Love, Sacrificially.

I admire poets and authors of books. I read quite often, and never come away without some better understanding of life or the pains and anxieties of existence. The need for social interaction, the common weaknesses and episodes of life. Why should we seek an explanation when often enough, none is needed. Our events just happen, and they are profound when it hits our head deep enough – because we are brought to life, to the realization of our actuality – the fact that we are alive, and that what we do has implications in this world because God has deigned us to love one another. The absence of our love for the other is often an action costing great price.

God is love, and when we ignore our duty to love at the truest and divinest, we fall quite a distance from the Lord and His direction. Tonight, I was reading the great author Flannery O’Connor, an American Catholic who lived in the deeply Protestant state of Georgia. I often find her short stories to be both a criticism of racism, but at the same time, a moving allegory of the nature of divine grace. With further reading, I came upon this quote.

The operation of the Church is entirely set up for the sinner; which creates much misunderstanding among the smug.

Our contemporary understanding of religious life scarcely remembers this fact. The media will skew us, and paint us with a brush, as if being Catholic – or Christian, for that matter, was a lifestyle choice. The public will do anything now, to erase the fact that the western world was once deeply religious. The New World was evangelized by Roman Catholic and Church of England missionaries, Ireland was once a bastion of the faith, and Great Britain was a churchgoing island. Lately, the Irish have spat in the face of God Almighty, and have voted to allow the slaughter of the young and innocent: the unborn.

My conclusion is that this modern world is, indeed, becoming far too smug. We trod all over the religious, religion, and the sacred. It is our way, or no way. God’s way isn’t on the ballot anymore.

The Anglican Communion has been crumbling from the top down – the Episcopal Church has been sanctioned, the Church of England is considering “gender change” services and treating them as if it were a sacramental occasion. The Anglican Church of Canada has continually pressed forward against scripture and tradition, voting to adopt language in the Prayerbook for same-sex marriage. These moral tragedies, these impossibilities: of course, all in the name of love and mercy.

But, you see, the root of the problem is sentimentality. We wish to be open to all, but in being open to all you lose the meaning of religion. If everything is allowed, we are but animals who receive communion on Sundays. Thanks be to God I was born in the true Church of Christ, receiving leadership since Christ ascended through His Vicar.

The symptom of all this is our lack of love for another. True love is sacrificial, but yet firm and grounded in the scriptures of Holy Writ. If we’re all happy now, and all lovey dove, then we have the abandonment of our eternal happiness written on our foreheads. Yes, our God forgives each and everyone of us – but to be granted that forgiveness, we must rely upon the assistance of His grace throughout our every trial. Acceptance for “the way you are” isn’t true happiness. It is a ladder, well balanced, which can fall at any kick or strong breeze.

There is nothing for us to do than to cleave like a new-born to Our Lord, and receive our sacraments, pray our rosaries, and love one another with a smiling and open forgiveness; never to forget our duty to spread the wonderful and dizzying news of the love of Him who made us, sustains us, and redeems us. O’Connor says that the Church is set up for the sinner. This is so true. Everything the Church has to offer us is, indeed, for each and everyone of us individually for our eternal happiness and for the making of great saints who love their Lord, and His Blessed Mother, His saints, and each other. For we are all His creation, and so we come from this equal and level ground beneath the cross. We, being flesh and bone, are all of the same seed. Therefore it is our duty to get our friends to heaven. Allowing our friends to sin, without revealing them the true nature of their actions, is a sin itself.

And now, let us pray to the Lord for Ireland. Let us all pray for the wee unborn, for mothers contemplating the termination of the life of their little one, for troubled families, for the depressed and the suicidal and those who struggle with anxiety.

Let us pray that those suffering might find relief in Christ, whose Sacred Heart burns for us, and all who suffer. He is suffering with them, with us, and His mercy will never abandon us.

Let us pray to the Blessed Mother, the Mother of God, who is also our mother. All we need to do is say her name and like a loving mother, here she will be.

And finally, thank your Guardian Angel for loving and protecting you.

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Not Ordained, nor Catholic.

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Mrs Bridget Mary Meehan exhibits the digestive biscuit she brought along, also the remnants of the pinot grigio she had for breakfast.

I have recently come across an article while browsing the many Catholic news sources as I do, from the National Catholic Reporter, an American publication that is renowned for its harassment of clergy and open opposition to the teaching of the Church. Their new piece revolves around the world of the caustically named “Ecumenical Catholic Communion” and their new “bishop.” 

Let us read. This might be part of our Lenten penance.

“Bye, Bishop Mema!” 4-year old Miles crooned as he wrapped his arms around his grandmother.

His Mema, Denise Donato, had just been ordained the first female bishop in the Ecumenical Catholic Communion (ECC). Psalm 82 speaks about wisdom coming “from out of the mouths of babes.” One day Miles will learn that his sweet farewell was also a revolutionary statement.

