Thursday, December 27, 2012

England's 2001 Census On Religion: Star Wars Religion and Jedi Knights Outnumber Atheists and Pagans
From Timothy Dalrymple's Philosophical Fragments blog on the Patheos Evangelical Channel, comes a report that I first chuckled at.  But later -- after reading it and exploring some of the links -- I was somewhat alarmed about. 

I thought you, Good Guy, Catholic, Holy Academicians should be informed about it. Please do not surrender to the temptations that the dark side may try to implant in you using that old Jedi Mind Trick. Unfortunately, the people highlighted in Timothy Dalrymple's post already have surrendered and aligned themselves with darkness and falsehood. Pray for their release and recovery.

In England, More Jedi Knights
Than Atheists and Pagans Combined
December 12, 2012 By Timothy Dalrymple

From the Patheos Evangelical Channel's biography of Timothy Dalrymple:
Timothy Dalrymple was raised in non-denominational evangelical congregations in California. The son and grandson of ministers, as a young boy he spent far too many hours each night staring at the ceiling and pondering the afterlife.  In all his work, he seeks a better understanding of why people do, and do not, come to faith, and researches and teaches in religion and science, faith and reason, theology and philosophy, the origins of atheism, Christology, and the religious transformations of suffering.

Just-released Census figures reveal that 176,632 people English and Welsh self-identify as “Jedi Knights,” practitioners of the mystical pseudo-scientific pseudo-religion of the Star Wars franchise.  For what it’s worth, that’s three times more than the number of self-identified Pagans, and roughly six times more than the number of self-identified atheists in those countries.
Have you asked Yoda into your heart?  Perhaps you should visualize a higher midichlorian count.  As the Telegraph reports:
Following a nationwide campaign, Jedi made it onto the 2001 census, with 390,127 people identifying themselves a decade ago as followers of the fictional Star Wars creed.
Although the number of Jedis has dropped by more than 50 per cent over the previous 10 years, they are still the most selected “alternative” faith on the Census, and constitute 0.31% of all people’s stated religious affiliation in England and Wales.
I’m sure we’ll see articles soon lamenting the exodus of followers from the Jedi faith.  The Jedi do seem to have a hard time protecting children in their Temples and convincing their teenagers to resist the temptations of the Dark Side.
It’s hard to know how seriously to take this.  But George Lucas essentially took some mythic tropes, stuck them together with vague New Agey concepts of “balance” and “flow” and “let go” and “the force,” gave it an ostensible scientific basis in, you know, the science of midichlorians, and then portrayed heroic monks of the faith combatting unmistakable evil.  It’s designed to be appealing.  The Jedi Church websites says: “The Jedi Church believes that there is one all powerful force that binds all things in the universe together.  The Jedi religion is something innate inside everyone [sic] of us, the Jedi Church believes that our sense of morality is innate.  So quiet your mind and listen to the force within you!”
If you’re not going to believe anything else, why not believe in the Jedi faith?  What do you have to lose?
The Census report goes on to say that over six thousand people subscribe to “the Heavy Metal religion,” which was devised in 2010 by Metal Hammer magazine.  Far, far more common (to the tune of 13.8 million) were those who refused to identify with any faith, ticking “No religion,” and 4 million did not answer the question.
It’s easy to scoff at this, of course (and we can count the minutes until an atheist, or perhaps a Jedi Knight, leaves a silly note that Christian beliefs are just as absurd).  It would also be easy to cite G.K. Chesterton’s famous (and unsourced) epigram that the problem with those who cease to believe in God is not that they will believe nothing, but that they will believe anything.  Gallup’s 2008 “What Americans Really Believe” study (with Baylor’s Institutes for the Study of Religion) found that the “irreligious” were far more likely than evangelicals to believe in paranormal pseudoscience like palm reading and divination, haunted houses and Atlantis and mythical monsters like Bigfoot and Loch Ness.  Or witness the ridiculous enthusiasm today for the Mayan Apocalypse theory.
Jesus, however, rarely walked the easy road.  I wonder what Jesus would have thought of this?  If the imitation of Christ is our guide to action, what should our response be?
Jesus was not afraid to correct the Samaritan Woman he met at the well, but he addressed her more pastorally than pedagogically.  He saw in her actions a yearning for God and a confusion over where God is to be found.  I believe that Jesus would look with compassion on those who are lost and those who are confused, those who are afflicted with doubts and fears.
I’m less disturbed by the 176,000 who ticked off “Jedi Knight” than the 14 million who chose “No religion.”  In fact, you might say that the Census does more to challenge than to confirm the epigram of Pseudo-Chesterton.  But it’s more complicated than that.  What else do those 14 million believe?  What are their beliefs and superstitions?  Perhaps they participate in the religion of celebrity-worship.  Perhaps they worship themselves.  Perhaps they venerate wealth and leisure.  Perhaps they have placed their faith in a politician or a party, a cause or a philosophy.
I would much rather see people seeking, restlessly seeking, than “resting” in faithlessness or losing themselves in materialism and petty distractions.  What do Christians say to those who claim they have no need for faith?

