Friday, October 30, 2015

How To Make "Soul Cakes" For All Saints Day and All Souls Day

On All Souls Day, November 2nd,  in many Central European countries - Germany, Belgium, France, Austria, Spain, Italy, Hungary, and Slavic countries - Catholics will attend All Souls Day Mass, and then visit the graves of dear departed ones.  Visiting the gravesites of deceased loved ones is considered a duty of such importance, that many people will travel great distances to their home towns to perform this obligation of love and piety.

It is also an ancient All Souls Day custom in Catholic sections of central Europe to ring the church bells at the approach of dusk on All Saints' Day, to remind the people to pray for the souls in Purgatory. 

When the pealing of these bells is heard, the families gather in one room of their home, extinguish all other lights except a blessed candle (kept from Candlemas Day) which is put on the table. 
Kneeling around it, they say the rosary for the Holy Souls in Purgatory. 
Ancient All Souls Day Chasuble

The boys and men lead the prayer by reciting the first part of the "Hail Mary" while the girls and women respond with the second part.

Along with these pious customs came the baking of special breads - "Soul Cakes" - in honor of the Holy Souls.  

The Soul Cakes are handed out to children and the poor.  The cakes are made of braided strands of sweet dough.

The recipe below is gratefully duplicated from the Catholic Cuisine blog via the Catholic Missionary Family blog. 

It was submitted by Lisa at Catholic Missionary Family, found at
and posted by Jessica on October 26, 2011 on the Catholic Cuisine Blog, at



1 cup butter
3 3/4 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon allspice
2 eggs
2 teaspoons cider vinegar
6 tablespoons milk
powdered sugar, to sprinkle on top


1. Using a pastry blender cut 1 c. of butter into 3 3/4 cups of flour. I bought my first pastry blender just for this occasion.

2. Blend in the sugar, nutmeg, ginger, cinnamon and allspice. Allspice smells like Christmas.

3. In a separate bowl beat eggs, vinegar and milk together. I would like to add a little shout out here to my amazing mother-in-law, who is always gifting me with amazing things for my kitchen, like these awesome Pyrex measuring cups, Thanks!

4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix.

5. Kneed thoroughly to form a stiff dough. You really have to work this dough, I thought there was no way it was moist enough, but once I mashed it all up it was just right.

6. Roll out to a 1/4 inch thickness and cut out 3 inch circles with a cookie cutter or glass.

7. Place on a baking sheet and bake at 350 for 20 minutes.

8. Sprinkle with powdered sugar while still warm. I use a slotted spoon for this.

9. Eat, yummy.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Beginning Friday, July 31, 2015, Radio Maria USA Will Feature Topics Found In The Catholic X-Files.

Beginning Friday, July 31st, we invite you to listen to and phone in to Radio Maria USA, which is offering a new program featuring the "Academy's" Father James Reynolds.

The program will elaborate on many of the topics you have read here, on The Catholic Jedi Academy / The Catholic X-Files.  

The program is entitled Occult and the New Age.

See You On The Radio!

To listen to a live feed from Radio Maria USA click on this URL:

To listen to podcasts of previous programs in Radio Maria USA's archives click on this URL:  

To see Radio Maria USA's Program Schedule click on this URL:

Thursday, July 9, 2015

The Glorious Majesty Of The Commonplace

Ordaining Of The Twelve Apostles (1886-1894) by James Tissot

From the Holy Gospel according to Saint Mark [6:7-13]
   Jesus summoned the Twelve and began to send them out two by two and gave them authority over unclean spirits.
   He instructed them to take nothing for the journey but a walking stick -- no food, no sack, no money in their belts. They were, however, to wear sandals but not a second tunic.
   He said to them, "Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave. Whatever place does not welcome you or listen to you, leave there and shake the dust off your feet in testimony against them."
   So they went off and preached repentance. The Twelve drove out many demons, and they anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them.

Familiarity breeds contempt”, the old proverb says.  Familiarity causes us to see things according to our prejudices. 
   The result is, that we do not see things as they really are. We fail to see things as GOD sees them. We overlook the majesty of the commonplace!
   Our Lord Jesus sent the Apostles out as messengers. He sent them out without anything to lean on or to help "sell" the message of His Gospel. That's because Our Lord Jesus wants the Gospel to "sell" itself. 
   The appearance, the clothing, the packaging of the messengers must never interfere with the proclamation of the message! The truth of the Gospel is what will persuade the hearers.
   And that is why, for over 2000 years, GOD has revealed His power and glory through the glorious majesty of the commonplace!

