Sunday, February 26, 2012

Quick Bytes #18: Forty

3, 456, 000 Seconds

How many times will we be tempted during a span like that?

57,600 Minutes

How many times will we sin?

960 Hours

How many times will we complain that our conditions aren't perfect?

That our lives are difficult?

That the fight is just too hard?

40 Days

How many times will we thank Him?

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Lenten Prayer To The Holy Spirit

Christ on the Way to the Desert: Dagmar Anders

Spirit of God,
As I begin this 40 day journey through the desert of Lent, be with me and guide me. Open my heart and soul to all You wish to teach me during these holy days.
With Jesus as my model and companion, may I give glory to God through my prayer, self denial and sacrifice.
Keep me from falling into the devil's snares. As I walk this road with Jesus to and through His Passion, may it lead to closer union with You who with the Father and the Son reign one God forever.

A Blessed Lent to all the contributors and readers of this blog.

Quick Bytes #17: Our Very Best Friend

The Crucifixion "didn't just happen to anyone.  It happened to our very best friend."   - Brian Hardin, Daily Audio Bible

Let's be honest, what Jesus did for us is beyond our human comprehension.

But if you need some perspective this Lenten season, imagine it happened to the person on Earth you love the most.  Maybe it's a spouse.  Maybe it's a child, friend, or parent.

Imagine them being crucified in front of you.

Imagine them going through the pain our Savior did.

Imagine them forgiving those folks as it is happening.

(Don't just read these words ... stop and think about what that would feel like!)

Now multiply that by 1,000.

Wishing all of you a Blessed and Holy Lenten season.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Into the Desert

Lead me into the desert, oh Lord.
Make straight, my path.
Empty me of all that is self so that I may be filled with all that is You.
Purge me, gently break me, and rid me of pride, selfishness, arrogance, self-righteousness, laziness, vanity,
and doubt.

Lead me into the desert, oh Lord.
And, just as You did for Your Son, allow my angels to minister to me there.
As I come to You, on bended knee, to fast and pray.
Comfort me in my journey to the Cross.

Lead me into the desert, oh Lord.
Grant me strength to resist the wiles and snares that satan will lay before me.
Remind me that "men can not live by bread, alone".
Feed me on Your Sacred Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity; that my soul, my mind, and my body may be
nourished for all eternity.

I come to this Lenten Season with a heavy and troubled heart, my God.
Your beautiful and perfect Church is under attack in America.
Your beautiful and innocent babies in the womb are being left to killers' hands and their government will
not protect them, nor save them.
Your beautiful and precious Sacrament of Matrimony is being degraded and defiled and twisted in evil ways.
Those who profess their faith in you are being scorned, persecuted, mocked, and treated with disregard.

Oh, but You understand this, don't You?

For, before us, they did these things to YOU.

Breathe in me, Your words of comfort, (John 15:18) that before the world hated me, it first hated You.

And so, I ask You, oh Lord, my lead me into the desert...for just as YOU were willing to suffer
at the hands of mere mortals for my sake; So, too, am I willing to suffer for YOU.

But, I beg of Thee, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit...let not my suffering be in vain.

Unite me to my Savior, Redeemer, and King, Jesus Christ, upon His holy Cross...that by HIS merit, by

HIS grace, and by HIS Passion, Death, and Resurrection, my humble offerings may be turned into blessings
to heal the sick, comfort the afflicted, love the unlovable, and save lost souls.

* The above is a meditation that came to my heart as I prepare and look forward to my own Lenten Journey, ahead. I share it with you, my brothers and sisters in, in our wonderful Catholic Blogging Community, to let you know that I carry each and all of you with me "into the desert". I pray that Jesus will tend to you in the ways you need Him most and that these 40 days of prayer and fasting will draw you nearer to His Most Sacred Heart and bring you swiftly, and joyfully, to the glorious celebration of His miraculous RESURRECTION! I am blessed to be among you and I thank you all for your fellowship.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Rosary Across America

photo credit

On February 11th, Feast Day of Our Lady of Lourdes, Relevant Radio started a 54 Day Novena so that justice and wisdom will prevail regarding the following intentions:  
HHS mandate, 
true freedom of religion, 
for the protection of freedom of conscience, and 
for an end to abortion.