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

"Father, Do You Think God Is Trying To Tell Us Something?" -- Part Two: The Coming Church Of The Faithful Few-er, a.k.a. The Remnant

A Thriving Branch producing good fruit - versus - A Withering Branch producing no fruit.

I was born in the mid-1950s.
"It" first came into my mind roughly thirty-years ago in the mid-1970s, while I was in the Seminary.  
  • I have felt “it.”
  • I have known “it” is real.
  • I somehow have sensed “it,” spiritually. 
For thirty years, I’ve been unconsciously and consciously discerning “it” – solidifying and deepening in "its" reality.
"It" has since escalated, especially throughout the past ten years.  
Desiring to warn and protect us, the Holy Spirit has been and is subliminally broadcasting "it" to certain of His Faithful.  I’ve been a Priest for twenty-six years.  I've heard the warning coming to me:
  • While at prayer, 
  • After I try to teach the Faith, and  
  • During my personal studies of the Faith.  
I sense "it" deeply whenever I try to open people’s hearts and minds to the Truths of the Catholic Faith and to our self-sacrificing culture of life.

“It” is this: 
Our Lord Jesus Christ is allowing Catholics to defect from Him.  
He is “thinning out” His Church.  
Not by vigorously and forcefully cutting and pruning the branches off the Grapevine which is His Church.  Instead, He is letting the Grapevine “prune” itself.  He is permitting the deadwood, the fruitless, and the diseased branches to simply have things their own way, and arrive where they have wanted to be.  
  • “Cafeteria” Catholics: I’ll-Pick-And-Choose-What-I-Want-In My-Catholicism Catholics.
  • “CAPE” Catholics:  “Christmas, Ash Wednesday, Palm Sunday, Easter Sunday”  Catholics.
  • "Whitewashed Tomb” Catholics:  Whose faith and/or morals are apathetic, merely token, or blatantly opposed to Christ’s Example and Teachings as communicated through the one, holy, Catholic, and apostolic Church. 
These branches are pruning themselves off His Vine. And Our Lord sadly, but courteously  stands aside, respecting their free-will choices, allowing them to have things their way, not His Way. 

They are freely choosing to sever their lifeline to Him and His Church -- while they are feeling powerful, self-indulgent, and even satisfied about it.  

Frighteningly – to me, at least – they successfully proceed in erasing parts of their souls.  They spitefully disown the vertical, transcendent axis of Faith and robustly embrace what rapidly becomes their horizontal-only existence.
The Prophet Jeremiah warning the people of Jerusalem
concerning their future existence as a faithful remnant.

To those who, daily, are firmly adhering to Christ, the Vine: 
Welcome, my faithful sisters and brothers, to the Remnant of the Church.

“Wow, Father Reynolds: Big whoop!” 
Okay, okay: I know I’m not breaking new ground here. 
Lord knows, if you Google this topic, you can find pages and pages of debates, interpretations, and condemnations connected to this image of the Church as a “Faithful Remnant.”  

How about doing a little homework: Analyzing the requirements to be part of a Faithful Remnant.

When Our Lord Jesus Christ emerged from forty days in the desert, He confronted people to make a radical decision: To what lengths are you prepared to go, to change what is evil in yourself and renew God’s gift of life within you?

Can you remember last Lent? Or Lent two, three, even five years ago? 
Can you remember some concrete and tangible sins you conquered during ANY Lent in your recent past? 

Predictably, the forty days of Lent come -- and pass. And even during that forty day period focusing on penance for our sins and truthful introspection to eliminate the causes of those sins, many of us quite easily coast through Lent into Easter with no true and substantial conversion, no obvious change in our sinful and evil thoughts, attitudes, words, or actions.

The reason why so many of us fail?  Lack of desire and lack of courage:
  • We lack the desire and courage to penetrate through the surface of our past and present behavior;
  • We lack the desire and courage to understand the malignant forces that we allow to drive us;
  • And we lack the desire and courage to DO something concretely and rapidly about eliminating them! 
And at the end of 40 days of Lent, many of us are nibbling on chocolate bunnies, not even right back at square one: because we never moved off square one!

The drama of Christ in the desert, struggling in His humanity against Satan's temptations, should stir something up in us. The idea of Jesus, the Sinless One, fasting and praying in the desert -- in order to be able to say NO to Satan and YES to God His Father -- should unnerve and even frighten us. Because He is challenging us to look at our lives and to correct what needs to be corrected. 

And so, Lent comes, and Lent passes us by, and we know that nothing has really changed in us. We are the same persons, with the same defective attitudes, burdened with the same weaknesses, excuses, bad habits, and sins.   The overwhelming reality is, that our efforts to purify ourselves and renew ourselves -- while sincere and good-intentioned -- just do not go deep enough.

If that is true, and we desire to be part of that Remnant,  what are the requirements or qualifications?  Hmmm…

In our sincere and good-intentioned efforts to purify and renew ourselves, the overwhelming reality is that we often do not go deep enough. To paraphrase Henry David Thoreau: There are thousands of people hacking at the branches of evil, to the one person who is digging up the sins by their roots.