   GOD saved the world through a commonplace Carpenter from a commonplace town called Nazareth. To make sure that the messengers of His Gospel would not lose their closeness with His Heavenly Father, the Lord Jesus sent them out with nothing — nothing but the message of the Gospel. That way, His messengers could remain dependent only upon GOD for their success. The central focus of their lives would remain Christ and His Gospel message — NOT their clothes or jewelry or luggage.
GOD has repeated this pattern of using the commonplace, the familiar, the ordinary throughout the history of salvation. 
   For example: In The Book of the Prophet Amos [7:12-15]:
Amaziah, priest of Bethel, said to Amos, "Off with you, visionary, flee to the land of Judah! There earn your bread by prophesying, but never again prophesy in Bethel; for it is the king's sanctuary and a royal temple."
Amos answered Amaziah, "I was no prophet, nor have I belonged to a company of prophets; I was a shepherd and a dresser of sycamores. The LORD took me from following the flock, and said to me, 'Go, prophesy to my people Israel.'"

 Amos was from the poverty-stricken Southern part of Israel. He was a shepherd and a gardener. Amos looked, dressed, and conducted himself like a poor and simple shepherd and gardener. 
   Yet, GOD sent Amos to prophesy to the wealthy, decadent people in the North of Israel.  Because, GOD's Word — not the appearance of the messenger- is all-important!

   The Gospel passage above reveals that Our Lord Jesus does not call superwomen and supermen to be His messengers, His disciples. 
   The Lord called 12 ordinary people to do extraordinary things: to cast out demons and heal the sick. Our Lord Jesus was not very interested in powerful, exceptionally beautiful, or well-educated people to spread GOD's Word. He called the commonplace: the fearful, the weak, the timid, the ordinary.

   Our Lord Jesus is calling you and me to the same discipleship that existed 2000 years ago. His call is an invitation and a challenge to deliver His message to the people/the evils/and the injustice in the world of our time.
   Once we realize the enormity of GOD's love for us, we ordinary people can be empowered by Our Lord Jesus to cast out the demons of our times -- to work with Jesus and for Jesus in redeeming the miseries of the world.

   However: Our Lord also expects US to recognize and accept His Presence and His Message of Salvation being delivered to US in the glorious ordinariness of the people around US — even people we think could not possibly be messengers of Christ's Gospel. He is sending the messages all the time; but are we receiving them?

   For instance, messengers who are attractive, appealing, popular - may complicate or hinder the message of the Gospel. That's why we must ask ourselves: 
✠   Do I ignore someone who could be Christ's messenger challenging me to 
     live the Gospel? 
✠   Am I withholding my attention because of the messenger's appearance? 
     Clothes? Lack of sophistication?
✠   Do I "tune out" the messenger because the messenger happens to be flawed, 
     scarred, or unhealthy? 
✠   Do I fail to notice Christ's messenger to me — because the messenger speaks with 
     an accent? Or is of a different race or culture than my own? Or because the messenger
     is elderly? — or a teenager? — or a little child?

   Remember: throughout the history of salvation, GOD has repeatedly employed the ordinary, the commonplace, to achieve His saving plan for each one of us. GOD sent Someone who seemed to be just a Carpenter to save us from our sins and evil. That Carpenter sent uneducated fishermen and farmers to spread His message that we can be redeemed by becoming completely dependent on GOD.

   The prophet Amos; the 12 apostles — all heard GOD calling them to discipleship - to be His messengers. They labored to fulfill their mission as perfectly as they could. WE also have heard the call. Are we truly trying to fulfill our mission?

   Familiarity breeds contempt, the old proverb says. Familiarity causes us to see things according to our prejudices. The result is, that we do not see things as they really are.
   That is why we must constantly pray for 20-20 spiritual vision to recognize Christ's Body and Blood present in the Holy Eucharist and coming to us in what seem to be ordinary bread and wine.  Christ is offering His Body and Blood, His Divine Life, to be received by imperfect, unlikely, yet nonetheless redeemed people: You and me!

   Thanks be to GOD for revealing His love, and power, and glory — through the glorious majesty of the commonplace! 

Monday, May 18, 2015

Should Churches Allow Politicians to Speak at Mass?

