God is in Charge

The Dominion of Canada is legalising marijuana. Bishops are calling for the resignation of Pope Francis, the Holy Father. Steve is making an appearance in northern skies.

I am frightened. The days carry ever so much weight as my time goes on. My life, however, becomes more stressful and hard each day. I sin, I forget promises, I do not do what I ought to have done.

I know God is in charge, and that, as we are His creation, He will never fail us. The faith of that is good enough to keep me calm. Today, let us pray.

Thou, Most Holy Virgin, who dost evermore stand before the throne of the Most Holy Trinity, and to whom it is granted at all times to pray for us to the most beloved Son, pray for me in all my necessities; help me, combat for me, give thanks for me, and obtain for me pardon of all my sins; help me especially at my last hour, and, when I can no longer give any sign of the use of reason, then do thou encourage me, make the sign of the cross for me, sprinkle me with holy water, and fight for me against the enemy. Make in my name a profession of faith; favour me with a testimony of my salvation, and never let me despair of the mercy of God. Help me to overcome the wicked enemy; and when I can no longer say, “Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, I place my soul in your hands, say it for me; and when I can no longer hear human words of consolation, then do thou comfort me. Leave me not before I have been judged; and if I have to expiate my sins in purgatory, O pray for me instantly, earnestly, and admonist my friends to procure for me a speedy enjoyment of the blessed sight of God. Lessen my sufferings, deliver me speedily, and conduct my soul into Heaven with thee, that, united with all the Elect, I may there bless and praise my God and thyself for all eternity.
Amen.

 

Pray for the Holy Father, not a friend to orthodoxy, but hopefully not guilty of what is being accused.

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Many of us wander, blah blah

And when God caused me to wander from my father’s house, I said to her, ‘This is the kindness you must do me: at every place to which we come, say of me, He is my brother.'” Genesis 20:13, English Standard Version – Anglicised

It would be a benign thing to say ‘many of us wander,’ but who are we trying to kid? We all wander. None of us are the Blessed Mother, without sin nor stain. Believers, as are we, are wont to climb the ladder to salvation and make use of the sacraments the God has so graciously provided us with. God is our comfort, and in His love we find the consolation of our fears and sins. In confession we receive the absolution of the same and begin again, knowing our obedience to Christ has been less than wanting. As I begin, I ask you all to turn to Our Lord and commit an act of love towards him: our sustainer, our strength, our provider, whose provision is something that will last our life long so long as we adore and glorify Him, the God our our redemption. Father, Son, Holy Ghost.

Many of you know that the question of suicide has been on my mind for quite a long time. Why do it, why be driven to the point of having to do it, the immorality or morality of it, the consequences of the human family, the consequences, most importantly, of the immortal human soul.

Dear readers, whom I pray for and hope pray for me, suicide is never, ever, a solution. Consider those around you. Consider the people that you love, those people who before maybe even meeting them, you required in your life. To me, love is like this: upon meeting someone, getting to know them, you realize that they start to fill up an empty space in your heart. This place in your heart is a home. They respond by confiding in you, by seeking your advice, and you do likewise: seek their counsel and being thankful forever for their help. This is our human nature, but it all stems from God and His provision. He would not create us to be alone, that is why He created many of us.

When we lose love, it hurts. That is because a piece of our heart is also shattered and buried with the loss, whether alive or dead. We must look at each other with this attitude, something I am learning to do and am absolutely not good at. I am judgemental, sarcastic, spiteful. Learning these things are the path to sanctity, but admitting my struggle with you, dear readers, is one thing I hope to help all of us including myself.

When you see your friends becoming something you previously had not known them to be, consider their life’s situation and never ever falter in love. Let them wander, like the prodigal son, if they must. Yet always be there and love them and tell them the right from wrong. Admonishment is love, and a hug is love. Forgiveness is a balm to the repentant soul.