We must strike at the roots of our sins and not just give the branches a light trim.  Never take for granted that Our Lord Jesus emerged from forty days in the desert, having battled temptations directed at His human nature, to proclaim God's Kingdom and to give us the Way to uproot the evil in ourselves and in our world. 

Upon returning from the desert, His proclamation of the membership requirements for entering the Kingdom of God was, "REFORM YOUR LIVES AND BELIEVE IN THE GOSPEL."

The Lord Jesus' proclamation contains TWO POINTS. The first is to "reform" our lives. The second is to "believe in the Gospel."
  • To "reform" means to recognize the evil in our lives and to turn away from it.
  • To "reform" means to face up to the sins we allow into our lives and to decide to do something about it.
For example:
  • We may be aware of our selfishness putting OUR COMFORT ahead of others' needs;
  • We may be aware of PRIDE that keeps us from admitting our faults, or from apologizing for the hurt or embarrassment we caused someone;
  • We may be aware of our laziness keeping us from praying, or fasting, or helping others. 
  • We may be aware that we degrade our human sexuality by internet pornography, filthy video entertainment, or magazines. or thoughts, or through inappropriate behavior or deeply sinful relationships;
  • We may be aware that we abuse alcohol or food or tobacco; we may be involved with drugs or with gambling. 
Reforming means facing up to our sinful, selfish, and evil tendencies and finally doing something about destroying them, before they destroy us!

But along with reforming our lives, Our Lord Jesus' proclamation also contained that second requirement.

An admonition is a mild but earnest rebuke, and advice for or against doing something.
The Lord Jesus' proclamation of God’s Kingdom, if we desire to enter it, requires our obedience to two simple and direct admonitions:
(1) "REFORM" — face up to the evil tendencies in our lives and to do something about purifying ourselves of them. 
(2) "BELIEVE IN THE GOSPEL” — Believe in the good news that God Our Father sent Jesus,  who is God’s only-begotten Son, to SAVE YOU, me, ALL of us from our habitual, destructive evils. 

To reform for Jesus Christ and to believe in Jesus Christ mean:
  • Seeking Him out personally in the Sacrament Of Penance;  
  • Confessing our failures, to receive healing and forgiveness  from Him, and 
  • To be absolved and reconciled to Our Lord Jesus and His People, the Church. 
In that healing Sacrament of Confession, Penance and Reconciliation, we admit that we have failed to both reform and believe; we admit that we have chosen to disregard our Baptismal vows to turn away from selfishness and evil.  Confession and reconciliation is how we, who are already Baptized, may re-commit ourselves: may AGAIN personally accept Jesus as our Savior,  the ONLY Savior.

Father Kilian McDonnell, OSB, President of the Collegeville Ecumenical Institute in Minnesota, once commented on a phenomenon that puzzled many Catholic theologians. 
Some Evangelical preachers are highly successful in producing conversions –- including converts from Catholicism. Why? Father McDonnell says it is because Evangelicals get people to ADMIT that they ARE sinners who need to turn to Jesus Christ for salvation.  People do not recognize Christ if they do not recognize themselves as sinners. If you are not a sinner, then you have no need of Christ.  One cannot celebrate the mystery of the joy of redemption in Jesus Christ if one will not first recognize that he or she IS a sinner.

Our Lord Jesus emerged from forty days of fasting and praying in the desert as THE EXPERT on uprooting evil in human hearts:  “This is the time of fulfillment.  The reign of God is at hand!  Reform your lives and believe in the Gospel!"

We all must be constant and fearless in examining our personal sinfulness and betrayals of Christ. If we do not, we will not enter into the Kingdom Of God. 

This leads to the question: Is Our Lord really reforming His Church into that holy, faithful Remnant?  
Here is part of a fascinating post from our brethren over at This entry was posted on Friday, April 9th, 2010:
The Roman Catholic Church is in no danger of collapse (it is the Rock) but the hierarchy may see some change. Never since the onset of mass media has there been so much open and harsh criticism of the Vatican along with local cardinals and bishops nor quite the anger among the flock yet the shepherds too will come through the storm, if guided with humility ... This is not a Church on the ropes but one that is beginning a breakdown and purification — a simplification, which will also be experienced by other segments of society and which should be welcomed, as the spirits of institutionalism and bureaucracy give way to the Spirit of Jesus.  Anyone who believes that newspapers or nations or armies can harm the Church do not know its history nor its Savior. It has endured worst. This is a major historic scandal. It happens every few centuries. Every time it does, there is the call to simplicity (and the charisms of Jesus). There are persecutions. There is purification ... In Rome in 1975 at a huge charismatic gathering were several prophecies that “dealt with a time of darkness coming,” recalled one participant, “a time when supports that you depend on would no longer be there, things you’ve depended on, resources, buildings, people, and finances, all that kind of thing, will be taken from you. And then a time of evangelism will follow such as the world has never seen [see more here].” The prophecies were given at the high altar in St. Peter’s Basilica …  When he was Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the future Pope Benedict XVI once remarked that he was most concerned about a pure Church and not so much a large Church and that it may even be better if it gets smaller — contracting into what others might think of as a “remnant.” It is not yet clear if it will shrink into a remnant or see a transformation of its structure (or both)....
 That 1975 "prophecy" was not the first of its kind during that period of the Church's history.  (By the way, prophecy is in quotation marks because it is alleged: We will not know if it's true until it comes to pass!) It was preceded by a "prophecy" issued in 1969. 