Yesterday, Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York, was invited to speak at St. Jude parish in Canarsie, Brooklyn.  The issue was tax credits for students attending private schools, including parochial schools.  The New York State Catholic Conference is understandably supportive of legislation providing these tax credits; but, at what expense?  At the expense of virtue and credibility in my opinion.

While politicians are always eager to garner support from the electorate, the Church should be circumspect about being willing pawns in the political game; even if the results appear to be beneficial.  Does anyone truly believe that Governor Cuomo cares a whit how education tax credits will help the Church?  He didn't seem to care about the Church's position when he was "muscling" same sex "marriage" through the legislature without permitting a popular vote on the issue.  He has tried year after year to expand abortion in New York, a State that is already known as the abortion capital of the U.S.  His pro-abortion agenda includes making any attempt at parental notification laws and informed consent laws illegal.  He wants to permit non-physicians to perform first trimester abortions and remove any sanctions for abortions after 24 weeks (see this article).  Is this the kind of person Catholics want to give a photo op on Church property?

And, the most upsetting aspect of Cuomo's use of the Church in his political strategy, was that we gave him the forum to speak AT HOLY MASS!!  Honestly, this fact is so disturbing as to be almost unbelievable.  So many courageous people in this diocese pour themselves out praying and counseling at the abortuaries that plague our area.  The decimation of the minority population of Brooklyn and Queens through the slaughter of the unborn truly cries out to heaven for justice.

So, when our local Church cooperates with the politician who is hard at work expanding the slaughter of the innocents, it is disheartening to say the least.  To paraphrase the words of St. Thomas More in the classic A Man for All Seasons,  "Why Richard, it profits a man nothing to give his soul for the whole world...but for a tax credit?"

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

The Joys And Fruits Of Frightening Love

From The Holy Gospel According To John  [15:9-17]
 Jesus said to his disciples:
 “As the Father loves me, so I also love you.  Remain in my love.
If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love,         just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love.
 “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and your joy might be complete.
This is my commandment: love one another as I love you.
No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.  You are my friends if you do what I command you.
I no longer call you slaves, because a slave does not know what his master is doing.  I have called you friends, because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father.  It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you.  This I command you: love one another.”
Once upon a time, a priest received an emergency sick call to go to a hospital's Intensive Care Unit.  

An elderly woman was near death.  She wanted to talk to a priest.  When the priest got to I.C.U., he discovered that the woman was 102 years old.  Her mouth was gaping open, and she was drooling out the side of her mouth.   

The priest spoke gently to her, heard her confession, and assured her that he and the parishioners would be remembering her during Mass.  Then he asked, "Mrs. Kelly, before I leave, is there anything you would like me to do?"  She requested that he pray for her: pray right then.  The priest said, “Yes, of course,” and asked if there was something specific she would like him to pray for.   She answered, "I'd like you to pray for me to be healed, right now."  "Right now?," he asked.  "Yes, Father, right away."

Realizing the hopelessness of her situation, the priest thought to himself, "Uh Oh!"  But, reluctantly, he offered a beautiful prayer: "Loving Father, if it is Your will,  please heal Mrs. Kelly;  and if it is not Your will, then to help her and her loved ones adjust to the situation and place their hope in You. Amen."

Suddenly, 102-year-old Mrs. Kelly sat up in bed and exclaimed, "Wow!"  She threw her feet over the side of the bed, stood up, flexed her muscles, and cried, "This is unbelievable!  I feel wonderful!"    Then she walked down to the nurses station, announcing, "I think I'm well!  Hey, everyone, I think I'm well!"

The priest left the hospital, walked to the parking lot, got into his car, and offered his own words to God: "Lord...  don't You ever do that to me again!"
The priest had been frightened by the intensity of love for Mrs. Kelly that GOD 
revealed through the priest.  The priest had never realized how much God loved him 
and listened to him -- until that incident.

To love as Christ loves us means, first of all,  to put aside our own hesitation, our own fears in order to relieve the fears of others.  

To love as Christ loves us means to let go of our own hopes and wants, and instead seek the hopes and wants of others.  

To love as Christ loves us means  to care for and care about others, regardless of the sacrifices demanded of us.

To love as Christ loves us means to be ready always to make the first move to forgive and to heal.

That kind of love can be so overwhelmingly demanding that we may sneak away 
from the prospect. This kind of love frightens people!

