August 24, 2016

Divine Will Conference, Tampa. September 8-11 2016

Dear Friends,

I would like to invite anyone interested to attend an upcoming Divine Will Conference being held in Tampa, FL on September 8th through September 11th! I am above all very excited to be attending this conference in order to learn from the wisdom of the other speakers there; but as God would have it, I will be a speaker as well. It is being run by Thomas Fahy (a veritable expert on the Divine Will) and the John Paul II Institute of Christian Spirituality. 

You may register for the conference with this form. The conference will be held at the Holiday Inn Tampa WestshoreDetailed information on reserving a room a this hotel can be found in this document.  (Update: that hotel is now full. You can instead reserve a room at the Marriott Tampa Westshore just across the street; their number is 813-287-2555. Just mention the John Paul II Institute Conference when reserving. Thanks!)

 

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P.S. In case anyone is wondering whether I am taking back my assertion (made under the “About the Author” section of The Crown and Completion of All Sanctity) that I would not be speaking on the Divine Will at conferences due to a restriction being in effect against this: the short answer is yes! Sadly, in writing that brief note last year, I had fallen prey to a common misconception; for indeed, there is no such restriction. Suffice it to say I have validated this with confidence through much research (and I have pinpointed the source of the confusion), but in an effort to take my own advice from my last post and avoid needless discord, I will avoid going down that rabbit hole and instead simply leave it at this. If you need more information on this before feeling comfortable attending such a conference, you can feel free to contact me.  From now on, I will indeed be available to speak on the Divine Will in the writings of the Servant of God Luisa Piccarreta.

June 21, 2016

The Mission

In light of the unprecedented factiousness, discord, and needless heated debates that have come knocking at my door and the doors of so many (almost everyone, it seems, is embroiled in something) during the past couple months, I would like to do now what I have not done in my seven years of running this blog, namely: merely re-post something I have previously written. Considering all that has transpired in both the Church and the World during the past five months since I wrote it, I don’t suppose many will begrudge its repetition. These past five months have been nothing but a preview of what is to come, so focusing on the mission will only become more important.

What follows is excerpted from the bottom of my post written January of this year (only html/formatting altered):

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The Mission

Live in the Divine Will

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Proclaim the Divine Mercy

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Eucharist, Rosary, Chaplet, Scripture, Fasting, Confession, Works of Mercy

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Pray, pray, pray

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love

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May

Jesus, I Trust in You.

Thy Will Be Done.

Be ever on your mind, heart, and lips.

May 30, 2016

Conquer the World for Christ the King: Lessons Learned from My 2016 Run for U.S. Congress

Published May 30th, 2016

Dear Brethren in Christ,

When I last wrote to you, it was precisely the half-way point of Lent. Today, we are exactly half way through the Holy Year of Mercy, which will end on this year’s Feast of Christ the King. As you no doubt have come to expect, I have some words of exhortation again, but this time of a slightly different nature.

In my last post I also alluded to the fact that I may then have well been on the cusp of one of the most exhausting, demanding, difficult endeavors of my life, if it were to turn out that God called me to it.

And indeed He did.campaign

For much of the months of March and April I was relentlessly pounding the streets, going door-to-door, sometimes all day, in the poorest areas of my home city of Albany, NY (so as to ensure that each day I was engaging in a true Divine Will Missionary of Mercy walk by way of this endeavor — yes, I even wore a Divine Mercy pin), gathering signatures in an attempt to force a primary election against my U.S. Congressional District’s deeply entrenched, machine supported, pro-abortion, pro-gay “marriage” Representative (a career politician “Catholic,” no less). I dare say there is scarcely an inch of the poorest streets of this city — including each floor of all of the largest and most dissolute public housing project high rise apartments — that my own two feet did not tread in those weeks. In the course of this mission I knocked on thousands of doors.

Although it was quite successful (I got almost 700 signatures), I did fall short of the 1,250 needed in order to get on the ballot against my opponent. But I do not regret for a moment my attempt, and in what follows I will explain why.

Before I write any further, though, I know that the first question of many of those who read this site will be more fundamental: “Why? Why would someone like you — a devout Catholic, learned in private revelation and theology, who sees the Signs of the Times — put hopes in, and waste time in, politics?

Bear with me while I give the long answer to that question. Since this answer is just about me, however, and I am nothing, I will enclose it in horizontal bars so you can skip it if you like and move on to the purpose of this post: the Lessons Learned from the run.

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Why Politics?

When, in 2013, my wife and I were building our lives together, we faced that choice that all young couples face: where to settle down and begin our family?

My human-will, that is, the self-will, had a very clear and immediate answer to that question: get away from the world as much as possible. You see, I do not think there is anyone who hates, to the extent that I do, the unholy music, impure images, ugliness, disorder, constant noise, sinful conversations, and the like, that inevitably inundate any densely-populated area these days. Humanly speaking, there is nothing I want more than to be completely removed from all of this garbage — and while there is nothing wrong with such a desire in and of itself (quite the contrary, it is an objectively good desire and I still look forward to the day when God calls me and my family into a more rural setting), even the holiest desires are worthless if they are not the Divine Will.

Now, by making it clear to me that the corporate engineering world (which I had briefly entered back into after marriage) was not my calling, God had already eliminated the “best of both worlds” option — a $400k house in a pristine, quiet, gated-community suburb close to a nice upscale parish — since that would cost far more than we could afford with my lowly salary as a (non-public school) teacher.

So instead of doing what I wanted to do: hop on to a real estate website and find some very quiet acreage in some beautiful, relatively remote rural spot — which would have inevitably deprived me of the ability to reasonably undertake my greatest joy: daily Mass, but which would have nevertheless indeed been an option since I was only then teaching online and therefore without geographic constraints — we did a Novena to St. Joseph asking him what house to buy. With great clarity, he sent us to the home we now own and are raising our children in.

This is a home that does not allow me to comfortably ignore the plight of the poor. We live less than stone’s throw from two half-way houses (one of which is basically across the street and commendably tries to help young mothers who are in need to stay with their children), and just over a stone’s throw from some particularly dilapidated city blocks in extreme poverty, in addition to a large industrial port which daily spews petroleum fumes — uninhibited by laws that should be in place protecting the nearby residents from them.

Don’t get me wrong, our particular block is actually fairly nice, but nevertheless it does not allow me to turn a blind eye to reality and pretend, like so many do (much to the chagrin of our Holy Father), that the poor and the environment need not be given much weight in the political concerns of a modern Catholic. It does not allow me sit on my quiet porch in a beautifully manicured suburb far from any landfill, city, or industrial establishment and say, “how dare Pope Francis write an encyclical addressing environmental degradation, poverty, and exploitation, when there are so many more pressing issues!

(Lest my tone here wrongly indicates otherwise, please know that I have nothing against living in a pristine suburban or rural area — better and holier Catholics than myself do just that. I’m simply relaying what I’ve learned from that arrangement not being what God has called me to at the moment.)

Quite the contrary, this, combined with my daily Divine Will Missionary of Mercy walks through the poorest streets of this city, has taught me that the entire Social Magisterium is the answer. I do not mean the “social justice” pseudo-causes that are pushed in left-wing Catholic circles all over the country. I mean the actual Magisterial Documents: above all, the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, Caritas in Veritate, and Laudato Si.

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So for years (over four, in fact, for I have been working hard on this since my time as a theology student) I have been studying these documents, building an American political platform off of them, and preparing to run for office on this platform myself. Why? Not because I am worthy of this task, but because no one else has done it, and yet I know that it must be done.

Common Good Platform

The platform I have been working on (the Common Good Platform) as well as my particular Campaign mission statement, still need some more work before they are ready to be published (even though in the midst of my campaign I did have them public). I do, however, hope to have them done before the 2016 Presidential General Election really goes into high gear, and I will be sure to post them here. (I will make a new post when I do that, so if you’d like to be notified, just subscribe to this blog using your email address in the upper right hand corner of the page.)

Why the Social Doctrine?

In order that you are prepared to see it once I do release it, I must say a few words about the Church’s Social Magisterium (if you already find yourself submissive, open, and obedient to the Church’s Social Magisterium, feel free to skip to the next horizontal bar). And let me first just make one thing clear. The Creator and Ruler of the universe entered into it 2,000 years ago. He founded a Church with the authority to teach all the nations; and that very Church which He founded persists to this day under the vicarious headship of Pope Francis. Like it or not, this Church really does have a whole treasury of Magisterial teachings on politics. Is every word of it strictly infallible? Of course not. But there is simply no possible way to be a loyal child of Holy Mother Church (which a Catholic must be in order to be a loyal child of God the Father) while simply dismissing an entire category of Church Teaching. Do not confuse this fact with the “seamless garment” nonsense: clearly black and white issues like abortion and gay “marriage” are even more important than her other political teachings. But what a fatal fallacy it would be to conclude, from this fact, that one can licitly choose to ignore these other political teachings!

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King St. Stephen of Hungary

And so, adhere to them, promote them, and, based on them, vote and even run for office we must. In order to do so, however, we must not fall into any of the other fatal fallacies regarding the Social Teachings; fallacies that have become so dominant as to practically render ineffectual, to this very day, the Social Magisterium of God’s Church:

  1. Complain of their length and refuse to even give the Social Doctrine a chance. Give some Catholics a document of true Social Magisterium (for example, The Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, Benedict XVI’s Caritas in Veritate or Francis’ Laudato Si), and, instead of being thankful for how thorough and practical these documents are, they will instead rant about how lengthy they are, only to turn around and readily lend their ears (and therefore, by inevitable consequence, the formation of their minds) to worldly political pundit talking heads for more cumulative time over the course of a mere week than would have been needed to actually read these documents. And if the Vicar of the Second Person of the Eternal Trinity dare, even in his official Magisterium, contradict the opinions of the likes of Rush Limbaugh, et al., then it is the latter who is defended by these Catholics. Letting the world form us on something as important as fundamental political issues is a sin. It’s something that needs to be repented of, not something that should be defended. If, in an honest analysis of our lives, we realize that this is precisely what we have done, then we really must repent — and make amends. Amends can be made by reading, and choosing to submit to, the Church’s Social Magisterium, and deciding beforehand that this Magisterium matters more than our own opinions. Make no mistake about it, this will entail a painful death to self.  But such is Christianity — the Way of the Cross. One who has lent the task of his political formation to the world should not expect that he can merely dive into the Social Magisterium and find it perfectly in accord with his own fancies.  It is one’s own fancies that must change, not the Magisterium.
    1. If you are wondering why I am focusing for now on those three Documents, it is simply because, for the sake of manageability, I am trusting that the 2005 Compendium of the Social Doctrine did well what it proposed to do: adequately summarize the Social Magisterium all the way back to Leo XII’s 1891 Rerum Novarum. It is especially groundless to complain about the length of the Compendium, since its entire purpose is to present a summary (which is itself Magisterial) of well over a hundred years of Catholic Social Teaching. It successfully did so in as brief a manner as possible.
  2. Pick and choose what, in the Social Magisterium, you will submit to. I have already touched on this in the preceding paragraph, but it needs to be addressed independently as well. But how sad it is that this even needs to be said. Too often, the very same Catholics who will (rightly, might I add) lambaste, with all of their vigor, other Catholics who prefer the Cafeteria approach by saying “I’m against abortion but I can’t advocate imposing that view on others through law” will nevertheless turn around and themselves say that they refuse to submit to abundantly clear teachings in a Papal Encyclical. How are you any different from a Pagan if you read the Social Magisterium with the mindset of merely allowing it to educate you and give you food for thought, instead of handing yourself over to it in order to be formed by it? Anybody can read the Social Magisterium if they do so in the comfort of the self-will armchair, knowing they need not worry about having to abandon their own opinions for the sake of a greater truth. As a Catholic your calling is much higher than this comfort-zone at all costs ideology. But if that does not convince you, at least know this: even theologians have a difficult time discerning what is and is not truly authoritative and binding on conscience for Catholics, within certain Church Documents. Do you think you are up to such a task? You aren’t. The path to hell is no doubt paved with those who, instead of submitting like a child to Holy Mother Church, took it upon themselves to try to subtly craft a way they could technically obey Church teaching while at the same time ensuring that they really are just holding onto their own wills, their own preferences, and their own inclinations. Have nothing to do with that way of life. “…the Church’s social doctrine has the same dignity and authority as her moral teaching. It is authentic Magisterium, which obligates the faithful to adhere to it.” (Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, paragraph 80)
    1. I know the first question that will come to the mind of many will be “So, does that mean you have to believe in Global Warming?” Even asking this question gives away the position of the one who asks. For Pope Francis does not attempt to teach, in Laudato Si, that man-made “global warming” definitely is happening, nor does he even talk much about it, despite mainstream media conveniently labeling Laudato Si, according to their own narrative, to be “the global warming encyclical.” He merely points out that there is a consensus among scientists that it is happening; but everybody already knew that. Scientific consensuses are often wrong. As for me: I do not know, nor do I particularly care, if there is man-made global warming. Because whether or not there is, what me must actually do does not change: we urgently must reduce our incredibly wasteful, consumerist lifestyles for a whole plethora of reasons.
  3. Utterly emasculate the Social Doctrine by insisting upon its irrelevance to or lack of authority in any actual concrete situation. Now as with most lies, this one is based upon a truth: for indeed, the job of the Church is not to form specific policies, start political parties, or anything of the sort. But it is to be taken absolutely seriously in what it does say. People who fall into this trap set by the CSDCdevil completely miss the point that it is not their job to decide what the Social Doctrine does and does not have the authority to rule on. We are not told that the Social Doctrine does not form specific policies so that we can nit pick through it and decide what, contained within it, we think is inapplicable and worth ignoring because in our opinion it actually is a specific policy! We are, on the contrary, told that so that we understand, going into reading it, that everything that follows is in fact not actual specific policy, but is, rather, a guideline that must be taken completely at its word in forming specific policies. Allow me to illustrate with just one example of thousands: the Church makes it abundantly clear that a just wage is a right that governments have a duty to legally enshrine. She also makes it clear that the mere fact that an unjust wage was freely and legally agreed upon contractually by both parties involved does not justify it, and that for a wage to be just, it must be above the level of subsistence (for example, in the Compendium, paragraph 302). She does not, however, say exactly what a just wage is, nor does she say exactly how to enforce it. Good Catholics can debate over precisely what the number should be, how to apply it, and what factors modify it. They cannot debate over whether it is something the government has a duty to generally require. Sadly, this does not stop these emasculators of the Social Doctrine from insisting that “No, the Church does not insist upon specific policies. I believe in a just wage but I don’t believe it is something that the law has any role in ensuring. The free market alone has the right to do that, and if people don’t like the wage offered by a given company, they can go elsewhere. Besides, low-skilled jobs shouldn’t be paid well, lest people not be encouraged to receive higher education.” As you can see, the distinction is not difficult to grasp if one actually uses an ounce of thought. The person who says this has clearly contradicted the Magisterium.  Now, is holding such a view a mortal sin, like condoning gay “marriage” or legal abortion is? Probably not (I really don’t know). But it is certainly at least a venial sin. And what a pathetic way to be a Catholic! Caring not about Our Lord’s mandate to strive for perfection, and instead only caring to avoid obvious mortal sin. Aiming for purgatory is not a good idea.
    1. Incidentally, do not think I am standing here advocating for a $15 nationwide minimum wage. The Church teaches that whether a wage is just depends upon the individual laborer’s family circumstance; hence, one way to refer to Church teaching on the matter is that she insists upon a “family wage.” I see nothing wrong with a childless High School student living with his parents earning the current minimum wage. But to pay a man who must support a wife and children the current minimum wage is indeed a grave injustice. It is one of the four sins that cry out to God for vengeance (one of which is “defrauding the laborer his wages”).
  4. Buy into secular narratives that Pope Francis is a socialist. This is a cunning ploy by the mainstream media to get those on the left wing of America’s political spectrum to become even more radical, and to get those on the right wing of the same to abandon and oppose Pope Francis (for the media has of course lauded Pope Francis, and they cannot stand the thought of conservatives appreciating someone they have lauded). But nothing could be further from the truth. When it comes to politics, Pope Francis has been repeatedly clear in directing us to the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church. This Compendium (and indeed, Catholic Social Teaching in general), categorically condemns socialism (see paragraph 89), while only condemning capitalism conditionally (i.e. CSDC paragraph 335: “If by ‘capitalism’ is meant an economic system which recognizes the fundamental and positive role of business, the market, private property … then the answer is certainly in the affirmative… But if by ‘capitalism’ is meant a system in which freedom in the economic sector is not circumscribed within a strong juridical framework which places it at the service of human freedom in its totality, and which sees it as a particular aspect of that freedom, the core of which is ethical and religious, then the reply is certainly negative”). Pope Francis, and indeed Catholic Social Teaching in general, does not insist upon (in fact, it openly opposes) the welfare state, the public education monopoly, in any way seeking to limit human population, common or state ownership, etc. (this list could go on for quite some time).
  5. See a contradiction where none exists between political concerns and Heavenly and Prophetic concerns. In this case, I need Leo XIIIonly defer to that great Pope who, no doubt, comes to mind first (or close to it) when one thinks of the great Popes who were most aware of Satan’s ravaging of the Earth in these end times and the truly pivotal, prophetic nature of the days in which we live: Pope Leo XII. The Pope who had the vision of the 100 year Reign of Satan. The Pope who instituted the St. Michael the Archangel prayer for the Universal Church. The Pope who wrote eleven Encyclicals on the Rosary. The Pope who, in an unprecedented act at the time, consecrated the entire world to the Sacred Heart after being urged to do so by private revelation. And indeed, the Pope who really was the Father of the Social Doctrine by insisting upon the absolute importance of Catholic action for justice in politics, in his encyclical Rerum Novarum. Pope Francis, too — the same Pope who has lived his pontificate in such an urgent, prophetically oriented manner, even proclaiming an unprecedented extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy — has said “Politics, though often denigrated, remains a lofty vocation and one of the highest forms of charity…. I beg the Lord to grant us more politicians who are genuinely disturbed by the state of society…” (E.G. paragraph 205). Some people seem to have given up on politics due to its depraved current standing and the particularly dire circumstances of our times that clearly necessitate Divine intervention. On such observations, I agree wholeheartedly. But in terms of how to react to them, this mentality of “give up and wait for God to fix it” is not a legitimate Catholic approach. In fact, this mentality is similar to the heresy of Quietism and it involves the sins of sloth and lukewarmness. The Church makes it clear that, at the very minimum, citizens of a Democracy have a grave duty to vote. If we have a grave duty to vote, then we also have a duty to remain open to God calling us to do more in this regard. Up until the very day the Lord comes in Glory, we have to continue working our hardest to make Earth more like Heaven, bit by bit, day by day. Politics is one of the most powerful ways of doing that. We have absolutely no right, as Catholics, to simply exclude ourselves from this because our own pet theories or pet “prophets” dictate otherwise. What may be soon coming upon the world does not change, one iota, our requirement to do whatever we can to help, through our own effort, to bring this world more and more into conformity with the Divine Will. You are all no doubt aware of what St. Francis famously responded to one of his brother friars when asked “Francis, what would you do if you knew the world were to end today?” Francis responded, “finish hoeing this garden.” If the garden that God has called you to is politics, then keep working that garden as long as there is breath in your lungs.
    1. Followers of this blog know that my greatest passion is the revelations on the Divine Will to Luisa Piccarreta. Well,  significant portions of Luisa’s writings involve the drama of a sole Catholic politician fighting against the introduction of a law permitting divorce. Luisa offered herself as a victim for the sake of this politician and for his noble fight against this legal introduction of evil into society, which he was getting very discouraged in the midst of, due to the opposition he was facing and the fact that he was facing it alone. Jesus insisted time and time again of the importance of this, and Luisa suffered tremendously in order to fight this law; and indeed, they were victorious. (So much for the false notion that the dedication of oneself to the concerns of Heaven and to the concerns of politics are mutually exclusive.)

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Enough of that. Now on to…

Lessons Learned:

Defeatists

The Devil is the ultimate defeatist, and he counts as his own countless souls on Earth who, whether they know it or not, serve as his instruments by doing everything theyJudgment Day can to shoot down each and every bold endeavor for Christ that crosses their path.

I was told by so many people that it was impossible. That I couldn’t ever, as an un-endorsed newcomer, knock on doors and get anywhere near enough signatures to run for Congress. That I’d be so opposed that it would not even begin to work. That I had to do it the “right” way by first cozying up to the establishment, then running for school board, then city council, then county legislator, then state senate, then (and only then) Congress. Well, I got more signatures than they ever thought possible. I received more support than they ever thought I would. I stumbled upon people on the streets who decided in a mere few moments that they would be my allies. As I will discuss in a following paragraph, the opposition from the establishment was weak to nonexistent.

And next time, God willing, I’ll get the required amount (not on my own, mind you. Even this time around I had help; particularly from one very dedicated person who got over a hundred signatures for me).

But at the end of the day, who cares if you are successful by worldly standards? The best a defeatist can possibly do is argue that, looking at the evidence, it seems you won’t succeed. Again, even if he winds up being right, so what? Our Lord assures us that it is our faithfulness, and our willingness to suffer for His sake, that matters. It is that standard alone on which He rewards us — not for the success. And if we conduct ourselves in such a way that we are definitely building up treasures in Heaven — not merely by the hypothetical future achievement of our stated objective, but by what we are actually saying and doing each and every day — then we’ve already proven the defeatists wrong. In the paragraphs that follow you will see that God, through my efforts even on day one, achieved this.

Now besides the fact that defeatism should be condemned by its very nature, there is another truth concerning the political landscape itself that this defeatism is completely ignorant to: There is a sleeping giant waiting to be awakened; one which I experienced firsthand day after day on the streets. It is the political power of urban poor, often minority, registered Democrats who are pro-Faith, pro-Family, and pro-Life. I had so many wonderful conversations with, and received so much ardent support from, these people who were 100% behind my mission. Currently there is at least one politician who has realized this, and he is the single most pro-Life, pro-Faith, pro-Family politician in the entire country: The New York Democrat Ruben Diaz Sr  (unfortunately his son, the politician Ruben Diaz Jr., is a typical Culture of Death Democrat, so be sure not to confuse the two). I challenge you to find one Republican politician in this country bold enough to actually boast of his campaigning against gay “marriage” with none other than the TFP (which is so traditional that most Catholics fear it), facetiously thank NARAL for pointing out how anti-abortion he is, and post a video of himself deriding liberal notions of separation of Church and State, and do all of this on his official political campaign site. It is high time we start taking this sleeping giant seriously instead of buying into the current Catholic defeatist narrative that insists there is only one way to possibly fight the culture of death in politics: grudgingly accept every lame, lukewarmly “pro life” Republican that the establishment presents and ignore every other tenet of Catholic Social Doctrine.

Machine

I live in Albany, NY –major political machine territory. In fact, my practical namesake was a machine boss of enormous proportions until just a few decades ago. Nothing is supposed to happen here without the go-ahead of the Democratic Party Establishment. My opponent, Paul Tonko, is about as entrenched, established, and endorsed by this machine as one can possibly get, as he has been a career politician for 40 years. I suppose the mere contemplation of this reality is supposed to make would-be new political challengers shake in their boots and run in the opposite direction with their tails between their legs.Devil is Conquered

You will understand, then, how amusing it was to me that, despite often spending entire days pounding the streets, knocking on door after door in “Tonko territory,” I barely came across anyone who actually admired and supported him and consequently refused to sign my petition (maybe one a day, on average, if even that). In fact, practically everybody I talked to who actually could give a valid signature – because errors on the voter list often made this not possible – did indeed sign my petition! And these were only registered Democrats in the City of Albany: people who were supposed to be strong Tonko supporters. What I came across far more often were people sick and tired of establishment politicians completely ignoring the actual concrete needs of the poor, for the sake of flashy photo ops that they go running for whenever a big local business makes a press release about an event.

Ha! The bark of the machine sure is louder than its bite. If only we stopped thinking the world was so powerful, we’d have conquered it by now for Christ. Catholics far too often, instead of boldly diving headfirst into the midst of the battle, choose rather to mire themselves in conspiracy theories that convince them that all effort is for naught, make their circles of influence more and more enclosed and guarded, limit their “input” on matters to pointless ranting and comfortable armchair criticism, and dedicate their time to reading and promulgating endless diagnoses of the modern world’s problems while ignoring their calling to actually do something concrete, difficult, and self-sacrificial to resolve them. This is an utter tragedy. If you think you may have fallen victim to it, even if to a small degree, I can only beg you to read Evangelii Gaudium and allow yourself to be formed by this particular Magisterial Document.

And the Devil is the exact same way. When it comes to serious, convicted, devout Catholics, he operates primarily through fear, discouragement, and anxiety: because he is actually the one utterly terrified of us. That’s right. He knows that God, through us, can utterly demolish his plans if we only discard our fear of him and go on the offensive against him. I was told I would be spiritually attacked if I engaged in this; and indeed I was. But I do not fear spiritual attacks; all they do is make me turn more to God — the One Who is the sole purpose of my life anyway. So what do I have to lose? The worst the devil could do is kill me, if God allowed it. And so what? “Life to me means Christ, and death is gain.” (Philippians 1:21) The devil is powerless over us. Do not fear him – this only gives him power that he does not naturally have. Instead, laugh at him, scoff at him, consider him to be the insect that he is, stay close to Mary, and proceed with courage in the Will of God no matter what tantrums this causes the devil to throw (in fact, rejoice when he throws tantrums, because this only evidences the powerful workings of grace).

Mercy

Almost every day I went out, I wore a very clearly visible Divine Mercy pin (this one, to be precise). To almost every person I spoke, I ended our conversation with something to the effect of (in fact, usually verbatim:) “God bless you. Please pray for me. I will pray for you.”

Jesus and Mary“A daring and perhaps imprudent thing to mix with politics, Daniel!” you may be thinking. Well, guess how many people this was a problem for in my entire time of knocking on thousands of doors…..

Two.

Yes, a sum total of two people had a problem with my pin and my explicit Faith. And I was only seeking out registered Democrats in the least Bible-minded city in the entire country. It “should” have been practically all of them. And yet, almost without fail, the reaction was extremely positive. People were so thankful that I said “God bless you,” that I asked for their prayers, and that I assured them of mine. People loved the Divine Mercy pin — in fact, many said they were signing my petition because of that pin. There were people who saw my little brush up with their lives as signs from God. There were people who opened up to me about their problems, and by the end of me offering a mere few simple words of encouragement to trust in the Divine Mercy, were shedding tears of grace. There were people who were greatly encouraged and inspired to hope by someone actually trying to bring God into politics. I could go on for some time. So much for the lukewarm (and no doubt demonically inspired) notion that Faith should not be mixed with politics.

God’s grace is more powerful than anything. It’s more powerful than the devil. It’s more powerful than apathy. It’s more powerful than atheism. It’s more powerful than anti-Catholicism. The problem is not that God’s grace is lacking; rather, the problem is that there are so few really willing to try to put it to use to Conquer the World for Christ. “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few.” (Luke 10:2) This is not to say that everyone will be open to God’s grace. Quite the contrary, many will reject it and persecute the messenger (no servant is greater than his master; they persecuted Christ and they will persecute us). But there will always be enough of those who don’t reject grace that bringing it to the masses is worth the effort a thousand times over.

Think about how much of a “risk” I am taking just by writing this post. Those who were alerted to my campaign are perhaps keeping an eye on what I write publicly. They may have even saved this post to their hard drives so they can bring it up and try to use it against me when I try running again (because I am not giving up). And guess what? I don’t care. I am not afraid of the whole world knowing that my motivation here with politics is to Conquer the World for Christ and proclaim the Divine Mercy. This motive arises simply out of love of God and love of Neighbor. I am not going to frantically cling to every little strategy I can think of in order to increase my statistical odds of election at the expense of the Eternal Mission. I am not going to continually kick the can down the road my whole life (which is always what the Devil tries to convince us to do) and say to myself “Well… I’ll use only worldly methods for now, and once I’m in office and have more influence, then I’ll really start doing what I can for the Sake of the Kingdom.” If that is the way you think now, then it is the way you will think all the way to the grave. I shudder to think of what incredible graces would have been lost if I had refused to proclaim the Divine Mercy in the midst of gathering signatures under the pretense of delaying doing so until I was in office and therefore more influential. So many souls were touched by God’s Grace simply because I insisted on maintaining each day pounding the streets as a DWMoM Walk. If I instead neglected that and did it the “ordinary, ‘right’ way,” then I’d still be where I am now (not on the ballot), but without having brought the Divine Mercy to hundreds if not thousands of souls over that short time. 

As Pope Francis repeatedly insists, “time is greater than space.” (E.G. paragraph 222-225) Though at first this might seem vague, what he is trying to teach is very powerful: it is better to initiate a process – better to “go for the gold” even if it means someone else will reap the harvest down the line – than to merely limit ourselves to doing whatever is most likely to ensure that we ourselves will specifically benefit from our efforts, possess the power, and receive the thanks from them in the here and now.

I am definitely not encouraging proselytizing, being overbearing, or forcing yourself to say or do things that feel awkward for you. I am not saying that all of your endeavors should look like thinly-veiled sermons (on the contrary, we must do what we do because we believe in it, not because we simply want to sneak in some preaching). The best proclamation of the Divine Mercy — the best Evangelization — is always graceful, natural, and inviting (not imposing). A Divine Mercy pin is a great start; it allows people to ask you about it, if they so please. Responding to questions that others ask on their own initiative is among the best ways to Evangelize. Saying “God Bless you” and/or asking for someone’s prayers and assuring them of yours is always a great way to Evangelize. These small acts and others like them (I only present here a couple of my own ideas), done with love, can truly be the channels through which God works wonders in a person’s soul; especially if you do these things in the Divine Will.

Advice

The crisis of effeminacy in the Church is longstanding. And although limp wrists, lisps, and liturgical dancing are a part of it, they are nothing but a shadow of the real problem, which is a lack of willingness to undertake suffering, sacrifice, exertion, difficulty, and danger for the sake of the good.

Whenever someone reveals a desire to do something great for God — something that will inevitably require perseverance through great difficulty — a whole host of people tend to crop up insisting that there is a “better” way. This often kills supernatural vocations, but on a smaller scale, it also constantly kills individual missions to which God calls people.

Some of these promoters of easy advice do so innocently, and therefore bear no guilt, even though they still do great damage to God’s plan. They simply do not want to see people they love suffer unnecessarily and they have fallen into an over-inflated and disordered sense of prudence at the expense of other virtues. Some of them even do so by pointing to St. Therese of Lisieux, as if her beautiful “little way” somehow negates and renders sinful that great virtue of magnanimity. But the little way of the Little Flower has nothing to do with shunning great endeavors categorically! It merely has to do with the recognition that externally great things are not necessary in order to be a great saint, but rather, little things done with great love are necessary for this end. The little way cannot tell us whether great endeavors that we find on our hearts should be followed through with! How sad a world we would live in today if all of the great endeavors of the great saints were passed up simply because they were great!St John Capistrano

If you think you are called to do something great for Christ, you may well be. Dare not write off this inspiration on your heart because you are unworthy, or because people will laugh, or because “that’s not the way it’s usually done.” History would be a very boring thing if God’s Will was merely that everything always be done the same way. Life is very short. And it’s the only chance we get to earn merit for Heaven. Imprudent action for God is a real possibility; paralysis from fear is a far more common one.

Regarding my situation: I prayed much for God’s guidance (even asking St. Therese for a sign through a novena with my wife, and she gave me one) and felt that He was calling me to it. I discussed it with my wife and had her encouragement. I discussed it with my Spiritual Director and had his encouragement as well. Although an extraordinary mission, it was not entirely unreasonable either. I had a Providentially-placed long break from work right when I’d have to be pounding the streets. What further steps would have been needed before proceeding? None.

If I had refused to follow through with it because the political “experts” insisted I do it in another way (and indeed they did – without an ounce of meekness), or because I feared the judgment and criticism of those who cannot stand those close to them “rocking the boat,” or because I dreaded the sacrifice entailed, then all I would be left with now is the pangs of remorse.

I would have been spared much suffering, indeed. For “easy” is one thing this mission was not. Spending all day outside in New York in March and April means you will be exposed to great heat, great cold, rain, snow, wind, and the like, all in the span of a week. Going through all of the poorest streets of a city is not exactly the safest thing you can do, either. You will pass by all manner of dissolution and decay, and will have to interact with these situations to varying degrees — all without any hesitation or revulsion. Walking each floor of the project high rises means being exposed to a plethora of sights, sounds, and smells that you’d rather not know existed. Knocking on someone’s door to ask for a signature because you’re running for office is especially taxing, as you are putting yourself at the mercy of people you have never met and know nothing about, door after door, all day long, day after day. It is physically and spiritually exhausting and demanding. And this is all not to mention that, once you actually get the requisite number of signatures, you are then attacked viciously by those whose established realms of power, through which they exercise the dominion of the Culture of Death, you dare to challenge.

So, yes, the sacrifice is real, and it is significant. Those who are always there to give the “easy advice” themselves have a very straightforward job when it comes to finding reasons to discourage the great missions that God calls souls to; in this case, politics. But they miss the point entirely. The degree of suffering involved in a task says nothing about whether it is God’s will for us. That is determined by the call He has placed on the hearts of those who receive them. You and God alone know this, and no one else can tell you what it is. 

But now, instead of pangs of remorse, I have the joy and peace of knowing I tried my best, and built up many treasures in Heaven in the midst of it. 

Easy advice feels great to get; it’s almost like a lullaby. But you can detect its presence by the fact that, instead of your heart filling with charity, joy, and peace when you receive it, it is instead filled with love of pleasure, fear of suffering, and a subtle melancholy. And remember well that it is not how we feel before an endeavor, or even in the midst of it, that judges its character and its accordance with the Will of God: rather, it is how we feel after it. “Virtue is the roughest way, but proves at night a bed of down.” So I will leave you with a couple quotes. One from a president whose example I would not overall recommend imitating, but who nevertheless gave this solid advice that should resound in the hearts of all.

“It is not for the success of a work, but for the suffering that I give reward.” – Jesus to St. Faustina

“You were born to be a leader! There is no room among us for the lukewarm. Humble yourself and Christ will set you aflame again with the fire of Love…. Don’t let your life be sterile. Be useful. Blaze a trail. Shine forth with the light of your faith and of your love. With your apostolic life wipe out the slimy and filthy mark left by the impure sowers of hatred. And light up all the ways of the earth with the fire of Christ that you carry in your heart….Esto vir!–Be a man!” St. Josemaria Escriva

“Dear friends, may no adversity paralyze you. Be afraid neither of the world, nor of the future, nor of your weakness. The Lord has allowed you to live in this moment of history so that, by your faith, his name will continue to resound throughout the world.” – Pope Benedict XVI

“Strength and daring. The socio-cultural context in which you live is at times weighed down by mediocrity and boredom. We must not resign ourselves to the monotony of daily life; rather we must cultivate projects of a wider breadth and go beyond the ordinary…” – Pope Francis

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” -Teddy Roosevelt.

Update: Now, dear friends, know that most of us are not called to do so-called “great” things like run for Federal Office. Please do not let restlessness or anxiety enter your heart upon reading this section simply because God has only called you to the small things! St. Therese is so right that the truly important thing is to do the small things with great love — in the Divine Will — as a constant prayer. Neither the apparent “greatness” of an act, nor the quantitative degree of pain involved in it, determines its worth in the eyes of Our Lord and therefore its eternal value. I write this section not because I think all Catholics need to get out there right now and do “great” things. I don’t even think most of them should! (I write this section merely because I think more Catholics than currently are trying to do so are, in fact, called to do the “great” things. I think that confusing the deadly vice of pride with the great virtue of magnanimity is a common error in many Catholic circles today. St. Alphonsus Liguori called out this error strongly.)
 But really, at the end of the day, the important thing is to remember this: do little things with great love. This is why the Divine Will Missionaries of Mercy apostolate was the backdrop even for my run for Congress; the DWMoM approach is all about little things with great love — simply praying for the Eucharist to be preserved within you, asking for the Gift of Living in the Divine Will, and going out after Mass to say “God Bless you” to people, pray for them, and let them see the Divine Mercy image. Tiny, tiny things — yet infinitely powerful when done in the Divine Will.

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In Conclusion

Now, dear friends, I do not mean to overly insist upon politics. I am certainly not pretending that our own political effort is somehow going to usher in, on its own, the Era of Peace. Far from it! Politics is just one method (albeit, a particularly powerful and noble one) to do our small part in Conquering the World for Christ. I have shared this rather long post with you simply because it is one method that God has recently called me to use. I have not suddenly completely changed my focus; don’t worry, the same things I have been promoting for my seven years writing this blog still remain my primary areas of concern – above all the Divine Mercy and the Divine Will.

My point is simply that we all must do everything we can. We must not be lazy. The times are too urgent. What will be lost if we neglect our duty is too horrible to imagine, and what will be gained if we are faithful is too glorious to comprehend.

So let us return to where we started: half of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy is now gone. We’ll never get it back. Will the end of this Year of Mercy usher in the actual end of the Time of Mercy? As I have stated repeatedly, I do not know. But let us determine the degree of our zeal for Proclaiming the Divine Mercy as if it just might. For although I do not know if the Time of Mercy will end (or begin to end) 174 days from now, I do know that a Holy Year the likes of which the world has never seen will end on that day. I do know that the Doors of Mercy throughout all the nations will close on that day, the Feast of Christ the King of 2016. And I know that I do not want to spend eternity wondering what would have happened if I had used the time before that day in a better way.

Now even after saying all of this, many will choose to remain convinced that I am crazy; that I am a delusional Don Quixote who is in reality just another imprudent loose cannon who will be laughed at, fail, and then be forgotten.