Scandalized by his encounter with radical ideology and the subordination of religion to Marxist political ideology at the University of Tübingen during 1968 and 1969,  Father Joseph Ratzinger moves back to Bavaria to take a teaching position at the University of Regensburg. He wrote, "There was an instrumentalization by ideologies that were tyrannical, brutal, and cruel. That experience made it clear to me that the abuse of faith had to be resisted precisely if one wanted to uphold the will of the [Second Vatican] Council." [From Salt of the Earth by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, 1997]
He eventually becomes dean and vice president of the University of Regensburg, and later, theological advisor to the German bishops. 

But there had been an earlier prophecy, from the year 1969.

       Father Joseph Ratzinger in 1969 as a new prophet like Jeremiah,
           prophesying the Remnant Catholic Church of the Future.
 In a series of radio lectures broadcast in Bavaria in 1969, Father Joseph Ratzinger spoke the following words, which some Catholics today refer to as “Ratzinger’s prophecy.”
“[A time is coming] when supports that you depend on would no longer be there, things you’ve depended on, resources, buildings, people, and finances, all that kind of thing, will be taken from you. And then a time of evangelism will follow such as the world has never seen.” “From today’s crisis, a Church will emerge tomorrow that will have lost a great deal. She will be small and, to a large extent, will have to start from the beginning. She will no longer be able to fill many of the buildings created in her period of great splendor. Because of the smaller number of her followers, she will lose many of her privileges in society. Contrary to what has happened until now, she will present herself much more as a community of volunteers ....   As a small community, she will demand much more from the initiative of each of her members and she will certainly also acknowledge new forms of ministry and will raise up to the priesthood proven Christians who have other jobs. In many smaller communities, respectively in social groups with some affinity, the normal care of souls will take place in this way ....  There will be an interiorized Church, which neither takes advantage of its political mandate nor flirts with the left or the right. This will be achieved with effort because the process of crystallization and clarification will demand great exertion. It will make her poor and a Church of the little people .... All this will require time. The process will be slow and painful ....  From this interiorized and simplified Church, a great force will pour out. The men of an [artificially] planned world will feel unspeakably isolated. When God will seem to have totally disappeared for them, they will experience a complete and horrible poverty. And then they will discover the small community of those who believe as something entirely new ....  Her [the Church’s] real crisis has hardly started. We still have to go through some great storms .... Certainly she will never again be the dominant force in society to the degree that she was until recently.” 
[His 1969 broadcasts were originally collected and published in German as Glaube und Zukunft (Gebundene Ausgabe) by Joseph Ratzinger.   They have been translated into English under the title. Faith And The Future by Joseph Ratzinger.]

Feeling frightened by this projection?  Are you disturbed by this "prophecy"?
Are you disturbed by this "prophecy" of the Church becoming poor and a community of "the little people"?  Well, dear Academicians, let's remain calm.

Let's take a cue from history -- salvation history -- from The Book Of The Prophet Jeremiah [Jeremiah 42:1-19].  In the following passage, it is the year 588 B.C.,  Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon, marched against Jerusalem with his whole army, laid siege to it, decimated it, and began to enslave the residents and deport them to Babylon. In the ensuing panic and confusion throughout Judea, many Israelites wanted to flee to Egypt, which seemed the logical place to go to escape the oppression of the Babylonians. But some Israelites were uncertain, so they sought out Jeremiah who had prophesied the fall of Jerusalem.
Then all the army leaders . . . and all the people, high and low, approached the prophet Jeremiah and said, "Grant our petition; pray for us to the LORD, your God, for all this remnant. We are now few who once were many, as you well see. Let the LORD, your God, show us what way we should take and what we should do." "Very well!" the prophet Jeremiah answered them: "I will pray to the LORD, your God, as you desire; whatever the LORD answers you, I will tell you; I will withhold nothing from you." And they said to Jeremiah, "May the LORD be our witness: we will truly and faithfully follow all the instructions the LORD, your God, will send us. Whether it is pleasant or difficult, we will obey the command of the LORD, our God, to whom we are sending you, so that it will go well with us for obeying the command of the LORD, our God."Ten days passed before the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah. Then he called . . . (the) army leaders, and all the people, high and low, and said to them: "Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, to whom you sent me to offer your prayer: If you remain quietly in this land I will build you up, and not tear you down; I will plant you, not uproot you; . . . Do not fear the king of Babylon . . . says the LORD, for I am with you to save you, to rescue you from his power. I will grant you mercy ... But if you disobey the voice of the LORD, your God, and decide not to remain in this land, saying, 'No, we will go to Egypt' . . . the sword you fear shall reach you in the land of Egypt; the hunger you dread shall cling to you no less in Egypt, and there you shall die... . It is the LORD who has spoken to you, remnant of Judah; do not go to Egypt! You can never say that I did not warn you this day."[Jeremiah 42:1-19]
If Pope Benedict's 1969 "prophecy" is truly coming to pass, and you and I -- and those coming after us for the unforeseeable future -- are to be a Faithful Remnant Catholic Church, then God's advice to the Israelite Remnant, spoken by Jeremiah the prophet in 588 BC, is advice we must seriously accept and apply to ourselves as Remnant Catholics now and for the future: 

"If you remain quietly in this land I will build you up, and not tear you down; I will plant you, not uproot you; ... Do not fear ... says the LORD, for I am with you to save you, to rescue you...  I will grant you mercy ..." [Jeremiah 42:18-19]

And remember: We have an obligation to purify ourselves, and maintain our purity, if we are to be judged worthy to be part of God's Holy People, the Church -- whether it be a Remnant Church or not.

