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:

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.

***

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!)

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:

Remnant Faithful: We Need the Chastisements Also

(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)

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.

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.

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/ 

The Crown and Completion of All Sanctity

Please note:  This post pertains to my publication of The Crown and Completion of All Sanctity, described below. However, since this post, I have published The Crown of Sanctity, which is a much more complete treatment of the same matter. I highly recommend reading The Crown of Sanctity instead  — it is linked on the right hand sidebar of this website, and can also be obtained from http://www.CrownOfSanctity.com

 

 

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.

You may simply download the fruit of this effort as a PDF Directly here. 

Book Cover

 

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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

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.

 

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.”

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.]

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)



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

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!).

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…

 

 

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.


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 1978 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. 

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.)