They are calling for all Catholics to pray the rosary each day for these prayer intentions.  You can do it with them at 7:30am in the morning or in the evening during their 8pm and 10:30pm broadcasts.  Or you can pray the rosary at your convenience for this special intention.  This 54 Day Novena will continue until Wednesday, April 4th of Holy Week.

Here is a statement from Cardinal-designate Timothy Dolan of New York:

"Never before has the federal government forced individuals and organizations to go out into the marketplace and buy a product that violates their conscience.  This shouldn't happen in a land where free exercise of religion ranks first in the Bill of Rights."

For more information, please visit Relevant Radio.  Let us unite in prayer so our voices are heard.

Mark 9:29  And he said to them, “This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer.”



Wednesday, February 15, 2012

In God's Scales

These snow crystals are all unique, just like us. Each is beautiful in its own way, just like us. I chose snow crystals, photographed by a Caltech scientist studying crystal formation, to illustrate this short piece because they are special, just like us. Click on the image to connect to the Caltech site where you can see many more of these and learn a lot more about this stamp of God on our earth.

From chapter 2 of the Holy Rule of St. Benedict:
There is no respect of persons with God (Eph. 6:9). Only for one reason are we distinguished in His sight: namely, if we are found to be eminent in good works and in humility.
Father Placidus Kempf, O.S.B. comments:
St. Benedict reminds us that God makes no discrimination nor distinction: His tenderness goes out to those who resemble His Divine Son more, who are more deeply grafted into Him. There are manifold functions to be fulfilled in the great body of the Church, and they need various aptitudes. Hence it is our duty to make us fit for the place and the duties for which God has destined us.

It is just here where saint differs from saint, as star differs from star -- no two are alike. Each has brought his state of initial perfection (sanctifying grace) to a higher or more perfect state by means of the many actual graces with which he or she has cooperated. We are found to be more eminent in good works.

As we cannot judge of this interior perfection of our neighbor, we consider him at least our equal....The thought of the graces wasted in the past must make us thrifty with His gifts in the future and make them do double duty -- to make up for the past and to advance us in the present.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Christ Was

*This beautiful poem is posted by guest author, Isaac.

Christ was a simple man.
He traveled the countryside in a tattered cloak and worn out sandals.
His beard and hair grew long and rough.
He was a simple man, but He was also the Son of God.

Christ was the Son of God.
He was born of a holy mother, Mary, who submitted to the Will of God.
His earthly-father was the town carpenter who furnished the village with tables and chairs.
He was the Son of the Eternal God, and therefore, was destined to die.

Christ died for the sins of all men.
He died and gave His life in order that we may live, in the culmination of His earthly mission.
He hung on the cross in agony and pain amidst a world filled with suffering.
Christ died on the cross, but rose to life again.

Christ rose from the grave.
He triumphed over all sin and death, strife and pain.
He uprooted all evil by by His Resurrection for our sake.
Christ, the simple man, is the Savior of the human race.    

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Quick Bytes #16: Yesterdays

"I never realized how beautiful my yesterdays were."
                  - unknown author (who probably realized how many gifts
                    God gives us each day that we overlook)

Wednesday, February 8, 2012


Father Francis Maple
Homily from Fr Francis for the 26th Sunday of the year.

Mark 9: 38-43, 47-48

I was once giving a parish Mission and I remember knocking on the door of one home. The moment I entered I sensed a very unhappy, cold atmosphere.Something wasn't right. If I spoke to the husband, the wife didn't exist. If I spoke to the wife, the husband didn't exist. You could sense that there was no communication between them. There was a coldness and hostility. After being with them for 15 minutes I decided to move on to the next Catholic home. The husband saw me to the door and said, "Father, do you ever preach on Hell?" I said, "I do." "Then whenever you preach on Hell in the future always use the example of my wife and I, because in this house there is no love. It is a living Hell. We live our separate lives under one roof. We just can't stand each other's company. We cook our own meals and eat on our own. I have my own living room and bedroom and she has hers. We decided to live like this for the last twelve years. We agreed that going through a divorce is too much trouble. I tell you, Father, living like this is like living in Hell. So when you next preach on Hell use us as an example because there is no love in our home. That is precisely what Hell is! There is a complete breakdown in our relationship."