 The Church-As-Remnant would not be some sort of colossal failure or cruel punishment from the Hand of God.  Recall, Academicians, our consideration concerns Christ purifying His Bride, the Church.  Purification is not punishment!  

 Purification is a healing -- a spiritual process, an individual and collective interior event within the heart and soul of each member, and in the communal life and mission all the members share in.  Spiritual purification produces clarity by crystalizing -- making definite, unmistakable and desirable -- all that is true, lovely, and holy,  so these may be set free from surrounding corruption and interference, and strengthened so they may flourish and increase. Saint Paul, always a man ahead of his time, told the nervous Philippians :
"Rejoice in the Lord always. I shall say it again: rejoice! Your kindness should be known to all.  The Lord is near. Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with  thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all  understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure,  whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence and if there is anything  worthy of praise, think about these things.   Keep on doing what you have learned and received  and heard and seen in me. Then the God of peace will be with you."[Philippians 4:1-9]

 Back in 1969, Father Ratzinger / Pope Benedict XVI envisioned something wonderful and exciting emerging from what may be a difficult process of purification and pruning.  He wrote, "From this interiorized and simplified Church, a great force will pour out. The men of an [artificially] planned world will feel unspeakably isolated. When God will seem to have totally disappeared for them, they will experience a complete and horrible poverty. And then they will discover the small community of those who believe... ."  

And they will discover the Church as something entirely new to them, a reality previously unfamiliar to them. The Remnant Church will be a light gleaming into their darkness, guiding them out of isolation and spiritual and moral destitution.  

 The Faithful comprising the Remnant Catholic Church will share experiences similar to those which the Infant Church community experienced between 33 and 100 AD:  
Being eyewitnesses to a new work accomplished by the Holy Spirit, and to the proclamation of the Gospel to people living in darkness and the slavery of sin.  And -- possibly(?), probably(?) -- some persecution, as well. 

During his General Audience on November 12, 2008, Pope Benedict XVI spoke about Saint Paul and our Catholic Faith in terms of the Parousia (the Second and Final Coming Of Christ, the end of the world, and the final triumph of the Kingdom Of God) in a talk called, Eschatology: The Expectation Of The Parousia.  While my intention in writing this  post is not to include an exploration of Eschatology (the branch of systematic theology which deals with the doctrines of the last things -- death, Judgement, Purgatory, Hell, and Heaven), we must realize that there is a direct connection between the Church (remnant or not) and Christ's Final Coming.  
In Pope Benedict's teaching on this, the bright-eyed-and-bushy-tailed Academicians among you will recognize a mindset which will be in direct opposition to the fruits of purification in Benedict's 1969 "prophecy"!  Benedict gently indicates the anti-fruit:
... [L]et us ask ourselves: what are the basic convictions of Christians as regards the last things: death, the end of the world? Their first conviction is the certainty that Jesus is Risen and is with the Father and thus is with us forever. And no one is stronger than Christ, for he is with the Father, he is with us. We are consequently safe, free of fear. This was an essential effect of Christian preaching. Fear of spirits and divinities was widespread in the ancient world. Today too, missionaries alongside many good elements in natural religions encounter fear of the spirits, of evil powers that threaten us. Christ lives, he has overcome death, he has overcome all these powers. We live in this certainty, in this freedom, and in this joy. This is the first aspect of our living with regard to the future.The second [conviction] is the certainty that Christ is with me. And just as the future world in Christ has already begun, this also provides the certainty of hope. The future is not darkness in which no one can find his way. It is not like this. Without Christ, even today the world's future is dark, and fear of the future is so common. Christians know that Christ's light is stronger and therefore they live with a hope that is not vague, with a hope that gives them certainty and courage to face the future ...  [W]e realize that God is the true Judge. We are also certain that this Judge is good; we know his Face, the Face of the Risen Christ, of Christ crucified for us. Therefore we can be certain of his goodness and advance with great courage.

Aye, there's the rub! Did you catch it?

What are the most effective, diabolical tools to use against a Remnant Church in a world that is increasingly apathetic to Christianity?  Pessimism and fear!

In our exploration of the notion that the Catholic Church is being purified / trimmed by the Lord to exist in the future as a Remnant Church, pessimism and fear about the future are misplaced and useless -- and to be avoided.  

Pope Benedict has summarized the basic convictions which Catholics must have for living with regard to the future -- whether the Church is a Remnant or not. [See Eschatology : the Expectation of the Parousia.]