My friends, many people, anyone you might come across, is alive. They are the creation of our God. Yet, their life experience is different to ours, and seldom ever will it be the same. Even twins differ. Let us pray to the Blessed Virgin, the Mother of God, and Mother of the Church to yield these souls into her bosom. Then, directly, they will be before the throne of God. Suicide is not an automatic damnation. St John Marie Vianney said to a grieving wife, who in sorrow left a long lineup to see the same, “between the parapet of the bridge and the water he had time to make an act of contrition.” He was in purgatory. The instances of suicide, however, which leave us in awe, are those people who reject the love of the people around them, the love of the parents whose love caused their own growth, and their own rejection of the love they gave their own loves. This is rare, especially in this age, when mental illness is like a plague amongst men.

Treat each person as your brother. As your sister. Shine forth the love of God from your own eyes, so that when met, their eyes realize that you are a kind and gentle person, totally oriented towards what is right. It might not resonate in their mind, but it definitely will in their soul.

Now, dear readers, I ask you all if you will be in Nashville any time in September. I will be heading down with the vicar of our parish to participate in a conference headed by the Getty’s for rectors and worship leaders (being me) who work in the Anglican tradition (as I do). We will be there in September. Come for a meet and greet, or otherwise, pray for me and for our church, and for the one, true, holy, and apostolic Church.

As a Roman Catholic who works for the Anglican Catholics, I could not be more honoured. Please pray for them and for the many saints who are headed their way.

 

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.

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.

Seventy Times Seven

Compassion is a talent, a virtue: honed and practised, one we ought to teach to our children from a very young age. When we know compassion, we know also the basic tenet of forgiveness – that big word, the ‘f’ word we dread and use rarely. I hope the word burns within you: forgiveness is humbling, and to be forgiven is even more so…we ought to forgive because we all can recall a time when we have done wrong to someone else, whether it be to someone we love, a community we once belonged to, a mistake against our future. Notice how I write “we” instead of anything more singular? It is because none of us are exempt.

I’ve done wrong to others, and you have. Perhaps I’ve caused you to remember all those people in your life who have caused you harm, betrayal, or turmoil. Perhaps you do not feel vindicated enough for being the ‘offended’ party. Perhaps, you remember with sorrow, the greatest regret of your life – the greatest mistake, the most painful recollection of selfishness. I know I do. ‘We’ are guilty.

It is of great virtue to recall that all of us are of flesh and soul, of mind and body, spirit and blood. That each of us are created by one Father, crafted in His image, and it is literally the sin of the world that Christ bore on the cross for all of our redemption. Therefore, we ought to pray for the grace to be able to forgive, and forgive radically.

Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven.

“Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants. When he began to settle, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. and since he could not pay, his master ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ And out of pity for him, the master of that servant released him and forgave him the debt. But when that same servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii, and seizing him, he began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay what you owe.’  So his fellow servant fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ He refused and went and put him in prison until he should pay the debt. When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their master all that had taken place. Then his master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers, until he should pay all his debt.  So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.” St Matthew 18:21-35 (ESVA)

You see here that Our Lord commands not just forgiveness, but forgiveness without limit. The Jews of the time placed a special significance on the number “7,” for it meant a certain height of infinity – and today we know, it remains just as special (the seven sorrows, joys, days of creation). Our Lord doesn’t mean just seventy-times-seven, no, He means again, again, again, and again: today, tomorrow, always. He commands us always to forgive. My friends, it is very important that we read this gospel as often as we can. Weekly, monthly – however, as long as it becomes a habit. Our Saviour continues to teach the apostles that those who sow mercy will also receive it, and forgiveness is contained in every drop of Christ’s Precious Blood.

Oh, but how difficult that is!

If anyone has ever read The Brothers Karamazov, you may recall how Fyodor, the father of Ivan and Alexei (amongst others), reacts towards his own embarrassments, mistakes, and maniacal behaviour – he begins the blame the victim, and even, hate him. This is because he couldn’t bring himself to forgive himself for his wrongdoings, and rather than straighten up and carry on, Dostoevsky, in his psychological way, creates a narrative around hard-headedness.

We as Christians ought not to have hard hearts, and I am as guilty as the next. We have to forgive: radically. Ourselves, others; we do this because God forgives us.

This is why He left us a Church.

This is why He left us the sacraments.

This is why He left us the confessional.

Because He loves us. He forgives us.