Do you and I really believe that our love toward another person can heal that person? Restore that person? Give hope and bring peace to that person?

I think that most of us know at least one incident, wherein, we were able to love someone like Our Lord Jesus loves that person.   

I think that most of us know at least one time when someone had loved us like the Lord Jesus does.

To experience Christ’s divine love is an incredible joy!   His Divine Love reaffirms our gut-feeling that we do have a purpose in our lives.  

Christ’s Divine Love penetrates our being, and we experience completeness, wholeness, from giving and receiving pure, unadulterated love, the love Our Lord Jesus Christ has for you and me.

So, we must not forget:  It was not you and I who chose Christ, but Christ who chose us -- to go forth and bear much fruit.

And our fruit must endure,  so that all we ask the Father in Christ's name He will give us.
The command the Lord Jesus gave us is that we love one another -- first ... last ... always! 

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

A Fat Tuesday Reflection: My Three Hours As A Leper

From the holy Gospel according to Mark  [1:40-45]
A leper came to Jesus and, kneeling down, begged Jesus and said, “If you wish, you can make me clean.”  Moved with pity, Jesus stretched out his hand, touched him, and said to him, “I do will it. Be made clean.”  The leprosy left him immediately, and he was made clean.  Then, warning  him sternly, Jesus dismissed him at once.  He said to him, “See that you tell no one anything, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer for your cleansing what Moses prescribed;  that will be proof for them.”
The man went away and began to publicize the whole matter. He spread the report abroad so that it was impossible for Jesus to enter a town openly.  He remained outside in deserted places, and people kept coming to him from everywhere.

I personally identify with all of the lepers in the Gospels because, I too was a "leper" once -- for three hours, on July 1st, 1976.  

At the time, I was a college student with a  Summer job in Queens, New York City. One morning while on the Subway and heading to work at 6:30 a.m.,  I suddenly felt myself getting very ill; feverish, dizzy, and unable to stand up straight.  

Not knowing what was happening to me, I got off the subway train at 14th Street to find a men's room.  It was all the way down at the other end of the station platform.  Just as I was walking into the men's room, I passed out.  Falling face forward onto the filthy men's room floor, I landed on my chin, and was knocked unconscious.  About an hour later, I came to and was dizzy, feverish, confused, and frightened. Stumbling out of the men's room, I was covered with blood and with the disgusting filth from the floor of the public facilities.   At first, I couldn't remember where I was and what had happened, but I could see blood dripping down on my shirt.  The only thing I knew was that I must be bleeding heavily from somewhere on my head (from my chin, actually).

Because I was frighteningly weak, it took about 30 minutes just to climb the stairs up to street level. During that time, not one person approached to ask if I needed help. Arriving at the concourse, I stumbled toward the station’s token booth, all the while with people staring and backing away from me.  When I finally got to the token booth, the clerk cursed at me and told me to go away.  No one would listen as I asked for help.  

I stumbled up the next stairway onto the street.  Weaving down the sidewalk, people cleared a path around me, pretending I didn't exist.  I was asking for someone to get the police, to call an ambulance.  They all ignored me.  I approached several people, all of whom angrily screamed at me to get away, cursing at me. 

Eventually I found a pay phone and, with hands shaking, called home to Brooklyn.  My Dad and brother were just leaving for work.  They asked where I was.  I was so dazed I couldn't even focus my eyes to read the street signs.  They told me to try to get a taxi back to Brooklyn.  I started to hail taxis; they all ignored me.  A police car cruised by and also ignored me.  

As I was just beginning to pass out again,  a taxi pulled up across the street, discharging a passenger.  I tried to jog over to the rear of taxi, but the driver couldn't see me and started to drive away.  When I started banging on the trunk he stopped, got out looking angry, staring at me.  Before he could say something, I told him I’d had an accident and needed to get to a doctor.  I showed him a $20 bill, got into the cab and told him where to take me.  

During the entire one hour trip in morning traffic, the cabbie stared at me in the rearview mirror.  And at one point, he tossed me a filthy rag and said that I was bleeding on his rubber floor mats and that he wanted them to stay clean, so he told me to clean up the mess. 

The nightmare -- my "leprosy" -- ended after three hours, when the taxi pulled up in front of my home.  I became a human person again.  My family brought me to a hospital emergency room. 