  • Catholics have the certainty that Jesus is Risen and is with the Father and thus is with us forever. 
  • No one is stronger than Christ, for He is with the Father, and He is with us. 
  • We are consequently safe, free of fear. 
  • This is an essential effect of Christian preaching. (Deacons and Priests: Are you catching this?)
  • Christ lives, He has overcome death, He has overcome all the dark powers. 
  • We live in this certainty, in this freedom, and in this joy. 
  • Each Catholic lives with the certainty: "Christ is with me."
  • The future world in Christ has already begun; this provides the certainty of hope. 
  • The future is not darkness in which no one can find his way. 
  • Catholics know that Christ's light is stronger and therefore they live with a hope that is not vague, with a hope that gives them certainty and courage to face the future.
  • Catholics live with the conviction that Christ, who will return as Judge and Savior, has left us the duty to live in this world in accordance with His way of living
  • We have a responsibility before Christ for the world, for our fellow human beings.
  • He has entrusted His talents to us, and our responsibility is to work so that this world may be open to Christ, that it be renewed. 
  • Yet even as we work responsibly we realize that Christ, the true Judge, is good.
  • Therefore we can be certain of His goodness and advance with great courage.




And in those moments when the Devil wants to tempt you into fear and anxiety, try reflecting on the following Scriptures -- and really, really pay attention to what the Lord is telling you.

              Deuteronomy 31:6                            1st Corinthians 16:13-14
              Isaiah 43:1-11                                   2nd Corinthians 4:7-11
              Jeremiah 42:17-19                            Philippians 1:12-14
              Matthew 10:16b-33                           Timothy 1:7
              Luke 12:32                                        Hebrews 13:1-8
              John 14:27                                        Peter 3:8-18
              Romans 8:15-39                                1st John 4:8-19

From The Book Of Deuteronomy [31:6]
"Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you."

From The Book Of The Prophet Isaiah [43:1-11]
"But now, thus says the LORD, who created you, O Jacob, and formed you, O Israel: Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name: you are mine.  When you pass through the water, I will be with you; in the rivers you shall not drown. When you walk through fire, you shall not be burned; the flames shall not consume you. For I am the LORD, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your savior. I give Egypt as your ransom, Ethiopia and Seba in return for you.  Because you are precious in my eyes and glorious, and because I love you, I give men in return for you and peoples in exchange for your life.  
Fear not, for I am with you; from the east I will bring back your descendants, from the west I will gather you.  I will say to the north: Give them up! and to the south: Hold not back! Bring back my sons from afar, and my daughters from the ends of the earth:  Everyone who is named as mine, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.   Lead out the people who are blind though they have eyes, who are deaf though they have ears.  Let all the nations gather together, let the peoples assemble! Who among them could have revealed this, or foretold to us the earlier things? Let them produce witnesses to prove themselves right, that one may hear and say, "It is true!"  You are my witnesses, says the LORD, my servants whom I have chosen To know and believe in me and understand that it is I. Before me no god was formed, and after me there shall be none.   It is I, I the LORD; there is no savior but me."

From The Book Of The Prophet Jeremiah [42:17-19]
"If you remain quietly in this land, I will build you up, and not tear you down; I will plant you, not uproot you; ... Do not fear ... says the LORD, for I am with you to save you, to rescue you ... I will grant you mercy ... It is the LORD who has spoken to you, remnant of Judah... ."

From The Gospel According To Saint Matthew [10:16b-33]

"Behold, I am sending you like sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and simple as doves.   But beware of people, for they will hand you over to courts and scourge you in their synagogues,  and you will be led before governors and kings for my sake as a witness before them and the pagans.   When they hand you over, do not worry about how you are to speak or what you are to say. You will be given at that moment what you are to say.   For it will not be you who speak but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.
Brother will hand over brother to death, and the father his child; children will rise up against parents and have them put to death.   You will be hated by all because of my name, but whoever endures to the end will be saved.   When they persecute you in one town, flee to another. Amen, I say to you, you will not finish the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.   No disciple is above his teacher, no slave above his master.   It is enough for the disciple that he become like his teacher, for the slave that he become like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more those of his household!
"Therefore do not be afraid of them. Nothing is concealed that will not be revealed, nor secret that will not be known.  What I say to you in the darkness, speak in the light; what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops.   And do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather, be afraid of the one who can destroy both soul and body in Gehenna.  Are not two sparrows sold for a small coin? Yet not one of them falls to the ground without your Father's knowledge.  Even all the hairs of your head are counted.  So do not be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.   Everyone who acknowledges me before others I will acknowledge before my heavenly Father.   But whoever denies me before others, I will deny before my heavenly Father.

From The Gospel According To Saint Luke [12:32]
"Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has chosen gladly to give you the kingdom."

From The Gospel According To Saint John [14:27]
"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid."