Yet, for all of its radical elements, Donato’s ordination, which took place on Feb. 9, looked and felt a lot like a typical ordination of a Roman Catholic bishop. The order of the liturgy, the prayers, and the symbols were remarkably traditional.

Like all bishops, Donato was offered sacramentals to mark to her nascent episcopacy: a crozier carved by her husband, Phil; a pectoral cross from her parents; a ring that was a gift from Mary Magdalene Church, the community that she serves as a priest; a mitre handcrafted by the same women who made her vestments for her priestly ordination 15 years ago.

Of course, this group wishes to present itself as operating on the same paradigm that the Church operates, however being revolutionary, or perhaps, ‘with the times’ and position themselves outside the Church while insisting they really aren’t. What I find troubling beside, is the orientation and language used in this specific article.

Coming from the “National Catholic Reporter,” one would assume it was indeed a Catholic publication, and a publication which reported the Catholic news.

Yet I ask: what sort of Catholic newspaper incites the emotional drivel of a young boy, who knows only what he’s told, as prophetic psalmody? Indeed, out of the mouths of babes do we often hear the truths of this world condensed in short ejaculatory exclamations. But, it is not prophecy we hear, when we hear something we like and affirms our emotional conviction. What sort of Catholic newspaper reports favourably the actions of splinter-communities and heretical sects?

None do. It is quite simple: you are a Catholic, or you are not a Catholic. The various degrees of which vary, but you cannot be Catholic and a female bishop. You cannot be Catholic and reject the Church’s teaching on abortion and marriage, as this group does.

Take a look at their website.  Notice the linkage. These people are mere Protestants with seven sacraments, polluting the validity of their ordination by ‘ordaining’ women. The few men left with valid orders, yet illicit ones, will fade away…but why is a “Catholic” publication not pointing out the obvious abuses of the liturgy? Why is this “Catholic” publication not urging them to come home, or pointing out the many theological objections to women’s ordination?

Succinctly: this is not a Catholic publication. 

The Comfortable Words

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will refresh you. St Matthew 11:28

These are comfortable words, whom anyone leading a life full of strife or difficulty can take particular enjoyment in. They are the opening words to the funeral liturgy of the Ordinariate, of many Anglican traditions, and are included in common Gospel readings at Requiem Masses throughout the English-speaking world.

Perhaps I am going out on a limb to say that we live in a world disenchanted with its past. A world, a society of people, collectively less aware of God although He makes Himself known. However, anyone with an open mind, if it is truly a mind receptive to establishing the truth of existence, ought to give these words some credence. We never truly grow old. We are always little children, gasping for air and for stability. We can fall on any bridge we wish, and quite often those bridges are made of wood near splintering into a thousand pieces; not close enough to open a gap quite yet, but near the point. We get up on the bridge and cross it many times, going one place at a time yet dependent on where we have fallen. We claim it as ‘life’s lot’, and accept it as our life’s purpose.

But then the bridge opens wide. We fall through. We hit the icy water below. We cannot breathe. We cannot swim. Our feeble hands claw and scrape at that river, yet we cannot find a ledge or a rock to cling to that could keep us steady or grant us a gasp of fresh air. Seldom do we find it. Thus, we hit a crisis. What was wrong? I thought I was on my feet. I thought the bridge that allowed me to travel to all corners of life was steady; a few cracks are normal. We aren’t perfect.

The bridge was a human construction, with human imperfections, made for the world’s use and was therefore unstable. Some of us, when we cooperate with the Grace we are given, fall upon a bridge that has weathered many a storm. It has been beaten and pelted with salty ocean waves, but it has dried and the wood was restored again and again. In fact, this particular structure was so susceptible to the acts of nature that sometimes we didn’t cross it for fear of the life we saw growing upon it. Moss, fungi, other green and brown things we cannot know of. However, when we really needed to come safely home, we could only cross this bridge. Eventually, after the length of time the wood stood, interrupted only time and time again by footstep, it petrified. The whole bridge became a solid rock.

Often our faith is like this isn’t it? Trust and obedience, dependence and doubt. We experience these in fluttering diversions, sometimes hitting us like arrows, mostly the safety net that ought to catch us should we ever fall through. To the non-believer, coming to belief can often be like this. Like walking a new bridge over a deep crevasse. Do you understand the imagery?

We know God would never ever build us an unsafe bridge. In fact, His bridges are perfect – the bridge saints trod. Yet they are filled with obstacles, many our own, many to test us, many to strengthen us. Today’s trials are the cause of tomorrow’s triumph.

