at my posts which linked two sources explaining the fact that her statements concerning Christ and the Father are at variance with the Catholic Church's teaching.
Some other seers have also confused the Father with the Son, making the Father a material being which He is not. The Father is spirit. Only Christ is Incarnated. The Mormons do not believe that Christ is equal to the Father, that Christ was not always God. And, so on. 
Third, New Age "Catholics" and some charismatics do not understand the Church's teaching on the Holy Spirit as coming from the Father and the Son.  This indicates, of course, an equality of the Three Persons and the understanding we have of Christ being "consubstantial" with the Father, which we say in the Creed at Mass. Those who think that the Holy Spirit is somehow not connected with Christ want to separate the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity from the Father and the Spirit.
God is One, but the Father is not the Son, the Son is not the Father, the Holy Spirit is not the Son, the Holy Spirit is not the Father, the Son is not the Holy Spirit. 
To confuse this order is to deviate from Catholic teaching, which is revealed by God. 
Of course, it is Satan who wants all humans to fall into confusion as how and what we believe determines how we live. 
I shall write more on the Trinity later. But, be aware our wonderful teaching is under threat by those who do not want to follow what God has revealed to the Church through the Scriptures and Tradition.
to be continued...

The Last Days of Advent

As one grows older, time seems to go faster...I do not know why. This Advent seems to have flown by so quickly, I cannot imagine a faster period of time for me in the recent past.

Part of the rhythm of life is fasting, penance as against celebration, rejoicing.

As we enter the last few days of Advent, I would suggest a review of the past weeks. I would also suggest going to confession and doing an extra-careful examination of conscience.

This Advent has been a busy spiritual time for me as I have prayed much with other people and have had serious spiritual discussions with friends. It has been a time of discernment and suffering.

One cannot anticipate how God will use time that we generously give him.

Here are some pertinent words from St. Alphonsus, again, to help us in these next few days to keep focused on God....we should unite ourselves to the will of God as regards our degree of grace and glory. True, we should esteem the things that make for the glory of God, but we should show the greatest esteem for those that concern the will of God. We should desire to love God more than the seraphs, but not to a degree higher than God has destined for us. St. John of Avila says: “I believe every saint has had the desire to be higher in grace than he actually was. However, despite this, their serenity of soul always remained unruffled. Their desire for a greater degree of grace sprang not from a consideration of their own good, but of God’s. They were content with the degree of grace God had meted out for them, though actually God had given them less. They considered it a greater sign of true love of God to be content with what God had given them, than to desire to have received more.”
This means, as Rodriguez explains it, we should be diligent in striving to become perfect, so that tepidity and laziness may not serve as excuses for some to say: “God must help me; I can do only so much for myself.” Nevertheless, when we do fall into some fault, we should not lose our peace of soul and union with the will of God, which permits our fall; nor should we lose our courage. Let us rise at once from this fall, penitently humbling ourselves and by seeking greater help from God, let us continue to march resolutely on the highway of the spiritual life. Likewise, we may well desire to be among the seraphs in heaven, not for our own glory, but for God’s, and to love him more; still we should be resigned to his will and be content with that degree of glory which in his mercy he has set for us.
It would be a serious defect to desire the gifts of supernatural prayer—specifically, ecstasies, visions and revelations. The masters of the spiritual life say that souls thus favored by God, should ask him to take them away so that they may love him out of pure faith—a way of greater security. Many have come to perfection without these supernatural gifts; the only virtues worth-while are those that draw the soul to holiness of life, namely, the virtue of uniformity with God’s holy will. If God does not wish to raise us to the heights of perfection and glory, let us unite ourselves in all things to his holy will, asking him in his mercy, to grant us our soul’s salvation. If we act in this manner, the reward will not be slight which we shall receive from the hands of God who loves above all others, souls resigned to his holy will.

Snatches of A Sermon

Yesterday, as noted, I attended two Masses, one of which was in German.

Now, I listened very carefully to the sermon and could not understand most of it. However, for some reason, I did get one or two ideas which I want to share as these are so simple as to be profound.

The priest said this, that Mary's yes began a time of holiness for all of us.

I have never heard any priest state this. How simple, how profound.

He also said that the time of the Old Testament was fulfilled in the Annunciation.


Thought for An Advent Day

A single venial sin is more displeasing to God than all the good works we can perform.
St. Alphonsus Ligouri

Sunday, 21 December 2014

Are you a true lover of God?

Recently, I heard a spiritual person say something I heard in the past. He said, "God does not punish us when we are suffering. Suffering is not from God."