So be it. I am willing to be thought of as insane, and I haven’t the slightest desire for worldly recognition, worldly success, or anything of the sort.

But I am not willing, come the Great Judgment of the Last Day, to be found to have been lukewarm. And above all, oh Prince of this World, know this: “there is nothing so fearsome as an enemy who, though beaten, bruised, and bloodied, will never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, give up.” So this I solemnly vow: to never give up until the Kingdom of God has come fully upon Earth, and to exhaust every weapon I can get my hands on — private revelation, theology, politics, fighting abortion, culture, media, holy images, apologetics, academics, witness, admonishment, inspiration, technology… everything (all with the primary themes of proclaiming the Divine Mercy and Living in the Divine Will) — to Conquer the World for Christ and do my small part in laying the foundations for and calling down the Reign of the Divine Will; counting my own life as nothing in this pursuit.

Not all are called to politics. Yet all the baptized are indeed called to do all that they can to contribute to this Divine Conquest.

Therefore, join me, brethren in Christ, in this vow.

Christ the King

 

I have changed “vow to never rest” to “vow to never give up,” because I fear I gave the wrong impression. I simply said that in the spirit of Isaiah 62:1 and Psalm 132:5.:
For Zion’s sake I will not be silent, for Jerusalem’s sake I will not keep still, Until her vindication shines forth like the dawn and her salvation like a burning torch
I will give my eyes no sleep, my eyelids no rest, Till I find a place for the Lord, a dwelling for the Mighty One of Jacob.
 I of course do not literally mean that we should never sleep, enjoy ourselves, or go on vacation! I merely mean that I (and I invite everyone to similarly commit) absolutely will not give up the fight; I will not ever simply re-align my life to center it on comfort/pleasure/safety/job security/health&fitness/convenience/money/career paths/networking/prestige instead of ensuring that the primary focus of my life is doing, until my last breath, my best to work for the Coming of the Kingdom.
February 29, 2016

An Extraordinary Opportunity for Grace

We are on the cusp of the half-way point of Lent, and also today we have arrived at the vigil of the first day of a truly astonishing opportunity for grace.Floodgates of Divine Grace

March 1st marks the first day of the 33 day Marian Consecration that will consummate on this year’s Liturgical celebration of the Feast of the Annunciation (which must be moved from its ordinary March 25th date this year -due to Good Friday- all the way to the day after Divine Mercy Sunday). For the past several weeks, Fr. Gaitley has been travelling all over my diocese giving talks on what an awesome opportunity this is – and my Bishop, Edward Scharfenberger, is asking the entire Diocese to do this Consecration. 

Now there is so much grace to be received in these 33 days, I cannot even begin to fathom it. This set of 33 days encompasses much of Lent, the Holy Triduum, the entire Octave of Easter, the Divine Mercy Novena (the most important and powerful Novena in existence) and above all, Divine Mercy Sunday:

  • The day about which Our Lord said: “I am giving them the last hope of salvation; that is, the Feast of My Mercy.” (Faustina’s Diary, paragraph 956)
  • The day about which Our Lord said: “On that day the very depths of My tender mercy are open. I pour out a whole ocean of graces… On that day all the divine floodgates through which graces flow are opened.” (Ibid., 699)
  • The day on which each and every Catholic may easily receive a true second Baptism (remission of all sin and punishment) merely by being in a state of grace -implying having done one’s duty to go to Confession – and receiving Communion. (Ibid., 300, 699, 1109)

It also encompasses the Solemnity of St. Joseph, Patron of the Universal Church, and the heavenly birthday of the Servant of God Luisa Piccarreta. It encompasses both fasting and feasting. And let us not forget that this is taking place during the extraordinary and unprecedented Jubilee Year of Mercy in the midst of ever hastening and intensifying Signs of the Times.

Many are even speculating that The Warning could very well be on this Good Friday or Divine Mercy Sunday. As for me, I do not know nor do I even have an opinion on this timing; but how can we go wrong by spiritually preparing sufficiently so that we are ready if indeed it is?

The graces are there – objectively and with certainty: in incomprehensible superabundance. But what we ourselves appropriate from these graces is dependent upon our subjective disposition.

God is not going to magically zap us with grace– that is not the point of this Time of Testing; we must rather do our part. Should we not, therefore, ensure that we are truly in spiritual “high gear,” in the most powerful way possible?

I don’t suppose I need to instruct anybody here on how Our Lady is the quickest, easiest, and surest way to Our Lord; and how 33 Day Consecration is perhaps the most powerful means of devotion to Our Lady. What is more, the Annunciation is the best day to consecrate yourself to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Why? Not only is it the greatest event in the history of creation, but St. Louis de Montfort, the Father of 33 Day Consecration, also insists that this is the best day for such a Consecration because it is also the day that God Himself, as it were, consecrated Himself to the Blessed Virgin Mary. That is to say, it is the day on which He entered her womb and subjected Himself entirely to her. Therefore it is most fitting that we do the same on this day.

Now this 33 day consecration is an awesome opportunity in and of itself, but I wish to present to you two additional practices to exponentially increase the spiritual fruit borne to the point that, I haven’t the slightest doubt, you will be Living in the Divine Will – that is, infinitely exceeding in Sanctity even Spiritual Marriage – if only you do them and do not actively and intentionally oppose grace:

Combine this aforementioned Marian Consecration with a daily reading from the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Kingdom of the Divine Will, and a daily reading from the Hours of the Passion (up to the Triduum).

This is not just some spiritual regimen I dreamed up. Providence has arranged this:

First of all, it is no mere coincidence that, of Luisa’s many thousands of pages of revelations, these two works are the ones that have already had the Moratorium lifted on their promulgation. It is Providential because, while all of Luisa’s writings are incredibly powerful, these two works stand out for their unparalleled ability to very quickly and easily allow readers of them to build up enormous treasures in Heaven, receive the Gift of Living in the Divine Will, grow in the Gift of Living in the Divine Will, and prepare the ground for the Universal Reign of the Divine Will. Indeed in general, it is beyond question that the two greatest devotions are devotion to Mary and devotion to the Lord’s Passion. So too, when it comes to the Gift of Living in the Divine Will, the greatest way to receive it is through these two paths.Jesus and Mary

But the Providential nature of what is now upon us does not end there:

In the revelations of Jesus to Luisa, the Hours of the Passion, there are 24 Hours of the Passion; hence, 24 separate readings. These begin with the 5pm Hour on Holy Thursday with Our Lord departing from His Blessed Mother, and end with Our Lord’s burial at the 4pm Hour on Good Friday. If, along with beginning our Marian Consecration on March 1st, and in the spirit of Lent, we read one “hour” each day (the readings correspond to one hour of Our Lord’s Passion, but do not actually take a full hour to complete: they are only several pages each on average), then we will finish the Hours of the Passion precisely as the Holy Triduum begins; for there are exactly 24 days from the start of this consecration (March 1st) to Holy Thursday (the first event depicted in Luisa’s 24 hours of the Passion). This allows for Good Friday itself to be set aside for a re-do (even if it must be significantly abridged) of the entire work. Recall as well that Our Lord promised that He will grant the salvation of a soul for every word of these Hours we prayerfully read

And in the revelations of Our Lady to Luisa, the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Kingdom of the Divine Will, there are 31 days; hence, 31 separate readings. This was designed for the month of May, but can be used any time, and it will correspond perfectly with the month of March (for it too has 31 days). March, though not a month traditionally attributed explicitly to the Holy Virgin, nevertheless really is her month just as much as or more than any other; for it is the Month of the Annunciation, which as I have already said is by far – with no close second – the greatest event in the history of creation. It is the month during which she acquired her greatest title -the greatest title possible for a creature- a title which, for all eternity, shall remain singularly hers: Mother of God.

Now this leaves us with four more days until the Consecration Day itself: the perfect amount of time for an abridged Consecration to the Divine Mercy, as explained by Fr. Gaitley (in his book that was just released, 33 Days to Merciful Love). He teaches four primary steps: 1) Trust, 2) The Little Way, 3) The Offering to Merciful Love, and 4) Darkness. With this configuration, step 3, perfectly Providentially (for it is the step in which we fully give ourselves to the Divine Mercy), falls on Divine Mercy Sunday itself. While I do not in the least wish to dissuade anyone from reading Fr Gaitley’s wonderful book, I will nevertheless be presenting my own abridged version of these four steps, so that they can fit into our regimen on the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th of April, respectively, and so that anyone who cannot get their hands on a copy of this book does not miss out on these graces, which might just never come again. I will be summarizing Fr. Gaitley’s four steps as 1) Trust, 2) Love, 3) Mercy, and 4) Veil.

Although I do not yet have these four steps summarized, I will be sure to have them available before they become necessary (April 1st, that is); so just check back here (DSDOConnor.com) at that point to download/print them. Alternatively, you can simply replace your readings of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Kingdom of the Divine Will (which will end March 31st) with an equally sized reading from St. Faustina’s Diary. Feel free to just say a prayer and open the Diary up randomly, trusting the Holy Spirit to direct you to the passages He desires you to see.

How beautiful it is that everything is fitting together like a perfectly designed jigsaw puzzle! I wanted to make this as easy and accessible as possible for everyone (not to mention completely free and online). So I’ve gone ahead and made a PDF file specifically for each day. Here they are! You can simply come back here each day and click on the appropriate PDF, or if you’d prefer to download and/or print the whole thing at once, here is the entirety in one PDF. (Please don’t be scared by the number of pages: the page count is quite deceptive due to page sizing which was out of my control. In ordinary book print this would probably amount to less than half of the page count of this PDF file – so, if you print it, you might even want to set it to print “two per page”).

These prayers apply to each of the following days for the Marian Consecration from St. Louis de Montfort and therefore are not included in each one (to save your printer some ink):

Finally, if you are stumbling upon this in the middle of March: don’t worry. Just start late! Those late to the vineyard receive the same payment.

  1. March 1st – March 24th. These days contain: I)St. Louis de Montfort Consecration prayers II)BVM in Kingdom Reading, and III)Hours of the Passion Reading
    1. March 1st
    2. March 2nd
    3. March 3rd
    4. March 4th
    5. March 5th
    6. March 6th
    7. March 7th
    8. March 8th
    9. March 9th
    10. March 10th
    11. March 11th
    12. March 12th
    13. March 13th
    14. March 14th
    15. March 15th
    16. March 16th
    17. March 17th
    18. March 18th
    19. March 19th
    20. March 20th
    21. March 21st
    22. March 22nd
    23. March 23rd
    24. March 24th
  2. March 25th – March 31st. These days contain: I) St. Louis de Montfort Consecration prayers  II) BVM in Kingdom Reading, and III) Divine Mercy Novena prayers
    1. March 25th
    2. March 26th
    3. March 27th
    4. March 28th
    5. March 29th
    6. March 30th
    7. March 31st
  3. April 1st – April 2nd. I) St. Louis de Montfort Consecration prayers , II) Divine Mercy Novena prayers , and III) Divine Mercy Consecration meditations
    1. April 1st  (+at this time, check DSDOConnor.com for the Divine Mercy Consecration part of this PDF or simply read from Divine Mercy Diary)
    2. April 2nd (+at this time, check DSDOConnor.com for the Divine Mercy Consecration part of this PDF or simply read from Divine Mercy Diary)
  4. The Consecration Days.
    1. April 3rd – (Divine Mercy Sunday): Divine Mercy Consecration (Check DSDOConnor.com for this PDF or simply read from Divine Mercy Diary)
    2. April 4th – Consecration to Jesus through Mary

I wish to vigorously encourage at least trying this. I need not repeat how utterly unprecedented and urgent these times are. Serious regimens like these are how we respond! Special Forces do not pick away at the enemy here and there when it pleases them — they attack with ferocity and with strategy, discipline and perseverance. We, as the true special forces of the Church Militant, must do likewise.

I will share that I am committing myself to this regimen, even though it completely overlaps with an undertaking that I may very well be engaged in, which, if God does indeed wind up calling me to it, will likely wind up being the most difficult and exhausting thing I have ever done, not to mention extraordinarily time consuming (I ask you for your prayers). I hope you, too, will consider this Consecration regimen, even if doing to it will be difficult and constitute a true sacrifice. Some tips:

  • Do the readings/meditations whenever you prefer, but if you do it early in the morning it will seem more like a joy and less like a burden.
  • If you need to reward yourself a bit to help make this happen, that’s fine. You can do these readings (meditatively and prayerfully) on your favorite chair, with your favorite beverage, in your favorite room, or overlooking your favorite view. It’s not exactly objectively as good as kneeling in adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, but that’s okay! It’s better than not doing them.
  • If you need to do your daily Rosary and Divine Mercy Chaplet while driving or walking in order to make time, that’s okay too.

It is customary to, at the end of the 33 days, and along with the Consecration to Mary, put on a chain (that, if you please, you may wear for the rest of your life around your ankle/wrist/waist) to symbolize that you are a willing and loving slave of Mary and, in this case, a slave of the Divine Will. I have inconspicuously worn my chain for 5 years, and I know it has been a great channel of grace in my life.

Now I will close my plea to you all to follow this most noble, powerful, and holy path by quoting the man himself, St. Louis de Montfort, in his great Treatise, True Devotion to Mary:

“…the greatest saints, those richest in grace and virtue will be the most assiduous in praying to the most Blessed Virgin, looking up to her as the perfect model to imitate and as a powerful helper to assist them. I said that this will happen especially towards the end of the world, and indeed soon, because Almighty God and his holy Mother are to raise up great saints who will surpass in holiness most other saints as much as the cedars of Lebanon tower above little shrubs. ...These great souls filled with grace and zeal will be chosen to oppose the enemies of God who are raging on all sides. They will be exceptionally devoted to the Blessed Virgin. Illumined by her light, strengthened by her food, guided by her spirit, supported by her arm, sheltered under her protection, they will fight with one hand and build with the other. With one hand they will give battle, overthrowing and crushing heretics and their heresies, schismatics and their schisms, idolaters and their idolatries, sinners and their wickedness. With the other hand they will build the temple of the true Solomon and the mystical city of God, namely, the Blessed Virgin, who is called by the Fathers of the Church the Temple of Solomon  and the City of God . By word and example they will draw all men to a true devotion to her and though this will make many enemies, it will also bring about many victories and much glory to God alone.

Bourguereau-madonnalilies

P.S. To those who joined us online in prayer yesterday, my apologies for the session crash. My internet is extremely reliable and almost never crashes; the fact that it did just that in the middle of our Divine Mercy/Divine Will prayer meeting is a testimony to how much the devil does not want us praying in the Divine Will. Let us not permit him to prevent us.

 

January 31, 2016

Inspiration

Forenote:

I am working on making my Divine Will page, www.DSDOConnor.com/DivineWill into a compilation of resources and comprehensive introduction to Luisa’s revelations. If directing someone you’d like to introduce to the Divine Will to a 90 page PDF (my Ebook) might be a bit much, feel free to direct him there instead. From that page, one can choose either brief overviews or more in-depth explorations of Luisa’s writings.

 

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Dear Friends,

How much admonishing I do on this blog!

And yet, admonishment without inspiration is nothing but Jansenism. Therefore I would like to bring you several brief video clips that I have often used to bolster my own courage and inspiration from time to time.

God knows we are all weak creatures, ever so inclined toward slothfulness; so He gives us many ways to pluck up courage and respond to our callings with zeal. Jesus said to Luisa Piccarreta “My daughter, don’t you know that discouragement kills souls more than all other vices?  Therefore, courage, courage, because just as discouragement kills, courage revives, and is the most praiseworthy act that the soul can do, because while feeling discouraged, from that very discouragement she plucks up courage...” Jesus also told St. Faustina that discouragement is the greatest obstacle to holiness.

Therefore, be zealous. Especially during this Holy Year. And let these clips help you. When you feel discouragement creeping in; or perhaps even starting to utterly overwhelm you, then say a prayer and perhaps give one (or more) of these a watch. So long as the virtue of moderation is observed, do not hesitate to watch them whenever you feel the need. Just be sure that every ounce of the inspiration you receive from them is not permitted to be channeled into some vain or proud motive, but is instead held captive for Christ.

Finally, please be advised that, while I would never post a clip that violates my beliefs in what should and should not be portrayed in film, nevertheless much of what follows is not for children and not for the faint-hearted. Also, there are spoilers; if you have not seen (but do plan to see) a movie that a clip is from, then don’t watch it.

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This clip from the 1998 Les Miserables reminds me of the power of Mercy, and how I must be merciful, even when — and especially when — mercy is costly and difficult rather than cheap and easy. This clip is a bit longer than the others, but well worth it. It also comprises the first minutes of the movie, so no spoilers here.

I cannot say exactly how or why or for what, but I find this trailer for Restless Heart: the Confessions of St Augustine very inspirational

 

The next scenes are from The Giver. They might not make sense if you don’t know the gist of the plot

This scene from the Giver reminds me to heed the calls of God on the heart (which I consider as this scene’s “emotion” reference) instead of succumbing to the temptations of the flesh to fleeting pleasures (which I consider as this scene’s “feelings” reference)

This scene from the Giver reminds me that ultimately it is to some degree my fault if women in my town have abortions, because I could be praying and sidewalk counseling outside where they have them, for I am among the relatively few (as, no doubt, are readers of this blog) who understand the horror of abortion and the power of even one soul praying outside a Planned Parenthood.

And this final part of the Giver I find to be a very inspiring analogy for the coming Warning — the Illumination of Conscience; though it certainly did not intend to be that.

A brief bit of background: The scene begins with the main character escaping with a baby that they were going to kill (see the previous clip). His goal is to pass through the “barrier of memory” (a stupid and impossible concept, but oh well), which will cause all of the memories to return to the people of this dystopian society that blocks all emotion from its members. I find this “return of memories” to be similar to what we expect from The Warning.

This final scene from the Lord of the Rings — the Return of the King, so reminds me of what we now await — the Glorious Reign of Peace, and it inspires me to even now prepare the ground for that Glorious Reign by proclaiming the Divine Mercy and living in the Divine Will.

 

Above all, the Passion of the Christ. No other movie comes close. Buy it

This compilation of a few different scenes from Beyond the Gates reminds me not to avoid sufferings, but to expose myself to them for the sake of the Glory of God and the Salvation of Souls, for in them is found the only thing humans can do that the angels envy: suffering for Christ. (By the way, I highly recommend watching this entire movie – don’t rent it, buy it, and lend it to others. If you are going to do that, then skip this clip!) It reminds me that God is truly found in the midst of the most terrible situations. The final scene from Beyond the Gates reminds me how fortunate I am to have time to work for the Coming of God’s Kingdom, and the freedom to do so — and how I therefore have a grave duty to use it well.

This scene from the Butterfly Circus reminds me to bear all wrongs patiently, and never lose my peace even in the face of revolting things done to me or said about/to me. It especially reminds me not to expect that everything will be sunshine and roses even if I am doing God’s Will and engaging in works of mercy.

 

This scene from the Rite reminds me of the power of simple Faith over the most terrifying demons, and that if I have Faith, I need fear nothing, but proceed with boldness to overcome any obstacle. The main character has been a seminarian for four years but, until this scene, truly had no faith and was nothing but a skeptic/agnostic.

 

This one is a bit of a stretch, but it works for me so I’ll post it in case it works for you also. This clip, though of course having a very fictional setting (which might not make sense if you haven’t seen/read Lord of the Rings), nevertheless helps remind me of the fleeting nature of this earthly life, and how I must ensure that I never, not for one day, live it in such a way that is directed at Earth instead of Heaven.

 

 

Is there anyone who has not drawn great inspiration from Sam’s Speech to Frodo?

 

This scene from the movie, The Kingdom of Heaven (a movie I would not overall recommend), is a great reminder of Judgment Day and our duties before it. I actually put this on my YouTube channel quite some time ago and it has since garnered many views:

This scene from Hotel Rwanda shows the turning point of the main character, where he fundamentally transitions from selfishness and fear to selflessness and courage. After the U.N. abandoned — after, of course, evacuating all the non-Rwandans– the Tutsis even as all the children in an orphanage arrive hoping to escape, he forgets about his vain worldly immediate goals of preserving his hotel and instead sacrifices himself for the human beings in front of him. I watch this to be inspired to make the same choice in my own life:

From For Greater Glory, the martyrdom of Blessed José Sánchez del Río. Sad yet beautiful beyond words. To add to the importance of this, it was just announced that he will be canonized. I don’t suppose I need say what this reminds me of. 

 

This final scene from I Am Legend, where the main character reveals, moments before his self-sacrificial heroic act, that he has converted from being a skeptic who disbelieves in Providence and God (shown in the first half of this video) to the very opposite, inspires me to give up hope on no one (for God’s grace can easily – in a moment – turn His most vociferous opponent into His most ardent soldier – Acts 9:4) and to remember that sacrifice is the measure of love

Platitudinous, yes… but somehow “Your heart is free. Have the courage to follow it” so very much sticks with me and inspires me from this scene from the beginning of Braveheart. How often we neglect our callings because of petty concerns, anxieties, fears, and worries. It should never be so! Jesus constantly tells us to not be afraid. There is no reason for fear, or the hesitation and shirking of duties that comes from it, in following the callings He has placed on our hearts; let us take His word for it.

This scene from Gladiator, particularly the line “Brothers, what we do in life echoes in eternity.” How true!!! We should approach each and every day with the vigor that the soldiers would have received from that speech and charged into battle with. One of the questions the Church asks when pondering whether to canonize a saint is “Did he rejoice at the near approach of death?” We should all rejoice at this!

If you, too, happen to find any of these clips particularly inspirational, then I recommend downloading them onto your hard drive. You never know when YouTube will decide to remove a video. This program enables you to do so: http://www.ytddownloader.com/ Just be very careful as you install it — they will try to trick you into installing a bunch of other garbage (yahoo toolbars, etc.) that you have to very carefully “decline” each step of the way.

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ADDENDUM

I would like to make one final note:

Some of you perhaps feel discouraged because you think that Pope Francis has condemned condemnation of sin, that he has undermined the necessity of your apostolates, that he is insisting upon an entirely different form of the Mission of the Gospel than you have dedicated yourself to and sacrificed so much for, or something of the sort.

He has not.

Here is what he formally prepared, wrote, and released through the Vatican (meaning it is much more authoritative than off-the-cuff remarks [perhaps even only allegedly said] in interviews, etc.) just last week:

We can and we must judge situations of sin …It is our task to admonish those who err and to denounce the evil and injustice of certain ways of acting, for the sake of setting victims free and raising up those who have fallen.

… Our primary task is to uphold the truth with love (cf. Eph 4:15). Only words spoken with love and accompanied by meekness and mercy can touch our sinful hearts. Harsh and moralistic words and actions risk further alienating those whom we wish to lead to conversion and freedom, reinforcing their sense of rejection and defensiveness.”

https://w2.vatican.va...

This Pontificate is not actually confusing. There is nothing confusing about a Pope opening up footwashing to women, updating annulment law, or tweaking the Canonical details of the reception of Communion; the Vicar of Christ is well within his rights to do these things, and the opinion of individual lay people like me on such actions is not particularly important. Nor does God need to consult me before He steers the Church through His Vicar; His words to people who think that He does need to consult them is the same as they were to Saul on the day of his conversion “…it hurts you to kick against the goads.” (Acts 26:14)

“Love the sinner, hate the sin” always has been and always will be the mission of the Church. Pope Francis focuses especially on the former, but the mission itself has not changed one iota.

Almost four years ago, when I was making www.PrepareToSeeHim.org — during the Pontificate of Benedict XVI and in preparation for the Year of Faith — I was striving to put together a website that was both overflowing with mercy in its approach, and also utterly unafraid of calling out those evils that so inundate the world today; so praised and promoted by mainstream Godless ideology; so destructive to souls. I hope I at least somewhat succeeded, as there are now at least one hundred thousand Evangelization Cards that announce this URL circulating around the country and hundreds, if not thousands, more mailed out each week. Every day my wife and I pray that each and every one of those cards will bear abundant fruit.

As I was writing that site, I had the teachings of Pope Benedict on my mind inspiring me. I now have the teachings of Pope Francis on my mind inspiring me. So much drama has transpired during those years. So many debates. So much dissension over relatively minor questions. So much factiousness. And yet…

My mission has not changed. The mission has not changed.

Do not be distracted. Do not be discouraged. Eyes on the prize.

As the events that must come continue to transpire, commentary & debate will seem ever more vital, and the temptation to absorb ourselves in it will ever increase. We must recognize that as a temptation, fight it, and refuse to succumb to it.

In reality, it is the mission that is becoming ever more vital, and we must urgently absorb ourselves in that:

 

Live in the Divine Will

Proclaim the Divine Mercy

Eucharist, Rosary, Chaplet, Scripture, Fasting, Confession, Works of Mercy

Pray, pray, pray

And let love – utterly pure, disinterested, complete, self-sacrificial love – be the absolutely unquestionable form of each and every one of your decisions, thoughts, words, and deeds.

May

Jesus, I Trust in You.

Thy Will Be Done.

Be ever on your mind, heart, and lips.

 

December 19, 2015

Our Lady’s Apparitions and the Season of Advent

 

I gave a talk locally this past week entitled “Our Lady’s Apparitions and the Season of Advent.” It wound up being recorded (audio only), so I decided to post it here for anyone interested. (You can simply download the mp3 directly with this link).  There’s nothing new here for anyone already acquainted with Our Lady’s apparitions, but it might be worth sharing with those who have not really been exposed to this aspect of our Faith:

December 8, 2015

And So It Begins

Indeed, it begins. Today marks the first day in the Holy Year of Mercy.

Permit me to remind you that this extraordinary Jubilee (Holy) Year is truly unprecedented — although the Church has been proclaiming Holy Years every few decades for over 700 years, during which a Holy Door is opened in Rome, in this particular Holy Year, a Holy Door will be opened in every single diocese in the entire world. These Holy Doors, proclaimed by the authority of the Vicar of Christ, will all become “Doors of Mercy” (I quote verbatim from the Bull of Indiction) on this upcoming Sunday (December 13th).

And so, starting this Sunday, every person throughout the entire world will have the opportunity to literally, physically “pass through the door of mercy.”

“Before I come as a just Judge, I first open wide the door of My mercy. He who refuses to pass through the door of My mercy must pass through the door of My justice…” – Jesus to St. Faustina

The Door of Mercy Has Been Opened

Pope Francis Opening the Holy Door of Mercy. December 8th, 2015

A mere coincidence? Doubtful. Pope Francis explicitly acknowledged St. Faustina in this very same Bull of Indiction. Make no mistake about it: the Holy Father knows what he is doing. And I dare say he knows what is coming upon this world, though he is being very careful not to be too explicit with this knowledge so as to not cause the wrong type of a response. Consider as well that he has consecrated his Papacy to Our Lady of Fatima (the prophecies of which have not yet been completely fulfilled). He has urged us to read Lord of the World (an apocalyptic novel written by a priest about the rise of the Antichrist). His every decision smacks of unrivaled urgency — even (and especially) those things he does that might not be the most prudent. He does them, despite the risk of their potentially scandalous nature, because he is the primary laborer of the Final Harvest and he knows that time is incredibly short to open up hearts so they may receive the Divine Mercy when the long-prophesied events come. The mere existence of this Papacy (and the conditions that brought it about) is another unprecedented Sign of the Times: Pope Benedict knew it as well. That is why he earlier called for the Year of Faith (though it was not an Extraordinary Jubilee) — during which we would focus on the Catechism — because he knew that never before seen diabolical confusion (see 2 Thessalonians) was inundating the Church, and was about to inundate the Church even more explosively. (Hold fast to every single solitary word of the Catechism, my friends.) And perhaps I need to remind you that Pope St. John Paul II knew full well. He said: “We are now facing the final confrontation between the Church and the anti-church, between the gospel and the anti-gospel, between Christ and the Antichrist. The confrontation lies within the plans of Divine Providence. It is, therefore, in God’s Plan, and it must be a trial which the Church must take up, and face courageously.Lord_of_the_World_book_cover_1907

Back to Holy Years. These Jubilee Years happen every 25 years, and have been happening every 25 years (unless prevented by political discord) since the 1400s, although they started the preceding century. Such Holy Years are called “ordinary” Jubilees. It would therefore be foolish to read a prophetic meaning to something that is a mere mathematical certainty. But Extraordinary Universal Jubilees (like this Holy Year of Mercy) are quite different: by their nature they are of extreme importance considering the time at hand [with one odd exception whereby Pius XI called one to celebrate the 50th anniversary of his ordination]. Unfortunately it is difficult to find records of the Extraordinary Jubilees before the 1900s, but we do know that Pius IV called one in the 1500s to beg God’s grace upon the Council of Trent in response to the splintering of Christianity from the Protestant Reformation. Pope Leo XIII proclaimed two in the 1880s as the Church in Rome was in the midst of so many trials (so great was the distress for the Church in Rome that three of that century’s four the Ordinary Jubilees — which had been happening for 400 years at that point — could not even be held). The last two Extraordinary Jubilee Years were proclaimed (in 1933 and 1983) in order to mark the 1,900th and the 1,950th anniversaries of Redemption. Paul VI called a partial year Jubilee to celebrate the Second Vatican Council upon its closure. St. Pius X called one for a few months to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the proclamation of the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception.

So why am I bringing that all up?

Because this particular Extraordinary Universal Jubilee Year is utterly unique not only in the way I have already pointed out (regarding Holy Doors being opened everywhere in the world), but in that no one knows what exactly it is a response to. The only clear reason given in the Bull of Indiction was that this is a time in which “we are called to gaze even more attentively on mercy so that we may become a more effective sign of the Father’s action in our lives.” (paragraph 3)

Now if you are an enemy of the Pope inside the Church, then you have a very simple answer: “The Pope is inflamed with pride and just wants more attention.” Or “The Pope is calling our attention to ‘Mercy’ as a demonic ploy to change Church teaching on sacrilegious Communion.

But if you are a good Catholic who has not utterly lost his mind and set himself up against the Vicar of Christ, then you really, it seems, can only come to one conclusion:

This Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy is a direct response to Pope Francis’ God-given insight that the Time of Mercy is on the brink of ending, and we must now hold nothing back in proclaiming the Divine Mercy.

 

Image 1611 Dec. 08 19.12I’m sorry, but just thinking that Mercy is a good thing and that now would be a nice time to be a little more enthusiastic in proclaiming it would never be sufficient to motivate the Holy Father to proclaim a Universal Extraordinary Jubilee Year.

Consider as well the beginning and ending days of this Holy Year: today, the great Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, and next year, the Solemnity of Christ the King, respectively. Both of these great Feasts bear the aura of the Triumph of God — the Reign of the Divine Will; the former in its true initiation, the latter in its true fulfillment.

So can we therefore be certain that this Holy Year will be the world’s last chance at the Divine Mercy before the Divine Justice — the Great Chastisements prophesied by countless saints and above all by the Book of Revelation — will fall upon the earth immediately after it, or at least gradually after it leading up to the great 2,000th Jubilee of Redemption? Of course not.

But every sign seems to be indicating that this is a very realistic possibility.

So this is what I exhort, plea, urge, and beg each of you: prayerfully consider making use of this Holy Year for the Coming of the Kingdom like you have never made use of any year before.

I am not advising imprudence. Do not do anything you will regret if the world somehow manages to limp on in its current state for a couple more decades. So continue to honorably fulfill the duties of your state in life. Continue to pay your bills (including debts you owe on loans). Continue to do your job diligently. If you are a student, continue to work diligently and strive for good grades. Above all, be a good spouse and parent, if that is what you are: this is your vocation, and therefore your path to holiness.

But I am exhorting you to consider this: giving the Coming of the Kingdom the benefit of the doubt — at least for this year. Let it be the sole objective of your life. Some concrete ways of doing so could include:

  • Is there some daily or weekly undertaking that you could give up and replace with more prayer or works of mercy? Perhaps a television show, a movie-watching routine, a text-conversation habit, a high-maintenance friendship that is not edifying for either party involved, a sports team overzealously followed, an unnecessary news-checking habit… *Or maybe all of the above.* (Don’t be easy on yourself with this. Examine your daily routine and cut out the fat. We are soldiers, and we must act like it.)
  • If so, consider giving it up, or at least decreasing its frequency, and replacing it with a daily or weekly:
    • Holy hour — or two, or three (preferably in front of the Blessed Sacrament)
    • DWMoM outing
    • Striving to be a DWMoM in Spirit
    • Prayer and sidewalk counseling outside Planned Parenthood
    • Visits to the local nursing home, hospital, hospice, or prison.
    • Some other Corporal or Spiritual Work of Mercy
  • Always have Divine Mercy Evangelization cards on you, ready to hand out to people or simply place in various locations. We have more on hand and will be happy to send them out as long as we can! Just request them here if you think you might use them.
  • I would like to extend an invitation to anyone interested: Feel free join me at the Albany DWMoM (Divine Will Missionaries of Mercy) group’s weekly meetings. Every Sunday — starting the first Sunday of the Year of Mercy (that is, December 13th) — at 3:00pm (Eastern Time) (edit: This Sunday we’ll be starting at 4:00pm to allow local people to first go to the Albany Cathedral’s Holy Door opening Mass). These meetings will be at my home, but we’re planning to host them online as well so that anyone who wishes to join us in prayer can do so remotely. This will be both a Divine Will/Divine Mercy prayer group and a group dedicated to discussing the Proclamation of the Divine Mercy and Living in the Divine Will. The link to join these meetings will be available at the www.DWMoM.org website, which you can simply click on Sundays at 3pm.
  • Have you been feeling called out of a stressful job situation because it demands too much of your time? Perhaps now is the time to work a more reasonable, even if lower-paying, job.
  • Perhaps you could put off plans of worldly ambition, at least for this year: seeking career promotions, bigger houses, lucrative investments, additional (unneeded) educational degrees, etc.
  • Perhaps you have a large amount of free time due to the status of your state in life; retired, in-between jobs yet financially stable, able to pay the bills without many hours of work a week, or whatever else. Consider dedicating yourself in an extraordinary way, this year, to the Proclamation of the Divine Mercy.
  • Discerning your vocation, and very unsure as to what your calling is? Perhaps you could put off zealously trying to figure it out this year, and instead simply “go with the flow” that God gives to your life, while dedicating yourself to Living in the Divine Will and Proclaiming the Divine Mercy.

Aim for daily, where possible. What is most important in life should be a daily occurrence. And — as if this weren’t already true! — the Holy Year puts plainly before our eyes the simple fact that Evangelization, taking its most important form of Proclaiming the Divine Mercy, is of the utmost importance.monstrance_divine_mercy_rays

But remember that prayer is indeed the greatest Work of Mercy. Do not be anxious if some given day, or week, or perhaps even month, you simply cannot go out and do works of mercy. Intercessory prayer every day is more than sufficient in such scenarios. What we really need is Mary’s more so than Martha’s. Beg God’s mercy on this world so in need of it. Offer up all of your sufferings for that intention. Pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet and Rosary unceasingly. Do all that you do in the Divine Will. Offer yourself to God as a victim soul. Pray the Hours of the Passion as much as possible and be instructed by Our Lady on how to live continuously in the Will of her Son. Read the Divine Mercy Diary and let it guide your entire life.

The bottom line is this: God is going to win. His Mercy will triumph. He will do this directly to whatever extent He has to, but He prefers to delegate. Though omnipotent, He is so humble that He wishes His mere creatures to be the channels of His triumph. Therefore I am utterly convinced that our efforts this Holy Year, even the very most minimal by human standards, will reap a superabundant harvest. Just give God an excuse to act. Let Him out, and He will astonish — even if we have to wait until Judgment Day to visibly see what astonishing things He did. Let Him out through your acts done In His Will.

Call me crazy, but I really believe that just walking through the streets in prayer can now achieve what once took a Eucharistic Procession to achieve. I really believe that, if you live in the Divine Will and desire to proclaim the Divine Mercy, saying “God Bless you” to someone can achieve what once took a long sermon to accomplish. I really believe that handing someone a simple Divine Mercy card (or even just placing it somewhere) can do in a soul what once required convincing her to read a long book. I really believe that, even if to us our attempts seem so inadequate, miserable, and meager, that nevertheless through our prayer in the Divine Will, we can be the greatest intercessors and missionaries in history. Should we therefore stop at the minimum? Of course not. But let us trust that even these tiny acts on our part can indeed be and will be multiplied a thousand fold, and let that trust determine the degree of our inspiration to be faithful and attentive to so great an invitation.

It’s very easy for us to say “Fiat.” Let us say it this year.

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Endnote 1:

Let us say, for the sake of argument, that this Holy Year will come and go like all the other ones have. By and large, ordinary life continues, and the prophecies do not yet come to pass.Still no warning, miracle, obvious Great Chastisements, or Era of Peace. That is quite possible; only God knows the future with certainty. Even in that case, please answer me this: Do you really think you will regret, on Judgment Day, having favored (for a year) the Proclamation of the Divine Mercy over and above worldly ambitions, comforts, and pleasures?

To simply have the courage to ask that question is to immediately know its answer.

Endnote 2:

I would like to leave you with this video I made on Faith. A year or so ago I realized that a certain inspiration has been fundamental in my life and in guiding my apostolates. Ever since then I have been trying to put in words just what this inspiration is. I decided to make a video instead of an essay. Here is my meager attempt! Please forgive the novice nature of this video; all I have is a webcam and a $1 microphone at my disposal. (The first part of the video is addressed to those who doubt. The part of the video addressed to the Faithful starts at about 17:36 in).

(The audio issues are fixed — watch with comfort!)

November 6, 2015

A Walk Among the Tombstones

Dear Friends,

Although I haven’t posted in several months, I’ve been busy at work. First of all, I have published two new articles: a page of advice on discernment, courtship, engagement, marriage, and parenting, and an article on the glory of Manual Labor. I’ve also made important updates to the Preparedness Post (you might want to read through this again if you’ve already done so).