The Psalmist St David, in Psalm 139: 6-9 has this to say:

Whither shall I go then from thy Spirit: or whither shall I go then from thy presence?
If I climb up into heaven, thou art there: if I go down to hell, thou art there also.
If I take the wings of the morning: and remain in the uttermost parts of the sea;
Even there also shall thy hand lead me: and thy right hand shall hold me.

The Lord Jesus Christ never departs from our presence. Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday (or perhaps today is, depending which part of the globe you live in). You are going to be reminded, with the placing of a cross upon your forehead, that ‘thou art dust, and unto dust thou shalt return’, Memento, homo, quia pulvis es, et in pulverem reverteris.

Remember, O Man, that thou art dust, and unto dust thou shalt return.

Meditate on these words. A cigarette only lasts you a couple minutes, and palm leaves burn in less time than that. Our life, because we alone experience it as we can, is but a burning star in the glimpse of time God allows. On the last day, our Lord will announce the faithful of the elect. The Roman Canon asks God to “Be mindful, also, O Lord, of Thy servants and handmaids…who are gone before us with the sign of faith and who sleep the sleep of peace. To these, O Lord, and to all who rest in Christ, grant, we beseech Thee, a place of refreshment, light and peace. Through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.” Therefore, God wills that we all be saved through Him, through the prayers of the Blessed Mother, and of the saints: yet only we can decide whether to cooperate with that grace He alone gives us, through the various ways He does. We can receive His very body, blood, soul and divinity. He give us Himself. His arms are open to the heavily laboured, the afflicted, the poor, the sinner.

Our abandonment of our pride, our excess, to His will; to let go of our hubris, to ask God where we belong.

It is difficult to lower ourselves, yet we have every means to do it. What can you lose? Death. What can you gain? Life. Be mindful of your sins, and use the sacraments to assist you on your life’s journey. For it is so very short, and eternity is…forever. Hell is real. Heaven is your home.

Throughout this Lenten season, my dear readers, we all must do penance and seek contrition for our downfalls. It is the time. You’re given no other day than the present, for the past is gone and the future doesn’t exist yet. Remember the words of the psalmist when you become weary, and the gospels when you despair. Remember the constant presence of God, who has given us everything, including His Own Son. His Own Mother. His Own Body. His Own Church. We need not fear Clothos, we need not fear the slowing draw of the thread of life. We need only to hope, to fear, to adore, to glorify, to adore the passion of Our Lord. Go to confession.

Go to Him, all of you that labour and weep, all who face darkness, and ask Him to be your eyes: go to Him, let Him embrace you. For you are His. He will give you rest.

 

The Saint of Our Times

Today is an important date. It is both the anniversary of the signing of the Dubia, which our Holy Father has graciously declined to respond to and it is also the feast of St Serapion of Algiers. St Serapion ought to be the patron saint of our times, because his story is one of true love and obedience towards God. He was an Irishman, born to devoted parents and a father who brought him along to the crusades against the Mohammedan regimes.

He eventually came to be a Mercedarian, and traded his own life for a number of captives being tortured for their faith in Christ. He also converted an inmate of his whilst in prison, and for this he suffered a martyr’s death on the cross of St Andrew.

Today, if that could be so succinctly defined as our experience in life as it pertains with the past twenty or so years, we have become dominated by an influx of Islamic terrorism and mass immigration – we live in western countries increasingly dominated by a foreign philosophy and religion, with a totally different system of action regarding human interaction and etiquette.

Christianity remains queerly under attack – our societies abide by a media that praised the virtues of secularism, admonishing Christians for their common sense, yet pedestals Islam and Muslim tradition and culture and tells us, the citizens of our respective European and North American nations, to be subservient and receptive to these foreign ideologies. I am completely in favour of helping those who need it, as we are obligated so to do by the Lord – yet, while we may have saved lives, we have lost our own. Terrorism now is a phenomena of the local, whereas it ought never to be.

People in Sweden are campaigning to replace the Nordic cross with a crescent moon and star.

Boys and girls are being raped in Germany.

The United States is being feminized by radical feminists and murdered by Jihadists.

The United Kingdom is being overrun by Sharia protesters and supporters.

The Dominion of Canada is completely gone, with a wimp of a prime minister and modernism breathed in each molecule of their air.

In these times, we must raise our hearts to heaven and pray to St Serapion, to help us in our battle to spread truth and true love.

The Unmeasurable, Unending: the Mercy of God

I am often touched by the stories of Elder Paisios and his interesting life – an Orthodox monk, blessed with grace and wisdom. Some consider him to be a saint, and is canonized by the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople. My favourite tale is regarding an alcoholic monk, upon whose death a battalion of angels came to collect his soul.