God does not cause suffering, this is true, but that God allows it must be seen as part of punishment.

Yes, God does punish us and we should be glad of this punishment.

I am losing a good spiritual director I found here as he is moving away for the rest of the time I shall be here. I have lost spiritual directors before through moves on their part or mine. I am beginning to realize that losing a spiritual director, or not being able to find one, is part of God's plan for those of us in the desert.

Not being able to talk with someone about spiritual things is a punishment. But, the saints have something to say about this point of punishment. They tell us that punishment now on this earth is better than purgatory or damnation. I do not think people ponder about going to hell enough. Many, if not most, people will go to hell. This fact will happen not because God does not love us, but because too many people do not love God enough to ask Him to show us our deep, secret sins.

Going into silence and the desert which God gives us give us opportunities to see the predominant faults and get rid of these.

When the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity became Man, He entered into a life of suffering, not for His sake, but for our sake. He took on our punishment which was eternal separation from God because of the sin of Adam. When Christ, Mary and Joseph suffered, they entered into redemptive suffering for us.

St. Alphonsus wisely summarizes suffering for perfection in this way:

We ought to view in the light of God’s holy will, the loss of persons who are helpful to us in a spiritual or material way. Pious souls often fail in this respect by not being resigned to the dispositions of God’s holy will. Our sanctification comes fundamentally and essentially from God, not from spiritual directors. When God sends us a spiritual director, he wishes us to use him for our spiritual profit; but if he takes him away, he wants us to remain calm and unperturbed and to increase our confidence in his goodness by saying to him: “Lord, thou hast given me this help and now thou dost take it away. Blessed be thy holy will! I beg thee, teach me what I must do to serve thee.”
In this manner too, we should receive whatever other crosses God sends us. “But,” you reply, “these sufferings are really punishments.” The answer to that remark is: Are not the punishments God sends us in this life also graces and benefits? Our offenses against God must be atoned for somehow, either in this life or in the next. Hence we should all make St. Augustine’s prayer our own: “Lord, here cut, here burn and spare me not, but spare me in eternity!” Let us say with Job: “Let this be my comfort, that afflicting me with sorrow, he spare not67.” Having merited hell for our sins, we should be consoled that God chastises us in this life, and animate ourselves to look upon such treatment as a pledge that God wishes to spare us in the next. When God sends us punishments let us say with the high-priest Heli: “It is the Lord, let him do what is good in his sight.”
The time of spiritual desolation is also a time for being resigned. When a soul begins to cultivate the spiritual life, God usually showers his consolations upon her to wean her away from the world; but when he sees her making solid progress, he withdraws his hand to test her and to see if she will love and serve him without the reward of sensible consolations. “In this life,” as St. Teresa used to say, “our lot is not to enjoy God, but to do his holy will.” And again, “Love of God does not consist in experiencing his tendernesses, but in serving him with resolution and humility.” And in yet another place, “God’s true lovers are discovered in times of aridity and temptation.


Let us assume that this aridity is a punishment for your tepidity. Was it not God who sent it? Accept your desolation, as your just desserts and unite yourself to God’s holy will. Did you not say that you merited hell? And now you are complaining? Perhaps you think God should send you consolations! Away with such ideas and be patient under God’s hand. Take up your prayers again and continue to walk in the way you have entered upon; for the future, fear lest such laments come from too little humility and too little resignation to the will of God. Therefore be resigned and say: “Lord, I accept this punishment from thy hands, and I accept it for as long as it pleases thee; if it be thy will that I should be thus afflicted for all eternity, I am satisfied.” Such a prayer, though hard to make, will be far more advantageous to you than the sweetest sensible consolations.
It is well to remember, however, that aridity is not always a chastisement; at times it is a disposition of divine providence for our greater spiritual profit and to keep us humble. Lest St. Paul become vain on account of the spiritual gifts he had received, the Lord permitted him to be tempted to impurity: “And lest the greatness of the revelations should exalt me, there was given me a sting of my flesh, an angel of Satan to buffet me.

Hatred Is Never Justified

We can hate evil actions, but we must not hate people. We can hate sin, but not the sinner.

What is happening in America are events which seem to reveal a strange need to hate, which is surfacing from many sources.

I taught for years a group of students who were labeled "at risk" students. At two colleges, I taught "at risk" students who were from minority groups and were the first in their families to be in college.

There are special departments for "at risk students", special tutoring, and grants. Many people who are black and Hispanic have been greatly supported in their attempt and success at obtaining certifications and degrees from these programs.