From Saint Paul's Letter To the Romans [8:15-39]
For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you received a spirit of adoption, through which we cry, "Abba, Father!"   The Spirit itself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,  and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if only we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him.
I consider that the sufferings of this present time are as nothing compared with the glory to be revealed for us.  For creation awaits with eager expectation the revelation of the children of God;  for creation was made subject to futility, not of its own accord but because of the one who subjected it, in hope  that creation itself would be set free from slavery to corruption and share in the glorious freedom of the children of God.
We know that all creation is groaning in labor pains even until now;  and not only that, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, we also groan within ourselves as we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies.
For in hope we were saved. Now hope that sees for itself is not hope. For who hopes for what one sees?
But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait with endurance.
In the same way, the Spirit too comes to the aid of our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit itself intercedes with inexpressible groanings.
And the one who searches hearts knows what is the intention of the Spirit, because it intercedes for the holy ones according to God's will.
We know that all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.
For those he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, so that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.
And those he predestined he also called; and those he called he also justified; and those he justified he also glorified.
What then shall we say to this? If God is for us, who can be against us?
He who did not spare his own Son but handed him over for us all, how will he not also give us everything else along with him?
Who will bring a charge against God's chosen ones? It is God who acquits us.
Who will condemn? It is Christ (Jesus) who died, rather, was raised, who also is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us.
What will separate us from the love of Christ? Will anguish, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or the sword?
As it is written: "For your sake we are being slain all the day; we are looked upon as sheep to be slaughtered."
No, in all these things we conquer overwhelmingly through him who loved us.
For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor present things, nor future things, nor powers,  nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

From Saint Paul's First Letter To The Corinthians [16:13-14]

Be on your guard, stand firm in the faith, be courageous, be strong.
Your every act should be done with love.

From Saint Paul's Second Letter To The Corinthians [4:7-11]
For God who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," has shone in our hearts to bring to light the knowledge of the glory of God on the face of (Jesus) Christ.
But we hold this treasure in earthen vessels, that the surpassing power may be of God and not from us.   We are afflicted in every way, but not constrained; perplexed, but not driven to despair;   persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed;  always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our body.
For we who live are constantly being given up to death for the sake of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may be manifested in our mortal flesh.  So death is at work in us, but life in you.   Since, then, we have the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, "I believed, therefore I spoke," we too believe and therefore speak,  knowing that the one who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and place us with you in his presence.   Everything indeed is for you, so that the grace bestowed in abundance on more and more people may cause the thanksgiving to overflow for the glory of God.
Therefore, we are not discouraged; rather, although our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.   For this momentary light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison,  as we look not to what is seen but to what is unseen; for what is seen is transitory, but what is unseen is eternal.

From Saint Paul's Letter To The Philippians [1:12-14]
I want you to know, brothers, that my situation has turned out rather to advance the gospel,  so that my imprisonment has become well known in Christ throughout the whole praetorium and to all the rest,  and so that the majority of the brothers, having taken encouragement in the Lord from my imprisonment, dare more than ever to proclaim the word fearlessly.

From Saint Paul's Second Letter To Timothy [1:7]

For God gave us not a spirit of fearfulness; but of power and love and discipline.

From Saint Paul's Letter To The Hebrews [13:1-8]
Let mutual love continue.  Do not neglect hospitality, for through it some have unknowingly entertained angels.  Be mindful of prisoners as if sharing their imprisonment, and of the ill-treated as of yourselves, for you also are in the body.  Let marriage be honored among all and the marriage bed be kept undefiled, for God will judge the immoral and adulterers.  Let your life be free from love of money but be content with what you have, for he has said, "I will never forsake you or abandon you."  Thus we may say with confidence: "The Lord is my helper, (and) I will not be afraid. What can anyone do to me?"  Remember your leaders who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith.  Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

From The First Letter Of Saint Peter [3:8-18]
Finally, all of you, be of one mind, sympathetic, loving toward one another, compassionate, humble.  Do not return evil for evil, or insult for insult; but, on the contrary, a blessing, because to this you were called, that you might inherit a blessing.
For: "Whoever would love life and see good days must keep the tongue from evil and the lips from speaking deceit,  must turn from evil and do good, seek peace and follow after it.  For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears turned to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against evildoers."
Now who is going to harm you if you are enthusiastic for what is good?  But even if you should suffer because of righteousness, blessed are you. Do not be afraid or terrified with fear of them,  but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts. Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope,  but do it with gentleness and reverence, keeping your conscience clear, so that, when you are maligned, those who defame your good conduct in Christ may themselves be put to shame.
For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that be the will of God, than for doing evil.
For Christ also suffered 5 for sins once, the righteous for the sake of the unrighteous, that he might lead you to God. Put to death in the flesh, he was brought to life in the spirit.

From The First Letter Of Saint John [4:8-19]

Whoever is without love does not know God, for God is love.
In this way the love of God was revealed to us: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might have life through him.
In this is love: not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as expiation for our sins.
Beloved, if God so loved us, we also must love one another.
No one has ever seen God. Yet, if we love one another, God remains in us, and his love is brought to perfection in us.
This is how we know that we remain in him and he in us, that he has given us of his Spirit.
Moreover, we have seen and testify that the Father sent his Son as savior of the world.
Whoever acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God remains in him and he in God.
We have come to know and to believe in the love God has for us. God is love, and whoever remains in love remains in God and God in him.
In this is love brought to perfection among us, that we have confidence on the day of judgment because as he is, so are we in this world.
There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear because fear has to do with punishment, and so one who fears is not yet perfect in love.
We love because he first loved us.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

A Blessed Christmas! Here's A Gift From The "Academy's" Video Archives

The "Faculty" of the Catholic Jedi Academy greets and prays for you, our Academicians", and bids you a holy and peaceful Christmas renewed with the hope that only the Christ Child could give us.