Inserted back into my non-leper’s life, for many weeks I pondered the frightening lesson in the ways that sin has made our human nature diseased and narcissistic.

In the incident recorded in Saint Mark’s Gospel (above),  Our Lord Jesus' curing of the leper shocked those who witnessed it.  Our Lord Jesus did not drive the leper away as would be the norm under the Law of Moses.  Instead, Our Lord Jesus reached out and touched him.  Our Lord Jesus did not see an unclean leper, nor a disease, but a human soul in desperate need.   

That three hour nightmare I endured back in 1976 pummeled me with a distressingly cold truth: The physically leprous in our society may suffer from a medical affliction,  but it is we -- the non-lepers -- who can be the sick ones.  It is we who can be spiritually diseased from sinfulness and selfishness.  We may be suffering from self-inflicted spiritual leprosy.

The biggest disease of the Third Millennium is not Leprosy, nor Ebola, nor A.I.D.S., nor Tuberculosis.  Rather, as Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta once said, 

“The greatest disease today is ... the feeling of being unwanted, uncared for and deserted by everybody... The greatest evil is the lack of love and charity, the terrible indifference towards one’s neighbor.”

Moved with pity, Our Lord Jesus stretched out His hand to touch the leper and to say to him, "Be made clean!"

Ash Wednesday is tomorrow, another yearly gift from Our Lord to approach Him and be helped to rid 
ourselves of our sins and hypocrisies.

May each of us have faith and trust in Christ to approach Him during our Holy Communion when we attend Mass on Ash Wednesday, and say, "Lord Jesus,  if you wish, you can make me clean.  If you will to do so, you can cure me of my spiritual leprosy."

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Bishop of Bling vs. Bishop of the World

It appears to be time to keep an eye on the German Bishops' Conference, where things are a bit off kilter and aiming to possibly get worse.  Normally, it wouldn't be so much of an issue for the universal Church, but the Germans seem to be taking center stage in recent Vatican discussions on Church teaching and practice regarding marriage.  So, what happens in Germany doesn't necessarily stay in Germany.


 Some of these latest shenanigans are being brought to light in a comparison of two mega diocesan building projects.  The first one, as you may have heard, concerned the archbishop of Limburg, Franz Peter Tebartz van Elst, who was ultimately deposed as the ordinary of his diocese in 2013 because of supposed excesses in spending on a new diocesan center and bishop's residence.  The press in Germany and elsewhere went after van Eltz like wolves after wounded prey.  He was called names like "the bishop of bling" and "bishop swank."  Rumors swirled of a  gilded bathtub and other excesses, most of which could not be documented by the swarming press even after diocesan books were opened.  While the press and public were screaming for blood, Bishop  Tebartz van Elst did not get much support from his brother bishops.  Only the outgoing bishop of Cologne, Cardinal Meisner,  stood up for van Elst and spoke eloquently about his moral character and theological acuity.  Among those who had no good words to say was Cardinal Marx, the archbishop of Munich and current head of the German bishops conference.

Fast forward to this year and another massive diocesan building project in downtown Munich.  The cost of the project as ballooned from 31 million Euros in 2011 to 130 million Euros today.  The person responsible for this project?  Cardinal Reinhard Marx.  While the press and the people were calling for Bishop van Eltz's head in Limburg, the reaction to Cardinal Marx's spending spree is ...crickets. (Hillary White has a very informative article about the situation over at LifeSite News. )  What could be the reason for the difference?

Cardinal Marx is not especially known for his simple lifestyle.  According to Hillary White's article, he drives a top of the line BMW.  His bishop's residence (a palace) was recently renovated at the cost of 8 million Euros. He gets to stay in a cozy guest house in Rome while working on Vatican business (a building valued at approximately 10 million Euros).  In addition, he draws a German bishop's salary of 11,500 Euros per month (yes, you read correctly - per month!!).  This is an equivalent salary of about $177,000 per year.   Not a very austere lifestyle for someone who is on Pope Francis' inner advisory council!

Where is this money coming from, especially since so few people are practicing the faith in Germany?  Welcome to a concept known as the "church tax."  You won't find ushers going up and down the aisles in German churches.  They're not necessary; the government does the job for them.  If you want to be recognized as a Catholic in Germany and be able to receive the sacraments, you must register as such with the government.  Then, 8 to 9 % of your gross income will be deducted from your paycheck and sent directly to the Church.  No registration means no tax, but it also means no sacraments.  It's no wonder that the Catholic Church in Germany is wealthy.  In 2011, the tax dropped 5 billion Euros into Church coffers.  And, interestingly, the Catholic Church is the second largest employer in the country.