All the kids I taught wanted to improve their lot in life, their families, and they were looking towards the future. Most succeeded in moving on to careers of all types, including well-paid positions in government jobs and the medical fields.

I admired these students for working hard, as I did, to get their degrees. I respected their work ethic and drive.

Some were angry to begin with, when they first came into the programs. Some had attitude problems, but when they learned that the teachers and administrations truly had their welfare as a priority, the attitudes shifted.

A few could not change and fell back into doing and selling drugs, prostitution and other anti-social lifestyles.

Those who succeeded left hate behind, entering a new world in which they were accepted for their talents and hard work. One person told me he had to get the ghetto out of his head, and he did.

Those who left these programs fell back into defeatism and hate. Thankfully, there were a only a few who actually left the programs, of which I knew.

Hate is never justified. We have the greatest example of forgiveness from Christ the God-Man, a Person totally innocent, yet horribly tortured and killed.

He taught us the way forward in all relationships. He taught us forgiveness.

For those who choose to hate, forgiveness is seen as weakness, and revenge is chosen as a sign of strength. Yet, the truly courageous man or woman forgives.

It hurts to forgive. It hurts to forget. But, until groups decide to forgive and move on in cooperation, violence will be chosen over meekness and stability.

America stands at a crossroads. I predicted a land under martial law over six years ago, in 2008. I said it would happen over race relations,which I thought were being purposefully stirred up even then.

I hope leaders of all racial backgrounds can move people to forgiveness and reconciliation. Otherwise, America will soon become a land without freedom. Freedom can only come to those who choose love-a healthy, balanced love of self and love of neighbor.

Let us pray for Christ's love to be remembered and shared. Love is always justified.

Sad Days

I attended two Masses today, one in French and one in German. I had reasons to do this.

At both, about eight people were in attendance. And, yet, the streets were chock-a-block with tourists.

I have never seen the streets of Valletta so crowded, even in the summer. Many Maltese were out, attending children's Christmas programs of dancing and song, as well as for last minute shopping.

But I have seen Mass attendance dwindle here in the past four years. A priest told me that grandparents go to Mass, but not the children and grandchildren in many areas. Also, the number of foreigners moving and settling here come from countries which are not Catholic-Egypt, Libya, Russia, Liberia and so on.

The population is changing and one can see it in the streets, on the buses, and in the churches.

Malta boasts some of the most beautiful churches in the world. The Knights of Malta supported art, music, liturgical vestment, altar ware and so on. This heritage is obvious in most churches, but also, sadly, in the museums. To go to these institutions and see all the Catholic pieces of artwork, altar ware, even tabernacles, no longer in use, breaks one's heart.

Some Maltese men told me they are very concerned about the changes here. And, yet, one young man told me he would not get married or have children in this hard world. He is afraid of the changes. He has not attained an adult faith.

The Faith is dying. If it is dying here, with such an amazing tradition of real piety and faith handed down for hundreds of years, the faith is passing into history even faster among other European nations, as well as in America.

Sad days for the Church. After leaving the second Mass, I said to my companion that we have just witnessed a snippet of the future--when the very small remnant will carry on the Faith in small churches of eight or ten people.

Today was a glimpse of the future, unless people start having Catholic babies, raising Catholic children, and returning to their Catholic identity.

On Today's Readings part three

Mary is called "highly favored" in some translations by the Archangel Gabriel, the messenger. In the Judaic tradition, Gabriel is not only the messenger of God, but the destroying angel at the Passover in Egypt.

That Gabriel, who caused, in God's will, the last plague, which led directly to the freeing of the Hebrews from slavery, is the angel who tells Mary she will be the Mother of the Messiah, the Son of God, seems to be a happy non-chance.

I do not see in my imagination a soft, cuddling, feminine image of Gabriel. I see strength, a spirit of power and grace. Gabriel bursts into history again, as he did in the Old Testament.

He who paved the way for Moses to lead the people to freedom comes to announce to Mary that she leads us to freedom through her Son, Jesus Christ.

Mary is highly favored, she is blessed. She, alone of all humans, from conception, is full of grace. Gabriel knows this. He would not only be full of love, but awe at the call of this woman. Mary, as the Theotokos, the God-Bearer, now becomes Queen of all angels.

Her call reminds us of the long salvation history of the Old Testament. Gabriel comes to this lowly Hebrew young woman, explains God's will for her life, and waits for her answer. He who destroyed the first born of the Egyptians, brings news of the First Born of all creation, the Incarnate One, the Son of God, prefigured in Moses. Christ is the Savior, the real freedom fighter of all mankind. Gabriel waits.