I’d next like to encourage you all to join me in one of my favorite hobbies: prayer walks in cemeteries. This weekend is our last chance of the year to gain a Plenary Indulgence for doing just that. (Now, ideally Plenary Indulgences are gained each and every day, but when special ones such as these are offered, we should take advantage of them for the graces contained therein.) Cemeteries first and foremost are perfect places to pray for that most often neglected intention — the repose of the holy souls in Purgatory.

Secondly, cemeteries serve as a powerful reminder of our own end. I wish I could convey how much peace and joy I find in strolling through the large, beautiful, old Albany Rural Cemetery near my home. One day I looked up the number of people buried there, and to my surprise it far exceeded the population of the city of Albany. In few other places can I find such consolation in the midst of trials as I can there, where the simple fact is before my eyes that this life is a very short and passing thing which is already in the distant past for the vast majority of the Church (which of course includes the Church Triumphant and the Church Suffering), and it is not our home, and we should not ever let the difficulties of it disturb our peace any more than we would let the imperfections of a hotel room we would spend one night in disturb our peace. In the twinkling of an eye it is over, and walking in prayer amidst the tombstones of more people than live in the adjacent city truly immerses me in the splendor of that truth. I pray it does likewise for you all!

Thirdly, cemeteries provide an oasis of peace and beauty in stark contrast to the ugliness and noise that seem to dominate society almost everywhere today. In few other places can you get away from the loud engines, terrible blaring music, obnoxious billboards, concrete & sheet metal monstrosities, boisterous unholy conversations, and the like (I could go on with that list for many pages!). Remember that beauty is a transcendent need of the human heart. If you find yourself drained, depressed, anxious, or melancholy, perhaps you should ask yourself if you’ve had sufficient beauty in your life recently. You need not spend thousands of dollars on a vacation to some idyllic location to find this utterly necessary beauty — you can simply take a stroll in the nearest cemetery! (Try and find one either sufficiently large to remove you from the noise of and exposure to nearby streets, or sufficiently secluded to do the same. I also recommend finding a hilly cemetery with plenty of trees.). Though risking a bit of gloating here (I will do so because I pray this counts as “Boasting in the Lord”!), I must say that I know I find more joy from a stroll through through Albany Rural Cemetery (and the adjacent Catholic St. Agnes Cemetery) with my wife and son, with both prayer and edifying conversation (which occurs naturally when our ultimate end is so starkly presented in front of our eyes), than worldly families do from these same vacations that cost them untold thousands, hobbies that require enormous dedication, and countless possessions that really only possess them. If only you insist on forming your interests and desires in order to be satisfied with the simple blessings that God gives, you will always be joyful and the chains of former worldliness falling off your shoulders will make you feel lighter than air.

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I would also like to share a radio interview I did last month about the Divine Will Missionaries of Mercy (below). I speak more about the Holy Year of Mercy during this 37 minute interview as well, so I’d recommend listening to it if you have the time. I have been updating the site, www.DWMoM.org, as well. I am striving to put more emphasis in being a DWMoM in spirit (since I know that most will not be able to be DWMoM city street walkers as I am), which something all of us can and should do. It is on my heart like fire, and I hope it is on yours as well, to not let this upcoming Holy Year of Mercy go to waste. It starts in a mere month! Let us not allow ourselves to eternally regret failing to do all we can to proclaim the Divine Mercy while there is still time left. God expects of us, as he told St. Faustina, “a great number of souls who will glorify His mercy for all eternity.” He said that the time of mercy will soon be over. Dear friends, if this Holy Year of Mercy (at the end of which the Door of Mercy will, literally, close) is not a sign that time is running out, then what is?

(Here is an mp3 file of the same interview)

Finally, I have great news: the rumor I mentioned I heard last post turned out to be true. Two of Luisa’s works: the Hours of the Passion and the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Kingdom of the Divine Will, have indeed had the Moratorium on the publication of their English versions lifted (No doubt this is a sign of things to come with all of Luisa’s works!). Dear friends, do not underestimate the incredible importance of this. Jesus tells Luisa that these writings on the Divine Will are the very thing that will cause the Triumph of the Church. He says that a single morsel of knowledge pertaining to truths on the Divine Will that you learn on Earth is another Kingdom you inherit in Heaven. He even promises that for every word you prayerfully read of the Hours of the Passion, a soul will be saved. Please, please, read them! Here are some places you can receive them:

July 1, 2015

Remnant Faithful: We Need the Chastisements Also

(Apologies for another post so soon, but a brief important update: As I am now freely and openly disseminating the PDF of my book, I no longer want it to be listed on Amazon for a price as well. Amazon, however, is refusing to let me change it to be a free Ebook on their site. Therefore I have removed The Crown and Completion of All Sanctity from Amazon. If you’ve linked to that page or distributed the link to it, I just ask that you update the link to simply refer to the PDF posted here, or even post the PDF directly if you like. Additionally, I have received word that two of Luisa’s works, namely, The Blessed Virgin Mary in the Kingdom of the Divine Will, and The Hours of the Passion, have had the moratorium entirely lifted and may now be freely disseminated. Please do not quote me on that as I have not yet been able to confirm this, but if I can, I will post them here!

In another note — to willingly risk sounding like a broken record — please remember that our calling in these days is to live in the Divine Will and proclaim the Divine Mercy. We can still do so much good. I will say that DWMoM is going great. But in particular, this simple little pin makes amazing things happen if I choose to be so bold as to actually wear it when I am out and about after Mass; at the store, out to eat, or wherever. I bid you consider doing likewise, and living the spirit of a DWMoM even if you do not feel called to be an actual missionary.

Now, since I have pestered you with a new post anyway, feel free to read the following if you are so inclined!)

How easy it is to say, regarding what is coming upon the world, “Good. It is needed. I do not want anyone to suffer, but I know that the vast majority of the world has become so sinful that the Chastisements will really be a blessing in disguise for them.”

There is certainly truth in that, but it also misses something enormous:

We, the “remnant faithful,” the devout Catholics, followers of Our Lady’s messages, daily Mass-goers and daily reciters of the Rosary, etc. etc. etc….

We need the chastisements for our own good also.

And because iniquity hath abounded, the charity of many shall grow cold.” (Matthew 24:12)

There are clearly two distinct references being made here, and while I would wager the first is a reference to the rampant grave sin and error in this age of the Great Apostasy, I am afraid that the second part of Our Lord’s prophecy there can — at least in part — be taken to refer to us.Image 1175 Jul. 01 15.29

I wrote much of this post a year ago (so forgive me if it’s a bit of a patchwork) after attending a certain Marian conference (described below). I decided against posting it then because I was afraid it might have been too harsh. But two recent considerations have made me decide to post it now: 1) The likelihood that the Chastisements are right around the corner, and 2) The behavior of some in the Divine Will movement. Suffice it to say that, in response to my writing the book (even distributing it for free), certain “veteran” individuals and groups promoting Luisa’s revelations treat me like trash– like some kind of imposter, apparently thinking that they and they alone should have control of what is said, and to whom, regarding Luisa’s writings. (This all despite the fact that they have not been able to point out one single error in the book.) I will not be giving any names, but I do just want to say that I am not referring to Fr. Iannuzzi with this; my admiration for him remains strong.

I do not mean to complain: I am, in fact, very glad that I am finding this journey of promoting Divine Will spirituality to not be mere sunshine and roses. If it were, I would know I was not walking in Christ’s footsteps; for His path is the Way of the Cross, and it is narrow and fraught with difficulties. So please trust me that I do not write this post to complain or to rant; rather, I write it to encourage my dear friends of the remnant faithful to react as they ought to the time when the Chastisements hit them as well, when (cf Matthew 5:45) the rain falls on them just like on the unjust: with gratitude.

I will get to that, but let me now present what I wrote last summer:

I recently attended a Marian Conference, and I came back greatly disheartened by what I saw. This was supposed to be the cream of the crop; part of that exceedingly small group of people left on this planet who are devoutly Catholic, who listen to the apparitions of Our Lady, who keep all of the Commandments, who, like righteous Lot, are vexed day in and day out by what they see happening. Instead, the behavior I witnessed at this Conference was no better than the world at large. Giddiness was the mood that dominated; even the concelebrants of the Mass – and certainly the congregation – were devoid of reverence and were instead ready at a whim to chuckle or comment on this or that… during Mass. After coming back to my seat after Communion and giving a brief thanksgiving after Mass I looked up for a moment and realized that all those in attendance — hundreds — were already gone. All had rushed out the moment Mass ended to try and get in line early for the food. The talk given before Mass amounted to 30 minutes of screaming ranting about how evil the world has become, how anti-religious our government has become, and how bad Obama is, and how we are not “standing up” enough against this all – the assertion being that what is really needed to resolve the present distress is more noisy rants. I left this event early… I doubt anyone noticed my coming or my going, because I was alone, and everyone was far too busy gabbing away with their comfortable cliques to bother reaching out to anyone who wasn’t in their group.

I came out of this event with one unavoidable conclusion in my mind and in my heart… we need the purification of the coming distress as well, not just the world and worldlings.

Now, that was only one event of so many experiences that Providence has given me, and I am sure has given you all, which teach the same lesson. Some of the most selfish, dictatorial, harsh bosses I’ve had have been Catholic ones in Catholic apostolates. Some of the most immoral people I’ve known have been moral theologians. (No obvious public mortal sins, of course… just a demeanor of utter disdain toward other people than is far worse than, say, contraception). Some of the rudest and least charitable people I’ve ever brushed up against have been priests. I take 5 minutes to click through the Catholic blogosphere and I find it permeated by snark, sarcasm, and venom (now, even directed — God help them — toward the Vicar of Christ). I have found Catholic circles to often be about as cliquey, closed-off, and judgmental as they come. Catholics are just as, if not more, divided than everyone else. I could go on, as I’m sure anyone reading this could as well.

If ”By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:35) is how the Catholic Church is supposed to grow, then it is no wonder that evangelization is such an utter failure today.

Pope Francis is trying to change that. He becomes very easy to understand as soon as you recognize one thing: dear fellow conservative, orthodox Catholics: the universe does not revolve around us. There are billions of souls — masterpieces of God’s creation for whom He shed His Blood and whom He loves more than you could possibly imagine — languishing for lack of knowledge, for lack of love, for lack of mercy. When was the last time we looked into their eyes and felt their pain? If we had done so, and if we had one small flicker of the love of God in our hearts, we would spend less time wringing our hands over Pope Francis’ every comment, and more time pouring ourselves out for their salvation; for mercy to be poured out upon their lives even now, and especially at the hour of their death.

That is what Francis is trying to do; please let him. What is coming soon upon this world will suffice to reveal to souls the hideousness of their sins, but the world is finally taking the Vicar of Christ seriously. Do not squander that. They need it. Do not believe their masquerading confidence, their venom and the torrent of errors coming from their lips. They are our patients, not our enemies. Fallen angels are our enemies. I do not argue with my five month old son. I care for him and I give him what he needs no matter how much he opposes my efforts, no matter how much he squirms, even if his flailing fist strikes me on the nose. We must do likewise with those in the world; they do not simply need more people condemning their sins with more vigor. They are already suffering beyond description. They need their wounds bound and the balm of the Divine Mercy applied.

It is not easy at first glance for the remnant to understand how Pope Francis’ pontificate fits into things. They ask, “Why, in this age of unprecedented evil in the world, do we need a Pope who is a friend of the world?” But when you realize that we ourselves are in great need of pruning, and you realize that what looms on the horizon will bring the whole world to its knees, it makes perfect sense. Jesus tells Luisa of a time when people will turn to the Pope for safe harbor after Chastisements. It seems clear to me that we are approaching such times — and for such a scenario to occur, people will need to like the Pope.

There is no greater hater of heresy than I; anyone who reads this blog knows that. I will remain staunchly such until death, even if it requires the shedding of my blood. But the magnificence of our orthodoxy is not what Judgment Day will focus upon; that is far too easy. On that day, what we will be judged by is our love.

But is our love where it must be?

We ourselves, dear friends in Christ: are we worthy of the Era of Peace as we are now? I know that I am not. The degree of my response to Our Lady’s call in her many apparitions is pathetic. Far too often, if not usually, my prayer is weak and merely external. Despite condemning worldliness, I know I succumb to it constantly. I am inundated by sloth and my failures are more frequent than my victories. I constantly fail to treat my neighbor with even reasonable charity, much less to love him as I do myself, as Our Lord commands. It is ridiculous how many times — over, and over, and over again — I have to confess the exact same thing. Though at this point I should be confronting temptation like a seasoned warrior, I rather confront it like a weakling novice. The list could go on for pages… volumes. (Please pray for me!) Perhaps some of you can relate.

But I think I can at least grant myself one thing: I recognize the fact that if I am brought to my knees in suffering, I will receive the grace to shed those vices like dirt is removed from the body under a waterfall. Therefore I do not lament the looming Chastisements; neither their coming upon the world, nor their coming upon myself. I bless God in anticipation of the graces I know He will give me through them, for what is worth desiring other than holiness?

I recognize I need them because my love is not a roaring fire like it should be; rather, it has grown cold, and I suppose it is that way for many other Catholics today. Who among us would fail to admit that, looking back at our lives, it is when we have suffered that we have grown closer to God?

…every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.” John 15:2.

You hear much of “pruning,” but usually that word is directed at “them”– the heretics and those living in sin within the Church. What we forget is how much pruning we need.

So you will be very disappointed, very quickly, if you look toward what comes with a false, self-invented confidence that, because you are a good orthodox, devout, Catholic, you will be spared any trials. But if instead you look to what comes with the trust that comes from knowing that, despite your own misery, nothing but perfect love comes from His hands, and if He permits you to suffer, it is because that suffering is the greatest blessing He can imagine for you at that moment — then you will never be disappointed. You are invincible. You can say, with David, “[I] have no fear of evil news” (Psalm 112). To arrive at that point does not require a long and arduous ascent of the mountain of moral virtue. It just requires that, even in this very moment, you say with all of your heart “Jesus, I Trust in You.Image 1173 Jul. 01 15.25

  • So when your loved ones die, trust that God knew it was the perfect time for them to go home to Him, and that you will see them soon enough, when your own time comes; and give thanks to God that He has given you an opportunity to be detached from creatures so as to become more attached to your Creator, in Whom you will find more joy and peace than in a perfect relationship with a million friends and family members combined.
  • When you lose your home and all of your possessions, give thanks to God that He has deemed you worthy of living that most blessed life of St. Francis’ — perfect reliance upon Providence with each moment — and that He has also given you the grace to live what He asked the wealthy young man to live without, a young man who nevertheless was not given the grace to follow through, for he “went away sad,” (Matthew 19:22)
  • When you are thrown into a jail cell for a crime you did not commit, or for a good deed you did indeed do, which is falsely considered, in this twisted world, to be a crime — give thanks to God that He has given you the life of a monastic — the highest vocation–, and that you can dedicate yourself entirely to prayer.
  • When you are beaten or tortured, whether literally by a malicious person or simply by circumstances that are extremely painful (whether hunger, exposure, fatigue, illness, or what have you), give thanks to God that He is permitting you to suffer for Him, in Him. Such occasions, when there is no means to avoid them without sinning, amount to God Himself serving as your spiritual director, deciding that you need mortifications. And the mortifications that Providence chooses are always better than our own, and they always yield great joy and build up enormous treasures both on Earth and in Heaven.
  • When persecution in any form touches you, rejoice with unutterable joy because you have been deemed worthy — among the billions of Catholics who have not been– to be so dealt with. ”Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name.” — Acts 5:41. For the only Beatitude that Our Lord deemed so great that He needed to dwell upon it and reiterate it was the last, “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are you when men revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so men persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Jesus told Luisa Piccarreta that it is quite easy to distinguish the reprobate from the elect: just as, on the last day, the Sign of the Son of Man (the cross) in the sky will cause terror in the former and ecstasy in the latter, so too now, the reaction to one’s crosses in life reveal one’s eternal destiny.

In all things say, with Job, “The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away. Blessed be the Name of the Lord.”

The good thief and the bad thief found themselves in an identical situation. One praised God in the midst of it, and one cursed Him. Which will you be?

Endnotes:

  1. I’m not saying, dear friends, that we are primarily to blame for what is coming, or anything of the sort. Please do not let this admonition I here present be a cause for you to fret and worry and be anxious. It is primarily the four sins that cry out to God for vengeance that are causing just that — God’s justice — to be about to fall upon the earth (especially the murder of billions of unborn children over the past 100 years). All I am saying is that we are very imperfect, and God’s plan is perfect — so it entails the perfection of each of us. If we are to suffer (and we are), then there is a reason for that. Let us acknowledge that reason and use it for His glory and our salvation and sanctification.
  2. Whether or not my own personal speculations regarding what is going to transpire in this world actually come to pass, this advice holds true. We will all face huge trials either way.
May 30, 2015

The Deceiver

After Mass this past Thursday, instead of my usual DWMoM walk , I embarked to pray and sidewalk counsel outside a nearby city’s Planned Parenthood. I was simply pacing, praying the Rosary, and very gently and non-confrontationally greeting women who would go in to see if they would be willing to talk. To a few I gave evangelization cards.The Devil being Crushed

After praying about 5 decades, Planned Parenthood called the police on me for “kneeling and blocking the doorway.” I know that is what they said because that is what the officer told me they said when he pulled up. Now I am not exactly new to having the police called on me while outside Planned Parenthood, so I was able to calmly explain to him that I was doing nothing of the sort, and he willingly accepted my testimony and drove off without a problem.

But I was amazed at the bald-faced lie Planned Parenthood told the authorities. There was apparently not the slightest hesitation in their hearts to assert something — at the expense of another human’s well being — that had absolutely not the slightest basis in reality. They had no problem accusing me of an actual crime that could have put me behind bars, despite the fact that I wasn’t breaking even one jot or tittle of the law.

Driving home afterward, I turned on the radio to EWTN. The moment I took my hand off the dial, I heard Mother Angelica’s voice saying “…It is from Satan. He is the deceiver. Everything he says is a lie…” She then went on to describe all sorts of lies that you hear coming from those who listen to him. It was an amazingly insightful talk.

This served as a reminder for me of the times in which we are living. Dear Friends, we are now in the midst of (and are about to enter into a massive intensification of) the greatest age of deceit the world has ever seen. The Arian crisis pales in comparison to it for many reasons, not least of which being the fact that the Arian heresy was solely contrary to Divine Law, whereas the current apostasy is directed against both Divine and natural law, and contravening the latter does not bear with it the realistic possibility of a mitigation of culpability from invincible ignorance.  The devil, the Father of Lies, knowing his time is short, is in the process of unleashing his lies upon the world in full force. His two favorite things are to lie and to murder (cf. Our Lord Jesus Christ, John 8:44), and he has satiated himself in the latter through abortion and other genocides for these last almost 100 years, but it is not enough. He now wants to destroy more souls than ever before with his other great passion.

Sodom and GomorrahAs you all know, Ireland just passed gay “marriage” as law by referendum. Not only was it the first ever country to do so by referendum, but it is now the only country that enshrines gay “marriage” explicitly as a right in its very constitution. Now this constitution is dedicated from the onset to the Most Holy Trinity. The preamble begins “In the Name of the Most Holy Trinity, from Whom is all authority and to Whom, as our final end, all actions both of men and States must be referred…” And I write this on the vigil of Holy Trinity Sunday.

The U.S. might very well follow suit next month judicially. Perhaps this will even occur on the feast of St. Thomas More (June 22nd), or St. John the Baptist (June 24th), both of whom were martyrs for the sanctity of marriage.

The Devil’s ultimate plan with gay “marriage” is not to spread unnatural lust and prevision. Homosexual acts are simply too contrary to our nature for them to ever garner a large percentage of the population as partakers of them. Those caught up in homosexuality are usually wounded and confused people who do not know where else to turn. (This is why approving homosexuality is the greatest act of hatred possible toward those with same-sex attraction: it is like handing a loaded gun to someone with suicidal thoughts.) No-fault divorce has wreaked and continues to wreak far more havoc than gay “marriage” ever directly will.

I am convinced, rather, that the devil’s plan with gay “marriage” is to spread deceit. It is to entice us to “exchange the truth of God for a lie” (Romans 1:25). The problem with gay “marriage” is that merely acknowledging it; merely believing and proclaiming that two men, or two women, can marry, is itself an intrinsic grave evil. The devil doesn’t need to convince the world to become homosexuals. He only needs to convince the world to accept homosexuality as an intrinsically good thing and to give homosexual relationships equal standing as true marriage, thereby rejecting the very first truth God revealed about human persons: that they are created male and female and that their union is holy and unique.

Likewise his plan with gender theory is not to convince the people of the world to attempt to change their sexes; very, very few (as a relative percentage) will ever go that route. His plan is to entice the world to accept gender theory as valid. His plan is to entice the world to refer to people by their “new” sex, after they have an operation, or take a hormone pill, or dress differently. Again, merely the acknowledgement of this as valid is a grave evil.

Similarly, the devil’s plan with the current discord in the Church is not to somehow manage to change Church Teaching; he knows he is about as capable of that as a single ant is of demolishing the solid stone foundation of a castle. The very assertion that the indissolubility of marriage, the immorality of adultery, and the disordered nature of homosexuality and immorality of homosexual acts are tenets of the Church’s moral teaching (and indeed they all are) bears with it the recognition that they are fundamentally incapable of changing. Rather, his plan is to infect enough individual priests, Bishops, and Cardinals with his lies about false and cheap mercy that the souls under their care readily listen to them even when they contradict Church teaching.

The kingdom of the Prince of this World is thriving with enormous and shocking vigor scarcely beneath the surface of the construct that is the modern secular world, and this kingdom is ready to burst forth at a moment’s notice. I can only liken it to a rotting corpse which, though apparently moving, eventually reveals it is merely writhing with hordes of maggots. Sadly most will deny this until the full-grown flies erupt in swarms. At that point it will be too late, but that point is coming soon.

Rosary WalkBut enough of that. I began this post by describing the morning’s activities this past Thursday. Let me end it by describing the evening’s activities of that same day. My wife, son, and I were blessed to participate in a pro-life Rosary walk lead by our Bishop, Edward Scharfenberger. I would guess there were at least one thousand of us praying the Rosary as we were lead by our shepherd and as we carried a large statue of Our Lady around the New York State Capitol building in Albany. As I looked before me and behind me and saw the breathtaking line of souls like an army marching down the sidewalk in prayer and song, I was reminded of this one simple fact: God Wins.

 You do not have to fret about the torrent of lies now spewing forth from the Devil’s mouth, a torrent that will only grow exponentially in the coming time. You are invincible against it if you merely remain in a state of grace and cling to:

 

 

You don’t have to be a great saint, and you certainly don’t have to be a theologian, to cling to those. You just need trust.

And remember the call of our Holy Father: days as dark as our own are not days of retreat, nor of cowering in a corner; they are days in which the remnant of the Christ’s Faithful must shine ever more brightly, for indeed superabundant grace is available today, and we can become saints more easily now than ever before. We must above all use this grace to spread the Divine Mercy and live in the Divine Will, and pour ourselves out as libations for these ends.

April 11, 2015

The Great Sign of the Holy Year of Mercy

Dear Friends,

God is truly at work today in an amazing way.

First of all, I write this to you on the Vigil of Divine Mercy Sunday, which I am sure you all know well about: an unprecedented day on which all Catholics who receive Communion and go to Confession (within 8 days before or after it) (Edit: it appears I have been mistaken in this regard; Confession actually does not have to be within so strict a time period. Just be a regulary confessing Catholic — i.e., in a state of grace. God is really trying to make it easy for us to become saints today!!) are essentially given the grace of a true second Baptism. I hope you all take full advantage of this promise given to St. Faustina!

But I also write to you having just finished reading the Papal Bull pronouncing the upcoming Extraordinary Holy Year of Mercy.

I am sure that the placement of this Holy Year rightly strikes many of you immediately for what it is:a prophetic Sign of the Times. But allow me to go into more detail:Image 964 Apr. 11 13.40

  • It is obvious that this Holy Year is all about not just the notion of mercy in general, but precisely St. Faustina’s revelations. Pope Francis could have announced this Holy Year whenever he wanted to, but he specifically chose the Vigil of Divine Mercy Sunday, which arises entirely from St. Faustina’s revelations. Furthermore he specifically says, in the Papal Bull, “I am especially thinking of the great apostle of mercy, Saint Faustina Kowalska. May she, who was called to enter the depths of divine mercy, intercede for us and obtain for us the grace of living and walking always according to the mercy of God and with an unwavering trust in his love..” (Paragraph 24)
  • This Holy Year is all about the “Door of Mercy.” What is meant by this is absolutely unambiguous to anyone familiar with St. Faustina’s writings; for in them, Jesus says “…before I come as a just Judge, I first open wide the door of My mercy. He who refuses to pass through the door of My mercy must pass through the door of My justice...” (paragraph 1146)
    • Similarly, Jesus said to Faustina “Before I come as the just Judge, I am coming first as the King of Mercy. Before the day of justice arrives, there will be given to people a sign in the heavens … This will take place shortly before the last day.” (paragraph 83)
  • It is indeed true that the “Holy Door” is always associated with any Holy Year. But it is so especially this Jubilee year in an extraordinary way. Pope Francis is instituting a literal  “Door of Mercy” to be opened at every single Cathedral in the world, using precisely those words used in the prophecy given to St. Faustina. So please keep in mind what Jesus said about the “door of My mercy” to St. Faustina (and what comes next), when you see the following quotes from today’s Papal Bull:
    • I will have the joy of opening the Holy Door on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception. On that day, the Holy Door will become a Door of Mercy through which anyone who enters will experience the love of God who consoles, pardons, and instills hope.” (paragraph 3)
    • I will announce that in every local Church, at the cathedral … a Door of Mercy will be opened for the duration of the Holy Year. At the discretion of the local ordinary, a similar door may be opened at any Shrine frequented by large groups of pilgrims, since visits to these holy sites are so often grace-filled moments, as people discover a path to conversion. Every Particular Church, therefore, will be directly involved in living out this Holy Year as an extraordinary moment of grace and spiritual renewal.”(paragraph 3)
  • That this Holy Year will begin on the Immaculate Conception of 2015 and end on Christ the King of 2016 makes it all the more a Sign. We know that it is by Mary’s Immaculate Heart that the Triumph will be won; and yet this victory is really a victory for Christ the King, who will at long last have dominion over this Earth by way of the Reign of the Divine Will of His Father.
    • The Jubilee year will close with the liturgical Solemnity of Christ the King on 20 November 2016. On that day, as we seal the Holy Door, we shall be filled, above all, with a sense of gratitude and thanksgiving to the Most Holy Trinity for having granted us an extraordinary time of grace. We will entrust the life of the Church, all humanity, and the entire cosmos to the Lordship of Christ, asking him to pour out his mercy upon us like the morning dew” (Paragraph 5)
  • Some cynics will say “Really this Holy Year is all just a ploy to encourage sacrilegious Communions through the Synod of the Family.” But those who would classify this Holy Year of Mercy as nothing but a piece in the puzzle of the Synod have the funnel pointed in the wrong direction, and they do not understand our Holy Father. First of all, Jubilee years only happen every few decades; Synods happen every few years. Jubilees are far more important. But more importantly still, our Holy Father has an extremely prophetic view of his mission. Consider that he consecrated his papacy to Our Lady of Fatima, and consecrated the world to her Immaculate Heart. Please don’t fall into ecclesiastical worldliness by looking at everything through the lens of whatever Church discord is getting the most headlines any particular month.


Also in his Papal Bull, Pope Francis speaks of his plan and his desire to send out “Missionaries of Mercy.” It appears that he is yet to reveal exactly the entirety of what he means by that. In paragraph 18, he writes “During Lent of this Holy Year, I intend to send out Missionaries of Mercy. They will be a sign of the Church’s maternal solicitude for the People of God, enabling them to enter the profound richness of this mystery so fundamental to the faith. There will be priests to whom I will grant the authority to pardon even those sins reserved to the Holy See, so that the breadth of their mandate as confessors will be even clearer.” (emphasis added).

So these Missionaries of Mercy will indeed include priests with special powers of absolution granted, but the wording does not seem to indicate that those priests are the only “Missionaries of Mercy” he is referring to. Regardless of what he does or does not mean, this is precisely what I have been trying to do with the Divine Will Missionaries of Mercy for over a year now in my home city of Albany, NY. Again I invite anyone interested in responding to and anticipating our Holy Father’s call to consider participating in this apostolate; you can read more about it at its own website, www.DWMoM.org.

Also with the theme of mercy, and especially as it pertains to the DWMoM group, I have just received another shipment of 10,000 Mercy Evangelization cards. I’ll gladly mail them out to whomever would use them in batches of about 100. If you’d like a batch, just fill out the forms on this page: http://dwmom.org/request-evangelization-cards-2/

I will close here by presenting the final paragraph of the Papal Bull (with emphasis added): “I present, therefore, this Extraordinary Jubilee Year dedicated to living out in our daily lives the mercy which the Father constantly extends to all of us. In this Jubilee Year, let us allow God to surprise us. He never tires of throwing open the doors of his heart and repeats that he loves us and wants to share his love with us. The Church feels the urgent need to proclaim God’s mercy. Her life is authentic and credible only when she becomes a convincing herald of mercy. She knows that her primary task, especially at a moment full of great hopes and signs of contradiction, is to introduce everyone to the great mystery of God’s mercy by contemplating the face of Christ. The Church is called above all to be a credible witness to mercy, professing it and living it as the core of the revelation of Jesus Christ. From the heart of the Trinity, from the depths of the mystery of God, the great river of mercy wells up and overflows unceasingly. It is a spring that will never run dry, no matter how many people approach it. Every time someone is in need, he or she can approach it, because the mercy of God never ends. The profundity of the mystery surrounding it is as inexhaustible as the richness which springs up from it.

So this, dear friends, is how we must respond to the unprecedented graces about to flow out upon the Church and the world: using them to Live in the Divine Will and spread the Divine Mercy. Not to worry about prognostications, timetables, or physical preparations. Not to get caught up in discord within the Church or the World. And most definitely not to become lukewarm or self-centered. This is the time to focus like never before on building up treasures in Heaven; for the time for doing so is about to draw to a close, never to return for all eternity. This is truly the Time of Mercy. But it is becoming abundantly clear that there are only a few grains of sand left in the hourglass for this Time.

More on the Divine Mercy:

More on the Divine Will:

Living in the Divine Will

Update 7/5/2015: Mark Mallet beautifully drew this same parallel in a post a month before this one here: http://www.markmallett.com/blog/opening-wide-the-doors-of-mercy/ 

March 4, 2015

The Crown and Completion of All Sanctity

On this day sixty eight years ago, a soul entered into her eternal reward — a soul the likes of which the world has not seen since the Assumption the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Her name is the Servant of God Luisa Piccarreta, and I am finally ready to speak to you of her unrivaled revelations from God.

Often I have spoken of the Divine Mercy devotion of St. Faustina: how it is truly God’s final effort of salvation in the world, and an undeniable herald of the imminent initiation of the great prophecies given throughout the millennia regarding the end of the age, which is now upon us. But there is another half of God’s Final Effort in the world: that of sanctification. For this end, I believe God has chosen Luisa Piccarreta to reveal the Gift of Living in the Divine Will to the world.

For over four years on this blog I have only briefly hinted here and there about this Gift, but I have finally sufficiently researched, studied, prayed, and received spiritual direction regarding it that I am ready to explain it myself.

There is too much for a blog post, therefore I have published it as an E-Book on Amazon, which you may find here (Update 7/7/2015 : Now that I am simply freely distributing the PDF of this, I have removed the book from Amazon)

6/25/2015 UPDATE: Simply download the PDF Directly here. (More information on “Signs of the Times” post)

Book Cover

Now, I truly have no desire to make a single penny on this book. I just want its contents spread. I am publishing it as an EBook on Amazon for three dollars simply because I know that people are more likely to read something they at least paid a nominal fee for, I am hoping that having it on Amazon will potentially open it up to a larger readership, and I want to keep track of people who receive this, so I can send out any retractions/corrections if need be (I have no way of knowing who sees what I merely publish as a blog post). Even at that I would like to charge less than $3, but for some reason if you charge less than that on Amazon, they take 70% of the proceeds instead of 30%. And that simply doesn’t make sense in this case, as I’ll be donating the majority of the proceeds to Luisa’s cause for Beatification.

That being said, if you would like to read this book (it is a short book), and would rather not purchase it on Amazon, no worries! Just send an email to Daniel@DSDOConnor.com (or whatever other email address you have for me; they all go to the same inbox) and ask me to send you the PDF. I gladly will, no questions asked. I’ll just assume you don’t have an Amazon account, or some other reason of that sort! I just request two things: First of all, if you choose this route: make a commitment to actually read it! Secondly: don’t send it to others you think might want to read it,  just have them contact me as well at Daniel@DSDOConnor.com so that I can send them the PDF and keep track of who has it; or just direct them to the Amazon site.

I would be honored if at least a few people would purchase it on Amazon and leave me good reviews there, so I can have good reviews from “Verified Purchasers.”

***

Also, now that I have said what I want to say about Living in the Divine Will, I am ready to unveil an apostolate that I have felt called to start, and have myself been engaging in for over a year now: The Divine Will Missionaries of Mercy.

My hesitation in sharing this was great as well; first and foremost due to my own weakness in following the very precepts I desired to set down as a baseline for the apostolate: Lent of 2014 I was good about sticking to the regimen, but I often fell out of the habit during Ordinary Time. Thankfully God has given me the grace to be stronger in it since last Advent. That, combined with the encouragement of my Spiritual Director, means I am ready to share this apostolate with whoever else might feel called to take part.

To see what this apostolate is about, please take a look at the website: www.DWMoM.org

Image 735 Mar. 04 15.54

February 17, 2015

A Few Quick Notes

On March 4th, God willing, I will publish the most important post I have ever written. Please stay tuned. Until then:

First of all, please pray for my mother, Eileen. She was just diagnosed with malignant Pleural Mesothelioma. Few survive with this form of cancer more than a couple years, and those that do are young and otherwise healthy, neither of which apply to my mother, who has already had radiation and a double mastectomy for her breast cancer. So it is unlikely that she has even one year left.  So I am asking you to pray for a miraculous healing, certainly; for that is realistically the only type of healing that could occur. We would all be overjoyed at this and we are all praying for it. But above all I am asking you to pray that she may be completely filled with grace, peace, and trust, until the moment she sees the Lord face to face, that any suffering she must undergo will be lessened and borne with ease and joy, and that she may truly have the happiest possible death; that whatever comes her way, she may say, with all of her heart “Jesus, I trust in You. Thy Will be Done.” My mother is a woman of great faith and devotion, and I know that she is ready to go home. But please pray that both she and her family members – especially my father – may be totally ready in every way.

Secondly: Lent is upon us! Many Catholic sites will be encouraging all sorts of ways you can make this your holiest Lent ever. Please take their advice! For my part, I’d just like to leave you with a few thoughts I had on “helps” for holiness — things that I have found have made the pursuit of holiness easier and smoother. If you choose to read this, be sure to carefully read and remember the first paragraph.

Thirdly, I realized recently I have written far too many posts in movies on this blog! In order to not bother you all with an email every time I cannot help but give my 2 cents on a certain movie, I’ve published a page dedicated to my movie recommendations, which I will add to as time goes on.