“Once on Mount Athos in Greece there was a monk who drank and got drunk every day and was the case of scandal to the pilgrims. Eventually, he died and this relieved some of the faithful who went on to tell Father Paisios that they were delighted that this huge problem was finally solved. Father Paisios answered them that he knew about the death of the monk after seeing the entire battalion of angels who came to collect his soul. The pilgrims were amazed and some protested and tried to explain to the Elder of whom they were talking about, thinking that the Elder did not understand.

Elder Paisios explained to them that this particular monk was born in Asia Minor (modern day Turkey) shortly before the expulsion of the majority of Christians there by the Muslim Turks when they were taking Christian boys and forcing their conversion to Islam. So as not to take him from his parents, they would take him with them to reaping in the fields and so he wouldn’t cry and alert the Turks to his presence, they put raki (an unsweeted anise-flavored Turkish alcoholic beverage popular in the Near East) into his milk in order for him to sleep. Therefore he grew up as an alcoholic.

Having grown up in such a way, the elder told him to pray that God would help him reduce by one glass the glasses he drank a day. After a year, he managed with struggle and repentance to make the twenty glasses he drank into nineteen glasses. The struggle continued over the years and he reached two to three glasses a day with which he would still get drunk.

The world for years saw an alcoholic monk who scandalized the pilgrims, but God saw a fighter who fought a long struggle to reduce his passion. The moral of the story is this: without knowing what each one is trying to do what he wants to do, what right do we have to judge his efforts?

This particular version is extracted from “The Meaning of Grace for the Christian”, an article published here by John G. Panagiotou.

We are charged with the practise of virtue – humility is one of these. We have to know our place as children of God, and recall the inability we have with experiencing the ‘other’ limited by the confines of flesh and bone. We cannot judge someone, we cannot judge them for we don’t truly know them as God does.

A Woman’s Right to Choose

One particular person I admire, who is dear to my heart, and remains on my mind every time I pray, is my great grandmother. Nan Uí Bhriain – everyone called her Nan O’Brien – yet she faithfully wrote the full form of her name.

She gave birth to six children, my grandmother was the second; she struggled to carry many children to full term, and so many passed on within the womb. She was a remarkable woman so I’m told. I never did meet her, yet her legacy lives on like a river that never dries up. She died when my own ‘Nan’ was 15. My great-grandfather was stricken with grief from that day on, unable to cope with her loss. He turned to alcohol often, but more often relied on my grandmother – now the oldest; my uncle (the firstborn) had drowned in a boating accident, which added to their collective grief.

But ‘Nan O’Brien’ was a force from God. While her husband worked, she also worked – along with raising a family, she was the housekeeper for the rectory and its four priests. She met many throughout her life, one whose cause for canonisation is at the diocesan level and remains an unofficial patron of the town she loved and lived in. She taught her children that love was an unconditional thing, and that anyone you met was subject to it. I know this is true because of how my own dear nan responds to the people around her: she brings food to her sick friends, and she admonishes those she knows who have gone wrong or members of our family who have made great mistakes, yet she always tells them she loves them. I think whoever meets her confrontation knows her forgiveness is at the end of the tunnel, because she forgives all of her friends, all of our family.

Is that a perfect family? Of course not! Besides the Holy Family, no family is perfect. My grandmother has told me of many lessons she learned in her life, and one of those was about life and forgiveness. Broad topics, eh?

One night as my grandmother lay in bed, her mother came trotting home from her friend’s house. She burst through the bottom door crying, weeping, screeching for her husband. About ten minutes later, after he asked her what’s wrong, he apparently ran outside and cried on the bank behind the house. Half an hour later, everyone was asleep.

Nine months later, my grandmother had a new younger sister.

My dear readers, I confide in you: the dear public, a lesson. That night when love wept, a woman was taken by another’s husband. By force, not by choice. My great-grandmother was raped, and she conceived of a child.

The night of tears wasn’t an ordeal. It was a moment: reality came to light, human vengeance perished, and love overcame all.

My grandmother told me about this after we watched a programme about abortion. Nan always wore her faith on her sleeve. Someone in my family was conceived in an unorthodox way, yet lives today as a mother and wife, an aunt and friend herself.

Abortion is murder.

Should converts have a place in the Church?

Recently in the Catholic media there have been a few opinions voiced regarding the place of converts in the church.

One article I recall, a non germane “expose” regarding Pope Francis and the reception of the pontiff by converts to the faith, speaks brazenly of an opinion that converts dare not hold. Of course, because it doesn’t fit the narrative.

It is disgusting that an author speaks ill of his fellow Catholics in such a way. Regardless if one is a convert, or like myself, a ‘cradle’ Catholic: we are one in faith, one in belief. There is no hierarchy of “catholicness.”

If you ‘google’ around and research the recent articles from the more progressive left, you’ll find a similar critique of orthodox Catholics and converts, again implying a separate level of belonging.

Question: who are some of the greatest of our saints? Were they not converts?

Remember: evil is benign at first.