Fiat voluntas Dei.

Gabriel returns to God and history is never the same. God enters the world through the womb of a young daughter of the Jewish people. All history points to this moment and all history moves away from this moment. Human life would never be the same again. Praise God!

On Today's Readings part two

In the second reading from Romans Chapter 16, St. Paul encourages us as well as the Romans. We see that it is our duty to preach the Gospel to the pagans, here called Gentiles.

This is a command. We are a missionary Church and it is in obedience that we spread the Faith.

It was in obedience that David let Solomon build the temple, a project which was in David's heart and mind. But, God had other plans.

We are strengthened by God to do certain works. God in His wisdom calls us to obey His will, His plans.

The other day, someone I know was in a bus accident in St. Paul's Bay, the place of Paul's shipwreck. One can stand on the edge of the town and see the island of the shipwreck. Bus wrecks and ship wrecks dot our lives, but Paul, who endured all types of troubles, kept preaching to the Gentiles. Indeed, he is the "Apostle of the Gentiles". Without him, my ancestors would not be Catholic, as they came from places where Paul preached and sent others and where other missionaries, such as SS. Cyril and Methodius, carried on the missionary work of God.

If we keep our minds, hearts, souls, imaginations and wills focused on God, we shall endure. But, like Paul, endurance is found in the face of suffering. If we focus on ourselves, we can become easily disturbed and weakened in our resolve.

St. Paul's Shipwreck Ludolf Backhuysen 1630 – 1708

25 Now to God, who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages 26 but is now disclosed, and through the prophetic writings is made known to all the Gentiles, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith— 27 to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever! Amen.

On Today's Readings part one

The first reading for today from Second Samuel shows us how much David loved God. But, as a "man of war", a man who had to subjugate the enemies of the Hebrews and bring order into the Kingdom, David was not chosen by God to build a physical temple.

That was left to his son, God's chosen one, a king who presided over a peaceful kingdom.

One of the lessons for us in this passage is that we must calm our own warlike instincts before building the space God wants us to have in order to meet us-St. Catherine's little cell.

God came to Jerusalem in a great presence, the Shekinah glory, and resided in the Temple. He comes to us in baptism and if we are trained in the virtues, even young ones can open their hearts, minds, soul.

David had a heart most like God's, but God chose Solomon to build the temple. God chooses the persons He wants to do certain works.

Yesterday, I saw a letter from St. Ignatius in a museum. I had seen this letter before at an exhibit years ago in Valletta. It is heartening for those of us who want to do things or think God is calling us to do things to know that some of the saints could not accomplish some plans. Do not think that everything went smoothly in their lives according to their plans.

St Ignatius wanted to come to Malta and could not. Catholics sometimes think that when God plans something, it always happens, but men, politics, wars, governments, thwart God's perfect plans as we all have free will.

God's permissive will allows us to make decisions and our will is sacred to Him, as that is how we are made in His image and likeness-one way.

Some people think God's perfect will always happens. It does not. God had raised David to be His king, but David had to win that kingdom for God.

Perhaps if he had not been called to be such a great warrior, which he was, he would have been called to build, but he was not.

God's plans are mysterious.

All my plans were changed this morning by a small cell phone alarm. Things happen.

An accident on the bus changed my plans several days ago, and a map on line which was wrong changed my plans yesterday as well.

Men's mistakes and mishaps change plans.

But, God had a plan for Israel. He wanted David to unite the country and leave it in peace, and He wanted Solomon to build on that peace.

Jerusalem -City of Peace.

Then, the temple.....

One learns to listen and to follow God daily. One learns to be flexible within God's order.

God promised a "house" for David.

But, of course, David's House is the House of Christ, the Son of David, in the line of the kings.

And, Christ came during the Pax Romana, the time of certain peace because of the rule of the empire.

Here is the entire section from the Bible on David's promise and disappointment. Of course, the promise is that of the Coming of Christ.