Does this amount to simony - charging the faithful for the sacraments?  Hmmm.  This is a different discussion for a different day, but it does raise a question.  For now, however, let's focus on the hypocrisy of the press and the public at large to the cases of two different bishops doing very similar things, but having very different reactions. What could the reason be for calling for the removal of the one and utter silence for the other?  The glaring difference between the two prelates that becomes obvious is the adherence to orthodox Church teaching by the one versus advocacy of accommodating the culture by the other.  While Bishop Tebartz van Eltz is strongly supportive of the Church teaching on marriage, divorce and homosexual practices, Cardinal Marx  advocates a more "inclusive" approach on these issues. Of course the press and the public would embrace the more worldly and expansive view of morality.  While, the more orthodox view - well you saw what happened to Bishop van Eltz.  (Edward Pentin has a very interesting article on this issue over at the National Catholic Register. )

German bishops have historically been known for pushing the envelope (and German priests, as well...we're looking at you Martin Luther).  On the other hand, they have also been great contributors to theological and philosophical discourse (Benedict XVI - need we say  more?).  Why these German prelates have such an outsize influence on ecclesial matters, especially today when the practice of the faith is withering on the vine in their country, is a question to ponder.  It will be very interesting to see how this plays out in the coming year as the Vatican moves toward the culmination of the Synod on the Family.   Will the increasing public emphasis on simplicity and frugality makes it way over to Germany?  Will the German bishops continue to push an expansive view of morality?  One can only pray and wait and see.  Saint Boniface, ora pro nobis.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

People Look East - No, Really, Look East!

The Merriam Webster Dictionary definition of the word orient is: To cause to face or point toward the east.  For centuries the Church had her priests facing east during the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, signifying our perpetual readiness and yearning for the return of the Lord.   Sacred Scripture tells us that when Christ comes again He will come from the east in the same way that the sun rises in the sky. While not always an actual facing of the east (which could or could not be done depending on the structure of the church building), at least a spiritual intent to face the east was accomplished by facing the altar.  

The priest wasn't the only one facing east.  The people in the congregation were "oriented" in this direction as well (again, perhaps not physically, but spiritually by facing the same direction as the priest).  This was the practice of the Church until a liturgical movement of the 20th century literally turned things around.  What was lost in this "re-orientation" was a physical manifestation of the yearning for and expectation of the second coming.

Ad Orientem

As Advent approaches, Bishop James Conley of the diocese of Lincoln, Nebraska, is embarking on a new practice in his cathedral of offering Mass "ad orientem" or toward the east during this season of anticipation.   Bishop Conley writes in the Southern Nebraska Register:

Jesus Christ will return in glory to the earth.
We do not know when he will return. But Christ promised us that he would return in glory, “as light comes from the east” to bring God’s plan of redemption to its fulfillment...
In the early Church, Christians expected that Christ would come soon—any day.  There was hopeful expectation. They were watchful—they looked to the sky in the east to wait for Christ. And because they did not know when he would return, they proclaimed the Gospel with urgency and enthusiasm, hoping to bring the world to salvation before Christ returned.
It has been nearly two thousand years now since Christ ascended into heaven. It has become easier to forget that he will come again to earth. It has become easier to forget that we must be waiting, we must be watching, and we must be ready.
Bishop Conley's  column can be read in its entirety at the Southern Nebraska Register site.  It's worth reading in its entirety.  Perhaps "turning eastward" can help us to more deeply anticipate the Lord's return and what His first coming meant for all people.

Bishop James Conley of Lincoln, Nebraska

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Cardinal George: "The Church is About True/False, not Left/Right"

There has been a lot of turmoil churning around in the press lately over the Vatican's synod on the family that recently ended in Rome.  Next year will be the final meeting of the synod and in between will come the World Day of the Family in Philadelphia.  So there is a lot of time to chew on what has been accomplished and what needs to be done to address the enormous deterioration experienced by the family in recent years.