 

January 11, 2015

When the Devil Goes into Damage Control Mode

Now I can’t say I have the devil figured out, but here’s one insight I am convinced is true: When the devil realizes he probably isn’t going to succeed in winning you over into a life of blatant grave sin and error, he changes his strategy (while of course never losing the desire to pull you into that, and never entirely foregoing his attempts at it). He goes into damage control mode — he tries to distract you. He is utterly terrified of what you can do if you simply order your days, your goals, your priorities, and your endeavors in such a way as to truly optimize their eternal value. He is more afraid of a soul in a state of grace than a deer is of a hunter. Knowing your immense power over him and his minions and his plan (only through God’s grace, of course), he strives to divert you to things so far below your calling; so that even if he cannot make you his own, you at least will not so greatly damage his plan in the world. How does he distract? In so many ways:

  • Above all, he distracts you from your prayers. He makes you feel busy, and he makes you believe the lie that you don’t have time for an intense and lengthy daily prayer routine. (And yes, that is always a lie. Those with the greatest excuse for being busy in the world – the Roman Pontiffs – have been men of massive prayer. Pope Francis prays for hours each morning before Mass. JPII did likewise.)
  • He fires up your passion for worldly debates. I know many good Catholics whose potency as soldiers in the Church Militant is so greatly reduced (if not almost entirely mitigated) because they are far more zealous for the promotion of organic food (or opposing organic food), opposing vaccinations (or supporting vaccinations), being a crunchy mom, or what have you, than they are for the glory of God and the salvation of souls. Now there is nothing wrong with having opinions on these things! But these are the topics on the tips of their tongues. These are the emails they forward. These dominate their conversations. It is their stance on these matters they really want to convert other people to. No serious Catholics would flat out say that these issues mean more to them than the Faith, but when your words and deeds demonstrate that they have your focus instead of the Kingdom and His righteousness (or when your thoughts default to such matters), then the devil has succeeded perfectly. He has neutered you.
    • I could have listed a million other worldly issues that do the same thing to Catholics (sports, finances, pets, novels, movies, television shows, stocks, internet research, politician bashing, Facebook, etc.) — but the needs of the body seem to me to often serve as the greatest distraction for good Catholics — hence Our Lord’s insistence: “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you shall eat or what you shall drink, nor about your body, what you shall put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? … Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek all these things; and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well.
  • He entangles you in factiousness within the Church on issues that, even if important to be dealt with, are no where near as effective in the glorification of God and the salvation of souls as are evangelization, prayer, works of mercy, and the like. Factiousness, such as:
    • Debating Pope Francis’ most recent statement (or those of the often-quoted Bishops and Cardinals)
    • Arguing for this or that form of the Mass
    • Criticizing clergy for their poor decisions and statements
    • Endless reiteration of how abysmal a state the Church is in
    • Dedicating the majority of your effort to simply opposing one or two particular sins, heresies, or liturgical violations
    • Dedicating the majority of your effort simply to defending (or opposing) one particular apparition.
    • (Notice I have not said advocating for women’s ordination, contraception, divorce, gay marriage, etc., since those are blatant heresies and not the point of this article. If the devil has drawn you into any of that, he has done far more than distract you.)
  • He makes you think your primary vocation (e.g. your duties as a provider) supersedes your universal vocation (your call to holiness). Hence, to give just one example: a father (or a young man hoping to become one) who succumbs to this only cares about (above the bare essentials of the Faith — Mass on Sundays and avoiding mortal sin) doing everything he can to secure the best possible living for his family. He dedicates himself to career advancement and will not consider anything for the glory of God that might interfere with that. He’ll go to any length to ensure that (for the sake of not harming potential future jobs) googling his name does not associate him with any Catholic apostolate. He’ll never ask his boss if he can modify his schedule slightly to allow for daily Mass. He won’t consider living anywhere but the most safe and pristine possible neighborhoods, even if home prices there force him to stay with a career that ruins his spiritual life. The list goes on.
  • He tries to distract you from his own hideousness by compelling you to focus primarily upon the hideousness of those people who follow some of his ways. Is Obama-bashing what you are known for? Do you believe that we’d return to the Garden of Eden if only we could get rid of Planned Parenthood? Do you prefer ripping apart Islam to actually behaving in such a way that you might win Muslim converts? Do you readily rattle off a conspiracy theory for every ill that faces this world? If so, then you have fallen into this distraction and likewise become neutered. Remember that we fight not against flesh and blood, but against powers and principalities. Imagine how useless a U.S. Marine would be who, upon being sent into a foreign country to take out a terrorist cell, focused only upon eliminating the cockroach infestations there. Do not be like such a Marine, for you are in a far more elite, far more essential army: the Church Militant.
    • My inspiration for this point is Peter Kreeft’s excellent talk — the Culture War
  • He gives you a great love of excessive “hanging out,” or eases you away from those who embolden you, and towards those who placate you. This is the greatest danger with families, but it also happens with Catholic groups. They often start out as great salvation-causing apostolates, but before long they are just cliques. The time spent actually saying the prayers and doing the works of mercy they were founded upon becomes perhaps one hastily prayed Rosary, if even that — then hours are spent having coffee afterwards engaging in mundane worldly conversation. Family gatherings become grace prayed before the meal, and then one worldly thing after another until an entire day is gone.
  • He inspires in you a Lowest-Common-Denominator Bible/saint/pope quote attitude. Many, it seems, can at the drop of a hat whip out a plethora of quotes from Scripture, saints, popes, or other Catholic authorities to dispense themselves from any sort of zeal in their spiritual life; the only thing they have been zealous about is the collection of such quotes! Can you imagine what havoc this approach would wreak upon your life if you took it to your health– if, upon googling, “health benefits of _____,” you would go ahead and partake in _____, so long as you could find someone with an “MD” or “PhD” after his name endorsing it? You would be dead within the month. Obviously quoting Scripture, a saint, or a pope is a fundamentally different thing, but we still must bear in mind that if we are reading these works primarily for any reason other than self-admonishment and personal growth (i.e. for rationalization or argumentation), then we will not grow one iota in holiness. (Mind you, when such quotes prevent advancement in the spiritual life, it is usually because they are taken out of context or otherwise improperly applied) Have you ever met an immoral moral theologian? I rest my case. (Hint: if you’ve met a moral theologian, you probably have). Examples:
    • “Preach the Gospel always, when necessary, use words” to dispense yourself from your duty to evangelize
    • “You will always have the poor with you” to dispense yourself from works of mercy
    • Using the Little Way of St. Therese to dispense yourself from the virtue of magnanimity. Be well assured that St. Therese had nothing against great things; she rather insists (rightly) that the most important thing is to first ensure that we do the small things with great love.
    • Using the many great words of St. Josemaria Escriva on the sanctification of work to think that this is some sort of a default, automatic thing – and that you need not strive to make your work into prayer, or to have a serious life of prayer and works of mercy apart from your work and family life.
    • Using the many great words of St. Francis de Sales on prayer according to one’s State of Life to think that if you are a spouse and a parent, you need not bother with anything but Sunday Mass. Here’s another quote of his to counter that mindset!: “Half an hour’s meditation each day is essential, except when you are busy. Then a full hour is needed.
  • He reminds you of someone you respect who does a certain thing as soon as your conscience begins to tell you that you might be better off without it. Has your heart felt that prick recently; that initial indication that some endeavor you are currently engaged in, even if not blatantly gravely sinful, still might not be really in line with your calling? Or maybe you have started to realize you simply don’t like the thought of your spouse, child, fiance, or significant other doing something that you are doing, which then leads you to wonder why you yourself are doing it? Perhaps it’s a TV show you are watching, a book you are reading, a form of dancing you regularly participate in, a song you listen to (e.g. “it’s just to get me pumped at the gym”), a type of clothing you wear, a type of medication you take or give your kids, an activity you engage in with your spouse, a costly indulgence you feel you deserve, an occasion of sin you have up to now justified, a type of conversation that you have always strained to argue doesn’t really count as gossip, or any number of other things. You cannot outsource your discernment to others; just because people you greatly respect (and perhaps are far holier than you yourself, maybe even having “Fr., Sr., Br. or Bp.” before their names) engage in something does not mean it’s automatically okay for you to do so. God speaks to your heart; trust that. If you will not trust that, why are you a Christian? You must follow that voice.  When you follow that voice, you become so formidable to the devil that he spares no expense to prevent you from attaining such clarity of conscience. His first line of defense in this regard is to say to you “Your pious friend _____ does it, so it must be okay.
  • He compels you to react with perceived helplessness instead of intercession when you observe or hear of evil. What is your reaction when this happens? To respond “Oh, what a shame”? Why is it not to say “Lord have Mercy” and then pray with fervency, or to physically do something if you can? What is your reaction when asked for money by a clear drug addict on the street? To lie and say you have none, then leave, embarking upon a long mental lamentation of all the societal ills that lead to this… or is it to ask him his name, shake his hand, and say you cannot give him money, but would love to say a prayer with him, take him out to McDonalds, etc.? What is your reaction to those instances when you are confronted with the hideous reality of the abortion genocide? To rant against priests who in their cowardice never oppose it from the pulpit, the politicians who endorse it, etc.? Or is it to commit to pray more against it and get outside abortion clinics more regularly to pray and sidewalk counsel?
  • While distracting you with everything under the sun, he will convince you that the urgency and calls to conversion of private revelation (which is the one thing that will really awaken some people) are themselves distractions, and are best avoided.

Has the devil gone into damage control mode in your life? I was only able to write this post because I’ve recognized that he largely has in my own. But don’t let him succeed in that. In all four Gospels, Christ said that He came “to destroy the works of the devil.” Being a member of the Church Militant is not primarily about being on the defensive — it is first and foremost about being on the offensive. That fact is perhaps what we forget most when we discuss spiritual warfare. Rest when you die, not now. “And Jesus said to him: Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou, and preach the kingdom of God.”

December 14, 2014

When Good Shepherds Let In The Wolves

With what a heavy heart I write this, for I am well accustomed to worldly shepherds letting in wolves, but now the shepherd I once saw as the greatest living Bishop has greatly disappointed me. I wish I could chalk this up to differing tastes in film, but I know there is a far deeper problem here. Many if not most readers of this post will think I am over-reacting – and they may be right. I hope they are right. But even if they are; write this I must — for too much is potentially at stake.

Despite feeling a great hesitancy to watch “Calvary” (which I now know was simply God’s voice), I just decided to do so with my wife, largely on the encouragement of an extremely positive review of it by Archbishop Charles Chaput; the Bishop alluded to in the previous paragraph.

Dear friends, if you came across a platter piled high with a mixture of manure and rat poison, nevertheless interspersed with sprinkles and topped with a cherry, would you devour it? Would you deem this a great feast, and indeed invite your friends in to partake?

This is precisely what Archbishop Chaput, and all the other big Catholic names who positively reviewed this movie, have done. And I write this post because what we have here is no mere isolated event; rather, this is the fundamental problem with so much cinema erroneously lauded by Christians. First, allow me to summarize this particular movie for you – because trust me, you should not watch it.

  • A man tells an innocent priest, Fr. James, in the confessional that he will kill him in one week as vengeance for the abuse crisis. (The remainder of the movie is a cacophony of hideousness that transpires in this week among miscellaneous other parishioners.)
  • Next, there is a conversation in which the two priests flippantly break the seal of the confessional as if we, the audience, are supposed to find this funny. (Later in the movie both of these priests also take the Lord’s Name in vain).
  • Fr. James goes about his duties throughout the week, visiting parishioners and addressing various issues they are involved in. In each, there is incredibly sinful behavior happening, and Fr. James rarely does anything but squint and look serious. There are a few morsels of wisdom he dispenses, yes – that I certainly concede. But there are also instances where he either blatantly sins by omission, or even goes so far as to condone or cooperate with evil. In one case, he advises a young man — who comes to him complaining of sexual frustration — to go move to a city where it is easier to find women with loose morals. In another he refuses to be merciful to a convicted murderer. In another he agrees to get a gun for an old man who wants one in case he wants to kill himself.
  • Interspersed with his parishioner visits are long walks and talks with his grown daughter (he is a widower), whom we are supposed to find very cute. These scenes drag on and accomplish nothing but the reiteration of tired movie cliches. In one scene he dances with her at a bar after she does cocaine (edit: I mis-heard this line — the reference was to her using cocaine “a long time ago.” Nevertheless even that helps illustrate the utterly flippant and casual attitude this movie takes to grave sin.)
  • There is barely any redemption, just sin. And not only sin, but flippancy with respect to sin. We, the audience, are supposed to find the sinfulness of his parishioners very funny, at least in many scenes.  I could list many more instances, but I hope you now get the point.
  • On the eve of the one week mark, he goes to a bar, gets incredibly drunk, shoots a bunch of glass with a handgun, and then gets into a fight. There is no remorse or repentance shown for this in the film (though I suppose we are expected to assume it, this is never an acceptable assumption for a story).
  • Now for the aforementioned allegorical cherry: at the end of the movie, the man from the beginning does indeed kill Fr. James, but Fr. James tries to tell the killer, even in the middle of the killing, that it is not too late to change his mind. The movie ends with a scene of Fr. James’ daughter sitting down to visit the killer in jail, implying forgiveness. A powerful message indeed, but one that could be found in many places that would not require two hours of wallowing in sewage.

You can’t be afraid of getting dirty, Daniel. This is the real world we are dealing with, and deal with it we must — in all its gritty reality,” many will say to me. How true that statement is; and how lamentable it is that so many Catholics suffer from dirt-phobia! Every day my apostolates mire me in the filth, and expose me to things I wish I never had to see or hear. I do it to bring the mercy of Jesus to the peripheries. I don’t roll around in the muck as a hobby — as if it were a good thing in and of itself — nor should anyone, which is precisely what watching movies like this consists in.

Perhaps this is just a lesson for me, above all. As a husband and father, I am the priest, prophet, and king of my household. I failed in that duty tonight by letting filth into it, and the mere fact that it was at the encouragement of a great Bishop is irrelevant. Archbishop Chaput, and for that matter even Pope Francis himself, have about as much authority and ability to do that duty for me as my next door neighbor’s dog does. I am not implying any sort of disobedience or disrespect to their authority as successors to the Apostles; I am simply pointing out that I alone am called to be the head of my family (only vicariously, of course, for Christ) – they are not.

Dear fellow Christian husbands and fathers, take note. The standard against which we are judged is Christ; no one else.

I will not set before my eyes 

whatever is base

-Psalm 101:3

Mother Most Chaste, Pray for us.

St. Joseph, Pray for us.

[Some next-day afterthoughts: I still think Chaput a great Bishop, but I am just saying this was a lapse of judgment on his part. Furthermore, I am not saying that movies cannot deal with filth; they must – we cannot limit ourselves to children’s movies! – and I heartily recommend many movies that do so in an admirable way (e.g. The Passion of the Christ, Beyond the Gates, The 1998 Les Miserables, Deliver us From Evil (2014), and many more). But dealing with filth must be done in moderation, with veiling, and only in so far as it is needed to set the stage for the redemptive act — and obviously it is never licit to have a sex scene of any sort in a movie — see my post on Les Mis for more on that.]

October 24, 2014

Talks: Divine Mercy and 40 Days for Life

Dear Friends,

I just wanted to share two talks I recently gave around Albany. One was given at a kickoff Rally for this year’s Fall 40 Days for Life Campaign (on Prayer, Fasting, and Almsgiving), the other was given to a young-adult Catholic group (CR Frassati) on Eight Essential Aspects of the Divine Mercy Message.

(Note: The first video, on the Divine Mercy, is only an audio-recording. The second video is actual footage from the Kickoff rally)



July 29, 2014

13 Reasons Why Your Prayer Life Is Not What It Should Be

Dear Friends,

Know first that I write this because I need to hear it – because my prayer life has become pathetic, and I hope that publicly admonishing the very faults I have succumbed to will be the shot in the arm I need to take my own advice! So if I seem to speak here with a bit of forcefulness, it is because I know that is precisely what I myself need to receive.

That being said, perhaps some of you will also find, upon a sincere and Spirit-lead examination of your own life, that you have room to grow by eliminating the following faults. For how many of us really have the prayer life we are called to? Few, I wager. Those who do tend to get an “St.” before their name.

I speak often of the incredible urgency of our times, the unimaginable magnitude of what lies just ahead, and the unprecedented grace and mercy now being poured out if we are only open to it and appropriate it. Well, there is only really one response to such lessons:

 Pray, pray, pray

(and don’t neglect to consider the specific and practical details about what hinders that)

 

  1. You either don’t know, or don’t think about, how important prayer is. Have you considered that there are actual people – perhaps even dear friends or family members – whose salvation hinges upon yourHell prayer life? That there might be souls in hell for all eternity – even now – because you chose not to say your prayers? Have you considered what a deceased member of her order said in an appearance to St. Theresa of Avila — that she would gladly return to Earth and suffer until the end of time just to receive the increase of glory in Heaven that is gained by one single Hail Mary? I admit it is a terrible thought to consider the damnation of a soul as the indirect result of our slothfulness with prayer; a thought that I am quite tempted to explain away. But accept it we must, for we make God and Our Lady in her apparitions into liars if we claim that such a thing could not be. Either our prayer matters for salvation, or it does not, and the Almighty has eternally decreed the former. Being therefore certain of it, we cannot escape the fact that a dereliction of duty in this regard will inescapably result in the loss of souls.
  2. You haven’t bothered to come up with and implement practical ways to turn your daily necessary tasks into prayer. There is no way to heed St. Paul’s admonition to pray constantly without diligently doing this. I once had a beautiful insight into my father-in-law’s way of doing this when my (then fiance) had to water his plants when he was away; he didn’t know how much water to give each plant, he could only tell her “how many Hail Marys” each plant got – in other words, how many Hail Mary’s to say while pointing the hose at one. A dear priest friend of mine relayed how he used his irritation at a former roommate’s constant leaving of drawers and doors open as an opportunity to say a prayer as he was closing them for the souls in purgatory (after a time of doing this he would sometimes find drawers open in his room that no earthly human could have possibly caused) How are you doing this? Why not:
    1. Do a better job of offering up – for the salvation of souls and the deliverance of the holy souls in purgatory – every single, solitary Car Rosarysuffering/irritation/dislike you experience throughout the day: no exceptions. No more complaining. God loves a cheerful giver.
    2. Do a better job of giving thanks to God for every good thing that happens to you (and every bad thing, in so far as it is a means to grow and part of His permissive Will)
    3. Try starting every drive with a Guardian Angel prayer, and get in the habit of right away picking up the Rosary beads and starting with the Creed (Keep a pair in the cupholder or around the rearview mirror; it’s a pain to reach into your pocket when you’re sitting down, buckled in.). Consider putting some holy thing on your dashboard as well; bumper stickers are great for someone behind you, but you need to keep yourself focused on God too!
    4. Get an audio Bible (there’s plenty of free ones, but I’d especially recommend the Truth and Life New Testament – http://truthandlifebible.com/) and listen to it while driving, while doing menial work, etc.
    5. Memorize the lyrics to a bunch of holy hymns that you most love: you’ll find yourself singing them all the time, thereby praying twice in whatever you are doing!
    6. Make sure to always have Rosary beads in your pocket and take them out whenever you are held up in anything.
    7. … these are just a few thoughts; consider how your day is divided up, and come up with your own ways.
  3. You make no effort to fast and otherwise mortify the flesh, and have become a spiritual cream puff. A lax or lenient approach to the spiritual life will never succeed: the fallen aspect of our nature, which hates prayer, makes sure we always have plenty excuses if it is not overcome by discipline. Please don’t think you have this base covered just because you have two small meals and one big meal on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. St. Josemaria Escriva said that the day you have eaten a meal without at some point during it mortifying the flesh by holding back from completely indulging the appetite is the dayJesus Fasting you have eaten like a pagan. St. Faustina said it is so important to undertake small sufferings willingly each day so that we are prepared for the big ones when they come. Of course only God’s grace will get us through difficulties, but grace also builds upon nature, and we are not thereby dispensed from doing our part. God understands, yes — He is well aware of the weakness of our flesh. He is also well aware of the strength of the spirit He has put in you; don’t presumptuously suppose He will be pleased by your refusing to exercise it.

Thanks to modernism, fasting from food is now considered a relic of “sadistic medieval Catholicism;” go to a typical talk on on the matter and you will likely hear that we need not bother with it — that “fasting” from other things will suffice. That is a lie. Fasting, in the most literal possible terms, is more direly needed today than ever before. Please do not dispense yourself from it. Do your part. Who knows, maybe you yourself suffer from a demon’s attacks who can, as Our Lord said, “only be driven out by prayer and fasting.”

Although the three go together; fasting is most properly seen as a sacrifice to God, whereas penance is purification for past sin, and mortification is preparation to avoid future sin. Ponder specific ways you can achieve these three. While some will say that mortification should only occur under the close supervision of a spiritual director, I strongly disagree. Many will take years to find a spiritual director, but mortification must not be put off for years. Try small but consistent mortifications (and tell no one, lest they merely become bragging points). Cold water, hard surfaces, and uncomfortable accessories are a few potential sources.

  1. You let your mind wander to worldly things when you aren’t actively engaged in a task. A priest I know once shared a beautiful teaching in a homily on the First Commandment: whatever you think of most, that might be your “god.” Walking, driving, waiting, etc.: what does your mind do? Think about your next meal? Plot out the details of your next career move? Fret about finances? Worry about chores and the ToDo list? Ponder your hobbies (sports/pets/trips/health articles/social media/researching interests/news/politics/TV/novels/etc.)? Those in between moments — those moments when you are not sufficiently engaged in your current endeavor to merit the complete attention of your mind — are Divine invitations to prayer, not opportunities to squander mental effort on vanity. Remember what St. Francis de Sales, that great Doctor of the Spiritual Life for Laity, said: that secular interests, even when good in themselves, are very harmful to the spiritual life if we have an Divine Glimpsesattachment to them, and we know we have an attachment to them when we find ourselves thinking about them when not participating in them.

Or perhaps your problem is not only a wandering mind when not engaged in a task, but rather a wandering mind when you actually do pray. We all suffer from this to one degree or another; and so long as it is continually fought, it is not at all sinful.  The real problem – and sin – arises when we find ourselves settling into and accepting a routine of distractions during prayer. This is worst at Church; when every sound of an opening door merits our glance to see who is late (which is not our business) and every person there is a cause for thinking of anything but the Sacred Mysteries. Distractions are like all other temptations; sinful in so far as we wilfully engage in them — opportunities for growth in so far as we fight against them.

            Or perhaps, finally, instead of a wandering mind, you have a wandering mouth. This can be even worse. See James 3. We all know how bad gossip is, but simple idle, vain speech is also very destructive. St. Faustina said in her diary that a talkative soul cannot be sanctified. Does your mouth start running as soon as there is an ear to hear it? Do you giddily gab away without any regard for the fact that you will have to give an account for every idle word (Matthew 12:36) on the Day of Judgment? We must have fun, we must joke and laugh, yes. But our humor and playfulness must be built on a foundation of seriousness and silence; otherwise it is impossible to have a prayerful and recollected life.

  1. You over-emphasize your freedom to choose a prayer regimen that fits you, and de-emphasize the clear and specific calls of Heaven and holy people to all. If I had a dime for every time I hear someone go on about how all that really matters is what prayers and spiritual practices you feel drawn to, I’d be rich. Now, while the spiritual axiom “pray how you can, not how you can’t” certainly holds true, and we do enjoy great flexibility in determining our spiritual life… that is only half of the story. On the other side is the clear call for all Catholics to (and for all believers, really) — for one example — pray the Rosary every day (issued, just to name a few, by Our Lady at Fatima, Pope St. John Paul II, and Pope Francis). If you aren’t ready to kneel on a hard floor in front of the Blessed Sacrament for 20 minutes in perfect The Call is Clearstillness and silence while you pray your Rosary, that’s fine: pray it on a walk, pray it while driving, pray it sitting around the living room with Family or friends. Just pray it. It is also an enormous stretch to say that a Catholic should only pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet, do the First Saturday and First Friday devotion, carry a miraculous medal, and other such things “if he feels drawn to them.” They have been clearly mandated by heaven.

But there is a diabolical lie floating around Catholic circles today that says that “since Private Revelation is never a matter of Faith, there can never be any moral obligation to heed it; it’s entirely a matter of preference and you should respond however you feel like.” Dear friends, reacting to anything “however you feel like” is a recipe for disaster in this fallen world. Now, of course we never put Divine Faith in any Private Revelation, no matter how profound, approved, or seemingly certain. That does not mean we can never have any obligation in the matter — you and God both know what invitations He has extended to your heart , and on Judgment Day your eternal destiny will be determined by how you responded to Divine Invitations; not just by whether you have Faith in the Deposit of Faith (which would essentially be the Protestant Salvation by Faith Alone heresy).

Consider also the Divine Office; although not like the Rosary in the aspect of it being strongly urged to be recited by all by Heaven, it is indeed required of all clergy and religious — and for good reason. The Psalms will always be on the tip of your tongue throughout the day if you pick up this habit. It is an incredibly beautiful and powerful prayer; if you don’t have a Breviary, try DivineOffice.org.

  1. You don’t daily think about the Four Last Things: Death, Judgment, Hell, Heaven. It’s so easy to forget (especially if we don’t think about the last several words of the Hail Mary as we say it) what this life is all about. But it is in thinking (meditating, really) on what it’s all about – the Four Last Things – that we grow in hope, and it is in the greatness of hope that we find the strength to grow in the spiritual life. No one really fights ferociously (and that is what the spiritual life is) for what he does not yearn for, and no one yearns for that which he rarely thinks of. Images of Judgment Day used to be common; now they are sadly sparse, but don’t let that stop you from meditating on it. Judgment DayEspecially while falling asleep at night, you should ponder how death — that thing you see every day on the news but seems so distant — will come to you soon, and how after that every thought, word, and deed of your life will be judged in the presence of all Creation so that you may afterwards go to your eternal reward or your eternal punishment.

It is also very important to meditate on heaven in a way that benefits you. Do not let theological technicalities steal from you the joy of thinking about your eternal homeland. What I mean is, if thinking of heaven as never-ending time gives you more joy than trying to think of what on earth the “eternal now” is supposed to mean, then stick with meditating on heaven as never-ending time! (It is first of all not strictly speaking correct to say, as one often hears, “in heaven there is no time.”) If you are thrilled by considering heaven as a paradise where you will enjoy eternal life and fellowship with the saints amidst perfect physical beauty and happiness, then do so! (for indeed heaven involves that). Do not let the fact that Heaven is most accurately described as the Beatific Vision — the direct visions of God’s essence without medium — make you think that all you can honestly do is try to ponder what that is. Even St. Faustina was told not to try to grasp God’s essence, but to focus rather on His attributes. Heaven is a real community, where we will really talk, laugh, sing, and enjoy countless blessings amidst unspeakable beauty.

We likewise must consider Death and Judgment in a way we can relate to. Death is easy to consider; press gently on your trachea and you will be immediately reminded how fragile your physical existence is. Judgment Day must likewise be considered, wherever we are now sitting, as having all of heaven and earth surrounding us, listening to God’s just judgment on the choices we are making. And we must not leave out hell. Again, do not let words like “hell isn’t really a place at all, nor is there fire. It’s just separation from God,” placate you. Real fire is the closest thing your limited mind can grasp to hell; and it will be there.  Above all do not be tranquilized by the deceitful nonsense you hear in some circles today that we can “reasonably hope” that hell will be empty of humans. Many are there now, and many more will go there; this is attested to by Our Lord in Scripture, the Sensus Fidelium, all of Sacred Tradition, and all of the approved apparitions of Our Lady.

  1. You have no daily plan of life. Instead, what you do next at any given moment (strict duties such as work and school aside)Horarium (2) is determined by what you feel like doing at that moment. No one is sanctified by this type of a lifestyle. First of all, this only breeds idleness — the demons were forced to reveal to St. Faustina that it is the idle souls who are easiest for them to snatch — even if we fool ourselves into thinking we are getting things done by comfortably puttering around from one little ToDo to the next – after which we are always ready to tell people how busy we are, and insist that we just don’t have time for a more serious prayer life. Sit down in front of the Blessed Sacrament, ask Him for guidance, plot out your daily routine, and include serious chunks of time for prayer. Consider especially giving prayer the pride of place in your day (e.g. a good deal in the morning, instead of just putting it off until before bed), and being sure to put aside time for it when you know you need it most (a Rosary walk during lunch can be the perfect remedy to a stressful workplace environment). Share your plan with a spouse, sibling, parent, or roommate, and have him or her hold you to it. Once your days have structure you will find your spiritual life taking off; those spiritually good things you have meant to do for years or decades will all of a sudden start happening every day, and you will lay your head on your pillow at night content with how you spent that day.
  2. You do not strive manfully to stir up fervor in your prayer and truly pray from the heart. While aridity and lack of feeling in prayer can certainly be an instrument of Divine Providence to aid in the growth of the highest virtues (and much is written on this elsewhere – most recently especially with respect to Bl. Mother Teresa’s life), it should never be pursued for its own sake or simply accepted as if it were an intrinsic good. It is not an intrinsic good; it is an evil just like cancer, which also can be a means of spiritual growth, but which no sane person would ever try to get or try to keep. There is so much you can doJesus in the Garden to help stir up fervor in your heart — you are failing yourself and God if you do not at least try. Sometimes a little pain is needed (see point #3 on mortification for that). Sometimes a good meditation on the reality of souls falling into hell and the fact that you can stop that (see point #1). Sometimes the beauty of Creation can do it and what you need is solo, silent time in nature. Sometimes (and, in fact, this should be all the time) you need to reach out to someone who is suffering, walk with him, and feel his pain. Sometimes you need to go pray on the front lines: outside an abortion clinic, in a hospice, at a nursing home, etc. Sometimes you need a retreat. Sometimes you need a pilgrimage (you likely live within a reasonable drive of a good number of holy places, mind you). Individual remedies may or may not work, but at least try.

            Now one of the easiest and most common ways to ensure that you are most definitely not praying fervently, from the heart, is by rushing through your prayers. In one alleged apparition, Our Lady said “hurried prayers do not reach Heaven.” Conversely, one of the easiest ways to strive to pray from the heart is by slowing down. Speak the words slowly enough to savor them; to enjoy reciting them; to meditate upon what they mean as you pray them; to affix your intention to live by them. If they pray a marathon (ultra-fast, pause-less) Rosary before Mass at your Church, then do your prayerful preparation for Mass in silence by yourself; or perhaps gently ask the leader if it might be okay to try and slow down the pace a bit. This applies especially to the Divine Office as well; Morning Prayer can be 10-15 minutes of a burden (because whatever is rushed feels burdensome), or 15-20 minutes of a beautiful, joyful undertaking that you look forward to upon hearing your alarm clock ring.

  1. You choose to exempt yourself from pursuing the very highest levels of the spiritual life; even though God excludes from this no one who seeks it. Sayings like “oh, I am not holy enough for that” or “I could never attain to such a union with God as that saint had,” or “I’ll just plan on doing some time in purgatory” are worldliness masquerading as humility; for they generally entail an unwillingness to be rid of those things that advancement in the spiritual life might deprive you of. Maria EsperanzaMeditation, contemplation, spiritual marriage, and Living in the Divine Will (more to be written on that, on this blog, later) — these are not reserved for a few monks and nuns. Do not be tepid in what you ask for: magnanimity is a virtue, and asking little of God disappoints the Almighty. He has infinite power; let Him use it. Let Him draw you up into the very heights of the heavenly realms even now while on Earth. All that is needed is the removal of the pebble of your own will so that you may live in His will. But first off you must not only have vocal prayer — Hail Mary’s, Our Fathers, etc. You must also simply converse with Him as with a friend. Make visits to the Blessed Sacrament alone, and speak out loud to Him what is on your mind. Then try to listen. Then think about Him and His Earthly life — use your imagination just like a child daydreaming about a fairy tale (except you will be “daydreaming” about truth) — and about all those mysteries of Faith you recite with such yearning in the Nicene Creed every Sunday. Bask in the glory of these realities hidden from you only by a very temporary, very thin, veil — and you have contemplation. Live the fruits of this and you have sainthood. (A reader sent me her excellent introduction to Mental Prayer, which I’ve posted here)
  2. You participate in spiritually dangerous behaviors that are – currently unbeknownst to you – causing or exacerbating your struggles with prayer. Modern mainstream culture is utterly teaming with incredibly dangerous spiritual elements. Does this surprise you? Why? Dear friends, we live in a nation that murders ¼ of its unborn children; did you expect the culture that goes along with that to be spiritually benign? As a Christian it is essential not to be paranoid, St Michaelcynical, or pessimistic, but it is equally essential to not think that sticking your head into the sand is a virtue. You can scarcely go outside, turn on the TV (which you shouldn’t be doing anyway!), open a magazine, watch a movie, or turn on the radio without being inundated with pornography (even if it is somewhat clothed and therefore not called that) or incredibly psychologically manipulative advertisements to make you crave mammon above all (even if you think you’re not affected). Yoga – that is, intrinsically pagan worship by the open admission of those who are its experts and promoters – is now commonly practiced even in schools and churches. Sorcery and the Occult has been made “cool” and attractive; “harmless fun!” – as if the intrinsic grave evil of magic (see the Catechism paragraph 2117) were merely a morally indifferent subject matter for fiction, like spaceships – for our youth through Harry Potter, the Twilight Series, and many other books/movies/shows. The New Age Movement, with its countless fronts and insidious initiatives, has infiltrated media, medicine, education, schools, churches with its pantheistic false god of energy/vibrations/life-force/universe/positive-thinking/ whatever-else-they’ll-call-it-tomorrow. This is only a miniscule portion of mainstream modern evils often accepted by Catholics; if you are not already being extremely discerning in what you let in to your life from mainstream culture, then you almost certainly have many elements of it that need to go – now – if you want to have the prayer life you are called to.
  3. Your home is a shrine to your family members, comfort, and entertainment, instead of being a shrine to God. I am firmly convinced that one reason for so much workplace depression is that employees must spend their days mired in ugliness: tube fluorescent lights, industrial nylon carpeting or linoleum floors, drop ceilings, plastic veneer desks, terrible A Catholic Living Roommusic playing (with advertisements), etc. Similarly, one whose home environment is geared towards the world instead of God will have a difficult time making God the center of his life. Now I am not insisting that your home literally be as decked-out with holy things as an actual shrine; but God should still be its primary orientation and its most pervasive theme. Is your family altar the center of your living room, or is it the television? Do you have more pictures on your walls and fridge of family members or of holy things? Do you put up posters and other trappings of vanities that you are already tempted to think too much of without the constant reminder on your walls (for example, sports teams propaganda)? Are you so attached to your stuff that your house is perpetually cluttered, thereby ensuring that your mind is also cluttered? Do you have chips and candy all around to encourage gluttony and constant snacking, or is the food neatly tucked away only to be taken out during meal time? Do you meticulously ensure that you have the most comfortable furniture to facilitate dozing off whenever you please (cf Proverbs 6:10-11), or rather is diligence and discipline encouraged by your home arrangement?
  4. The Eucharist is not the source and summit of your life — and your prayer life, especially. I have written elsewhere that striving to grow in the spiritual life but neglecting being a daily Communicant and doing everything possible to appropriate the grace from that is like trying to get an A in a class, but skipping the tests and just trying to do your best on the Eucharist Divine Mercyhomework. Nothing can possibly come close to the power of your prayers when God Himself is literally, really, physically (yes — physically; don’t believe those who say the Eucharist is only a real “sacramental presence” but not a real *physical* presence of Christ) inside you for the 15 minutes after you receive Him in the Eucharist. If receiving Jesus in the Eucharist is the center of your life, you have absolutely nothing to fear. While I am most definitely not accusing anyone of sin for not being a daily Mass goer, I cannot help but fear it would be quite difficult to really have receiving Him as the center of your life if it is not a daily thing; if it is only a weekly thing. “Give us this day our daily bread.

Eucharistic adoration should also play a central role in your prayer life. St. John Paul II once expressed his desire that every parish have a perpetual adoration chapel; how could he say that without implicitly requesting that every Catholic do at least one hour of adoration a week? At least an hour of this a day would be best, but do strive for at least one a week. Nocturnal adoration is especially grace-filled; for the greater the sacrifice, the greater the love. You may think it would be too hard for you to get up in the middle of the night to spend an hour with Our Lord, but please do not think anyone currently doing it finds it easy (I am sure, however, they do find it grace-filled); and odds are your local perpetual adoration chapel direly needs nocturnal adorers.

13. Your prayer is not combined with works of mercy. I give thanks to God for Pope Francis, who has finally put a definitive, Magisterial end (in Evangelii Gaudium paragraph 201 “No one must say that they cannot be close to the poor because their own lifestyle demands more attention to other areas. This is an excuse commonly heard in academic, business or professional, and even ecclesial circles. “) to the notion that one can simply choose to exempt himself from serving the poor because his preference is apologetics, or liturgy, or theology, or to just pray for intentions, or associate with and serve solely the more well off. The spiritual life is a three-legged stool; supported by prayer, fasting (in other words, penance, sacrifice, Sidewalk Counselingasceticism, and mortification of flesh in general), and almsgiving (in both the giving of money directly and the giving of time in works of mercy) — and this stool cannot be stable if it is missing one of its legs. Pray and sidewalk counsel outside a Planned Parenthood. Pray a Rosary with nursing home patients. Visit the homebound or hospital-bound. Engage in conversation with (and offer to take out to eat) those who ask you for money on the city streets. Work with poor urban youth (volunteer tutoring/mentoring/teaching/coaching/etc.) who have no positive role models and are on a fast track for drugs and prison. Remember not to exempt yourself from these either just because you have kids you take care of, or a job that involves taking care of people. As good, beautiful, and necessary as those are; they are not works of mercy – they are works of justice – and we all need works of mercy. Remember also that you don’t even need to spend thousands of dollars on a mission trip to Africa; just step out your door with a willing heart. Consider our Holy Father’s plea to Argentinians not to spend thousands to fly out to his installment as Pope, but to spend it on the poor. If you want some motivation, watch Beyond the Gates (which I wrote a post about a few months ago); but dare not say to yourself “well, if only I were around in the midst of a genocide, I would shelter those being sought by the murderers!” Perhaps the plight of the unborn, the ill, the nursing-home-bound, the imprisoned, the poor urban youth, the addicted, etc., in your own home city, will be the topic of some movie a generation from now, and then you will be the one about whom they say “if only I were in his situation, I would have done something.”

 

Now do not be anxious if your prayer life seems far from what it ought to be, and if it seems that there are so many insurmountable obstacles in your path. That is discouragement; and it is discouragement itself that is a greater obstacle to holiness than any of the thirteen points I have listed above. Sanctification consists entirely in getting out of the Holy Spirit’s way; and mysteriously even that is His own work. Therefore trust and be at peace, but do not cease to strive.

 

In conclusion, permit me to leave you with the words of better men than myself:

Quotes

July 8, 2014

On Culture (Look not to the Fifties, for it died in the Twenties)

Important Note: Dear Friends, this is not like most of my posts on this blog — what I here present is not a work of theology. This is just my very fallible opinion on certain aspects of secular culture. Catholics must be ready to voice such opinions, lest we restrict all of our input on society to merely those direct dictates of the Divine law that we know with infallible certainty to be true, for such restriction is not our calling. Further, what I present is absolutely not a condemnation of all culture since the 1920s, nor an endorsement of all pre-1920s culture (footnote 1); what I present is just some food for thought suggesting that, despite the great good in the 40s and 50s, perhaps we should look a bit further back than that for cultural ideals (more often than we now do, at least.) Above all let this not be a cause of discord between me and any of my brethren in Christ; again, this is just my two cents; close friends and people far holier than I disagree with me on these points.


I have recently become more aware of just how immensely important culture is in bringing about the Kingdom of God on Earth: both in my observations of the world around me and in my studies of the Social Doctrine of the Church.