That man went to the heart of the matter of Hell when he said it was a place where no love exists. I have heard some Catholics say there is no Hell. How can a loving God create such a place? We Catholics must believe that Hell exists. Jesus Himself refers to its existence when He says, "Fear Him, (meaning God,) who has power to cast body and soul into Hell." Hell is the home of Satan and his fallen angels. Is there anyone else in Hell? We just don't know, but Jesus in His parable of the Sheep and Goats warns us that wecould find ourselves in Hell if we don't love. He described the sending of those to Hell in these words, "Depart from Me into the fire of Hell prepared for the devil and His angels." Those words indicate that there has been a complete breakdown in people's relationship with God and their neighbour.

What is Hell like? No one knows exactly, because no one has ever come backfrom Hell to describe it for us. Jesus speaks of Hell in terms of everlasting fire. It is not the fire we see at a barbeque or a bonfire.That fire could not afflict the soul, which is a spirit. To be thrown into fire causes extreme pain and fire is mentioned to indicate the extreme suffering one will experience in Hell. The real excruciating suffering in Hell is the pain of loss. The pain of loss is the eternal separation from God, which constitutes the worst of Hell's suffering. The persons in Hell know that the only Person who can make them happy is God and yet they hate Him. Hell is being fully aware that God is waiting for us with open arms and we can never be with Him through our own fault because we have rejected him. It is similar to the ache in the heart of lovers who are separated. All they want is to be with each other, but this is impossible. That pain is nothing compared to the pain of never again being able to love and possess God.

There has to be a tremendous loneliness in Hell, hating God, hating everyone and hating yourself. It is no good thinking if your friend goes to Hell that you will be able to enjoy each other’s company and console each other. You will be hating each other, wishing you could just turn back the clock and be given another chance to love God and your neighbour. My Mum used to tell us, in Hell there is a clock, which ticks and says, "Forever and ever! Forever and ever!" No picture can paint the reality of Hell. May God forbid anyone of us going there!

I love this illustration of the difference between Heaven and Hell. A man dies and was first shown Hell. He saw everyone sitting at a sumptuous banquet with the finest food and drink, but was surprised to see that everyone was starving. Then he noticed a weak man trying to feed himself. He couldn't, for the forks, spoons and knives were all six foot long and he couldn't get the food to his mouth. Next he was shown Heaven and there he saw exactly the same scene, a sumptuous banquet. But here no one was starving. He noticed when anyone was hungry the person opposite just picked up their spoon and fed them. In Hell there is only hate and selfishness, but in Heaven there is only love and thoughtfulness.

To deserve to go to Hell, we must have broken our relationship completely with God. Let us take an example. The Church, knowing the tremendous worth and God's wish to be adored by all Catholics through Sunday Mass, teaches that deliberately, and without good reason, to miss Mass on Sunday (or on the Saturday evening instead) is a mortal sin, and you can't go to Holy Communion again unless you first confess that sin in Confession and receive absolution. To commit any mortal sin requires three conditions to be present. These are, one, that the sin must be of grave matter. The Church considers that missing Mass on Sundays is a grave sin breaking one of God's Ten Commandments - “Remember that thou keep holy the Sabbath day”- and turning down God's invitation to worship Him with His children as He wants. The second condition is that you know it is a serious offence against God, and the third condition is you deliberately commit the sin.

Supposing you were to die the next day after missing Mass and without repenting, then according to moral theologians, those whodie in mortal sin will go to Hell for all eternity. But my own personal thought is that this would be unlikely to happen because to be condemned to Hell for one failing seems too harsh a punishment! For missing Mass once on Sunday does not necessarily entail a complete breakdown in our relationship with God. However, the danger is that having missed Mass without good reason once, it will be easier to miss again and again, and then again…until not going to Mass becomes a “normal” part of life as God’s Commandments are forgotten which, in time is likely to lead to a complete breakdown in the relationship. That is why it is not okay to miss Mass even on the odd occasion. I repeat it is a mortal sin, a great offence against God's love, and you cannot receive Our Lord in Holy Communion until you have confessed that sin with sorrow in your next Confession, which you should make as soon as is practicable.

I think of a life as a tree. If a tree leans in one direction when it dies it will fall in that direction. It is not going to fall in the opposite direction. So, too, with our lives. If all the time we are leaning towards God, very likely, with God's grace we shall fall into His arms when we die. But if our lives never point to God, it is very likely that when we die we shall die in enmity with God.