Unfortunately for the Church, and for all of us, the discussion on the family has been sidetracked by a dispute over Communion for the divorced and remarried.  The chief publicist for this notion seems to be Cardinal Kasper, an older German cardinal who has written a book on mercy that was praised by Pope Francis.  Cardinal Kasper writes that there should be a way for Catholics who are divorced and remarried outside of the Church (without a declaration of nullity) to be able to receive Holy Communion while still preserving the Church's perpetual teaching that marriage is indissoluble.  I won't go into all of the gyrations of this proposed accommodation, but the unintended or perhaps intended, result is that the attention of the world was pulled away from the problem of the family in modern culture and directed toward this one aspect of marital life.

Another consequence of the debate over Cardinal Kasper's thinking is the seemingly endless squabbling over who is the better Catholic - those who hold to traditional teaching or those with a more progressive bent.  In a case of what might be viewed as "you never know what you've got until it's gone" - I recently read an incisive interview with Cardinal George, the newly retired archbishop of Chicago.  I never really knew much about Cardinal George, but after reading this interview I wished I had paid more attention to him.  Yes, your eminence, the Church is about truth!  It is so tiring to read the press accounts trying to portray Church leaders and the pope as fitting into one political mold or another.  The faith does not work that way.  It is not a political institution, it is a religious institution tasked with the work of spreading the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

The entire interview with Cardinal George can be found at the CRUX website.  The interviewer is John Allen, someone who has been attacked by both those in the "traditional" and "progressive" camps.  It must mean he's doing something right.  The interview can be found here.

A Tiny Hamster Thanksgiving

A little something to put a smile on your face :-)

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Post-Halloween, All Souls Day Reality Check: Mediums/Psychics Deceive About Where The Souls Of The Righteous Are After Death

The Angel of Death collecting and escorting the soul of a young woman upon her death.

Our LORD Jesus and His Apostles and their Successors (Bishops and Priests) taught the Church that each individual will appear before GOD immediately after death.
This experience of judgment has been popularly called 
the Particular Judgment 
(the Individual or one-on-one judgment involving GOD and the individual soul ONLY).

When we die, we will find ourselves standing before GOD immediately after death.

This will not be the first time nor the only time we will have encountered our Creator! 

GOD has been present to us throughout
 our whole life.  
But, immediately after our deaths, GOD will confirm 
the persons we have freely chosen to develop and present to Him.

Let's take a look in Sacred Scripture concerning The Particular Judgement:

"The souls of the righteous are in the Hand of GOD, and no torment will ever touch them."
"Follow the ways of your heart, the vision of your eyes;  Yet understand regarding all this that GOD will bring you to judgment."
SIRACH 11:26-28
"For it is easy for the LORD on the day of death to repay mortals according to their conduct." 
LUKE 16:19–31
The Parable of Lazarus and The Rich Man. (Lazarus' soul, upon death, is taken lovingly into the bosom of Abraham and finds peace in the afterlife. The Rich Man finds only torment and pain, as he is punished for his selfish egocentricity and neglect of Lazarus.)
LUKE 23:43
Christ promises the penitent thief that his soul - instantly on leaving his body - would be in the state of the blessed: “This day you shall be with me in Paradise.”

The bare-boned, speedy synopsis of the Doctrine of The Particular Judgement is the following: The Particular Judgement was defined by the Early Church's...
+ Scriptural Teachings
+ Doctrinal Teachings
+ Catechetical Teachings and Homilies of the early Fathers of the Church
+ Decrees of the early Popes. 

The Catholic Doctrine of 
The Particular Judgement is this: 
  • That immediately after death, the eternal destiny of each separated soul is decided by the just judgment of GOD. 
  • Souls leaving their bodies in a state of grace, but in need of purification are cleansed in Purgatory.
§1030 All who die in God's grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven.
§1031 The Church gives the name Purgatory to this final purification of the elect, which is entirely different from the punishment of the damned.604 The Church formulated her doctrine of faith on Purgatory especially at the Councils of Florence and Trent. The tradition of the Church, by reference to certain texts of Scripture, speaks of a cleansing fire. 605  As for certain lesser faults, we must believe that, before the Final Judgment, there is a purifying fire. He who is truth says that whoever utters blasphemy against the Holy Spirit will be pardoned neither in this age nor in the age to come. From this sentence we understand that certain offenses can be forgiven in this age, but certain others in the age to come.606
§1032 This teaching is also based on the practice of prayer for the dead, already mentioned in Sacred Scripture: “Therefore [Judas Maccabeus] made atonement for the dead, that they might be delivered from their sin.” 607 From the beginning the Church has honored the memory of the dead and offered prayers in suffrage for them, above all the Eucharistic sacrifice, so that, thus purified, they may attain the beatific vision of God.608 The Church also commends almsgiving, indulgences, and works of penance undertaken on behalf of the dead:
Let us help and commemorate them. If Job's sons were purified by their father's sacrifice, why would we doubt that our offerings for the dead bring them some consolation? Let us not hesitate to help those who have died and to offer our prayers for them. 609