The Church highly exalts culture, teaching that it is “…that through which man, as man, becomes more man, ‘is’ more, has more access to ‘being’.” The Church also teaches that the diversity of cultures is not only permissible, but very good, and that culture deserves a certain degree of freedom in its development.

But this same Church teaches that culture must respect the universal natural law, and that cultures can and must be judged based on to what extent they are formed by the Gospel and effectively give man the channels through which he may pursue the three transcendentals of goodness, truth, and beauty. Culture itself therefore must lead us, as a people, toward the good, the true, and the beautiful, instead of merely being a hobby for after we’ve finished pursuing these through prayer in Church. Of essential importance in these tasks is discerning where lies the divide between the merely enjoyable and the good, the merely profound and the true, and the merely impressive and the beautiful. My concern is that Catholics, instead of using true discernment, are readily swept up by certain aspects of culture just because they appear good in contrast to certain other aspects of modern culture which are obviously evil. But that is no way to pursue the good, true, and beautiful.

Being that almost every devout person I meet is well aware that modern culture is largely corrupt, but that there once were better days, it is very important to have in mind as a general point of reference, (not as an oversimplified black-and-white litmus test) just when it was that much of this transition occurred; that is to say, the transition from culture developing man to culture degenerating man. Most will insist it was the sexual revolution and the 1960s. While I agree that much evil degeneration occurred then, I insist that it was the decadence of the roaring twenties that saw the real beginning of the death of culture – not that the specific practices of the 20s were worse than those of the 60s (quite the contrary!) – but simply that what happened in the 20s was also a type of cultural death, and since it preceded the 60s, it would be foolish to look to the 30s, 40s, or 50s for the pinnacle of good culture, as many today do.

I therefore present to you just how and why it is that culture died in the 1920s, and my illustration will be dance, dress, and music.

 

DANCE

The 1920s saw the flourishing of the swing movement: the music, and the corresponding dancing. Many Catholics today advocate for swing dancing in a commendable intention to revive older forms of dancing to combat the truly degraded dance forms more popular today, but unfortunately they are just choosing a dance form that, in its own day, stood in stark contrast to the style of dancing preceded it (and had dominated Christian culture for centuries since the Christianization of the pagan cultures) as a stepping stone toward the sexualized, showy, inebriated, and chaotic form of music and dance we see today undisguised everywhere in mainstream culture. I lack the schooling in music theory to present a detailed analysis to prove this, but I would like to leave you with two things: these YouTube videos that I chose as objectively as possible to give the most honest depiction of the prevailing sense of 1920s swing versus the prevailing sense of the type of cultural dance that preceded it, and a testimony from my wife.

 

 

Now those were both social dances, and it is somewhat difficult to really ascertain what is going on due to the numbers involved. Let me now present a swing performance so you can more clearly see the moves involved; how full it is of extremely suggestive swivels, sways, shimmys, and all sorts of very impure gyrations. I would like to focus on the Lindy Hop, as that is probably the most popular form of swing dancing. There are worse forms that are far easier to condemn, and likewise there are more benign forms. Simply do a YouTube search if you would like to look more into this; I only even watched a few brief moments of this video here, because quite honestly, it depresses me too much to watch women treat themselves like this, even though I can tell that this video presents swing dancing that is more benign than much else that is prevalent:

Worth noting as well is that I have only included videos with purely instrumental swing music. As soon as you enter into the realm of sung swing music, you constantly come across songs full of sexual innuendos and all sorts of the problems (albeit in their infancy) that we now see with pop music.

I hope you are struck by how pure, beautiful, genuine, and joyful the older music and dance was, and how all of this is completely lacking in the swing videos.

We must not be afraid to listen to our hearts! Dear single people: which of these dances would you be more comfortable with your future spouse participating in right now? Which of these dances do you think the Holy Family would feel more at home in (though I doubt they themselves danced)? Which of them helps foster the 12 Fruits of the Holy Spirit in your heart – the sure sign of God’s approval – as opposed to encouraging the arousal of the more base passions? (The 12 fruits are charity, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, generosity, gentleness, faithfulness, modesty, self-control, chastity). We absolutely must ask questions like these, for that is precisely how we go about ensuring that culture is informed by the Gospel and leads us toward the good, the true, and the beautiful.

 

You may accuse me of singling out only that which proves my own viewpoint with these videos, but I challenge you to search far and wide for videos of accurate renditions of traditional cultural dance (or “folk dance”) from before the 20th century. You will get the same feel from every single one: purity, joy, fun, beauty, order, real socialization, and the like. Search far and wide for swing dance videos (or just about any mainstream dance from the 1920s on – tango (footnote 2), salsa, blues, etc.) and you will recognize in your heart a glaring lack of these, for they have been replaced with tendencies of showiness, sexualized beats (and even sometimes lyrics), undue intimacy between dancing partners, and the like.

 

I would also like to present to you this testimony of my wife’s. She was once a regular swing dancer, a swing dance instructor, and even a competitive swing dancer, so her words are far more powerful than mine:

 

Here is an excerpt:

 

I still remember teaching my first swing dance class…I recall these days with anything but enthusiasm and joy. On the contrary, a weight feels as if it is pressing on my heart as I think of this part of my past. I recall even early on having a sense of discomfort with the moves or styling techniques that I would often see being done, but I also remember justifying so much of my former way of thinking about dance… I thought, in pride, that my soul could not be damaged in any way by participating in the “traditional” dance of the swing era… I danced with countless guys in one night of dancing, I prided myself in often being able to find a really excellent connection with my dance partner, and I began to perform more experienced moves which entailed more hip movement, more rotation of the lower body, and more shameless boldness than ever before. And life was good. Or so I thought…

DRESS

 

This brings us to the dress of the 1920s (for a more thorough treatment of the matter, just google “flapper.”). Please know first that I am most definitely not some angry traditionalist who thinks that women who wear pants are sinners. We cannot simply wish and pretend that modernization has not happened, and try to live in the past. On the other hand, we cannot simply bow down uncritically to and accept all of the tenets of modernism with our only filter being “is it clearly seriously sinful based on the infallible teachings of the Church?” And so, I wish simply to present these questions to your discernment: Did the changes in dress (especially women’s) that largely began in the 1920s and continued to develop over the following decades really help culture be more conformed to the Gospel? Did they more exalt the glory of femininity, the complementarity of the sexes, and the beauty and mystery of the woman, the image of the Blessed Virgin Mary? Or did they do precisely the opposite?

Dress

If we ask ourselves honestly, we must recognize it is the latter.

Precisely what was so good and liberating about the revealing of more skin and the wearing of form-fitting clothing, which quite inarguably saw its primary impetus in the 1920s? All Catholics today are aware of the tragedy of the objectification of women, and how large a role immodest dress plays in that. But few do anything other than grasp at arbitrary boundaries in attempting to define when modest dress ends and immodest dress starts. We should rather turn to the nearly unanimous testimony of millennia of Christian civilization on modesty — a unanimity that only really started to fall apart in the 1920s.

Remember, I am by no means imputing any vice upon those Catholics who choose to dress in the culturally prevailing ways within reasonable limits (which is actually probably the spiritually safer route to a degree and in some cases -not that we always have to take the safest route-, for doing so guards against the pride of the holier-than-thou Pharisee). I am just here trying to lay down the principle; the ideal. When and how to implement an ideal, in the concrete, is always a matter of discernment and prudence.

MUSIC

 

The 1920s-1940s saw the flourishing of the swing, jazz, and blues that gave birth to the (similar in nature) rock and roll of the 1950s. While what I have to say about rock would also apply well to these former three, I will restrict my commentary for now on the latter, as it is by far the bigger problem today.

Rock music in general, including the “oldies,” presents serious problems with respect not merely to its lyrics, but to its beat — the music itself (footnote 3). Since rock music became popular in the 1950s, many Catholics today are comfortable with it; so long as it is not explicit in its lyrics or incredibly demonic in its beat. But that is no way to choose what to immerse yourself in (listening to music is a true immersion!) Even thousands of years ago, Plato and Aristotle insisted upon listening only to music that is beautiful, harmonious, and ordered; pointing out that one’s soul is always being formed (in all cases, but especially in the case of youth) by music, either helping the listener to choose the good, or reducing the listener to his animal instincts. The beat (and not just the lyrics, which are only a secondary consideration: fully sufficient to deem a song bad, but insufficient to deem a song good) of rock music is of a sort that never before prevailed in mainstream Christian culture (although it is indeed seen in tribal culture and in pagan pre-Christian culture) for good reason: it is intrinsically sexual, animalistic, passion-inflaming, and grungy. It is not healthy for the soul. .

I myself was blessed with interior light and honesty when I began courting my wife. Until that point I would generally permit myself some listening to pop music and so-called “Christian rock” on the radio, so long as it was not the especially “bad stuff,” and I had already finished the Rosary on my car ride. But when I was courting Regina I had to ask myself “Do I really like the thought of her reveling in this same music I am now rocking out to? Or does something seem not right about that?” As soon as I asked that, the answer was clearly the latter. In that recognition I found the grace to quit listening to that music for good, to the enormous benefit of my spiritual health.

I am so thankful to God for giving me these insights before I was married, because weddings are among the clearest examples of culture, and among the most powerful ways of influencing it. If you are planning a wedding (or know anyone who is), I implore you and your fiance to have the courage to break out of modern expectations, disregard respect of persons, and insist upon only having music at your reception that is wholesome and pure. I also encourage you to consider including modesty guidelines in your invitations, and to choose a modest and beautiful wedding dress and bridesmaid dresses. Regina and my choice to do all of these things did not go over well with a few, but in the vast majority of cases it garnered for us extremely enthusiastic thanks. Almost all of our guests were so incredibly overjoyed at the opportunity to attend a wedding and wedding reception “done right,” as they said, which many of them had never been to before. Here is just a small clip to give you a sense of our reception.

 

 

CONCLUSION

 

Though I hesitate to include this filth on my blog (and please, skip over 1:55-2:05 if you must watch this), I think it is necessary to help prove my case to those who would still look fondly on the 1920s. It is a trailer for the recent movie “The Great Gatsby,” and although we know that Hollywood is not exactly the most reliable source for historical information, they did – I believe – do a decent job depicting the type of shift that culture saw in that decade (By the way, I have not watched and will not watch this movie).

 

Furthermore, while this is not an article on the genesis of the far weightier moral issues (that is written about often enough), I would just like to point out that it was the 1920s that saw the mainstream-ization of contraception – which as Paul VI pointed out was the seed of destruction to come in the complete breakdown of the family -, and it was throughout the 1920s that saw the real development of the diabolical breakdown of our culture’s understanding of marriage, sexuality, children, etc.; just research the history of the activism and tragic successes of Margaret Sanger, Marie Stopes, Dora Russell, and Stella Browne.   This viewpoint is validated by prophecy as well, for it was in 1917, not the 1960s, that saw the Dragon really entering the world scene in a new and unprecedented way (Red October — see Revelation 12/Fatima), and it was likely around then that we entered the 100 year reign of Satan seen by Pope Leo XIII.

So what should we do?

  • Turn off the pop, rock, rap, hip hop, and other similar stations; even if you are just listening to “oldies.” Also, even “country” music today is really much more properly categorized as rock. Develop a love of silence, and when you feel the need for music, turn on some holy hymns, classical music (especially Bach and Mozart), good folk music (Celtic music seems to enjoy the broadest appeal – and for good reason), film scores (Hans Zimmer has many incredible ones), or something similar.
  • Don’t be afraid to dress differently from the culture, from friends, and even from family. In fear is no way to live out your days. That is all I shall say on this point, and I will leave the specifics to you.
  • If you would like to dance (if done properly it is indeed a good and wholesome endeavor, but also one which you should never let yourself feel like you have to do), then look up local contra or square dances in your area; these are actually quite common and provide the easiest way to get involved in traditional, joyful, pure, beautiful dancing.
  • Support modern artists who strive to bring us new beautiful compositions. Eric Genuis comes to mind immediately, as well as Celtic Spring.

And what should we not do?

  • Feel the need to tell people they are wrong. While I determine my own behavior in accordance with these cultural views of mine, I am silent 99% of the time when it comes to being with people who are even speaking their opinions of things in this realm that I disagree with. Preaching with deeds instead of words becomes doubly important when it comes to culture, and things that we cannot know with certainty to be correct on.
  • Develop a disdainful attitude toward all aspects of modern culture. Like it or not, you are a member of this culture, and if you let yourself thoroughly despise it, then you will not be able to help but despise the people of it, and what a horrible fate that would be. As you know from reading this article, I am a great advocate for transforming culture, but on the other hand we cannot wait for that to happen before we use what culture we do have to bring souls to Christ.  Far more important even than transforming culture is getting out to the peripheries, reaching the lost where they are, showing them Christ’s love – even if that must be done through whatever cultural tools we currently have at our disposal, and not being afraid of getting dirty in the process. Remember this paragraph if you remember nothing else from this article.

In sum, while we must be very careful not to approach cultural questions with the same fiery zeal and certainty with which we approach questions of Faith and Morals, we must also be convicted of their importance. It could perhaps be, after all, that the Culture of Death is the eventual and inevitable result of the Death of Culture.

 

Footnotes:

 

  1.  I am well aware that I have simplified things with my narrow focus on the 1920s; I have done so not out of ignorance but out of the need for brevity. I know there were certain cultural elements existing before the 20s that were reminiscent of it (e.g. the “ragtime” movement), as well as cultural elements introduced after the 20s that were reminiscent of the 19th century and before, and a million other complexities as well (including great variation within certain movements – the very most tame versions of swing, for example, might just eek by as acceptable), but the 1920s (and certain movements within it) is the clearest decade in which a large amount of the changes I describe took place, or were initiated. White Crucifixion
  2. Some will respond to this by saying “but Pope Francis likes tango, or this or that song, or this or that movie.” I love our Holy Father, I think he is a saint, and you will not find a bigger fan than I of Evangelii Gaudium.But I do think he is wrong on certain cultural issues; dance being one of them. I also find his cultural preferences in art to be not beyond reproach, as his favorite picture is this one entitled “White Crucifixion,” shown here, in which I cannot say I find much worth admiring other than good intentions. I continue with great joy and gratitude to be submissive to and formed by his amazing documents, homilies, etc. But no, I feel no need to be formed by his cultural preferences. I am especially saddened by his approval of tango (although I do not know of him doing this as Pope, nor do I know the details of precisely what dances he has approved of), which often practically verges on pornography for those who watch it, and fornication/adultery for those who participate in it.
  3. There are exceptions. I cannot completely categorically condemn any one genre (except perhaps death metal). An acoustic version of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Simple Man,” Ben E. King’s “Stand By Me” come to mind as rock songs that might be acceptable. Whether these examples and others like them (and there seems to be a somewhat steady, albeit only trickling, stream of similar examples even into today’s mainstream pop and rock) constitute true exceptions, or are simply instances of miscategorization, or if I am wrong about them being exceptions, I do not know. I do not foray into that debate because what I know now is sufficient to dictate the proper approach to which I feel called: there are only two radio stations I turn on in the car; EWTN and the classical music station (there unfortunately is no film score, folk music, or celtic station where I live!).
June 6, 2014

A Providential Encounter and a Story of Providence

Dear Friends,

What a beautiful thing it is when God makes visibly manifest His careful ordering of all of our affairs – even our seemingly small, isolated, and unimportant decisions. Let us always be conscious of that and strive to do all that we do living In His Divine Will, and aware of His continual presence, never daring to suppose that even the smallest thing is indifferent.

Last year, I wrote a post regarding an interview of Pope Francis’ and how it affects the pro-life movement. In writing that post I desired to include a photograph of a devout person praying the Rosary outside a Planned Parenthood. I performed a Google Image search to this end, and felt immediately drawn by the Holy Spirit to one of the images that turned up in the first page of the results. I went with this image, and it is the one still included on that post. After publishing that post, my good friend Fr. James Mattaliano, a very special and holy Jesuit priest, emailed me to let me know that the picture was none other than a very good friend of his, Kyle Clement, from Texas. But the Providence does not stop there; this past Lent, my wife and I made a retreat at the center where Fr. Mattaliano resides (in Massachusetts), and lo and behold, it so happened to coincide with a time when Kyle was also up making a retreat there – all the way from Texas. It was a truly blessed few days, and I am especially thankful that during it I was able to get to know Kyle. Kyle shared with us an incredible story – one that he had told very few people – but I asked him, for God’s glory alone, if he would permit me to post it on my blog. He graciously permitted it, and so I would like to present it to you all now:

 

Monday morning, December 23, 2013, was cool and crisp here at the ranch as I took my two grandsons (ages 5 and 3) to check and feed cows after breakfast. After feeding and checking cows, we called a set of horses out of the “west” pasture into a large corral; one of the horses was a customer’s who had been here for training.

 

The horses went up a sorting alley to a catch pen. The sorting alley is 12 feet wide and leads to a “catch” pen, meaning a smaller corral where the horses are easier to catch and halter. The customer had requested that she be made ready to “ship,” meaning he was sending someone to pick her up and take her to new owners, and we were going to facilitate. My grandsons stayed in the pick-up out of the wind and watched through the front glass of the pick-up.

 

I remember that horse, the customer’s palomino filly, coming up the alley toward me. The next thing I remember is my son, Dunn, helping me to sit up in the sort alley as I choked on blood.

 

I was wearing brown (faded to tan) canvas coveralls and was mesmerized by the bright crimson blood sparkling in the sunlight, flowing down the tan folds of the coveralls. The blood dripped onto the dust and made tiny balls of mud at first, and then it began to puddle…”I wonder if the Blessed Mother saw Her Son’s blood do that?” I became aware that my son was asking me to speak to him. I could not speak past the broken jaw and split lips so I tried to turn in order to talk, but then darkness started to close in on my vision. I turned my head back straight and the darkness cleared up, so afterwards I tried to keep my head straight. My wife, Valerie, was there and told me she was taking me to the hospital; I stood up and they helped me to the 4Runner (I didn’t want to get blood in Valerie’s car.) We had to stop a couple of times on the way so I could spit out blood, but we made it in record time. At the hospital we took off my boots and coveralls before we went in the ER. They sent us straight in (no waiting – all I had to do was flash them a smile!). They did a CT scan and determined that I should be sent to a level 1 trauma unit in Ft. Worth, 120 air miles to the east. They started to suction the wound and realized that some of the pieces of my mouth were barely attached, and I was able to do my own suctionioning, since I could feel my way around my mouth with the suction machine. The nurses and staff at the Abilene hospital were very nice and concerned about getting me somewhere that could address the injury.

 

The pain at his point was becoming severe…the image of the words “Jesus, I Trust in You,” appearing as they do on the Divine Mercy Image, seemed to float between my eyes and the world…I started thinking the words…I made a confession to the Divine Mercy image and at the act of contrition I was fearing of the fires of hell…I thanked the Lord for the injury – for the opportunity to do reparation for the vile things which had come out of my mouth in my life – and for His Divine Mercy which would allow me, a sinner, the chance to join my suffering to His to help atone for my sins…

 

I was not really aware of being loaded into the helicopter or of the first portion of the ride and came to in a situation hearing the nurse asking if i needed more pain medication in my IV….there was little to no pain at this point so i asked her to save it until we were ready to land. When we landed at John Peter Smith hospital the trauma team was ready for us and three oral/maxillofacial surgeons greeted us. We went for an MRI and more CT imaging, then back to a trauma suite where the surgeons explained that they would attempt to reassemble my lower jaw, suture my palate, and wire my lower jaw to the upper jaw, then finally suture my lips and chin. They explained that this would be under local anesthesia as they had to assess my bite and dental orientations throughout the procedure. I asked if I could keep running the suction and they agreed. The procedure lasted over 5 hours in total, with the jaw realignments and Novocaine injections being most painful. When the pain seemed to be too much I would think of someone I had at one time disliked (or worse), and would ask the Lord to apply my suffering to his healing. Most of the time doing this the pain would vanish…not just subside, but vanish. There were a few people I would think of and try this for, and it was clearly shown to me that if I still had unforgiveness or animosity toward them the pain did not vanish but would subside to some extent… I experimented with this and it was accurate… my pain would subside to the extent I wanted God’s love for them, and I truly loved them…enemies included. I can truly say that I have no human enemies today.

 

We were moved to a room by 10:00pm on Monday the 23rd – about 12 hours after the event …the first day.

Unclean lips

 

When Valerie and I arrived at the room, several nurses and other personnel came to do their various duties: get blood samples, take vital signs, etc. I was medicated for pain but was lucid and was observing almost as separated from myself. I became very aware of the spiritual world in that I knew I was surrounded by angels and the hospital was surrounded by angels – not just for me but for other people trying to trust in the Lord. I was prayerfully aware of the people ministering to me and I prayed for them in their lives, families, jobs and told them how much we appreciated them and their families. Valerie and I discussed how this event was working in the economy of God’s salvation and how we were being given the opportunity to affirm them in their Faith. Valerie relayed to me how, when we were waiting on the helicopter, she had called Fr. Fabian at the Carmelite monastery we frequent, and he said they would pray for healing but also that we would find the right doctors through which the Lord could work. Valerie went to sleep on a recliner in the room around 1am on the 24th and I prayed for everyone I had come in contact with that day; asking God to bless them and their families. Some of the people seemed to linger in my mind so I prayed an extra Ave for them.

 

Pain meds were dilaudid and morphine given on a rotating 2 hour basis, and I was unable to swallow and was using the suction almost constantly. At one point I poked a particularly tender spot on my jaw and saw lights swirling…then heard the Sanctus…then felt the Sanctus…smelled incense.  A Seraphim took form out of the swirling lights before me; it was huge and held a red-hot coal on a rod which looked like a branding iron. It touched the coal to my lip. The heat coming off the coal made the light distort and wave, but I felt no heat. I realized the nurse was speaking to me and wanted to take a blood sample. St. Raphael stood at her side. She inserted the needle for the blood sample and as I watched the blood flow out and fill the tubes it was as if something were flowing into me… warmth spread to my eyes then around my mouth then around my ears… I do not know if these are common side effects of these drugs (or maybe uncommon side effects), or if they had anything to do with the drugs at all. I was praying and giving thanks to God for His love for me and my family and the wonderful opportunity to offer and join my suffering to the suffering of Jesus.

 

I know that the beating our Lord’s Precious Body took was so much more painful than my small afflictions. I offered to give Him my pain to add to His. He looked at me, and with the slightest nod accepted it, and the joy immediately lifted me – at least felt like it lifted me – from the earth to the Throne room of heaven. I was aware of, somehow, the crucified Christ, the healing Christ, the child Christ, and more amazingly still, was aware of such bright living light that was itself somehow two lights now one moving from the other surrounded by a background or third light… I wanted to stay…

I came to myself choking and had to be about my constant job of suctioning.

The night nurse came in and introduced and handed us over to the day nurse who was a prayerful lady who was sorrowful in being away from her family on Christmas eve. We told her how much we appreciated her and how we wished to be with our family on this day as well. Our son called to tell us that they would continue our traditional practice of getting the tree and decorations put up. We try to spend Christmas eve as a family decorating the house and tree. We tracked their progress through the day and missed them. I was able to hear the grandboys over Valerie’s cell phone, singing and wishing us a Merry Christmas. The Doctor had told us earlier in the morning that my white blood cell count was too high (22) to release me, and that I would have to stay another night. Our eldest grandson, Brody (age 5), was to receive his First Holy Communion at the midnight Mass. Valerie and I visited and prayed and talked about how the Blessed Mother and St. Joseph, far from home and with no other human companionship, settled down with the angels to await the coming of the Lord…

 

 

March 30, 2014

Rights Never Exist Without Duties

I do not do much crusading against the encroachment of our nation’s laws upon our religious freedom.

I recognize this is a serious issue, and that fighting it would constitute a noble endeavor, but I also must choose my battles wisely, and carefully decide how my time is spent. It would be a true tragedy to lose our civil rights to perform the corporal and spiritual works of mercy, and indeed there seems to be new occasions of this by the week, but a far greater tragedy — and not a hypothetical one, but an actual current epidemic — is the neglect, by Catholics, of the corresponding duty to perform them as we now have the right to.

Consider the following:

  • We are legally entitled to pray and sidewalk counsel outside any abortion clinic in the country, and yet most Planned Parenthoods and other such “clinics” remain unattended by prayer warriors for the majority of their hours of operation, despite the fact (proven by the testimony of former abortion clinic workers) that the mere presence of one person praying outside a clinic usually causes a substantial amount of the women who go in to quietly choose not to have the abortion.

  • Our Churches enjoy near-total freedom of operation; Mass can be held whenever, the doors can be opened whenever, and we can have any sort of event we please in them, and usually even outside them. Despite this, most Churches have: horribly chosen daily Mass times seemingly to ensure that only retirees can make them (e.g. 9am), doors locked almost all the time so that no one can get in to pray (footnote 1), no attempt to start up perpetual adoration, no effort whatsoever to reach out to the poor of the surrounding areas and invite them in for prayer, no Eucharistic processions throughout the city streets, and no door-to-door or city-center evangelization efforts — all of which should be expected norms for each Catholic parish, which must be both a monastery and a mission in the heart of a world now perishing for lack of what the Church has.

  • Catholics can worship and pray whenever and wherever they please, and we all know the heartbreaking statistics about how few nominal Catholics attend Mass each Sunday, but neglect to consider how very sad it is that so few actually practicing Catholics take advantage of our freedom and our modern conveniences to attend daily Mass, regular Confession, weekly Adoration hours, etc. Our freedoms and conveniences give us opportunities of grace that could turn us all into great saints, but instead most Catholics are far too laden with hobbies, business, laziness, or worldly ambition to bother applying that great virtue of magnanimity to the universal call to holiness.

  • We are permitted to bear any external sign of the Faith wherever we please, and yet most Catholics seem to have blending in as their modus operandi. Despite the enormous channel of grace for lost sheep that the sight of a crucifix, Divine Mercy Image, image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, pro-life message, or Scripture quote can be, most Catholics’ personal appearance, external appearance of cars, and external appearance of homes are indistinguishable from that of any secular person’s.

  • We enjoy a great freedom of association, and can have anyone we so please over to our homes, and can do whatever we please inside these doors. Despite this, it seems that most Catholics’ social gatherings remain limited to a small, “safe,” and perfectly trustworthy self-enclosed group of friends and family — as if we were a formally outlawed underground secret community —  instead of reaching out to the needy and lonely as Our Lord demands (cf Matthew 5:46, Luke 14:12-14), and that even as the gatherings are, we seem to be too embarrassed about prayer to do anything more than say grace before meals together, with even faithful Catholic families wasting entire days just “hanging out.”

  • We do not suffer from child-limitation policies that hundreds of millions in our world today do, and yet so few married Catholic couples choose the path of fruitfulness. Whether by the intrinsic evil of contraception, or the intrinsic good of NFP — that, when abused and used at the subjective whim of personal preference instead of only being used to avoid conception for serious reasons (as the Magisterium has insisted upon on multiple occasions), becomes an evil — most Catholics choose to seek first the Kingdom of Mammon and only have as many kids as their financial planner deems “reasonable.”

  • Parents still have the right to educate their children however they see fit, and yet most Catholic parents send their children to schools that they must know will only indoctrinate them – unless their heads are so far buried in the sand as to pierce Earth’s crust – instead of diligently researching to see if there is a faithful local Catholic school, or homeschooling their children (despite the sacrifices this may entail).

  • We do not live under a regime of censorship, which has been the case for so many Christians throughout history and today. Despite this, most Catholics’ reading does not consist primarily of Scripture, Encyclicals, and writings of the saints (even if these aesthetically adorn their bookshelves), but of secular news, whatever work of fiction is found on the NY Times Bestseller list, whatever diet and nutrition fad research they feel will give them perfect health, whatever vain magazine is available in a waiting room, or worse than bad reading: sitting in front of a television.

Dear friends, I am no cynic. I recognize there are enormous forces for good active today, and growing (what first comes to mind is 40 Days for Life, the continued expansion of perpetual adoration, the boom of vocations in orthodox religious orders and the great work with the poor that many of the inner city ones are doing, etc.), but what I present to you here is a sort of an Examination of Conscience. Let us be sure that, before we dare complain about our rights being violated (and again, we indeed ought to fight for our rights), we are fulfilling the duties that correspond to the rights we now have – let us above all remember that this is what we will have to give an account of on Judgment Day, not whether or not we were born in a society friendly to our good deeds. It is up to us whether He says to us, on That Day, “Come, O blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world” or “Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels,” and know that the latter response is reserved for the lukewarm, the indifferent, the apathetic.

But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember then from what you have fallen, repent and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent.

— Our Lord to the Church in Ephesus. Revelation 2.

Footnotes:

1: I would like to draw special attention to this point. This was point #2 in my “Plea to Pastors” from two years ago. I have long spoken against the practice of locking Churches, and was usually rebuked for doing so; “Things could be stolen! Liabilities! Dangerous! You are insisting upon something very imprudent!” people would say. But now the very Vicar of Christ himself has spoken against locked Churches, calling all of those types of responses “excuses.” See also Evangelii Gaudium Paragraph 47. Dear Pastors: unlock your Churches. Seek first the Kingdom. God is not outdone in generosity.


February 21, 2014

Michael Voris and Medjugorje

I often love “The Vortex” videos. I also often think they’re inadequately thought or prayed through first. But in this case it is neither; Michael Voris is simply dead wrong and misleading the faithful.

Let me begin by saying that I regard Michael highly. Having spoken to him personally, I know him to be far more than the simple merciless ranter that some regard him as. I wish he chose the path of trusting the Church to denounce the apparition herself, if it is truly a danger to the Faith, and if that is what the Holy Spirit desires.

I have been urged to watch the 48 minute “mic’d up” episode in which Michael Voris discusses Medjugorje. I refuse to do so. Not due to laziness, but on principle: within the first 30 seconds he sarcastically refers to the apparitions as having been going on for “600 years,” and then he next (despite the existence of a plethora of real theologian-experts and an official Vatican commission dedicated to analyzing and discerning Medjugorje) introduces E Michael Jones – a man with a stated vendetta against Medjugorje and whose PhD is in American Literature – as perhaps the world’s “leading expert” on it. But the bigger reason I will not watch it is the nature of his 5 minute summary of it.

This summary is the aforementioned 5 minute Vortex , which amounts to the following:

  1. Seriously erroneous theology. at 2:43, Michael implies that rulings on apparitions are matters of faith and morals. This is false. The very reason that a Catholic never owes the submission of Faith to any private revelation is because they, by their very nature, are never matters of Catholic Faith. They are only matters of simple human belief. Church rulings on apparitions (as differentiated from rulings on particular theological statements contained in an alleged apparition) pertain to her judicial, temporal duty, and are never infallible or even irreformable because they never comprise rulings on faith and morals. (Remember that the Divine Mercy devotion was once condemned). We must obey, yes! Always. But it is a dangerous lie and a serious heresy to say that such rulings are matters of faith and morals.

  2. Deceitful accusations. At 2:10 Michael brings up the two negative statements issued by Bishops against Medjugorje in order to accuse those who now make personal pilgrimages to Medjugorje or believe in it as disobedient to the Church. He completely ignores the fact that this does not bind the faithful, as the matter has been explicitly taken out of the local ordinary’s hands and placed in the care of the Vatican alone, as the CDF has made abundantly clear. “[The local Bishop’s opposition to Medjugorje] should be considered the expression of the personal conviction of the Bishop of Mostar which he has the right to express as Ordinary of the place, but which is and remains his personal opinion…Finally, as regards pilgrimages to Medjugorje which are conducted privately, this Congregation points out that they are permitted on condition that they are not regarded as an authentication of events still taking place and which still call for an examination by the Church” – Cardinal Bertone, speaking as secretary to the CDF, in 1998, after the statements Michael refers to. I pray Michael did not know of this, and therefore did not intentionally withhold such glaringly necessary information, which would be a serious injustice and lie of omission.

  3. Slander. At Medjugorje, Our Lady is relayed as saying “Members of all faiths are equal before God. In the world, all religions are not the same…” Michael summarizes that as her having said “all religions are the same.If I were the one who had said that, and not Our Lady, I would sue Michael Voris for slander, and I’d win.

    1. I have no idea where Michael found the alleged quotes from Our Lady on hell. If you’d like to see what she actually did say about hell, click here.

    2. (Michael does validly point out that she said she does not dispose of all grace, but he says this is in contradiction to her title as Mediatrix of all grace. First of all, the Church has not yet extraordinarily defined that latter as doctrine. That being said, I do strongly believe and promote it, and I hope it is soon proclaimed dogma; but I also do not see a contradiction. I think it highly probable that she does not dispense of all graces but does mediate all graces.)

  4. Straw men. Michael implies that the visions must be fake, because in one case, during a vision, a visionary flinches (barely even noticeably) when someone nearly punches her in the face. The Church does not teach that a valid ecstasy must be utterly complete and absolutely free from any possibility of being affected by external events. Partial ecstasy is a perfectly valid form of ecstasy. St. Teresa of Avila makes it clear that the suspension of the senses “may be incomplete, thereby allowing the ecstatic to dictate the revelations received.” Further, the miniscule amount which she flinched and the aggressive nature of the hand’s movement indicate to me validity far moreso than invalidity.

This particular Vortex links to ChurchMilitant.TV’s faq page on Medjugorje. A brief look through that reveals similar errors as the ones contained in the Vortex episode, in addition to another glaring one: it bluntly states  that fruits are categorically NOT valid arguments for the validity of an apparition. This is in direct contradiction to the teaching of the Magisterium in the 1974 document from the CDF entitled “Norms regarding the manner of proceeding in the discernment of presumed apparitions or revelations” paragraph 2)c. Not only are fruits valid, it teaches, but they are due “special regard” in judging the authenticity of an apparition. The majority of this faq page on ChurchMilitantTV is actually dedicated to opposing this particular Magisterial teaching.

Do I know that Medjugorje is true? Of course not! I don’t know of any Medjugorje supporter who claims to “know” that it is (although I have stumbled upon some venomous Medjugorje detractors who claim to “know” it is false), neither do I know of any Medjugorje supporter who plans to disobey the Church when she rules on it. But I do know that when Our Lady does choose to appear for her last time on Earth, to prepare all of her children for her Son’s final coming (which I believe is the case now at Medjugorje), that there will be plenty of problems pertaining to the human element of the phenomena at that time; problems that will give the Voris of that day more than enough to rant about. Let us not be like that, my friends.

At this post’s publication, the Vortex episode I here mention has received over 16,000 views. Please forward this to anyone you think may have seen it or may in the future see it.

In Christ, through Mary,

Daniel

Note: There has indeed been a recent letter from the CDF telling the faithful not to attend events that take the validity of the apparitions of Medjugorje for granted. This I will – and admonish you all to – fully adhere to. But it is absolutely not a ruling on the validity of the apparitions. See the theologian and Mariologist Dr. Mark Miravalle’s article on that here. If, by the way, you are looking for a real expert on these matters- a theologian, and one who has served on official Vatican commissions to study apparitions, look no further than him. 

February 17, 2014

Beyond the Gates

Dear Friends,Image

It is not often today that one can say he has watched a movie capable of changing him. Tonight, thanks be to God, I can say that.

Last week I bookmarked “Beyond the Gates” to be the Sunday movie for my wife and me to watch simply after stumbling upon it online. Recently I have been hesitating even from watching a movie once a week, due to the incredible lack of worthwhile films coming out (and the fact that I will never watch a movie with anything in the least resembling a sex scene; nor do I deem a film worthwhile merely by being enjoyable – what a waste of two hours if watching that movie does not find you a better person), but I am extremely thankful to God for compelling me to watch this.

This is a movie about the Rwandan Genocide – that unconscionable massacre of a million innocent souls by their fellow citizens, a mere nineteen and a half years ago, completely foretold by Our Lady one decade beforehand at Kibeho (along with how to prevent it) – an approved apparition (which, by the way, only received full Church approval after the genocide.) I know there are other movies about this genocide, but this is the best I have seen (far surpassing Hotel Rwanda). It is Catholic through and through, and the moral of the story is heart breakingly beautiful. It will compel you to act.

I am not trying to turn this into a movie review blog; I am writing this post because of what I was doing, Providentially, immediately before watching this movie. I was reading one of the writings of my soon-to-be Bishop (Albany, NY), Edward Scharfenberger. Here is the most poignant excerpt:

The really terrifying part of this institutionalized, “legalized” form of extermination of human life [(abortion)] is the routine, casual way in which it is carried on and the denial by a society that tolerates it in its own neighborhoods. No one wants to talk about it, no one wants to admit the obvious similarities with what goes on in concentration camps, those areas throughout the world where, even now, human lives are killed or “disappeared” because of some arbitrary category in which they are classified, whether that be female or male, Christian or Jew, black or white, Hutu or Tutsi [(a reference to the Rwandan Genocide)]– born or unborn.

            We must pray for one another so that our consciences do not go to sleep! The evil that is happening in our own neighborhoods does not go away just because we do not see it or want to see it. Every woman who is led to such a point that she feels she has no “choice” but to dispose of her own child deserves more from us than this. We pray in the psalms that “the Lord hears the cry of the poor.” How do we call ourselves disciples of Christ and not hear the muffled cries of a mother bringing her own child on a Saturday morning to a house of death?

 

Beyond the Gates is, above all, a condemnation of indifference and lukewarmness. The last spoken words of the movie are “We are fortunate. All of this time we have been given. We must use it well.” And who of us can say we have not fallen into lukewarmness and indifference? Therefore, as I have before, I would like to close with these words of Our Lord to St. Faustina.