In fact I would advocate that you try to attend daily Mass as the best way of expressing love for God. If you want to avoid Hell make sure you have in your heart love for God and your neighbour. Remember that each of us is one of God's children. He never wants to lose any and would never send anyone to Hell. If someone goes there it will be because of the life which that person has chosen to live. Should we go to Hell it must break His heart. Knowing this a prayer I like to say very often is, "Heavenly Father, do not consider what we truly deserve, but forgive us our sins and lead us all to Heaven to be happy with You forever."

Thursday, February 2, 2012

That Poor Man

At our recent Bible Study Class, we were discussing the many Scripture verses that are the basis for and connection to the Mass. The reading at Mass before our class had been about the man who was possessed by "Legion", the evil spirits that Jesus exorcised and sent "into the herd of swines".

Our discussion was a diversion from what we were actually studying at class, but our pastor was making note about the fact that MANY in the world today; albeit, even Christians, do not believe in evil or evil spirits!

One of our class members immediately drew the distinction that there were, it said in the Bible, THOUSANDS of swine in that herd. You will recall that when Jesus demands the evil spirit to reveal his name...he says that he is called "Legion...for there are many of us".

Never in my life did I make the connection...if there were thousands of swine and the spirits of Legion entered the swine...then, that means there were THOUSANDS of evil spirits in that poor, poor man.

My heart ached for him. My daughter lamented that it is a wonder he survived long enough to be healed.

And then, my thoughts turned to the current state of affairs in this nation. Today, I saw a video by Planned Parenthood, celebrating the recent decision by the Administration to force Catholic institutions to provide abortions and contraception in their health insurance packages. The woman at the center of the video...which was, essentially, a bunch of people from various ethnic backgrounds dancing in the streets; was dressed as a huge pack of birth control pills. We watch people petition for supposed "gay" marriages...I have received spam/emails from CATHOLICS regarding this topic...and more and more rights and freedoms are being stripped away each and every day.

I thought to myself, "This is Legion...or another group of evil spirits...that have loosed themselves upon our society". There are THOUSANDS, most likely.

I think of that poor, poor fact, I always feel sorry for him at the end of that story, when he asks Jesus if he can go with Him and the Lord tells him no...that he must go back to his family.

My daughter says that, to her, this illustrates that each of us has a calling and not all are called to priests or religious...Jesus sends that man back to his "family" state in life. (Good point).

But, as I think of his tormented body...I think of the tormented bodies of the women who have had abortions and live to regret it...I think of all the women who are dying of breast cancers caused by their birth control pills...I think of all the tortured and confused souls who try to convince themselves that homosexuality lifestyles are not sinful...

...and I know that evil is real...and that evil spirits are real.

HOWEVER...GREAT is the mercy of CHRIST, JESUS...Lord and Savior!

And, just as He sent Legion fleeing in haste...He can heal the sinful souls of this modern world, as well.

We, who believe and trust in Him, must increase our prayers, fasting, penance, and devotions, so that those who are lost and those who are confused and those who are possessed...CAN BE HEALED.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The House Built on Rock

Sometimes we are assaulted by temptations and find ourselves in a real spiritual battle. It seems that when we are working our hardest to follow God's will for holiness we are attacked the most. The attacks always go for our weakest points. That's what an enemy does: he finds where we are most vulnerable and strikes.

We can take courage, though, from Matt. 7:24-25 which St. Benedict includes in the Prologue to his Holy Rule:

The Lord says in the Gospel: "Everyone therefore that hears these My words and acts upon them, shall be likened to a wise man who built his house on rock, and [the rain fell] the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against the house, but it did not fall because it was founded on rock."
Father Placidus Kempf, O.S.B. reflected on this and wrote:
A house built on such a foundation can withstand all assaults. These assaults are of all sorts and come from all directions. There is the "rain from heaven" (mentioned in the Gospel but omitted by St. Benedict); the 'winds of the air," and the "streams and torrents of the earth." So, in erecting our spiritual house we may expect trials from heaven to test our building; attacks (or temptations) from the evil spirits ("spirit" in Latin means "wind"), and the undermining floods of the persecution of men. But our house will not fall, because it is firmly founded on Christ, the Rock.
I don't know about you, but sometimes I forget in the midst of the attacks by the devil which often come in obsessive thoughts I have difficulty turning off, that Christ is right there wanting me to turn to Him. Those "winds of the air" don't have a chance against our Jesus, nor do the other assaults that come our way. We just have to keep our weapons sharpened: the Rosary, the Divine Mercy, Confession and Holy Communion, daily prayer, good spiritual habits and stand on that Rock.