     604 - Cf. Council of Florence (1439): DS 1304; Council of Trent (1563): DS 1820; (1547): 1580; 
                   see also Benedict XII, Benedictus Deus (1336): DS 1000. 
     605 - Cf. 1 Cor 3:15; 1 Pet 1:7. 
     606 - St. Gregory the Great, Dial. 4, 39: PL 77, 396; cf. Mt 12:31. 
     607 - 2 Macc 12:46. 
     608 - Cf. Council of Lyons II (1274): DS 856. 
     609 - St. John Chrysostom, Hom. in 1 Cor. 41, 5: PG 61, 361; cf. Job 1:5.

  • Souls that are perfectly pure are at once admitted to the beatific vision of the Godhead. 
  • Those who depart in actual mortal sin are at once consigned to eternal punishment, the quality of which corresponds to their sin. 

And, so, after our death, GOD will confirm the persons you and I have freely chosen to develop and present to Him.
  • The souls of deceased human beings are in the Hand Of GOD immediately after death: 
  • They encounter GOD Face-to-Face.
  • They are judged individually.
  • They are dispatched to Hell,
 Purgatory, or Heaven until the
 Last Judgment comes.

So, in regard to Mediums and Psychics and Ouija Boards telling you that your deceased loved ones are down at Starbucks, enjoying a double frou-frou latte, remember:

If human souls are not roaming the earth causing these scary paranormal experiences, then there's only one agency which can create  these activities: Evil Spirits -- Demons masquerading as the souls of deceased human persons.

The error most people make about what is really happening when they consult Mediums/Psychics/Ouija Boards, is in their explanation about the origin and purpose of the occult activities they experience.

If these experiences are not being caused by human souls, then it is a “no brainer” as to who, or what, manufactures these phenomena: Evil Spirits: Demons, trying to deceive us, mislead us away from Christ and from the Church's Teachings, and destroy us.

Neither your deceased loved ones nor any other human soul is moving the planchette around on the Ouija Board, nor speaking through Mediums. 

The souls / spirits of deceased human beings: 

  • Are not roaming the earth as if they are independent of GOD's Will;
  • Are not communicating through Psychics, Mediums and Ouija Boards.

So, the souls of the righteous are not giving interviews to Mediums or Psychics and are not self-publishing through Ouija Boards. Because, as The Book Of Wisdom tells us, 
"The souls of the righteous are in the Hand of GOD."


The souls of the righteous, having been purified and perfected by
the love of the Holy Spirit, and assisted with prayers and Masses offered for them,
depart from their Purgation and ascend to their true homeland in Heaven.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Whither Walmart?

The Catholic League put up a post today about some very offensive costumes being sold by Walmart on its website (not sure if they're being sold in the stores as well).  The offending costumes are a Blessed Virgin Mary with blood coming out of her eyes called "Scary Mary" and a racy nun outfit that is called "naughty nun."

According to the Catholic League, when it complained about the offensive items, Walmart responded with this particularly bland reply:
We apologize if we offended you. Because we have multiple buyers of customers, we try to provide them with plenty of options. However, we have documented your concern in order to improve our inventory at and in stores.”
 I say no shopping at Walmart unless they pull these items and respond with a truly sincere apology.  It is getting really irritating how the culture of materialism and greed has replaced all sense of decency and just plain good manners.  Enough is enough!  Let Walmart rely on its "multiple buyers of customers" (whatever that means).  All people of good will should keep their wallets closed until there is a change of attitude.

Just so you can see what Walmart does not consider offensive, here is the image of one of the costumes from the website:

Don't Fall Asleep During "The Academy's" posts!

Men of The Catholic Jedi Academy are also Men Of Saint Joseph!

Men of The Catholic Jedi Academy are also Men Of Saint Joseph!
Hey, Mister Academician! Why not take a moment and visit their website?