 

“But child, you are not yet in your homeland; so go, fortified by My grace, and fight

for My kingdom in human souls; fight as a king’s child would; and remember that

the days of your exile will pass quickly, and with them the possibility of earning

merit for heaven. I expect from you, My child, a great number of souls who will

glorify My mercy for all eternity. My child, that you may answer My call worthily,

receive Me daily in Holy Communion. It will give you strength…”

 

In Christ, through Mary,

Daniel

PS:I must also take this chance to heartily recommend watching and spreading The Rite. I am disappointed that some Catholics oppose this movie due to a canonical error or two contained therein. What foolishness! The errors amount to very little, and are not in the least harmful to your average viewer (i.e. if you plan to recommend this to a Deacon, remind him that he can’t perform anointing of the sick, and all will be well); and yet what is to be gained is enormous. The entire movie is an unabashed and incredibly powerful Catholic argument for God. It is mainstream Hollywood (starring Anthony Hopkins), and therefore can easily be recommended or given to anyone. (The same, by the way, goes for The Conjuring.)

 

September 24, 2013

The Papal Interview & The Pro Lifers

Dear Brethren,

First, forgive me for adding yet another commentary on this issue that is already far too commented upon by far better Catholics than I; I do so because I feel I must.

I must because the morale of the greatest saints I know may be at risk (those dedicated humble souls who day after day bear all the suffering that comes with praying and sidewalk counseling outside abortion mills, and do so with the greatest love and gentleness) at an important moment: today being the eve of the start of the Fall 40 Days for Life campaign. I will share, by way of  personal story at the end of this, what I believe he did mean, but for now let me tell you what he did not mean.

Pope Francis did not mean “stay away from the abortion mills, stop praying outside of them, stop counseling the women outside of them and evangelizing passersby.” He did not even mean “take it easy on that; don’t be so zealous for it.” He meant the absolute opposite; he meant that the woundedness of our generation, thanks to its sinfulness, is so incredibly great that it no longer suffices in any degree (as it perhaps once did – to a degree) for the Church as a whole to merely make her opposition to evil known by way of denunciation.

He is not insisting upon falling back in surrender to a more comfortable spot of easy-going friendliness to the world; a succumbing to the times (which Benedict condemned as “blind conformity to the spirit of this age”); a softening of teachings; a shift of focus from sign-of-contradiction to just-getting-along.Kneeling outside Abortion Clinic

Rather, he is insisting upon a radical advance; an advance to the level of the saints, that is to say, the level of Christ. The level of the One for Whom it was not enough merely to denounce evil; but Who instead annihilated it by permitting it to nail Him to a cross. If the Catholic Church is the Church of Christ, then it must follow His life. I believe Francis is saying that we have now reached Gethsemane.

Francis is not saying that we must go from activist to apathetic. He is saying we must go from activist to warrior, and so long as the Satanic Prince of this World is in power (and he is now more than ever) – that is done by suffering violence, not by using it. As the woman getting an abortion feels the agonizing assault of her conscience, so we must stand or kneel on the sidewalks and bear with love the angry jeers of pro-abortion passersby, the cold snow and hot sun, and the alienation of certain friends and family members who will have none of that “fanaticism;” and even moreso we must look into the eyes of the women going in, feel their pain, and tell them that God became man in the womb of the Virgin so that we could be set free.

Were I to be asked just what it was I thought Pope Francis was saying, I would relay two personal stories:

Three years ago I was on pilgrimage to Medjugorje. I had foolishly not followed the advice given to pilgrims – to have a heartfelt confession be among your first activities – and had put it off for a whole week. That week was full of blessings, but I also struggled. I was not at peace with my pilgrimage group and was losing much due to that; some of them had behaviors that troubled me, I was bothered by their sinfulness, and some of them were not even Catholics. I remained reserved and ineffective in conversations with them because of what was likely a subconscious fear that I would be confronted with their sins or imperfections and have to deal with that. Finally I made it to that most merciful Sacrament, and tried my best to open my soul to a very holy Franciscan priest (a CFR). He paused, and said “… I’m not sure how else to say this, but: you’re not the Savior of the World. Jesus is.” It was as if a demon was exorcised from me. Afterwards I was able to see the person before the sin, have a Christlike love for them, and even enjoy their company. Ironically (but not really), it was only then that I was able to influence them away from sin by my witness.

In college, after I had reawakened to my Faith and was growing in zeal for its promulgation, I came to recognize that the vast majority of Catholics were, objectively speaking, in a state of grave sin. I had to do something about it. My engineering mind went to work and I put together a printout of what I deemed to be the most common sanctifying grace depriving behaviors there were (e.g. certain sexual sins, skipping Mass on a Sunday or Holy Day, etc.), so that I could post them everywhere, and people would then at least know. I neglected to consider that I was being far less gentle with others by employing methods like these (which, thankfully, remained uncompleted works in progress) than the Holy Spirit had been with me, in bringing about my own conversion. My methods are now far different and far more effective, but still with the same aim and the same motive: salvation, and love, respectively. Instead of the sin list, I now hand out this card that I made and printed 10,000 of. I speak first and foremost about the Divine Mercy, the love of Our Lady, the ease with which Our Lord is approached, and the like.  I urge you to do something similar.

I believe, in fact, that Pope Francis is merely trying to teach the whole Church what most dedicated sidewalk prayer warriors and sidewalk counselors already know, for they learned it through that very ministry.  They learned it by by seeing some misguided yet zealous soul shouting “murderer” at a woman on her way in, or standing and scowling with a sign, that reads in huge letters, “THOU SHALT NOT KILL.” Their hearts recognized that such an approach was not Christlike, and they even observed the complete lack of effectiveness of that approach. So they chose to approach the matter very differently; they pray the Rosary, they bring cards with the Divine Mercy and Our Lady of Guadalupe on them, they assure each and every man and woman going into those places of death that they love them and are praying for them, they talk about the mercy of Jesus, the love of God, and the power of Our Lady. They endure much suffering on those sidewalks, but they bear incredible fruit. It is as if they heard this very interview long ago, and followed its spirit perfectly, for in the interview our Holy Father said “We need to proclaim the Gospel on every street corner… it is necessary to accompany them [sinners] with mercy … when we speak about these issues [abortion, etc.], we have to talk about them in a context… Proclamation in a missionary style focuses on the essentials: this… is what makes the heart burn…ministry cannot be obsessed with the transmission of a disjointed multitude of doctrines to be imposed insistently…Picture4

But he is also trying to teach the Church that lesson that brought them from merely being pro-life and denouncing abortion to being a sidewalk counselor or sidewalk prayer warrior: “[What] the Church needs most today is the ability to heal wounds… it needs nearness, proximity. I see the church as a field hospital after battle…There is always the lurking danger of living in a laboratory…you cannot bring home the frontier, but you have to live on the border and be audacious…it is one thing to have a meeting to study the problem of drugs in a slum  neighborhood and quite another thing to go there…

There is nothing else he could have meant by likening what we ought to be to a field hospital. It is as if he had said “your anti-war activism and pacifist principles are correct, but milquetoast. You need to feel the bullets whizzing by your head; you need to risk their implantation into your heart, and you must immediately go bandage up up your brothers and sisters who are dying of their wounds in the battlefield from this unjust war.”

I know that I am called to spend more time outside of abortion mills these 40 days than I have in the recent past. This Papal interview reminds me of that. I pray you feel this call as well, and know that our Holy Father will thank you for it, if not in this life, then at Judgment Day. But it is not even Pope Francis whom we do this for, after all; it is Our Lord, Who sees us every moment and knows our heart. Follow the conviction of your heart with greater zeal than ever; do not permit the devil to snatch that great gift away by means of misinterpretation of a Papal interview, or secular media spin thereof. Rather, be further inspired by its powerful true meaning. If you only knew the reward that awaits you for your faithfulness, you would die for joy and receive it now.

In Christ, through Mary,

Daniel

August 18, 2013

A Letter to a Relative/An Introduction to Theology of the Body

Dear Friends,

My wedding to Regina last month was a truly blessed occasion in every way! I cannot say how joyous I am, about that day in particular, but more so about the Sacrament we entered into on that day. I hope to soon write a post about our wedding and our honeymoon (a road trip pilgrimage to various holy sites in the Eastern half of the U.S.).

Before then, though, I would like to share something that has come up a little more recently regarding the wedding Mass itself. The priest who officiated delivered a powerful, beautiful, edifying, and uncompromising homily. It was the type of homily that, if we had more of over the past several decades, society never would have been able to sink so low.  He was very clear in speaking the truth about marriage and the dangers posed by the same-sex “marriage” legislation in our nation. This very much upset certain family members (there were homosexual(s) in attendance), and we were made aware of this via email three weeks after the wedding.

In today’s Gospel reading, Our Lord tells us “I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing! There is a baptism with which I must be baptized, and how great is my anguish until it is accomplished! Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. From now on a household … will be divided …”

I post this today to encourage you all to be witnesses in the world, and even in your own families. We must never pursue division, for in itself it is a bad thing, but we must be willing to accept it if it comes as a result of us sharing the truth in charity. Remember, never fear the truth, but also always favor gentleness and meekness, so that when we are persecuted, it is truly for the sake of righteousness, and not because there actually was something in our approach, itself worthy of reproach.

Here is my (anonymized) response to the concerned relative that I sent out via email a couple days ago – I always like to use occasions like this as an opportunity to provide a brief introduction to the Theology of the Body, and I encourage you all to do the same! This particular email was sent to a non-Christian, so I could not appeal to Scripture or Church teaching (which I would were I addressing this to a Christian or a Catholic, respectively)

Dear______,

Thank you for reaching out to me and letting me know how you felt about what was said in the homily of my wedding Mass. Please know that I am always open to hearing about such things, even if they are hard to say. I hope that all of my family members always consider me approachable on anything.

I understand that you and others felt hurt by the chosen words of Father during the homily. You are absolutely right that this was not my intention (thank you for recognizing that before I even had to say so); it is never my intention that anyone be hurt, especially not anyone in my own family. Please know that as I was up there before the altar, I was praying with all of my heart for those in my family who I feared would indeed feel hurt.

How I wish we could live in a world where hurt was not necessary, or that when it was necessary, it could be I who had to endure it instead of those dear to me. We all believe things that hurt others (merely in the act of our believing of them), and then even more hurt ensues when we vocalize these beliefs. We have to be prudent about when to speak, but we cannot always be silent. I am so glad that, over the years, there have been occasions where family members have said things that hurt at the time, but helped me after the fact to grow overall.

In that regard, I do not deem my own wedding to be a time when silence was called for; a time when we were gathering together to celebrate the holiness of matrimony to be a time when the foundational truths of marriage remain unstated lest someone feel hurt.

And since we have now arrived at the crux of the matter – the foundational truths of marriage-, please allow me to explain my beliefs, lest the popular portrayal of them leave you tempted to see me as hateful or bigoted. See that in what follows, I am not appealing to the authority of the Church or even of the Bible; but merely to what our Creator has written directly in all of our bodies and souls.

Though reductionistic modern thought sometimes insists people to regard sex as a mere chromosomal quality or difference in a few organs, anyone with wisdom knows better. What strikes you first whenever you see a person, and what you remember the longest, is that person’s sex. After humanity itself, sex is one’s most essential attribute; for it is not merely a trait – it is not something about a person like height or skin color – but rather it is who that person is. Try as you might, you cannot change your sex; you have it from the moment of your conception and you maintain it for all time and eternity. One can no more change from a man into a woman than he can change from a man into a dog. Language itself is and always has been well aware of this. It is demeaning to refer to a person as “it,” and grammatically incorrect to refer to a person as “they.” You have to refer to a person as a “he” or a “she.” There is no other way, and there ought not be any other way.

After recognizing the unsurpassably fundamental nature of sex, we have to ask “what does this truth mean? what does it teach us about how we are to live and believe?” – for God teaches not primarily through Scripture or the Church, but primarily through our very design. As soon as we have the honesty to ask this question, the answer becomes obvious: neither the male body nor the female body makes any sense in isolation. Each is expressly designed to be given to the other. Therefore this meaning of sexuality that we now seek is the gift of self. A man or a woman is made, from the very beginning, to be a gift to another. Only in becoming this gift is he or she fulfilling the meaning of his or her being and existence.

Sexual intimacy is the greatest physical mode of expression of this gift of self. We can make a sort of gift of ourselves to many others of either sex in many ways; but when it comes to sexual intimacy – the ultimate physical gift of self in its entirety – there is one place alone in which it is properly expressed and, in that place, made beautiful and honorable; namely, in the marriage of a man and a woman. To give the gift of self in the form of sexual intimacy, in any other fashion, is a lie against the very nature of the gift (and remember that this applies to any use whatsoever of sexual intimacy outside of this setting; not merely to homosexual acts); akin to wrapping up rotting trash to put under the Christmas tree just because you enjoy watching the children unwrapping gifts. We know what the culmination of that lie would be; the children devastated and the parents’ utter loss of the very enjoyment they were pursuing in their deceitful gift giving. The culmination of lying with the very gift of self that is sexuality is like that, but far darker and more destructive.

As we all know, a lie is an intrinsically disordered thing; it is an act that is never good or beautiful because it is never true. I sympathize with people who have dispositions towards certain types of lies; I respect their dignity and I love them. But I can never participate in what I know full well to be a lie; not by praise, and not even by silence. For me to do so would not be love; it would be hatred. For me to support, or even for me to fail to oppose, any legislation aimed at institutionalizing, encouraging, or confirming any one of those lies would be also be hateful.

That all being said, Father’s words during his homily are not the words I would have chosen were I to address a person who is proudly living the gay lifestyle (I am sure they are also not the words with which he would intentionally address a gay person; please keep in mind that he was speaking to a congregation of 300 people, the vast majority of whom were devout Catholics. I know him well and he is extremely compassionate to all.). Given that opportunity, I would say:

“You are an especially beloved child of God. Were you the only person on this Earth that could be saved, just as you are now, He still would have come down from heaven and given up His life for you. Not only that, but nothing you have done or will do can lessen this love. Even now you are not far away from Him; you need not undergo a long and arduous process of self-reform before approaching and being accepted by Him; you need only turn to Him. It is as easy as saying, with your heart, ‘Jesus, I am sorry. Help me.’ All He needs is your desire for Him – even if at this moment your desire for Him is more in the form of merely feeling a distaste for those specific aspects of your lifestyle that displease Him and an admission that you ought to be rid of them. Do not let yourself or anyone else tell you that you are “dirty” to Him; on the contrary, you are more precious than the entire universe, and if you only appeal to His mercy, then He would never and can never reject you.”

I cannot apologize for the substance of what Father said; I will always stand by it even with my very life. But I hope what I said here has cleared up any worries you may have had about my approach to homosexual persons, and helped you to understand more why I believe what I do.  If at times my behavior appears strange or my motives unclear, know this: there are really only two things I care about, and I strive to bring every single thought, word, and deed of my life in conformity with them: to know, love, and serve a certain Man who walked the Earth 2,000 years ago, and to bring others to do the same, for I know with the certainty of Faith that we will all see Him the moment after we die.

With much love and prayers always,

In Christ, through Mary,

Danny

February 21, 2013

One Practical Tip to Help Make You into a Saint

The Eucharist alone is our source of holiness. Only from it will you find the grace to become a saint.

The tip is simply this: Each day, strive to have absolutely no idea how many people were at Mass. (note: this is just a tip that will work for some and is impractical or inapplicable to others for miscellaneous reasons. No worries!)

How is this achieved?

By arriving early for prayerful preparation, sitting towards the front of the Church, keeping your eyes on the sanctuary – the Altar, the Tabernacle, the crucifix especially -, keeping your head down during Communion time, and remaining in prayer after Mass for a fervent thanksgiving. Do all this and you will not even be able to answer somebody who says to you “so how many people were at Mass today?

Arriving Early: At Medjugorje, Our Lady laments that if we had any idea what a grace Holy Mass truly was, we would always prepare for at least an hour. Angels tremble before what you are about to witness – it really is worth ten minutes to ready your soul for.

Sitting Towards the Front: This is obviously the main point that will not apply to many of you, and that is fine! But if you can, I would advise sitting near the front. The unfortunate fact is that many today have no desire to be reverent at Mass, and it is better to not have such people in our line of sight, which will distract us, or worse, tempt us to pass judgments on them.

Eucharist

Keeping Your Eyes on the Sanctuary: Of the thousands of Masses I have attended, I can think of only a few in which something has happened that has demanded action from me. I say this because it is extremely unlikely that there is any reason whatsoever for you to look at the noise that just came from the side or the back of the Church. Nor do you need to know who walked in late, nor do you need (except in extremely rare cases) to whisper something to your spouse or your friend with whom you are attending Mass. There is no better analogy for an aspiring saint than that of a soldier; we are indeed the Church Militant. Therefore let your focus be that of warrior.

Keeping your head down during Communion time: How much it must pain Our Lord when we use those few precious moments where His substantial presence remains in us (or those few moments leading up to that heavenly embrace) to entertain vain ponderings about other people at Mass; that is more lamentable than a newlywed couple watching television on their wedding night.

Remaining in prayer after Mass for a fervent thanksgiving:  Our Lord’s substantial (yes, that truly means physical) presence remains in us for approximately 15 minutes after receiving the Host – this is a simple theological/biological conclusion. It makes no sense to pray at all if we are not going to take full advantage of those 15 minutes, unparalleled in their power to sanctify. To desire sanctity but make a habit of leaving Church shortly after receiving and immediately concerning yourself with worldly affairs while He resides in you may not be an intrinsic evil, but it is at least incredibly foolish. It is like a student who wants an A, but sleeps through his examinations, hoping to increase his grade by meticulously completing his homework assignments later.

This is just one tip: the bottom line in the appropriation of the graces poured out upon you at Holy Mass is that you must be reverent, fervent, and focused – enraptured in so far as that is within the power of your will (wherein alone all merit lies) to accomplish. If ever a complaint about anything whatsoever – the world, other Catholics, your life – enters your mind as you are assisting at Mass, remember the words of Pope St. Pius X, where he attributed all the evil in the world to lukewarm Catholics; and there is no better way to be counted among this sorry group of souls than by neglecting to respond to the awesomeness of the Mass – nor is there any better way to be counted among the saints than by your faith, hope, love, and holy fear at Mass, and the wrapping of your entire being around the Eucharistic Lord you receive at it, that He alone may be the “source and summit” of your life.

February 9, 2013

My Engagement to Regina

Dear Friends,

With great joy, I would like to announce my engagement to Regina Marie Elizabeth Rose Wagner. She and I will be joined in Holy Matrimony this upcoming summer on July 13th!

Although I could go on for many pages expounding upon the joy, the inspiration, the contentment, the peace, and the spiritual growth I have been blessed with, by my relationship with her and the anticipation of my marriage to her, I will restrain myself and reserve this particular post to just giving a general idea of our relationship.

I had been striving with great effort, but not with great success, to discern God’s call in my life for years before meeting Regina, and she too was in a position of uncertainty and confusion as to what she was supposed to do next in her life. The time was August 2011, and it was in this setting that we both decided (before even knowing about each other), a mere few weeks before the beginning of the semester, that we would enroll in Holy Apostles College & Seminary right away. I did so having been given a clear sign from God (during a cross country voyage) that I was supposed to do that, and Regina did so also having a clear interior conviction that she was called to enroll, last minute, as a lay student at this same school. Up until this point we both had been quite settled on entirely different plans for the upcoming months and years in our life, but God had a different idea, rearranged our life circumstances to make it work, and made sure that we both followed it.

Now I had entered as a self-funded seminarian (not wanting to experiment on my diocese’ dollar), as the sign I was given made it clear this was what I was supposed to do, despite at that time having no more conviction of a calling from God to the priesthood than I had in the preceding years. Nevertheless, I entered the seminary with a general intention of becoming a priest, but also with a great openness to a different vocational direction if He showed that to me.

Holy Apostles is a college and seminary, so Regina and I had several classes together. Being a seminarian at the time, I of course had to strictly maintain a friendship with her and no more, but through getting to know her, constant prayer to God for guidance (especially after receiving Communion each day), and discerning the call on my heart, it became completely clear to me that I was meant for her. And since we began our courtship (after I had finished my semester as a seminarian), the joy that I have been given through her has been evident to all of my friends who knew me through my discernment process, and they unhesitatingly congratulate me for finding what so clearly is my calling. I now know to thank God for all the struggle I went through in discernment for years, because by it I now rest with such peace in the anticipation of my vocation: to soon be sacramentally united to her, as one flesh before God. In that peace all of the fears and anxieties that once assailed me regarding my calling, simply melt away; as they had begun to even from my first conversation with Regina. There is so much more I want to say about Regina; how I felt so clearly drawn to everything about her, but I will have to save any more for another time.

We began our courtship on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception: December 8th, 2011. The year of courtship that followed was truly blessed, and through it we both grew so much closer to God and to each other. Prayer served as our foundation and our strength. The daily reception of Jesus in the Eucharist was the source and summit of this prayer life, and whenever possible we would attend Mass together. Along with her Son, Our Lady was at the center of our relationship from the start, and the daily Rosary was our anchor. Spiritual reading directed us, as we always concurrently read three pages of the same spiritual book each day, and St. Faustina’s diary was our greatest joy in this regard. The daily 3 o’clock Divine Mercy Chaplet was indispensable to the formation of our relationship, and our weekly prayers outside the local abortion mill grounded us in love of neighbor. Frequent confession was our remedy for weakness, which we, like all, indeed suffer from.

Through all of this I truly found myself growing closer to God in a way that I had previously been incapable of, and this was yet another confirmation to me that Regina indeed is my vocation. Prayer, fasting, and works of mercy come more readily and easily thanks to my relationship with her, and I had a new-found desire and strength to rid my life of vices to which I had previously adopted a far too complacent attitude.
I would like to share the following prayer, which I wrote for both Regina and me to pray each day, towards the beginning of our courtship.

Mother most Pure, to whose fiat “behold the handmaid of the Lord, be it done unto me according to Thy word,” humanity owes its salvation, I beseech thee to present my petition to thy Divine Son Jesus; that we may always properly see and treat each other as children of God to be loved and served, and never as objects to be used for pleasure; that we may love each other with a perfect, pure, and disinterested love. Please send thy Divine Spouse, the Holy Spirit, upon
us, that we may rightly discern the will of thy Son, and incline our hearts unto it so that, whatever it may be, we shall follow it with joy. Help us to be in love with thy Son first and above all, knowing that any good thing we see in each other is a mere diminished reflection of the glory of Him who created us both, and that the love we hold for each other is nothing but a small flame next to the consuming fire of love coming forth from His most Sacred Heart, this love that he passionately holds for each of us so far exceeding any passionate love we feel for each other.

Immaculate Mother of Mercy, we place all of these petitions in thy hands with complete trust and confidence.

*Memorare…*
*Reading…* (our spiritual reading for the day)

On December 8th, 2012, Regina and I were engaged to be married. I proposed to Regina in the Our Lady Queen of Apostles Chapel at school, and immediately afterwards we completed our 33 day consecration to Our Lady, and did a Holy Hour before the Blessed Sacrament, laying our engagement and our lives at the feet of Mary, and Jesus in the Eucharist. Feel free to watch the YouTube video below, where Regina gives more details on the proposal itself!

I would also like to share this consecration prayer which I wrote for Regina and me to pray together on our knees before the statue of Our Lady, immediately following our engagement. I desired to, as the first act of our engagement, give it all to Mary:

     Dear Mother Mary, the Immaculate Conception, we kneel before you today and lay at your feet, as the first act of our engagement, our selves, our relationship, our betrothal, and our future marriage. All of our trust is in you and in your Son, Jesus. We earnestly give all that we have and all that we are to you, and with absolute confidence in the Mercy of your Son, we humbly beseech you to do as you will with this offering, whatever that may entail.
We lay our engagement on your altar and beg of you to use it for your own intentions; the salvation of souls, the deliverance of the holy souls in Purgatory, peace in the world, the consolation of the Two Hearts of Love, and the hastening of the Triumph of Your Immaculate Heart.
O Immaculate Mary, Mother of Mercy, free from any stain of sin, grant that we too may be without sin, especially at the hour of our death. Our only fear is that we may fail to flee to your protection, for we wish to be nothing but your devoted children.
Mary, we love you. Take us as your own.

Happy 22nd birthday, Regina. I love you with all of my heart!

January 19, 2013

Les Mis Reconsidered: A Plea for Total Purity

Forenote: Dear friends, please know that I am not rebuking anyone merely for thinking that this movie is overall very good. I beg you to read all that follows with prayer and an open heart. My thanks to you all.

I am finding myself saddened that some good Catholics today are defending the entirety, without any qualification, of the recent film adaptation of Les Miserables. I hope by reading what follows you will understand why this is so.

I have not seen, nor will I see this movie in theaters, so my comments here are based off of what I have read about the movie.Mother Most Pure

My first pain is this: There is no such thing as fully fictional live-action movie. Those actors and actresses are real people, real children of God. When their dignity is violated, Our Lord weeps and is crucified anew. It is no use saying, of some scene in which this occurs, “it’s fine because it was necessary to develop the story, which has a good lesson” or whatever other justification; they really had to do what you’re seeing on the screen. We must never tolerate them being used as means instead of ends- even if they themselves insist they have no problem with it.  It could not possibly matter less if there is a director somewhere out there who is capable of converting the entire world to Christ with one movie if he can only just get two actors to commit adultery with each other and record it for one of the scenes; it cannot be done. Period.  It does not matter if the story is great, and the overall message is a powerful force for good. You can never do evil that good may come of it.

Some say “even Scripture depicts scenes of grave depravity, like this movie does.” But Scripture is written words; it is not using people as objects, as a movie like Les Mis uses actors and actresses as objects. Further, and this is what is truly causing me to agonize, as it affects all the millions who go to see this movie: when sexual depravity like that is graphically displayed, it taints even the viewer. We fail to recognize this because today we have lost the sense of guarding the eyes, as the Psalms direct. “I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes...” – Ps 101:3. Now God is merciful and often permits what we did not consent to setting before us pass quickly from our memory and not do us great harm. But to willingly watch those scenes, to choose not to avert the eyes, to plan to see the movie (and those scenes) again, to recommend this movie to others without warning, and to specifically defend the objectionable scenes in this movie, can only ultimately result in the serious decay of the soul, resolvable only by repentance.

To willingly hold that sin before one’s eyes is to participate in it – the lover of pornography is little different from the adulterer. Some respond “but I did not like those scenes per se, as the pornography viewer does, I agree with their existence and like them insofar as they contributed to an excellent story.” But the moral object under consideration is precisely the same as with the pornography viewer, and a human act with an evil object is never good, no matter the intention. Beware, rationalizations do not mitigate culpability; they increase it. Remember that Our Lord had much more of an affinity for the prostitutes than the Pharisees.  Further, to indulge in those scenes for the sake of enjoying the overall story is no different than delightfully drinking well flavored poison for the taste; it happens often to children with Flintstone’s vitamins, but adults are supposed to know better.

God can and will bring good out of those scenes; He brings good out of everything. But when, in His omnipotence and inscrutable wisdom, He chooses to permit an evil that a good may come, He is not asking for our help in that task. Our Lady never would have nailed Jesus to the Cross if the Romans failed to do so, even though some foolishly assert she would have as a part of her fiat. Christ put it plainly: “Woe to the world because of scandals. For it must needs be that scandals come: but nevertheless woe to that man by whom the scandal cometh” – Matthew 18:7

Note: My words here are not for those who saw the movie, thought it was great overall, but took issue with those scenes (that can be a valid stance on Les Mis), even though I do think they should have been more prudent and waited for it to come out on DVD so they could turn it off before those scenes came before their eyes. I do plan to see it, but only with someone who has seen it already and is sure he can tell me exactly when to turn it off so I do not risk imprinting such uncleanness on my soul – the windows to which are the eyes. Rather, my words are for those Catholics who may just have essentially switched sides and left the Culture of Life to join the ranks of the Culture of Death. That, I am afraid, is a real possibility if one chooses to serve as an accessory to the sin of those scenes — really choosing to consent to, praise, and defend them specifically.

Edit: Again, I have not seen the movie, but by “those scenes,” I am referring to  the scene in Fantine’s chamber and perhaps also the Santa scene

Our Lord Crowned

Update 2/22/2013: I would like to provide two excerpts from authoritative Magisterial sources that I pray will convince any Catholic who might be tempted to defend the existence of those scenes:

The Catechism of the Catholic Church Paragraph 2354: “Pornography consists in removing real or simulated sexual acts from the intimacy of the partners, in order to display them deliberately to third parties… It is a grave offense.” As you can see, the definition of pornography, provided by the Church, does not require that the act in question be portrayed in a positive light, glorified, encouraged, etc. It consists in (i.e. intent is irrelevant) merely being removed from the intimacy of partners and displayed to a third party. Further, it does not matter if the act is occurring in reality: its simulation (as I assume was the case in the filming of Les Mis) suffices for this unequivocal condemnation by the Church.

Humanae Vitae: “… every obscenity in the written word and every form of indecency on the stage and screen, should be condemned publicly and unanimously by all those who have at heart the advance of civilization… It is quite absurd to defend this kind of depravity in the name of art or culture”  Art has no right, even when it does explore the darker aspects of humanity, to display obscenity, as those scenes in Les Mis do.

January 17, 2013

“Livestrong” Demise

 A Vindication of Wisdom, an Indictment of Cowardice, and an Exhortation to Action

I always had a great aversion to the “livestrong” craze; especially the yellow wristbands.real hope

My reason for opposing it was similar to my reason for now opposing many other things that I am often chastised for my stance against (e.g. Harry Potter, yoga, certain genres of modern music/movies/shows, etc.): we ought not compromise and accept that which merely has good that can be taken from it (helping cancer survivors, in this case) despite its foundation being bad or its main thrust being bad (which I will presently discuss).

The whole inspiration (even if this is not what an official Livestrong foundation document would state) behind the yellow wristband was the exaltation of the life of a man (Lance Armstrong) — who walked out on his wife, who faithfully stayed with him through his cancer, after his rise to fame — merely because he demonstrated skill at a specific sport; “skill” which now is revealed to be thoroughly fraudulent. The Livestrong brand of inspiration was always a type of self-centered pseudo-hope, a sorry secular substitute for the supernatural virtue of Hope bestowed by the grace of God; the God who Lance Armstrong decided he didn’t have time for, preferring that typical modern mantra “spiritual, but not religious.” Lance, they say, overcame adversity by brute will and dominated all of his competition, and we need to be motivated by that. And so they were; they plastered his face everywhere and deluged society with the yellow wristbands to call to mind his story.

And now the Almighty, as He always does (in His own time), has demolished the false Idols that stood in the place reserved to Him alone. “He has shown the strength of his arm, he has scattered the proud in their conceit.

What is the moral of the story?

A Vindication of Wisdom: If you have, with prayer, grown convicted of the spiritually harmful nature of some piece of modern culture; if you have consulted about this with Catholics holier and more learned than yourself, and if you feel a peace in your heart with condemning it, then you are probably right, and need not constantly doubt yourself.

An Indictment of Cowardice: I was always too afraid to say anything against the “Livestrong” craze because of how much of a sign of contradiction that would make of me. But we must not fear being a sign of contradiction. Remember, we live in a culture that murders one quarter of its children. Blending in nicely with such a culture is not something you’ll be proud of on Judgment Day.

An Exhortation to Action: Always act with love, and ensure that your demeanor is one absolutely dripping with mercy. But it is time to step up our zeal in promulgating Heaven’s ways, and nurturing a contempt for the world – the fruit of the third sorrowful mystery. “…you are not yet in your homeland; so go, fortified by My grace, and fight for My kingdom in human souls; fight as a king’s child would; and remember that the days of your exile will pass quickly, and with them the possibility of earning merit for heaven. I expect from you, My child, a great number of souls who will glorify My mercy for all eternity. My child, that you may answer My call worthily, receive Me daily in Holy Communion. It will give you strength…” -Jesus to St. Faustina, Divine Mercy in My Soul.

*Note: I am admittedly ignorant on the details of Lance Armstrong, Livestrong, and this whole news issue. I speak only from general observations, and may have some specifics wrong.

July 19, 2012

The Unfathomable Worth of Your Knowledge

Dear Friends,

An experience this morning as I was praying outside a local Planned Parenthood struck me, and reminded me of something.

A man pulled over in his car with a chip on his shoulder. He wanted to tell us why we shouldn’t be there, why what we were doing was wrong, etc. By God’s grace I was able to mortify the temptation to wallop him in a debate on abortion (which is not a hard thing for any pro-lifer who knows a few facts to do). I strove to see the hurt inside him and addressed what I discerned to be the sickness in his heart instead of the error of the argument on his lips. After managing to give him a Rosary and a “how to pray the Rosary” card, Our Lady took his hand and did all the work. Soon after he was changed entirely; opening his heart up to me and telling me things about his past that he had never told anyone before. I spoke with him for a time, left him with some advice, assured him of my prayers, and he drove away; never to be the same again, I pray. I assure you it was not my eloquence or my own skill that did this, in any way (I did and said nothing special at all): it was merely my willingness to be an instrument, and the fact that I had just received the Eucharist, and handed it all over to Our Lady.

If you one day found yourself with a million dollars (good Catholics don’t play the lottery… so let’s say you just found gold in your backyard), would this not place upon your conscience a sense of duty to help others with it?

Most people who read this blog are good, faithful, orthodox Catholics. Catholics who understand Mary’s pivotal role, especially today. Catholics who reject none of the Church’s teachings. Catholics who understand the sin and error under which modern men labor. Catholics who know about Theology of the Body, the Gospel of Life, the apparitions of Mary, the wonders of the Rosary, the power of the Eucharist & Confession, etc. Catholics who are truly striving to become saints.

You are more rare than a millionaire.

And not only that, but the gifts you have make you far more powerful than a rich man of any net worth to bring even temporal good to souls. Let Bill Gates pour countless millions into his aid programs. By spreading your knowledge, you do far more than he in bringing even temporal good to the world. Consider that you will be aiding in the salvation of souls, and his work compared to yours is not even noticeable.

Some activists rightly protest pharmaceutical companies refusing to mass-distribute their vaccines in Africa even though they could easily afford to do so and thereby avert massive human suffering. But how much more lamentable is it for such a Catholic to keep dormant in his own mind this salvation causing knowledge? It is far more precious than gold, far more precious than any vaccine. And there are far fewer excuses for it to remain unused.

Be convinced, brethren, for it is absolutely true, that you have the remedy to the ills of those around you. Having this remedy leaves one and only one option: finding and pursuing chances to use it, no matter the cost to yourself.

You may say: But what can I do?  I want so badly to evangelize, to spread God’s truth, to fight for the salvation of souls… but I don’t know what to do.

Well, here are a few ideas:

  • Pray outside your local abortion mill (bring a friend with you). Especially if this is in a high-pedestrian traffic area, conversation will be sparked. Designate one person in your group to talk to people who want to talk, and have the rest continue praying as this occurs.
  • Always wear an external sign of the Faith. A clearly visible crucifix, a lapel pin of Jesus and Mary, etc. People will ask you about it, and about the faith that is behind it.
  • Be prepared. I proudly carry my “man purse” with me almost all the time, with a zipper pocket in it devoted to evangelization. I am never without rosary beads, how to say the rosary cards, divine mercy cards, Our Lady of Guadalupe cards, brown scapulars, and miraculous medals. These channels of grace will supplement the truth you bestow by your words.
  • Make your strong views in some way public so that anyone who knows your name can find them. Might this lose you friends, make prospective employers cautious, worry your family, etc.? Yes, it might. And it will not go unrewarded. A public Facebook, a blog, an email signature quote, etc. It is time to love Jesus and Mary more than worldly comfort, my friends.
  • Whenever possible, at social gatherings, spend your time with the lowly, the unattractive, the “weird,” the unpopular, etc. These are the people who need the company and who are generally far more open to receiving the truth.
  • Visit the lonely and forgotten elderly in nursing homes. They are in dire need of your company, and a startling number are in dire need of conversion of heart in their last few hours on Earth. Minister to the poor and the needy in any way you can; for these souls are always more open to the truth.


Remember that this isn’t about a debate or an argument or a fight. Go at it with that attitude, and your voice will tremble, your hands will shake, your adrenaline will pump, your thinking will blur, and you will achieve less than nothing. This is a chance to peer into the eyes of a child of God and see, behind the facade of anger or sarcasm or whatever other demeanor, a soul that direly yearns for its Creator. You have the knowledge and grace to effect the re-establishment of that bond.  Go as a mother goes to pick up her child who has fallen; not as a cage fighter to exalt his domination.

One final note. No doubt you’d (rightly) put food on your own table with that aforementioned million dollars before using it for charity. It is the same here. Before you go out evangelizing, first make sure you are in a state of grace, the Eucharist is the center of your life, you frequent the sacrament of confession, and your devotion to Mary is true and all-consuming.

July 16, 2012

An Urgent and Dire Plea to Pastors of Souls

Why is this plea urgent?

Because we are on the precipice of events that will demand heroic virtue from faithful Catholics; and the grace to undertake heroic virtue comes primarily, for most Catholics, from their parish Church.

Why is this plea dire?

Because whether or not it is heeded will determine whether souls created by God and destined to spend eternity with Him will reach this end or will instead endure never ending fire.


This is not a compilation of advice on how to be the ideal, saintly, and extremely successful Pastor.  I am not qualified to give that advice.

This is a delineation of what I deem to be simple necessities, for pastors must not block, (and they must strive to prevent from being blocked under their roof), the channels of grace through which sanctification flows. By depriving their flocks of these channels, Pastors deprive them of the grace they will need merely to stand in the days soon to come, thereby becoming the very cause of their downfall in the same degree that a doctor who neglects to vaccinate his patients is the cause of their illness. And so, dear Pastors, strive not to neglect these Twelve Necessities.