Confession is mandatory. Let us pray for the grace of a good and holy confession, for graces that come from forgiveness, and from being forgiven.

Living and the Dead

Today I travelled a wee bit outside of town, and came across a beautiful little village that contained two churches and a chapel. One, Anglican, the other, Catholic. Both were imbibed with the beautiful of 500 years, another a more Victorian structure (that was the Catholic) with seating in the upper part of the church as well as the lower. It is amazing what a God-fearing priest can do to revive the dusty faith of and ageing population.

Now, in both churches, the altars were facing ad orientem. Central to the Catholic church was the tabernacle placed beyond the altar. On said altar remained three traditional Mass cards, and a statue of Our Lady and St Therese on either side. The priest is a young, recently-ordained fellow and in charge of three other parishes. I had missed daily Mass, but it was evident how used the building was. According to the figures, it has been growing and growing each Sunday do to the attraction of traditionalists and those who seek a proper Mass each Sunday, as both rites are offered at the Church. I knelt at the altar rail for a prayer, and was moved at the tranquility the little building enclosed. There was a quaint little pump-organ placed in the back, and on it by some sort of Divine Providence was placed my favourite hymn. I managed to walk a little further around town, and enjoyed the familiar spray of salt water on my face. The beauty of God’s creating is amazing. And for someone struggling like I am, a five-hour drive from home truly does one a world of good.

The Anglican church was a fully wooden Gothic building, and a very grand one with the full English pipe organ, now in disuse (such a pity for a beautiful thing). Of course, the minister is a liberal who preaches the modernist concept of tolerance.

The building is threatened with closure.

So, it seems as though a dead faith makes a dead church… but a ‘lively’ faith, creates a lively congregation.

The Banality of Hell

This evening at the vigil Mass, we had a visiting priest – or rather, a priest originally from our town returned to offer Mass. He was always very intelligent: spiritually, theologically, liturgically. His heart truly carried each word of the beloved sacrifice to his lips, visibly stirred his soul.

Now, for a long while we have been under the, um, regime of a rather particular vicar who years ago was silenced for speaking out in support of same-sex marriage™ but somehow was reconciled to stable ministry. Today, during the intercessions, I watched a pleasant rouge fade to a placid grey as the intercessor, through no fault of his own, beseeched us all to “pray for people of all faiths, that we may come to know the truths in all the religions of the world.” This was quite a trick on behalf of our regular parish priest; an intentional shot from the arrow of contempt for good and solid theology, and the sensibility of a pious priest.

Notice the wording. I trust my memory in this case, because it disturbed my conscience that we as Catholics should be praying for others to basically remain pagan and not led home to the truth of the Church. Notice the banality of it – for people of all faiths – know the truths in all the religions of the world – we could interpret that in various ways, really. But the common individual would hear “all religions are equal and good.” In addition, one could think that by virtue of the word “truth”s perhaps it really is a plea for conversion, as the truth can only be found in one spot in fullness; a thing cannot be half true or a quarter truth. But the Church, in her holy wisdom, does not deny that people of diverse belief can come to know some truth: quantity vs. substance.

But recall the nature of ourselves: somewhat genteel, or possibly selfish. We often tend to follow the crowd, as the pack mentality consumes our more definable individuality – we see this in the world: the rise of socialist politics and self-entitled teenagers whining because they refuse to work for an education and want it on the taxpayers wallet, or, the “public purse.” See how they riot? In New Orleans a group of protestors wanted to tear down a statue of St Joan of Arc, confusing her with some civil war figure or other. Notice this new iconoclasm of sorts? History repeats itself.

But now, more than ever, we ought to be apt in claiming the truth of God’s glorious redemption; His redeeming love, and His Mother’s role in salvation. Now, more than ever, in this age of nihilism and absurdity – we should strive to lead souls HOME to Christ, not confirming their position in Buddhism. We were warned by the Lord to not be lukewarm.

There is truth. Let’s stick to it. Why are we so adverse to obedience? Why do our own members reject our own teaching! We need to pray. We need to love and protect and pray for our priests and bishops. They are how God communicates with us, and those men are whom God chose to be His soul-keepers.