The Catholic Jedi Academy offers this Christmastime video reflection on the irony that Our Lord Jesus Christ, through the mystery of the Incarnation, was born as a human and divine Child so He would die as a human and divine Man... for all of us. 

May we ponder His Birth as we honor His Death.

A Blessed and Merry Christmas To All!

"I Wonder As I Wander" is a Christmas carol written by folklorist and singer John Jacob Niles. The carol has its origins in a song fragment collected by Niles on July 16, 1933. 

1  I wonder as I wander out under the sky
    How Jesus the Savior did come for to die
    For poor orn’ry people like you and like I.
    I wonder as I wander out under the sky.  

2 When Mary birthed Jesus, ’twas in a cow’s stall
   With wise men and farmers and shepherds and all.
   But high from God’s heaven, a star’s light did fall
   And the promise of ages it then did recall.

3  If Jesus had wanted for any wee thing
   A star in the sky or a bird on the wing   
   Or all of God’s angels in heav’n for to sing   
   He surely could have it, ’cause He was the King.

4 I wonder as I wander out under the sky
   How Jesus the Savior did come for to die
   For poor orn’ry people like you and like I.
   I wonder as I wander out under the sky.

Monday, December 24, 2012

The Nativity Scene at St. Peter's Square

Here's a peek at the nativity scene set up in Saint Peter's Square this year

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Send a Prayer to the Priests of Newtown

Tom Crowe over at Catholic has a great suggestion.  He was in the seminary with Fr. Luke Suarez, the parochial vicar of St. Rose of Lima Church in Newtown, CT.  Both Father Suarez and the pastor, Msgr. Weiss, have been attending to the needs of the residents and parishioners after the horrific school shooting last week.  You can see the strain on their faces in the pictures shown in news reports.  Tom suggests that we all try to send a Christmas card along with our prayers to the two priests.

Father Suarez and Msgr. Weiss

The idea came from a Facebook posting by Fr. Suarez' sister in which she says:

"Many of you have received emails from me about my younger brother, Father Luke Suarez, who is a priest at St. Rose of Lima parish, a Catholic church just down the road from Sandy Hook Elementary. He, and his pastor, Monsignor Weiss, arrived at the school within moments of the shooting, and have been caring for the community ever since. The picture I have included was taken at the school.
Father Luke has an impossible task before him. His diocese is without a bishop right now…. Monsignor … is personally devastated by the losses. The parish is very large…. The rectory has received serious threats, and as my brother gave the homily Sunday at the noon mass, the church had to be evacuated by SWAT teams. After experiencing identity theft and online hacking incidents, he had to erase all of his internet accounts. After a weekend of endless media requests, notifications and vigils with heartbroken families, and little sleep, he now has two wakes and two funerals every day, until the fourth Sunday of Advent. Father Luke has not even been ordained two years.
My large family has been trying to send Father Luke our love and support from afar, and one of my brothers was able to visit with him briefly a couple times. All he asks for is prayer.
I have been wracking my brain, trying to think of a way that our beautiful, loving community could tangibly reach out to Father Luke, Monsignor Weiss, and the St. Rose parish, to support them in this most awful of times. I have sent many prayer requests, and I am asking for more prayers again. But I also want to ask everyone to search their hearts, and if the Holy Spirit moves you,please consider sending one of your family’s Christmas cards to the rectory, with a few words of love and encouragement. Here is his address:
Father Luke Suarez
46 Church Hill Road
Newtown, CT 06470
My brother has said over and over again that without the prayer support he is receiving, he could not keep going. And this week is only the beginning. Everyone there is still in shock. Their peaceful home has been desecrated by violence. They will need to live with this sorrow forever.
But in our weakness is His strength. Grace abounds. Can you help me carry him through this time of trial?
On a hopeful note, Father Luke did say that no media coverage has even touched the deep, beautiful awakening of faith that has occurred there. Their tiny church, where my children have received sacraments and where Luke was ordained, has been full of people in prayer without ceasing since this tragedy happened. Love is stronger than death.
Please feel free to share the address with your family, friends, and community. An outpouring of love will sustain these good priests through their impossible ministry–impossible on their own, but possible with God.
I am so grateful to live in this community. We are all so blessed with one another. Every day, I see you all loving one another as Christ loved. Thank you for letting me reach out to you now.
With humble appreciation"

If you're able, please send this two priests a card to show your prayerful support and encouragement. May God bless them and the people of Newtown.


It's the End of the World....Not!

Via Fr. Z

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

Men of The Catholic Jedi Academy are also Men Of Saint Joseph!
Take a moment and visit the MOSJ website.