  1. Do not permit your Church to be dominated by chatter before or after  (or, obviously, during) Mass.  These are times for silence. The Eucharist is the “source and summit” of a Catholic’s life; and the prayerful preparation for it as well as the intimate 15 minutes in prayer of thanksgiving spent with His substantial presence is the means by which the graces from it are appropriated.
  2. Your doors must be open for people to come in and pray.  It may be excusable to lock them at night (but please consider always leaving them open. God will reward you.), but not during the daylight hours.  It is of no consequence how unsafe the neighborhood is; if you must strip your Church of anything that can be stolen, then so be it.  You cannot deprive your flock of the opportunity to be with Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament.
  3. Provide a daily Mass that is open to working parishioners (preferably and usually meaning one each day either no later than 7:10 am or no earlier than 5:30pm) if there are not others nearby.  Whether or not you think they will come does not matter; they need the opportunity.
  4. You need not constantly moralize, but each and every one of your parishioners must at least know what is required of him to be in a state of grace.  This can in part be done by putting large stacks of a good Examination of Conscience at the doors and taking note of them in a homily or announcement.
  5. Announce the norms for the reception of Holy Communion at least at Christmas, Easter, Weddings, and Funerals. To fail to do so is to encourage acts of sacrilege.
  6. Do not permit your music director to choose songs that are so silly as to barely be acceptable for a kindergarten class.  Favor traditional hymns, and carefully permit new ones that are appropriate: sufficiently solemn, serious, and orthodox.
  7. Liturgical silliness, effeminacy, or childishness of any sort are essentially acts of hatred against the grown men of your congregation; with them you drive away from the sacraments all but the most perseverant devout men. Permit none of it. For example, never tell your congregation as Mass begins that they must greet those next to them, or raise their hands in prayer. No foolish tunes for the sung prayers of Mass (i.e. the Lord’s Prayer). No displaying the Parish 1st grade class’ artwork in the sanctuary.  No Blues Clues homilies. No joke readings during the final announcements (if you must have final announcements at all). No liturgical dancing. (Just to name a few violations of this necessity.)
  8. In some way; either by announcement, or sign on the door, or some other strategy, remind people to turn off their cell phones.
  9. Going to Mass must not be an occasion of sin for the male members of your flock.  You cannot permit immodest dress in Church. A gentle reminder in the bulletin or near the door of the need to be modest in Church would be a good idea.
  10. Provide significant and regular confession times, and always without fail be in the confessional during those advertised hours, whether or not you think anybody will show up.
  11. Say the black, do the red (whether at the Altar or in the Confessional).  Anything more (or less) is from the evil one. Pray for the seventh Gift of the Holy Spirit, and the reverence with which you celebrate Mass will be evident.


It would be good to do much more; host perpetual adoration, organize prayer vigils outside the local abortion mill, feed the hungry, have Legion of Mary groups, host Bible studies, encourage community, ensure your Liturgies are permeated with a sense of the sacred in every respect, have daily benedictions and novenas, etc!  But I will grant that you may not necessarily be condemned for neglecting some of these pursuits.   But I cannot so comfortably grant that with the aforementioned twelve.

Let your own personal Eucharistic devotion be the center of your life.  Consecrate yourself to the Blessed Virgin Mary and enshrine her as the Queen and Mother of your parish and of yourself.  Then know that you have absolutely nothing to fear.

A final note to those reading this who are not priests: I have written this in blunt and strong terms because this is indeed a dire and an urgent issue; not because I desire to judge, criticize, or imply there is culpability on any priest in particular.  They were called by Christ and have given up their lives to bring you the sacraments.  They are attacked by demons more viciously than you could imagine. With a word from their lips, almighty God is made physically present on the altar and the most heinous sins are forever annihilated from your soul. Pray for them, fast for them, and dare not judge or criticize or gossip about them.

June 24, 2012

Flee to the Divine Mercy as Individuals

Whoever you are, wherever you live, whatever you have done… now is the time to flee to His Divine Mercy.  Please do not delay this one single more day

Some of you have committed great sins; the remorse over them dominates your life and drains you of any hint of the joy that seems now like nothing but a faint memory in the most distant recesses of your soul.  To you I say that all the bad you have done taken together is nothing but a miniscule drop in the vast ocean of His mercy, and you need only raise your eyes to Him to see that He is right next to you, waiting for you, with open arms.

Jesus, I Trust in You

Some of you have spent your entire life seeking meaning and have gotten nowhere; and in this pursuit you have exhausted hordes of self-help books, self-professed gurus, 12-step programs, diet regimens, fitness regimens, pills, self-esteem buildup workshops, and anything and everything that seems like it might provide the epiphany and renewal you crave. To you I say that this thirst of your soul can only be quenched by the one who created you and desires to give Himself entirely to you as you give yourself entirely to Him.

Some of you have nobody, have nothing, and see no light at the end of the dark tunnel you tread; and just to see happiness in others only deepens your depression because it reminds you of what you now believe will never be yours. To you I say that whoever has Christ lacks nothing; and he who has the whole world but has not Christ, has nothing.

Some of you are torn apart by a promiscuous lifestyle; perhaps this takes the form of impurity with yourself, pornography, fornication, contraception, adultery, homosexuality, or any number of the behaviors that detract from the beauty for which God created you.  To you I say that this most amazing and powerful physical faculty, your sexuality by which you are granted the unfathomable privilege of being able to participate in God’s creative act, has the potential to enrich your life or destroy your life.  If used in accord with its design; in a lifelong holy marriage, it will fulfill you.  If used against its design; in anyway separated from its power to procreate and unify husband and wife, then it can do nothing else but utterly destroy you.

Some of you, in seeking the spiritual leadership that is so lacking today, have turned to guides that cannot give that for which you truly yearn; whether it is Oprah Winfrey, Deepok Chopra, Eckhart Tolle, Rhonda Byrne, or any other modern leader who claims access to supernatural or life-fulfilling truths outside of God’s revelation of  Himself to us in Christ.  To you I say that the rays of truth that these people provide in order to draw you in inoculate you to the misleading error mixed in with it, and that any good you may perceive in your life as a result of their leadership is nothing but a fleeting wisp of pleasure compared to the infinite ocean of mercy and joy to which you have access in Christ.

Some of you suffer from wounds so deep that you cannot bring yourself to anything but despair; perhaps a divorce, an abortion, an abuse, a lost loved one, or an offense committed against you that you cannot bring yourself to forgive.  To you I say that for those who love God, any and all bad things in their lives are permitted to occur only because God is going to use them to bring about a greater good than they could imagine.  You need only flee to His mercy and eagerly await with great joy the day that God has ordained for your vindication.

Some of you have fallen victim to a pseudo-intellectualization of reality that only sows confusion, error, and ultimately desperation in your mind; perhaps you turn to pop psychology, evolutionism, the re-writing of historical events (Dan Brown, etc.), postmodernism, reductionism, Freudianism, Feminism,  Subjectivism, Skepticism, Agnosticism, or any field of study that proposes either to provide the answers that only True Religion can give, or to reject the answers that True Religion does give.  To you I say that the time will soon come when the self contradictions in these philosophies become so evident that it will be as if the stool on which you now comfortably sit and live your days has been yanked out from underneath you.  When that time comes, I beseech you to find that solid foundation of the only One who is Himself the Truth; Jesus Christ.

Some of you have grown so moored to an only half alive existence that you have forgotten there is so much more outside your now draining daily grind; maybe it was detrimental relationships, legal pharmaceuticals, illegal drugs, alcohol, sports, hobbies, stocks, TV Dramas, sitcoms, cars, golf, politics, or any number of the endeavors that draw away the zeal and interest that belongs alone to heavenly things.  To you I say that you ought not wait for the inevitability of old age to reveal to you the frivolity of these pursuits, and their inability to give you meaning or satisfy your soul.  Turn your focus now to the One who created you and to Whom you draw closer, by your approaching death, every minute of the day; He is not only your beginning and your end, but the only One Who even now can give you happiness.

Some of you choose to disbelieve in God; perhaps because you see Him as incompatible with science, as an outdated myth on par with ancient pagan “gods,” or simply as an unneeded concept that has caused more harm than good.  To you I say that your senses and intellect are each day flooded with irrefutable and absolute evidence of His existence, and He is patiently awaiting the day when you,  his beloved child, will finally choose to see Him; especially His presence in your brothers and sisters.

Some of you, in seeing how low modern society has sunk, have reverted to ancient errors; whether paganism, bhuddism, hinduism (and Karma thought), Gnosticism, Stoicism, or anything of the sort.  To you I say that what failed to produce their desired effect in ages past will especially fail to do so now that they stand in contrast to God Himself having taken on flesh for our worship and given us a Church as our mother.

Some of you, in fearing what true devotion might do to your life, have chosen milquetoast religion; perhaps at the encouragement of “health and wealth gospel” preachers, a “progressive” Church, or your own personal interpretation of Scripture; this is the religion that denies the reality of Heaven & Hell, the full Divinity of Christ, the inerrant Truth of the Bible, the necessity of a deep prayer life;  or religion that encourages illicit behaviors like contraception, promiscuity, homosexuality, and divorce.  To you I say that this deprives you of the grace and joy that an uncompromising submission to the Truth provides, and you must free yourself of these shackles that, even though masquerading as wings, serve only to bind you.  You have the key to these shackles– that ever relevant, infinitely potent, never bland Holy Gospel — use it.

Some of you, in seeking greater meaning than the modern reductionistic world provides, have turned to the New Age Movement; and try to find the fulfillment that only Christ can give through yoga, astrology, veganism, reincarnation theories, “energy” or vitalistic healing methods, channeling, fortune telling, pseudoscience, pantheism, “A Course in Miracles,” the “Law of Attraction”, occultism, divination, magic, witchcraft, or the like. To you I say that Jesus Christ is the Prince of Peace, and although you are right in seeking more than what the materialists posit, you forget that there are also evil spirits (who love to appear as angels of light to deceive us), and only the Precious Blood of Jesus Christ can protect you from them, and only obedience to His authority and commands can prevent us from straying into dangerous, soul destroying spiritual pursuits.

There is one answer to all these problems: Jesus Christ.  And there is one superior path that leads to Him far above all others (for it is that same path by which God chose to first give Him to us): His mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary. You may find yourself among one or several of these groups to whom I here speak. No matter.  She is still your mother, and she is the one to whom you must flee. She will show you the Divine Mercy of her Divine Son.

She is so easy to come to.  Gaze with veneration upon this image.  Turn your heart to hers.  Fly to her patronage-

Of course, it is not only through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary that we ought to flee to the Divine Mercy!  We should also directly address our loving God in each of His three persons; the Father, the Son (Jesus Christ), and the Holy Spirit.

June 12, 2012

The Daily Plenary Indulgence

The Daily Plenary Indulgence

It seems that few Catholics have really understood (or are even aware of) this awesome privilege.  The Plenary Indulgence: by obtaining one, a practicing Catholic is blessed with the ability to easily receive, each and every day, the complete remission of all temporal punishment (in other words, purgatory “time”) due to all of his sins!

Of course, let us not become scrupulous, superstitious, or legalistic.  These indulgences have nothing to do with eternal salvation itself, and indeed depend upon a genuine disposition of heart.  Nevertheless, let us be grateful sons and daughters of the Church by reacting with joy and zeal to this astounding gift.  Let us all strive to receive, every day, this unfathomable blessing.

To receive a Plenary Indulgence, one must 1) Perform the Indulgenced act, 2) Go to Confession, 3) Receive Communion, 4) Pray for the intentions of the Pope, and 5) Be detached from all sin.

Simplest Plenary Indulgenced Acts that can be obtained any day:

  • Praying the Rosary (5 decades) either
    • In a Church (or a public oratory – for example, a chapel at a hospital, prison, seminary, etc.)
    • With a religious Community
    • With a pious Association of the Faithful, or
      • Canon 299 permits “private Associations of the Faithful” merely by agreement among members, needing no ecclesial knowledge or approval. It is uncertain whether these qualify as “pious Associations,” under the terminology in the Enchiridion on Indulgences, but it appears that they do indeed qualify. (Meaning, for example, your local pro-life association’s communal Rosary outside Planned Parenthood would suffice for a Plenary Indulgence.)
    • in a family group
    • This prayer must involve pious meditation on the corresponding mysteries.
  • Reading Sacred Scripture for 30 minutes
  • Praying the Stations of the Cross
    • Must involve physically moving from station to station (unless you are in a group and only the leader is doing that since for all to do so would be disorderly) and at least meditating on each station.
    • The stations must be legitimately erected – 14 crosses with 14 pictures or images (e.g. statues). Some argue that “legitimately erected” means blessed by the Bishop; i.e. in an official Church, which of course would make an informally erected stations in your yard not count.
  • Adoring the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament for at least 30 minutes
    • Find a Perpetual Adoration Chapel near you
    • It does not appear that the Blessed Sacrament must be exposed in the monstrance, but rather it seems that even if it is reposed in the tabernacle, this will still suffice for a plenary indulgence.

The Requirements:

A State of Grace

If you have made a good confession, and since then have not returned to mortal sin, you are in a state of grace.  To this end, please examine your conscience.

Prayers for the Pope

We must pray for the intentions of the Holy Father.  Pray one Our Father, one Hail Mary (and, usually also one Glory Be is said) and before doing so, announce “For the intentions of our Holy Father Pope ______…”

Communion

Receiving Holy Communion once suffices for one and only one Plenary Indulgence.  Attending daily Mass then, of course, is ordinarily (i.e. excepting the sick who have Communion brought to them daily) required for obtaining the daily plenary indulgence.

Confession

One confession can apply to “several” Plenary Indulgences.

I do not know, nor can I find anyone who knows for certain, if there is a specific number attached to the word “several.” But in the year 2000, the Apostolic Penitentiary described “several” in the context of how many days before or after the indulgenced act one may receive sacramental confession; and the verdict was twenty. Therefore it seems most logical to interpret the same word as the same number here, and ensure that we go to confession at least once every twenty days, as this will ensure that we have accumulated no more than twenty plenary indulgenced acts seeking the benefit of one confession.

Detachment from all Sin

Needless to say, this is the hardest requirement; yet you need not actually have arrived at a life free from all committed venial sins to satisfy it!  Plenary Indulgences are not reserved for those few perfected saints with which each age is blessed. Rather, you must not be content with any of your sins (even venial); you must not intend to commit them again; you must not have formally incorporated them into your life’s daily, weekly, monthly, or yearly routine; thereby implicitly carrying in your heart the intention to continue in them.  You must strive to, and be willing to, give up each and every one of them, and earnestly beseech almighty God for the grace to do this.  You must not obstinately refuse to avoid occasions of sin that you are perfectly capable of avoiding.

Therefore I recommend reading a thorough Examination of Conscience, and being honest with yourself as you examine your life and ponder what sins you may be in the habit of committing.

I recommend one more step. Immediately after receiving Communion (during those 15 minutes where His physical presence remains inside you), make an Act of Renunciation of All Attachment to Sin.

Act of Renunciation of All Attachment to Sin

Eternal Father; in the name of your Son, Jesus Christ, and by the power of His most Precious Blood, poured out from His most Sacred Heart, and now physically coursing through my very own veins,

and begging the intercession of the Immaculate Heart of His Mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and all the angels and saints; especially St. Joseph, St. Michael the Archangel, my guardian angel and patron saint,

I hereby renounce, rebuke, and forever cast aside any and all attachment to sin; mortal and venial. I earnestly desire and intend to never once again offend you by the smallest violation of Your law.

I truly intend to never again, either in thought, word, or deed, commit even the slightest exhibition of lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, envy, or pride; and not only that, but to replace them with prudence, justice, fortitude, temperance, faith, hope, and love.

I am heartily sorry for having ever offended Thee, and I detest all of my sins, not so much because of Thy just punishments; but because I have offended Thee, my God, who art all good and worthy of all my love.  I love Thee above all things, and I love my neighbor as myself for the love of Thee. I forgive all who have injured me, and I ask pardon of all whom I have injured. I firmly believe all that the Holy Catholic Church teaches, because Thou hast revealed it, and I hope to obtain life everlasting through the merits of Jesus Christ, My Lord and Redeemer.

Other Points:

  • The indulgence attached to a prayer may also be gained by following the prayer mentally as somebody else recites it out loud.
  • Even if a plenary indulgence is carried out in such a way as to not have each requirement fully met, you will still usually at least gain a partial indulgence for your efforts.
  • Only one plenary indulgence can be received each day, and may also be offered up for a soul in purgatory
  • To gain an indulgence for oneself, one must have at least “a general intention to gain them…” Manual on Indulgences N17.2 (Meaning the requirements themselves, even if undertaken, may not result in the granting of the indulgence if the person undertaking them has no idea what an indulgence is and has no intention to receive one.  This is why it is so important to spread knowledge about indulgences.)

Links:

Ponder, dear brethren, how eagerly we can await our death, being in a State of Grace and obtaining each day a plenary indulgence! Our Lord does not desire that we go to Purgatory, and through the Church He gives us the means to avoid that place where, though temporary, nonetheless pains exceed all those of this life. Let us not neglect this great grace so that we may, as we ought, rejoice at the near approach of death!

April 2, 2012

Holy Images Crusade

Holy Images Crusade

Two images; unlike any other.  One, drawn by the Hand of God; the other, drawn in direct obedience to His command, so that “whosoever venerates it may not perish.”

 As we are now left with only a few grains of sand left in the hourglass of the Time of Mercy, it is time to flood our corrupt generation with these two images.

 Over the years I have developed unique methods of getting them out; here I provide a structure for anybody who would like to do what I have done.  I encourage you to do so and to send a link of this post to others, that they too may follow suit.

 Let this indeed be a Crusade; one of far greater importance even than the Crusade waged in centuries past to protect Christendom from Islamic takeover.  For in this Crusade we battle not merely against flesh and blood, but against the Prince of this World as he prepares for his ultimate battle against the Church.  We battle not merely an external enemy, but one who has insidiously injected himself into almost every aspect of modern culture.

For examples of how I have put these to use, see:
  • The rear view of my car.  (I do a lot of driving, and go under 60 mph on the highway to save gas – which means tons of people are always passing me – so this is an excellent means of evangelization)
  • The backside of my old business card
  • My banner for outside abortion mills, at rallies, at protests, etc. (Carefully crafted slogans are good, too… but none so powerful as bringing this image to an event)

1. Digital Files

 Divine Mercy Image:

Our Lady of Guadalupe:

Both, combined and sized to fit perfectly on a business card, with a few essential images added inbetween.

2. Printout Options

(If you have a good color printer of your own, give that a try first – but be warned, these will use much ink)
  • FedEx Office Print Online
    • This is the ideal option if you would like a sturdy, laminated letter-sized printout for outdoor use (especially for tacking onto the back of your car)
    • You will want the files in document format to use their printing service, so here they are: Guadalupe, Divine Mercy.  (Or PDF Format: Guadalupe, Divine Mercy)
      • After uploading the documents, choose “Set my own print options,” and when you do so, be sure to select “Ultra Bright White” cardstock, color, and “Lamination with 1/4″ border”
      • The cost winds up being $3 and change for each cardstock, laminated, vibrant color full-page printout.
  • SnapFish
    • I have already uploaded the files onto my Snapfish account, and am able to share these automatically with you, so that you can order them through your account, with this link.
    • Be sure to select the 8″x10″ option.  These cost $2.99.  Good for indoor uses, like hanging on a wall.
  • UPrinting.com (Update 4/2/2014: I have no idea why, but Google flagged my links to UPrinting.com, and I have had to remove them)
    • Perfect for business card sized printouts like this.
      • Using that design, you may either save money by doing only one sided printing, or you can add whatever message or image you would like on the back
      • You may also choose to do a two sided image printout; Divine Mercy being on one side and Guadalupe being on the other
    • Also good for posters, stickers, or sturdy poster-signs.

I would also like to add note of a third essential image; the Sacred Heart image, for Jesus promised to bless any home in which it is prominently displayed and honored.

***

This website is also wonderful for the Divine Mercy Image.

Various Recommended Applications:

  • Bumper Stickers
    • Must be laminated and mounted with clear packaging tape (or simply specifically have them printed as bumper stickers/car magnets)
  • Hanging Wall Pictures
    • You need not wait until you can afford expensive, framed pictures to decorate your home, office, etc. with holy images – do so right now with a quality cardstock printout and a push-pin or tape.
  • Posters/Fliers
    • For public areas, bulletin boards, etc.
  • Shirts
    • Have the shirt printed for you using an online service, or iron on the image yourself
  • Billboards
    • If you can spare the money, you will be doing enormous good by creating such exposure with a billboard
  • General Stickers
  • Handouts
  • Business Cards
    • Keep a bunch on you and hand them out freely.
  • Lawn Signs
    • Why not edify everyone who walks or drives past your house?
  • Clothing pins

Please feel free to comment with any other suggestions! I will keep updating this post as I continue to develop or come across more methods of promulgating these holy images!

“And the lord commended the unjust steward, forasmuch as he had done wisely: for the children of this world are wiser in their generation than the children of light.” -Luke 16:8

March 21, 2012

Does Mary Appear in the Night Sky this Feast of the Annunciation?

All the following is from my good friend and classmate Br. Joshua at Holy Apostles College & Seminary:

On March 25, 2012, millions of Christians (Catholic and Orthodox) will celebrate the “Annunciation” – which commemorates the conception of Jesus. This March 25, there will be a neat astronomical arrangement in the sky, that seems to mesh nicely. See the description below:
The sky will be spectacular in the west after sunset on March 25, 2012, with the waxing crescent moon and the planet Jupiter very close to each other in the evening twilight sky. Plus Venus is nearby – the sky’s brightest planet. You’ll see Jupiter and the moon below Venus in the west after sunset. The famous Pleiades star cluster is above Venus. 

For centuries Mary has been referred to as the “Morning Star”, the popular name of the Planet Venus. In this configuration, the Morning Star appears with the moon at her feet. The Pleiades (from “peleiades” the Greek word for doves) overshadows the Morning Star. Jupiter, the “King Planet” approaches the configuration.  The symbolism is striking. This is a interesting arrangement for the mystery of the Annunciation which heralds Christ’s coming through Mary.

The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God. (Luke 1:35).
“A great sign appeared in the sky, a woman- clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars” (Revelation 12:1)
Image
**Please forgive me for the ads that were appearing here.  I was unaware of them, and just paid WordPress to have them removed, as I greatly dislike advertising.**
June 22, 2011

Catholic Venom

I write this as a plea to the brethren to be of one heart and one mind.  I also write this partially as a response to the Corapi issue – not to comment on it specifically but to comment on the comments.  Finally, I write it as an exhortation for the few faithful left on Earth to unite, in dire necessity, to prepare for future (and response to past) unprecedented attacks on the Church.

I cannot help but constantly be reminded of Romans 3 when I see the words of so many faithful Catholics today “Their throats are open graves… the venom of asps is on their lips; their mouths are full of bitter cursing.  Their feet are quick to shed blood… and the way of peace they know not. There is no fear of God before their eyes.”  This is the dishearteningly common demeanor that leads to division.  Do you recognize how seriously Jesus takes this?  “Therefore, if you bring your gift to the altar, and there recall that your brother has anything against you, leave your gift there at the altar, go first and be reconciled with your brother, and t hen come and offer your gift.” (Mt 5:23-24) While I am no theologian I would venture to say that Jesus here intends for us today to interpret this as his demanding that we not receive Holy Communion if we have unjustly divided ourselves from a Brother in Christ.

Unless there is a clear and explicit heresy or evil, why do you so harshly, quickly, and confidently denounce?  Has your own understanding of doctrine (Edit 12/21/12: … or virtue, or proper comportment, or maturity, etc.) undergone no development over the years, even since you made that fundamental act of submission to God and His Church?  If it has not, you are not alive.  If it has, why do you condemn your brother for being perhaps at a point where you have been, or perhaps at a point where you may arrive in the future?  In so doing, you condemn yourself with your own words.

I will not here attempt to convince you of the validity of any private revelation.  But why do you so readily condemn them?  Medjugorje, for instance, has been scrutinized by the Church for many years and she has not yet found any need to condemn it. The fruits are astonishing, the endorsements are ringing, and the miracles testify.  Yet I have seen people, with great vitriol, denounce the alleged visionaries as malicious frauds or demonically possessed people.  Not only that, but they do so with such great perceived certainty in their own conclusion that one would think they were reciting the Nicene Creed. They say they are “absolutely certain” it is a false apparition because some associated Franciscan was disobedient or the visionaries didn’t enter the religious life.  Why not permit a healthy fear of the Lord to give you wisdom from the example of those seemingly confident Catholics who denounced as evil St. Faustina, St. Padre Pio, St. Joan of Arc, etc.?

 Nor will I attempt to convince you of my opinion on the John Corapi matter.   I will not deny that his actions may have been less than saintly nor will I argue that his actions are entirely unjustifiable.  But let us take a deep breath and recollect ourselves: He has been one of the greatest defenders of Truth in the world, has never endorsed a heresy, and is now following a path that countless people before him have followed and not received the vitriol of the “blogosphere.”  Are we his judges or is God?  All devout souls ought to limit their publicized words on Corapi to a sensible statement like EWTN’s.  But instead we have well known faithful Catholics spewing great venom at him.  Dc. Kandra, in the first paragraph of his article on the subject, abandons common manners by calling Corapi’s statement “bizarre” and “rambling.”  Then Dc. Kandra unjustly concludes, from Corapi merely relaying how he spent his time, that to Corapi the sacraments “… really didn’t matter so much.”  Mark Shea (also extremely well-known and highly regarded), in his post, declares that Corapi “Sets world record… for most passive-aggressive manipulative self-aggrandizement ever squeezed into 8 and a half minutes.” and continues to lambaste him in the following paragraph  (Shea apologized for his attitude but stopped short of deleting his post which continues to pile on views.).  What is going on here?

(Update: on 6/24 Mark Shea removed the post I have here quoted.  Thank you, Mark.  I urge you next to read Page 70 of the Pieta prayer book and delete your other posts passing judgments on him.)

 This same vitriol pervades the speech of too many who proclaim their faithful, orthodox Catholicism.  They unknowingly direct it against mystics, visionaries, future saints, and just about any Divine Intervention that God in His Mercy graces our world with.  They oppose His efforts usually on finessed and flimsy subordinate grounds, since they lack the firm arguments that any demonically-inspired or downright-fraudulent effort would certainly provide them.  Their over-confidence in their own knowledge of Scripture, Tradition, and Magisterium causes them to think themselves capable of rendering inerrant judgment on all happenings in the modern world, and in so doing they become, God help them, greater obstructions to “His Will being done on Earth as it is in Heaven” than even many of the formal vicious enemies of the Church.  Oh would that they could learn the truth in the old adage “Silence is Golden!”

Not only that, but in this over-blogged, over-tweeted, over-emailed world, it seems that even Catholics quickly resort to the type of sarcastic, snickering, arrogant, mocking, lecturing, or condescending attitude that should under no circumstances be within a thousand miles of their lexicon regardless of to whom they are speaking.

I do not say that all disagreement must cease; that is impossible, and I myself have strong opinions for and against particular stances permitted within the boundaries of the Magisterium.  For example, It would be nice for the Traditionalists to gently remind the Charismatics that the objective nature of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is of infinitely more importance than our subjective experience of it, and it would be nice for the Charismatics to gently remind the Traditionalists that the Church is a living body and therefore grows, making Traditionalism a fundamentally insatiable appetite lest we could re-enter the Garden of Eden.  It would be wonderful if they could both do this recognizing the other as a shipmate on the Ark that is the Catholic Church, voyaging through the deluge of modern society together.  Instead they spew venom at each other, describing the other sarcastically, making each other the butt of jokes, and in general treating them as if they were the greatest evildoers alive.

May Almighty God and you, my brethren, forgive me for the many offenses I have committed against this advice I have here given – for I am indeed the worst offender.  Permit me to offer this prayer from the Precious Blood Devotion to those who, like me, struggle with this sin.  Please pray it for me as well. 

 

PRAYER FOR THE CONTROL OF THE TONGUE

Dear Holy Spirit, My God. Teach me to speak wisely.
Let me avoid useless thoughts and useless conversations. Help me to speak often for You. Grant that my words may never hurt men of goodwill. May My words always bring consolation to those in sorrow and guidance to those in need. Take my lips and make them Yours. Take possession of my mind and make it an instrument of Your goodness and a channel of truth. I hope to become a man of silence, who prefers to talk to God than to men. In my human conversation, may I always bring them closer to You and You closer to them. I ask this through Christ Our Lord. Amen

Our Father. . . Hail Mary . . . Glory Be

I am unworthy to teach in detail on these subjects, but I would urge you to read more from some great sources:

June 3, 2011

Devotion to the Precious Blood of Jesus

Note 1/26/2014: As you see below, I write this article below concerning only the actual prayers themselves in the new Precious Blood of Jesus devotional book – a book containing a Nihil Obstat from an Archbishop. I have not researched or discerned the alleged apparition itself from which they come. I issue no firm opinion one way or the other on that, and assert that, as always, I will unconditionally submit to any Church rulings on the matter.

It was late March in the year of our Lord 2010, and I was alone on an island in the Atlantic off the coast of Georgia.  After a few miles of trekking down the pristine wilderness beach, I set up camp a short walk across the sand dunes and past the forest of massive oaks draped with Spanish moss protruding from an otherwise unbroken carpet of ancient looking saw palmettos; watching families of wild horses stroll by me on their paths and listening to armadillos scurrying around me in the underbrush.

This was no shipwreck; I was camping on Cumberland Island for several days of prayer and fasting to prepare for the cross-country Catholic road trip pilgrimage ahead of me.

Going out to an island for this purpose sounds like a great idea in theory.  But after a day of having no one to talk to, extremely hungry because the thought of any more of that plain 100% whole wheat bread (which is all you brought) nauseates you, and constantly uncomfortable because there isn’t anything to sit on; then you start to wonder what on earth you were thinking.  I admit this is the point I reached very quickly.  I had anticipated this might happen, so in addition to a couple prayer books and the Bible I brought with me one of the Lord of the Rings novels – thinking an entertaining story would suffice for taking my mind off the discomfort.  I soon found that insufficient also.  I was tired, distracted, lonely, uncomfortable, very hungry, and completely lacking the peace I hoped to find there.

I was about to give up and trek the few miles back to base camp where I could hopefully ferry back to the mainland, when I had an urge to give one more thing a try.  My friend Deacon Tom had given me a small devotional prayer book earlier; on the cover was an imposing image of Christ’s bloodied face crowned with thorns that penetrates you as soon as you glance at it, along with the words “Precious Blood of Jesus Daily Devotional.”  I picked up this small book and my rosary beads and, taking nothing else with me, made for the beach.  There was God’s answer to my troubles.  I simply opened up the book and started praying its contents.  I walked for miles along those perfect shores, going through page after page.

The Rosary, the Litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Chaplet of the Precious Blood, the Litany of the Precious Blood, the Consecration to the Precious Blood, the Consolation Prayers, the Adoration Prayers, the Anguished Appeals, the Mystical Prayers… on I went, for hours.  My fervency only grew as I continued to pray and walk.  The power of these prayers was surging through me and making me forget all my worries.  Before my eyes in no vague terms was the sacrifice that Jesus made, and its depiction brought constant tears to my eyes.  After many hours of dryness and complete inability to focus for one minute, I now found myself almost incapable of speaking out loud a single line of these prayers without being struck with the need to weep in prayerful thanksgiving for all that He went through for me.   This was my first major introduction to devotion to the Precious Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, and my initial inspiration for sticking with its demanding regimen.

We are usually best off ignoring dreams, but sometimes we are given one that we know contains a sign from God. In one that I had soon after my time on Cumberland Island, I beheld the terribly scourged Jesus crouching down on the ground, enduring unimaginable misery.  I went to Him and embraced Him tenderly and held Him, weeping bitterly, as I sought to console Him.  I had a great interior sense that this attempt of mine was having a good effect.  In another, a torrent of fire and lava was spewing out from the ground in a nearby city, such that it had almost reached the front steps of my home.  At this, I ran out to the porch with my Rosary beads and, falling to my knees, began praying the chaplet of the Precious Blood.  The flow of fire stopped just short of our home as I did this.  In yet another, I witnessed a close friend of mine who is a Deacon wielding off evil spirits with “The Prayer to Vanquish Satan and his Agents,” given to Barnabas by Jesus as a part of this devotion.

But my personal experiences merely confirm what I see with my reason: the extreme power of this devotion and its perfect fit for the age in which we live.  In many ways I see this devotion as an attack against the great evils of today.  One of these is fluffy Catholicism.  The type that disdains any mention of crucifixes, blood, penance, the Wrath of God, evil, demons, Satan, or sin.  This devotion is the most unabashed possible diametric opposite of such lukewarm, modernistic false teaching.  Just look at “The Agonizing Crucifix,” which is a major aspect of the Precious Blood Devotion, and behold the cover of the daily devotional prayer book:

But this does not mean it is a Jansenistic devotion; focusing only on God’s wrath, sin, and our unworthiness.  Quite the contrary it is full of hope and mercy; see these excerpts from some of its prayers:  “We appreciate your benevolence and solicit Your continued loving kindness… O loving Jesus Christ, Whose mercy is endless, we adore Your Agonizing Heart which bears great pains and sorrows for the salvation of man… Heavenly Father, Your love is eternal.  In Your ocean of love, You saved the world through Your only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ…Merciful and loving Father, Your wish is that all men shall be saved… Eternal Father, You are the creator and author of life.  You love the world You made… You are the only Immortal God, God who is love, merciful and kind.”

This devotion is equally unabashed in its condemnation of homosexuality, abortion, modern fashions, unworthy communions, irreverence toward the Eucharist, fornication, adultery, immodesty, worldly priests, justifying sin by simply planning to confess it, taking the Lord’s name in vain, neglecting to keep the Sabbath, the forsaking of vows, and criticizing instead of praying for the Church (in short, all of those sins which modernist heretics and lukewarm Catholics within and without the Church want us to accept and welcome).  It is highly concerned with purgatory, the protection of the clergy, the Immaculate and Sacred Hearts, reparation to the Eternal Father, offering ones-self as a victim soul to be in agony with Jesus, the Sacred Side of Jesus, and the invocation of St. Michael the Archangel.

It is traditional without being traditionalistic.  Highly recommended as part of this daily devotion is all twenty decades of the Rosary; required is at least 5 a day.  Contained within the pages are the Litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Litany of Saints, as well as the original long prayer to St. Michael the Archangel. It opens up with remarks by Blessed John Paul II on “Christ’s Blood, Source of Salvation.”

Finally, if you will forgive the slight vulgarity, this devotion seems to me like “Divine Mercy on Steroids;” taken up a few notches in fervency and in graphic truth in stride with the urgency and gravity of our times.  This devotion is fearlessly apocalyptic in nature.  It gives no dates, of course, but does speak of the Antichrist and the Red Dragon.  “The great day of darkness is coming… Wake up, my children for evangelization!… Persist in your work of salvation now!  Call my people back to me,” says Jesus to Barnabas.  Are these “gloom and doom” words, insisting that people sell their possessions or stock up on food and ammunition?  Not at all!  What enormous privileges you choose to deprive yourself of when you permit the false prophets, those who insist upon fixed dates or who claim security through worldly means or preach heresies like the rapture and millenarianism, to cause you to turn your back on the true prophets: those who fearlessly proclaim that the time of mercy is running out and we must step up our efforts in fighting for the Kingdom and spiritually readying ourselves for chastisements which are to precede a Glorious Reign of Peace (otherwise known as the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart).  You may respond “I live my life as a Catholic so that I may die any day, why need I bother with this?”  It is well and good that you live as such.  But with those words do you categorically reject prophecy?  Do you willingly call down upon yourself the condemnation of the holy Apostle St. Paul who demands that you “despise not prophecy” (cf 1 Thess 5:20)?  Would you reject Jonah’s call to penance and convince your household to do likewise, thus refusing the mercy that God desired to grant Nineveh?  Oh devout soul: it is not your place to decide what Heaven ought to say.  It is your place to prayerfully discern what you are presented with so as to sift out the false prophets, hear what Heaven has said, and do as you are told.

Right now, what we are being told is very clear.  Seek out your Divine battle orders by lending your ear to the Hound of Heaven who has graced our age with such unfathomable mercy in apparitions, visions to Saints, and powerful devotions like the one I speak of here, but also: St. Faustina and Divine Mercy.  Our Lady at Fatima, Medjugorje, Kibeho, Akita, Garabandal.  Fr. Gobbi and the Marian Movement of Priests.  Maria Esparanza, Louisa Piccarreta, Ann the lay apostle, Therese Neuman, and so many more!

 

Can I say with certainty these are all valid?  Of course not, but they all say essentially the same thing, and I am enormously confident at least some of them are valid.  With obedience to the Magisterium and a solid foundation in Scripture and Catechism, you need not lay idle in paralyzing fear of falling into error.  Instead, proceed with courage and prudence, trusting in Jesus.

It is convenient and easy to open up the Precious Blood of Jesus Daily Devotional, or anything similar, and say “that kind of stuff is not for me.”  It is that same convenience that the agnostic strives after in choosing not to develop a belief about God.  But that is no longer possible.  The marks are being placed.  The time for neutrality is over; the battle is beginning.

March 30, 2011

Mary: Queen and Commander of the Pro-Life Movement

(The following is a slightly modified email I sent on March 15, 2011 to some local pro-lifers in response to a conflict regarding how to approach Mary in a pro-life setting)

Our Lady of Guadalupe

Our Lady of Guadalupe

Thank you Vivianne!