from Second Samuel:7 NRSVCE

God’s Covenant with David

Now when the king was settled in his house, and the Lord had given him rest from all his enemies around him, the king said to the prophet Nathan, “See now, I am living in a house of cedar, but the ark of God stays in a tent.”Nathan said to the king, “Go, do all that you have in mind; for the Lord is with you.”
But that same night the word of the Lord came to Nathan: Go and tell my servant David: Thus says the Lord: Are you the one to build me a house to live in? I have not lived in a house since the day I brought up the people of Israel from Egypt to this day, but I have been moving about in a tent and a tabernacle. Wherever I have moved about among all the people of Israel, did I ever speak a word with any of the tribal leaders[a] of Israel, whom I commanded to shepherd my people Israel, saying, “Why have you not built me a house of cedar?” Now therefore thus you shall say to my servant David: Thus says the Lord of hosts: I took you from the pasture, from following the sheep to be prince over my people Israel; and I have been with you wherever you went, and have cut off all your enemies from before you; and I will make for you a great name, like the name of the great ones of the earth. 10 And I will appoint a place for my people Israel and will plant them, so that they may live in their own place, and be disturbed no more; and evildoers shall afflict them no more, as formerly, 11 from the time that I appointed judges over my people Israel; and I will give you rest from all your enemies. Moreover the Lorddeclares to you that the Lord will make you a house. 12 When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come forth from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. 13 He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. 14 I will be a father to him, and he shall be a son to me. When he commits iniquity, I will punish him with a rod such as mortals use, with blows inflicted by human beings. 15 But I will not take[b] my steadfast love from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away from before you. 16 Your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me;[c] your throne shall be established forever. 17 In accordance with all these words and with all this vision, Nathan spoke to David.

David’s Prayer

18 Then King David went in and sat before the Lord, and said, “Who am I, O Lord God, and what is my house, that you have brought me thus far? 19 And yet this was a small thing in your eyes, O Lord God; you have spoken also of your servant’s house for a great while to come. May this be instruction for the people,[d] O Lord God20 And what more can David say to you? For you know your servant, O Lord God21 Because of your promise, and according to your own heart, you have wrought all this greatness, so that your servant may know it. 22 Therefore you are great, O Lord God; for there is no one like you, and there is no God besides you, according to all that we have heard with our ears.23 Who is like your people, like Israel? Is there another[e] nation on earth whose God went to redeem it as a people, and to make a name for himself, doing great and awesome things for them,[f] by driving out[g] before his people nations and their gods?[h] 24 And you established your people Israel for yourself to be your people forever; and you, O Lord, became their God. 25 And now, OLord God, as for the word that you have spoken concerning your servant and concerning his house, confirm it forever; do as you have promised. 26 Thus your name will be magnified forever in the saying, ‘The Lord of hosts is God over Israel’; and the house of your servant David will be established before you.27 For you, O Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, have made this revelation to your servant, saying, ‘I will build you a house’; therefore your servant has found courage to pray this prayer to you. 28 And now, O Lord God, you are God, and your words are true, and you have promised this good thing to your servant;29 now therefore may it please you to bless the house of your servant, so that it may continue forever before you; for you, O Lord God, have spoken, and with your blessing shall the house of your servant be blessed forever.”

Saturday, 20 December 2014

Praying About A Decision

Over the past few days, I have been thinking about discontinuing the blog. I wanted to wait until I had a real community instead of a virtual community, but it is getting more difficult to blog for several reasons.

I am praying about this. I honestly do not feel that my blog is necessary for news, as there are so many Catholic news services, and people like Michael Voris do a fantastic job.

I have said much of what I want to share with people and have realized that there are limitations as to what I can write. The only thing I have not shared, which I think is important, is more commentary on St. Thomas Aquinas.

Also, the danger of blogging has become more and more real to me since August of this year. Governments, and some individuals, hate bloggers, as we are free of the moneyed and other influences with whom large media groups have decided to cooperate.

In addition, my numbers are down, as people want zazzy political Church gossip which I am not going to push on this blog. Religion is not the same as Vatican politics.

So, dear Readers, pray for me in this time of discernment.

I am also called to more prayer and quiet. I have to find the balance here in this type of ministry.

I made a comment on this post

Too Many Lonely People

What is wrong with Western Culture? I have met so many people, men and women, who will be spending Christmas alone. One man is having Christmas with friends, his first invitation in years.

I cannot understand this. When I was in graduate school and could not get home for Christmas because of the horrible weather, I would invite all those other students in for a meal so that no one would be alone.

And, when I had my own home, we always invited single people who had no families in for dinner and the day.

I cannot understand why families do not invite those who are alone for the day.

Christianity is not merely to be practiced in the immediate family.

Are you aware of people in your parish who may not have anyone with whom to celebrate Christmas or New Year's? Hospitality is a virtue under the larger category of charity.

As a single person, my heart breaks for those who have no place to go. I shall be eating out, with a special person, as neither of us have a place big enough to cook or convenient for company.

How sad that neither one of us was invited to Christmas dinner.

Catholics under persecution will be worse off than this. It is time to reconsider what it means to love your neighbor as yourself.