I think your key point is at the end.  There are two goals we can pursue here with 40 DfL.  One is ecumenism, and one is ending abortion.  40 Days for Life is about the latter, while ensuring openness to all denominations.  I know we all agree that is the guiding principle.  How exactly to achieve it, I am not sure.  What I am sure of is that discord as the result of such a discussion is of Satan, and whoever gives himself over to despair of unity because of such disagreements has lent an ear to the Father of Lies.
But I want to take that even further and tell you all about something that has been on my heart for some time now.  It is another pro-life strategy, and it seeks to be guided by God’s methods instead of man’s.  Some have pondered “What would Mary want here?”  But we need not guess at it.  She has told us.
(If you are one of those souls who has an automatic disdain or apathy for so-called “private” revelation, this email will be of little worth to you.  But know that you are rejecting the teachings of Christ’s Church, as this Church authoritatively teaches, in CCC 67, that the Sensus Fidelium is capable of discerning these revelations.)

I must preface this by pointing out that it seems I have been more persecuted recently by Catholics for doing Catholic things than I have been by non-Catholics.  I go evangelizing door-to-door and have been greeted with warmth even by Muslims who appreciate my care, while I am condemned by Catholics for my “proselytizing and pushiness.”  I pray something Marian at an event with non-Catholics and am complimented by Protestants for my Faith, while I am condemned by Catholics for “pushing what others think to be idolatry” .  I speak of the unprecedented urgency, depravity, and apocalyptic nature of our times (merely quoting claims in many approved apparitions) and I am thanked for pointing this out by even the lost sheep; the dissolute, the homeless, the sinners: protestants, Jews, and Muslims alike; while many Catholics chastise me saying “Stop being distracted, times have been bad before, everyone dies anyway, you’re being fanatical and people don’t like that.”  I speak of the errancy of Darwinism and the fact of Adam and Eve, and Catholics roll their eyes at me, explicitly or implicitly saying that I ought to be more concerned about potentially offending modern scientists than offending God; while the uneducated youth on the streets are happy to hear me proclaim the fact that even they know to be obvious: we are not the mere descendants of apes. 

I am not seeking sympathy! I say these things only to point out that the great tragedy of today is not the persecution we receive from without, but the wretched tepidity and lukewarmness from within the walls of our own Catholic Church.  We are like a knight in full armor cowering in a corner afraid to engage a small rabid animal. Our disastrously weak faith is demonstrated by our hesitation to proclaim the full Veritatis Splendor (Splendor of Truth) to all.  Human wisdom says water down truth so it is less offensive.  Divine wisdom says “Blessed is the one who takes no offense at me.” (Luke 7:23) Divine wisdom proclaims Truth in all its beauty and majesty and splendor, and permits those who cannot accept it to walk away (John 6:66). 

One woman I spoke to while going door-to-door was once a Protestant and told me about how she converted to Catholicism because when she had a daughter, she wanted to raise her in a faith with more ritual.  Thanks be to God she did not run into a modern Catholic who uses that pathetic “lowest common denominator” strategy, tip-toeing timidly around and making sure to pretend we are really not much different!  This woman had fallen away from the practice of the Faith for quite some time, and said it was a sign from God that we showed up at her door when she did, and told us she would get back to Church.

To the point: I am striving to take my orders from Heaven.  Heaven speaks through the Magisterium, yes, but Heaven also speaks directly.  Our mother, who is the mother of all, the greatest creature who will ever exist, and the Queen of all Creation, has been perfectly clear that SHE is the one in charge of our current apocalyptic struggle.  Christ has saved her for these times, and she is our commander.

The strategy I suggest seeks to place itself completely under the mantle of Mary.  “So it is a Catholic campaign, then” you may say to me.  It is not!  It is far more inclusive than even those on the “inclusive” side of this debate wish to  position themselves.  It is welcoming of all true believers, for it seeks to hurl at Satan, as one massive attack, all those prayers that God hears (and these are not only not limited to Catholics’ prayers but are also not limited to Christians’ prayers); prayers directed against a common enemy.  What great allies against the Culture of Death I have met among non-Christians: Muslims, Jews, Mormons, Jehova’s Witnesses, and those who believe but are still seeking a Church!  Why should we neglect to unite their prayers with ours?  If you ask someone “do you believe in God?” and his response is an unqualified “yes” (not “yes, but…” or “yes, as a…”), and he recognizes the same enemy we recognize, then his prayers ought to be united with ours, through Mary.

She has made it clear that under her mantle Catholics, Orthodox, Protestants, Jews, and Muslims are to unite against Satan.  Do not accuse me of religious indifferentism!  Daily I hope and pray and work so that all may become Catholic, where alone abides the fullness of Truth.  But there is no time to wait for that to happen.  Only the most arrogant of souls could claim that God does not hear the prayers of any non-Christians.  So if we are to exceed the walls of our own Catholic Church, let us not arbitrarily limit ourselves to non-Catholic Christians. 

To Catholics Mary is the Mediatrix of all grace; the Mother of God and the Queen of the Universe.  to Protestants she is the mother of Jesus, the one whose pleas initiated His first miracle, and one of the few who accompanied Him on Calvary. She is greatly revered by Mormons as well. To Muslims she is the most regarded woman in their holy book, the fairest woman in heaven, and as a virgin gave birth to the one who is to judge the world at the end of time; one of her greatest apparitions, Fatima, carries the name of one of Mohammad’s daughters, and in Cairo in the 1960s she appeared to millions, including Muslims who greatly revered her .  To Jews, she was the perfect Jew, keeping the law like no other, having every admirable trait that a Jew ought to have; we also know she is spoken of in their own scriptures.  To all others, she is the most beautiful woman in existence, the worker of the greatest wonders the world has ever seen; from Lourdes to Fatima to Cairo to Medjugorje, the object of more Holy Pilgrimages than anything.  She is at least nominally revered by the millions who wear her weapon, the Rosary, as jewelery around their necks.    Souls of all races and colors and creeds flock to her apparition sites; her maternal love is simply irresistible to all but those with hearts of stone, for “if anyone should glory in having God for his Father and yet has not the love of a true child for Mary, he is a deceiver, and the only father he has is the devil” – St. Louis de Montfort

Abandon your fears, your concerns, and your hesitations!  Our own devices will not bring about the Triumph of her Immaculate Heart that she promised us.  She will; through our response to her call.    She has told us we are to pray together; not just Protestants and Catholics but all believers.  She has told us that the Rosary is not just for Catholics.  Reject her orders at your own peril, devout soul!  Fear Judgment Day as well, as we all ought, but consider that the rejection of a mother’s love may be more detestable to Him on That Day than all the sins against purity and temperance in the world. 

How exactly to go about with such a strategy?  I certainly have not worked out all the details, though I will continue to think and pray about this.

Remember also, devout Catholic, that outside those very few truly faithful, obedient, orthodox Catholics; we do not have any complete allies in this fight.  Even the more conservative Protestant Churches have neglected to condemn contraception, which is at the heart of this Culture of Death- so you will be doing no good in reciting to me a list of evils contained in Islam, Mormonism, etc. (even though I may agree with you)- because I will respond to you with that fact.

I am not asking you to turn this current campaign into what I suggest.  Not only would I have no right to do that, but I recognize it would be imprudent at this point.  But for the future, I feel confident that this method I describe is God’s Will, or at least a significant part of His plan.

Unlike Vivianne I have not yet taken this to expert opinions and spiritual direction.  As always I submit this to those who are more qualified and learned than myself.  But I hope you can see the wisdom in this approach, because this wisdom did not come from me; I do believe God put it in my heart.  It is not the type of approach I would come up with on my own.  And trust me, I resisted it for a long time.  I am not saying it is the only valid approach to the exclusion of an explicitly Catholic one or an explicitly Christian one, but I do think it may very well be the best one.

I anticipate there will be holier and better Catholics than myself who will disagree with me here; and I just ask that before responding  they first pause and prayerfully consider what I suggest, because I will take their input very seriously.  Consider that it is not my own ponderings, but striving after obedience to Heaven’s guidance that makes me say this.    Consider that our allies in this battle are not limited to Christians. 

 Consider that Mary clearly is the means by which God has chosen to bring about the renewal of faith that we so direly need. Consider what she HAS done and what therefore she can and will do.  Consider that she is the woman spoken of in both Genesis and Revelation, and only by God’s grace, through Mary, do we have any hope in this age. When God sought to put an end to this continent’s Culture of Death almost 500 years ago, He did not do it through man’s carefully strategized efforts.  He did it through an apparition of His mother, as you all know, Our Lady of Guadalupe.  It will not be different this time!


In Christ, Through Mary,
Dan

February 16, 2011

Save The World

I’ve always wanted to save the world; to solve all of its problems with my effort. I have always hated to see people suffer, or to see them not living as full a life as they ought.

Since a very young age the most logical method of doing this seemed to me to be theoretical physics.  It is indeed the most fundamental science.  Stretching from the tiniest particles to the largest expanses of the universe, it seeks to consolidate all things into one general unified theory, always striving after “the secret of the universe.”  Before I had become a teenager I was delving into this field of study.  Finding this secret; unlocking the key to the physical universe would certainly save the world, would it not?

Well, in High School I realized I was not going to achieve my goals in this area.  So I became a little more practical.  I turned my efforts towards engineering and inventing.  Surely if I could only discover an abundant energy source, an easier means of transportation, and better construction methods, all of the world’s problems would be solved. To this end I pursued my degree in Mechanical Engineering from RPI, and poured thousands of hours into researching, designing, prototyping, and applying for patents on inventions I had conceived. I worked for GE Energy and GE Global Research.  I took classes in entrepreneurship and inventing.

This combined with my theory that right legislation would save the world.  I educated myself in every political hot-topic and spent countless hours racking up thousands of posts on internet forums debating them. I campaigned for causes and for politicians and became involved in every controversial happening I could find.  With the right machines and the right laws to encourage them and enable them, we would surely see victory!

Late in college I realized I would not be successful in these strategies, either. But something else happened around these years; my Catholic awakening.  I was leading a typical life of promiscuity, debauchery, intemperance, apathy, and the like until then.  Toward the beginning of freshman year I saw these sins tearing me apart and finally vowed to radically change my life forever.  NOW I had really found out how to save the world.  I would take these lessons I had learned; these lessons of sexual purity and faith in God, and save the world by letting everyone in on it.  I started apostolates and clubs, wrote articles, gave talks, made YouTube videos, and talked to my friends about these pressing issues.

As I was graduating college, I realized that these arguments, also, would not save the world.  But now I am onto the next step in my efforts to save the world.  And that is to realize that I cannot save the world.  I cannot, but Jesus and His mother can.  I now realize that God does have the solution; one overlooked even by most Christian and Catholic apologists, and certainly overlooked by the so-called movers and shakers of this world.  He gave us a solution, and we ignore it at our own peril.  The solution is His mother, that woman whom Satan fears even more than God.  That woman who we infallibly know will crush the serpent’s head.  Mary Immaculate, the pinnacle of all creation.  The Queen of the Universe. The Mother of God. Our mother.

How did I not know this earlier? Well, I grew up in modern Catholicism.  You could describe it in many other terms; protestant Catholicism, professional Catholicism, worldly Catholicism, cultural Catholicism, feel-good Catholicism, effeminate Catholicism. It is the type of Catholicism that appeases everybody, pleases everybody, sedates everybody, and saves nobody.  In 20 years of going to Church most Sundays, I never heard of an apparition, the rosary, the scapular, the need for confession, or even the existence of daily Mass. I probably passively believed that God ceased speaking to man after Jesus ascended.

But now I know that God has not left us as orphans.  He has sent us His mother.  It is due time that we cease placing trust in the world and turn to her.  She will lead us to the mercy of her Son, but there are only a few grains left in the hourglass for the Time of Mercy.

I do not reject any of my former methods.  I certainly still spend much time arguing for virtue; for purity, for faith.  I still tinker with inventing, and even sometimes find myself pondering abstract physics.  But I thank God that I never discovered that secret to the universe, and never invented that boundless and cheap energy production machine.  Perhaps, if I did, I would never have reached the point where I am now.  The point where I am truly saving the world, because I pray the Rosary every day.

September 25, 2009

The Point of Purity

(This article was first published in July 2008)

Lust is the most widely unopposed sin of the day. It is evident everywhere; shelves are stocked with magazines aimed at inspiring it, non-marital relationships usually involve intercourse, sexual self-gratification is expected, and impure thoughts have become a bragging point.

 

The reason is simple. Temptation wins in the absence of strong conviction to do battle with it. Conviction is withering away today. Comfort, pleasure, and immediate gratification are considered of greater meaning than eternal principles, and the temptation that lust casts upon us is relentless and powerful. Aside from the wisdom of our ancestors and the commandments of God, which are deplorably mocked and disregarded; there is solid reason upholding why refrain from lust and its expressions is absolutely necessary for everyone.

 

Premarital sex has become so accepted that a proposal to avoid it will now invoke laughter in most. People who prefer this sad, degraded moral common ground seem to act as if society has always been this way, if not outwardly then privately, but truly the prevalence of such promiscuity is only a recent trend. Those who came before us understood its perils, which result not only from casual encounters but also relations between serious, yet unwed, couples. The latter situation is flat-out expected; serious couples who save themselves for marriage are considered senseless, but that choice will lead them to incomparably happier lives. The decision to spend the rest of one’s life with another must occur before this pair engages in intercourse, so a proper judgment can be made. Such intimacy is designed for, and regardless of your views on purpose, is confirmedly adept at bonding man and woman. When applied before marriage, this bonding power acts only to cloud judgment and put in place an enslaving fear of ending an inadequate relationship, causing it to drag on and devour valuable months or years. If the relationship does end, the deprivation from that bond causes a type of sadness that no man should ever have to feel; it is a sadness that frequently accounts for depression and motivates suicide, the rate of which is unsurprisingly astronomical these past few decades,  and one that stems from giving oneself entirely to another, only to have that gift cast aside, along with a serious part of the soul. When this crippling sadness fades, all that is left is the knowledge that your love was all for naught, with the only outcomes being lost time and lessened bonding power of intimacy for future relationships. That same enslaving fear could also be the grounds for a marriage that either ends in divorce or continues with unhappiness for the duration of the couple’s lives, or at least far less happiness than could have been obtained if the spouses were instead inspired to seek a better match. This is not to say that all married couples who engaged in premarital relations are unhappy, but it is so for an astonishing number, and guarding against such a rampant affliction should be a top priority in everyone’s life.

 

Casual sexual encounters have that same effect of lessening the bonding power of intimacy for future relationships, but take it to an extreme level. When a man shares his bed with one for whom he has no strong and developed feelings, he is showing utter disrespect for himself and his bedmate. He is tearing up his prospects of ever benefiting from intimacy and tossing them into a fire, for he has removed intimacy entirely from the realm of meaning and placed it into the realm of fleeting biological gratification. Like a drug user, he becomes resistant to the pleasures he pursues, except instead of the body being affected, it is the soul.

 

Adultery is one form of promiscuity that thankfully is still frowned upon. Its prominence is caused primarily by insufficient willpower to resist and, despite a general agreement in its negative effects, an inadequate sense of true conviction opposing it. This may be a consequence of the complete lack of opposition to the other forms of promiscuity, and as evil begets evil, degradation of conviction in one area leads to the same in the others that are related. Triumph is only attainable when the door latched shut to vice, instead of leaving it ajar and hoping only some will enter.

 

In resisting lust, so many people, despite being principled in many areas, fail to firmly shut this door by inviting sexual self-gratification into their lives. Even many of today’s Christian Churches do not oppose the practice. The reasons to eliminate masturbation may be the least obvious of all the transgressions from lust, but they are neither weak nor scarce. Masturbation has the opposite effect that many theorize it has. It is not a form of releasing built up tension; it is nothing but a means to temporarily appease your passions and thereby empower the propagation of temptation. As rewarding a child with candy in response to every tantrum serves only to reinforce future tantrums, so responding to temptation with masturbation will only cause you to crave more, while promoting your body to master and demoting your being to slave. Freedom can only be realized with utter refusal to satisfy any of the demands that lust solicits, and despite its differences from sexual encounters with others, masturbation is simply another way to satisfy lust instead of combat it. Complete refusal of self-gratification will grant you far greater focus, for when you know there is no possibility of committing this act, your subconscious will cease nagging you to give in. Greater willpower for employment in any pursuit also comes into the possession of whoever accepts complete refusal. Banishing from your life a pleasure that has been so depended on is a great achievement that, as with all struggles, paves the path for more achievement. The common saying “95% of people masturbate and the other 5% of people lie” illustrates the plague of weakness and surrender filling the minds of men. The subservience to their bodies of those who share this view has been developed to such a degree that they refuse to consider that people even exist who are not under such a spell. Do not believe in such discouragements; it truly is both realistic and vital for everyone to rid their lives of this habit.

 

This all is by no means an exhaustive summary of the malice of lust; far reaching are its effects and its expressions are not limited to what has been mentioned here.  Know too that one need not go as far as intercourse with another to suffer greatly; lesser expressions of lust bring the same effects, whether or not to a similarly lesser extent.  Understand there is no safety in numbers here; God does not grade on a curve.  Today, being merely acceptable means appearing exceptional next to the norm, and even appearing just good here may not be enough. 

 

 

Notice there has not yet been any mention of the risk of disease; that is because such an affliction is a fleabite compared to the decay of the soul that is at stake. Some say that as the number of their bedmates went up, the sadness from each relationship ending went down.  Despite appearing like a good way out of the horror of promiscuity; this consists of nothing but one digging his own grave so deep that the very smell of fresh air escapes his memory, and he becomes accustomed to the stench below.  This only means that the worst has happened: sexuality has lost its ability to bind him.  His hunger still prevails, but he can no longer gain nourishment from the food.  He has descended to the realm of mindless animals who wander the earth abiding only by hormones, and the human heart residing here knows nothing but torment.

 

But hope is not lost for those who have followed these ways. Though this makes Purity more difficult than for those who have always chosen it, in surmounting the challenge true joy can be found. God can give you a chance to start anew; with His help no burden is too large to bear .  Let Him guide you towards the life given to those who reject lust; for obtaining the benefits of its absence are even more persuasive than avoiding the downfalls of its presence. 

We know when we see someone free from the chains of lust.  For him, life is truly an adventure as opposed to a weak attempt to minimize pain and maximize pleasure. His happiness is based on principles that no event will ever darken.  He is impervious to the traps that ensnare the hedonists and even those who remain moderate in this sin, for he has chosen to elevate himself to a level of meaning that is completely independent of such triviality.  His time is spent living in the deepest sense of the word.  Without the distraction of lust, he is able to pursue his true purpose.  Without the parasite of lust, he is able to give his whole heart to his cause.  Without the agony, dominance, and deceit of lust; he puts today’s permissive, purposeless, and feeble culture to shame.  Defeating lust is only one step, but it is a large step, and one that cannot be skipped.  The deepest part of every man’s heart yearns for this great existence more desperately and persistently than any other desire he knows.  This understanding can be most real at the close of reading a great novel or watching a powerful movie, but is sadly often gone by the time the next temptation knocks. Do not let such decisions tear you away from the life you crave and need.  Take heed of that which your immortal soul knows is right and cast aside that for which your mortal flesh begs.  One side must be taken.

September 25, 2009

Atheism: The Masquerading Folly

Atheism: The Masquerading Folly

(This article was first published July 2008)

Christopher Hitchens. Richard Dawkins.  Sam Harris. Daniel Dennet.  Bill Maher.  They are the warriors of the new atheism, having convinced far too many that their bleak outlook is the only position confirmed by solid intellect, with anything but it being blind childish faith. The reality is an absolute and foolish opposition to the pure reason that governs all pursuits (science included).  Here are a few drops in the ocean of reasons to believe in God, an ocean that is wholly absent with regard to Zeus and other falsehoods to which they compare Him.

Biology

An atheist must believe that a man is merely natural, so if it can be demonstrated that a man is more than just a physical object, a collection of matter and energy, then God’s existence has been equally demonstrated.  If a man has more that makes him up than the particles that comprise the physical world, then he has what Christians call a soul.  If he has a soul, then what Christians call He who made this soul is God.

Observe the consistency in the order of creation; how all the way from the tiniest virus up to the smartest chimp there is a linear progression of these organisms’ capabilities.  Add some complexity to its biological makeup, and the behavior of the creature enhances in stride.  This everywhere perfect trend is entirely ruptured when we compare man to the greatest mere animal.  This undeniable chasm can only be explained by the immaterial soul of man.  Are there any instances in which one virus acts like a normal virus, mindlessly attaching to any compatible cell it bumps; but only a speck longer up the biological hierarchy forming complex colonies like some ants or bees?  No.  Since man’s situation is the only one we see the discrepancy, the next step is to ponder what is so special about man.

The Universe

Humans have been advancing the great cause of science for thousands of years.  In virtually every area imaginable; massive leaps in understanding have been made beginning from our instinctual knowledge to today’s scientific laws.  But another question exists in which no progress at all has been made; how did the universe begin?  The existence of the universe has often been used as an argument for God, with the atheist’s response usually citing it as just another question science has not yet answered, but one day will.

Can one logically conclude that mankind will ever (or even theoretically could ever) explain such a phenomena, given this infinite difference in our degree of understanding with regard to all other scientific questions?  There is no reason to believe so.  We must remain content knowing that such knowledge will never be ours, and this is not due to a technical detail; those have proven ineffectual against man’s ingenuity.

A Stephen Hawking or Carl Sagan may argue that we have made no progress in discovering why the particle X doesn’t move like we predict under force Y either.  But to them I ask: how long have we been pondering this question? 4,000 years or less than 100?  And have we really made no progress whatsoever?  Are there not plenty of reasonable theories that could indeed work?

The existence of the universe is not a new question.  We have always pondered how anything could come into existence, since this fact does not seem coherent.  Philosophers and scientists alike have been doing their best for thousands of years.  Not one inch of progress has been made.  When Richard Dawkins claims “we’re working on it,” you should realize that he is conveniently ignoring the fact that the question, by definition, cannot be answered.

But, for a long time, most people have had an answer to the question of the universe: an uncreated God created it.  An atheist may insist that one cannot claim God can exist by Himself any more than one can claim the universe can exist by itself.  He will say that God being by nature uncreated is simply defining away the question.

This is not the case, as any believer must eventually proclaim “I don’t know how God can simply exist.  I don’t know how He can be uncreated, and I could not possibly ever understand.” This response is perfectly acceptable with regard to God (the argument against Him by atheists that reference His inherent intangibility allow for it), but this is the one response that science, does not have the authority to give.  Nothing that pertains to the physical could possibly be inherently unknowable.   Though some areas remain to be discovered, there is no room for mystery in mechanics.  Without God, “it is unknowable” is simultaneously the only possible response to the universe’s creation, and the only impossible response.  This paradox then can only be solved by the introduction of a non-, or super- natural element, or in other words, God.

The only possible avenue left to escape the conclusion from this line of reasoning being “God exists,” is to say that the universe was not created; it simply always existed.  One event was preceded by another, ad infinitum.  While this violates the logical necessity for all physical things to have a cause, it also violates something less abstract: The Second Law of Thermodynamics.  This law, referred to often as the most fundamental law of all science, guarantees a finite period of existence for the universe.  It tells us that every single physical thing that can possibly happen increases a quantity called entropy.   Entropy can be thought of as disorder or energy dissipation.  As it is always inescapably increasing, it eventually leads to a complete heat death of the universe; a state where nothing else can ever happen since there is no more energy. Essentially an eternal void of darkness and nothingness.  This same fact should also shatter any new age style hopes of an afterlife as an “energy form” or “life force.”  (The incoherent blend of science and spirituality that creates such views, which causes only confusion without any understanding or true enlightenment, is often seen preached in one form or another by people, organizations, and publications like Oprah Winfrey, Eckhart Tolle, Deepak Chopra, A Course in Miracles, The Law of Attraction, The Secret, etc.  They speak of things like quantum mechanics  and particle vibrations to give the guise of science, but only instill extremely dangerous philosophies.)

Free will is a reflection of God’s ability to create the universe; to make and fill space and time.  A choice is, for similar reasons as the universe’s existence, unable to be explained with science. It is something from nothing, the ultimate paradox.  Freedom in this context means only “lawlessness.” A lack of a cause and effect relationship. Motion without mechanics. A completely unscientific process.  It is inherently impossible from an atheistic mindset.  All of us make a multitude of these truly free choices every day, yet it is the very existence of these that the atheist must argue against more than anything.   Will you believe him when he tells you that your free will is an illusion (this is implicit in all atheism)?  Does the best use of your intellect really guide you to the conclusion that your entire life is nothing but the meaningless fruition of an empty equation?

The Ideal Machine

This argument is not alone an attack on atheism; but the reaction that it should and likely will provoke in every human being, atheists included, is what supports the case for God.  It is a similar dilemma that confronts Neo (Keauna Reeves) in “The Matrix” and reflects earlier philosophical questions asked in ancient Greece.  Under atheism, all pleasure and happiness is nothing but a chemical reaction of some sort.  This means that a machine could theoretically be developed that would keep you in a state of perfect happiness for your entire life.  You would be suspended in a vat of gel, achieving nothing, but you would be achieving the true ultimate good in the eyes of the atheist, who can only gauge this by pleasure and pain, happiness and suffering. An atheist may insist that this machine would not be the same, that it couldn’t replicate the feelings that real achievement gives.  But that is not what we are dealing with.  We are dealing with a perfect machine; one that could indeed replicate any feeling (to the atheist all feelings are physical, so this is perfectly possible), and if any certain feeling somehow required a certain type of experience to cause; then this machine could convince you of the false reality of such an experience.

Do you hook up to this machine?  The philosophy that has no God compels you to.  I hope you would not hook up to it, but that behavior only has any merit whatsoever if reality has some purpose.  Such purpose, a simply physical world cannot give.

There is one more response that an atheist could give; that hooking up to the machine would render one useless in helping others better their own pleasure to pain ratio.  This type of altruism cannot be justified under atheism, and I will go further on that in the following section.

Missionary Atheism

There are many intelligent atheists who travel the world on a mission to convert,  and more still who  put themselves and their own comfort on the line for the sake of their atheism.  They boldly proclaim their reason for doing so as fulfilling the need to spread truth.   Under theistic beliefs, selflessly spreading truth is indeed a noble undertaking; it helps souls reach their eternal home and brings peace in the meantime.  But what does an atheist gain from doing so?  To him, the pursuit of good is defined by whatever appears to be the most effective means of bettering the pleasure to pain ratio.  Campaigning for a cause absolutely will not achieve this end.  He may insist that it will; that once his views are accepted and their implications put to practice, his own life will reap the benefits of this superior view.  But if evidence is of the utmost importance to the atheist, he will look at it and realize that this is not so. Those who really work for change never live in the aftermath of the change long enough to be compensated for the blood, sweat, and tears that it required.  Martin Luther King died while still living in racism.  Even Jesus died far before Christianity became common.  C.S. Lewis, the enormously intelligent pre eminent Christian apologist of the twentieth century, died in old age under increasing modernism, after fighting it for almost all his adult life.  The atheist’s views demand that he live a quietly hedonistic life, while outwardly conforming to the crowd almost no matter what.

The atheist may, though not using these words, compare his desires to those of an ant’s evolutionary pre-programmed selflessness, or herd instinct, for the colony; but does he really believe that his wit lies on the same level as the ant’s?  Does he not have the power of will by virtue of reason and intellect to overcome such an irrational urge (for it is not truly self-interested), and instead pursue what the pretenses of his beliefs define as happiness?  For as we can most definitively deem, the ant himself would be better off not fighting the colony’s enemy to the death; he does so for the sake of the colony.  Considering only his own welfare, this ant should at least wander off and live a few more minutes of his life instead of facing a hostile insect that will certainly kill him, but the advance of whom he could slow by fighting to the death. Man may not claim “we reason this way because of evolution.”  Quite the contrary, it is evolution that is this way because of our reason; it can theoretically explain instinctual urges, but not mindful decisions. Such decisions must be independently justified, for they are the very things that allow for consideration of the theory of evolution.  An intellectually honest atheist would realize that his views say the colony doesn’t matter; only he does.  This honest atheist must plan out his life as such:

Gain a skill that has a high probability of awarding consistent employment in a job as easy as possible, or move somewhere with large government welfare.  Eat for pleasure and do not exercise to pain.  Get a good health insurance plan so that if this causes a health problem, you can afford plenty of painkillers.  Buy a great cable subscription and the latest videogames so you have a pleasurable and effortless way to spend your time.  Have few or no children to avoid work that does not directly benefit you.  Swallow up all the anti depressants you can find to silence your conscience if it starts punishing you for achieving nothing.  This is what atheism in practice truly is, and it is tragically rampant.  Those who champion atheism may not realize it is precisely that which has allowed so many to sink to this level; but they must realize that if they deviate significantly from such a lifestyle, they are preaching the existence of God with their actions.  G.K. Chesterton summarized this perfectly when he said, in Orthodoxy, “to preach egoism is to practice altruism.”

Many atheists will strongly argue against pain and pleasure being the basis of their morality, but their beliefs remove the authority to do so.  Either there is just our human perception, or there is more.  If the former (which must be the view of the atheist, as saying there is more than that is nothing other than attesting to the existence of the supernatural); what meaning could any choice possibly carry except its capacity to make this perception (which is the only thing of importance to an atheist) positive or negative?  No meaning.  Boil down any atheist’s theory on morality and you will arrive at pleasure and pain, or positive perception and negative perception.  But if more than our own perception exists, which is the believer’s wager, there is room for something other than mere pleasure in the construction of morality.  Indeed if an eternally unchanging and perfect God created our very perception and the universe in which it resides, then and only then would it be logically sound to attribute inherent meaning to His commandments, which are implicit to His nature and would harmonize with His creation due to His perfection.  Then and only then could a choice be guided by any ultimate goal other than pleasure.

The final retort of the atheist is that even if pain and pleasure is the only basis of his morality; he will still work to eliminate the belief in God of others, despite doing so not increasing his own pleasure most effectively, because this at least can work to increase the pleasure of the converts he wins.  The problem with this is that his beliefs do not even justify altruism.  The only pain he cannot escape is his own; the only pleasure he can pursue is that which is won for himself.  The only perception he can even suppose exists is the one he experiences.  Other humans cannot be anything to him except means for advancing his own pleasure; for their pleasure is inaccessible to him by any stretch of the imagination.  It makes quite a bit of sense for the atheist to refrain from stealing his friend’s belongings (at least when he thinks he may get caught), but an entirely altruistic act like donating to charity and telling no one is unjustifiable, just as is spreading his version of truth solely for the sake of his audience.  One who believes in God can see all humanity as His children, created with equal dignity and inherent meaning due to the inherent worth of their perfect Creator who thought their existence good, and therefore worth charity.  One without such belief can only be certain of himself.  You must be quietly careful of accepting, in your mind, the altruism claim of atheists.  Ponder whether that is truly what they see as the foundation of their beliefs, or a transparent façade.  Always refrain from judging, but do not feel compelled give equal credit to the one with love in his eyes and the one whose language is dripping with sarcasm and whose demeanor reeks of hatred and anger.   I certainly have found the latter to be the case with more than a few missionary atheists, and fewer than most missionary theists.

The Impossible Uniqueness of Jesus

Long has the argument of the tri-dilemma of Jesus been used, and rightly so. It points out that only a few opinions of Jesus stand even a basic test of reason: that He was a liar, a lunatic, or the Son of God at whose feet we must kneel.   Some attempt to wiggle out of those options by concocting some grand historical lie, and each year seems to present a different one.  Do know that the history of Jesus as told by the Church is attested by multiple parties of the time, each with different stakes on the issue.  One who denies the life of Jesus must also deny a significant portion of that era’s secular history.  But let us say for the sake of argument that the resurrection of Jesus and His other miracles did not happen.  Let us instead simply focus on the 3 years of proven teaching by Jesus, during which period He gave moral commands of unprecedented clarity, lived a completely selfless and spotless life, while also continually insisting that He was the Son of God, the Word made flesh, and the only path to heaven.  Those who would give Him the credit of a “good teacher” while rejecting His claims to power are confronted with quite a task.  Knowing that humans are all made of the same stuff, and tend towards similarity; a perfectly reasonable expectation would be to find similar people in history.  Other moral teachers who dispensed of impeccable wisdom throughout a spotless life and had the courage to die for it, but also the whole time claiming divine status as the only truth.  Such an inquiry will find none but Jesus Christ.  Even if one insists upon closing his eyes to the mountains of evidence and denying Christ’s resurrection and miracles, he is still confronted with the question of why Jesus is so immeasurably unlike any other who has walked the Earth.  Rational reflection on this question guides towards the conclusion that Jesus was unlike any other in behavior because He truly was, as He claimed, Divine.

A common logical fallacy contributing to a lack of belief in the resurrection is the notion that “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.” Though extraordinary evidence does exist, this is notion is incorrect.  All claims require reasonable evidence.  If one conclusion is more evident and reasonable than the next, it should be believed despite one’s prejudiced (and itself unreasonable and unproven) claim that it is “extraordinary.”  For a friend you know you can trust; it should require no additional proof for you to believe him when he tells you about a 50 car pileup he witnessed than when he tells you about how he was pulled over for speeding.  A father’s plea “Jump!  Just do it! I know I can catch you!”  as his son stands on the edge of an unknown abyss should compel him just as readily as when this father gives the child a glass of milk to drink.  It is natural to forget that if the father is unworthy of trust, he could have far more easily poisoned the milk.  Deciding an ordinary issue based on minimal evidence is more likely to be detrimental if those who put forth the evidence are unworthy of trust than deciding an extraordinary issue based on reasonable evidence is; even though this risk is the very thing that the “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence” crowd are trying to do away with.  Conversely, in a serial line of reasoning leading to the conviction of a man; each piece of this chain, no matter how seemingly ordinary, must be held up to the same scrutiny as if it was the sole convicting piece.

Faith For Effect

In conversation, a believer might point to the comfort and joy he finds in his faith.  The atheist will usually claim that he will not live a lie for those ends, but as I described in the “Missionary Atheism” section, these are the only ends that he can rationally use to guide his decision making.  This atheist cannot deem a lie wrong and unworthy of his pursuit if it is reasonable to believe that such a pursuit will better his pleasure to pain ratio; honesty is simply a means to this end that, if reasonably deemed an obstruction in one instance, must be abandoned.  Though seeking condolence is by no means the best motivation to seek God (but is far better than not seeking God); atheists should realize that claiming “I cannot believe in God to make me happy because that would be living a lie” makes no sense by their very own philosophy, a philosophy that lacks any instrument to gauge reality except pleasure and pain.

***

Many ask why God could not have just made Himself more clear; one reason is that something directly and immediately obvious to the physical senses, testable and verifiable, cannot be loved deeply.  How many people would die to spread Newton’s Laws?  No sane man.  What father would spoil his son with a constant shower of expensive toys aimed at winning the son’s affection by proving the father’s love?  No sane father, for he would know that the love developed would be both shallow and fleeting, and the child would inevitably grow to despise the father.   But fueled by the blood of the martyrs, Christianity managed to explode from very few adherents at the time of Christ’s death to many millions a few centuries later, and now claims followers from all the ends of the Earth, One-third of all people, unlike any other force in history.  This happened because of love, for Christ said “By your love they shall know you.” Science is wonderful; but it allows for no true love.  And truly there can be no love for an atheist, only neuron firings. No music, only noise. No beauty, only varying light wavelengths. Would you allow your eye to command your nose to deny an aroma?  Neither then should you allow the tempests of your mind to insist the heart deny what it knows to be true; music, beauty, love…and the source of all these, God.

***

Act on this reason

God certainly exists.  Let us take heed of this reality by doing our best to align ourselves with Him.  This means an honest and open hearted attempt to find His truth, regardless of what demands it puts upon us, and what our previous, misguided opinions already dictate as “their” truth.  Do not make the mistake of some by conjuring up your own personal religion.  Describing God truly is the most difficult task humanity is faced with, and thinking that one can surmount such an obstacle alone, disregarding what has been found by the tradition of thousands of years of the greatest minds this World has ever seen, is the height of misplaced wishful thinking.  You are far better off locking away your math textbook and attempting to define all of calculus, number theory, and linear algebra without help.

Do not delay. Nothing can be more important than conformity to God.  No argument or circumstance can ever justify apathy or agnosticism in this realm.  If you believe in God you likely believe in heaven, and given heaven’s existence, what is the purpose of this world?  God does nothing superfluously, but if this world were for its own enjoyment, it would be precisely that.  Know then that this world, this life, is not at all for its own sake.  It is for determining our placement in the next.   Make a thoughtful decision but also know that sitting on the fence only allows either yard’s dog to bite you.  This is not something to ever be put on the back burner, no matter how busy you are.  Each breath you now exhale is one step closer to your inevitable death.  Some mock the use of fear as a motivator, but this is reality; let it sink in.

So find a Church.  This is a difficult part of your spiritual life and you will be constantly under pressures to make the wrong choice.  Avoid those who say you are your own personal savior; you are imperfect and your savior is not.  Avoid the ideologies that gain followers by appealing to the desires of your flesh; your body will be temporarily appeased but your soul will cry out. Seek the faith given to us by the most righteous founder; it is this person more than anything that defines a religion.  Seek a church that is not fickle in its doctrine and does not bend to meet the times; for right and wrong are of God and therefore perfect and above time, unaffected by the opinions of the mob. I will not hide that this advice guides you towards Catholicism, but still listen to what each side has to say, and dismiss nothing until testing it thoroughly; single out all selfish desires and seek out what gives your heart peace.  While you are doing this, at least follow the rules common to most religions.  Pray.  Do not steal, cheat, lust, or concern yourself with possessions; even if you can find ways to justify these behaviors in your own mind.  When you have found your religion, follow it in full, without essentially creating your own personal religion by dismissing those doctrines you dislike.  Respect the authority of your Church; regard it as the soldier does the officer, not as the inmate does the jailer or as the commander does his advisors.

Seek and you will find.

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