Monday, December 17, 2012

"Father, Do You Think God Is Trying To Tell Us Something?" -- Part One

     A few weeks  ago, as I was preparing to undergo eye surgery, one doctor -- after seeing on my chart that I was a Catholic Priest -- strolled over and identified herself as a practicing Catholic who was actively involved in her parish.  We began chatting and soon some of the other medical personnel joined in the conversation.  All of them introduced  themselves as Catholic, Episcopalian, or some other Christian denomination. 

     The conversation began to focus on the heartbreaking damage and destruction that the shore communities of our area were suffering with -- houses destroyed, possessions lost, and family homes being gutted down to the original wall beams and floor joists, decontaminated with gallons of bleach, and submerged electrical appliances made useless by salt water infiltration being junked at the curb -- all the while being carried out  in the cold weather without electricity, heat, or running water.

     A sudden pause came over the little group.  From the awkward silence, one of them coaxed another to ask,
"Father, we've been talking lately among ourselves  about the thousands of people affected by that  devastating storm.
And how frightening it is that violence seems to be escalating in the Middle East and elsewhere, 
And how it seems that the economic turmoil in our Nation and the world is rapidly worsening."

"Father, do you think God is trying to tell us something?"  

     I responded, "No, I don't think He's trying to tell us something.  Because He already has told us something.  
     "God has told us over and over, many, many, many times.  But we ignore Him.
Now He's got 
some of us paying attention, doesn't He?  
     "And you and I, who are giving God our attention, must now get to work evangelizing the people who are not giving God any of their attention."


     Dear Academicians, it is my personal assertion, my personal discernment, that God Our Father has been very patient with us citizens of the United States.  I personally believe that God -- for decades -- compassionately chose to withhold His disciplining of the United States for our collective sins of negligence and indifference about several moral issues. 

From The Letter To The Hebrews, Chapter 12
In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood.
You have also forgotten the exhortation addressed to you as sons: "My son, do not disdain the discipline of the Lord or lose heart when reproved by him; for whom the Lord loves, he disciplines; he scourges every son he acknowledges."

Endure your trials as "discipline"; God treats you as sons. 
For what "son" is there whom his father does not discipline?
If you are without discipline, in which all have shared,
you are not sons but bastards.

Besides this, we have had our earthly fathers to discipline us,
and we respected them. Should we not (then) submit all the more to the Father of spirits and live?

They [our earthly fathers] disciplined us for a short time as seemed right to them, but He does so for our benefit, in order that we may share His holiness.
At the time, all discipline seems a cause not for joy but for pain, yet later it brings the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who are trained by it.
So strengthen your drooping hands and your weak knees.
Make straight paths for your feet, that what is lame may not be dislocated but healed.
Strive for peace with everyone, and for that holiness without which no one will see the Lord.
See to it that no one be deprived of the grace of God, that no bitter root spring up and cause trouble, through which many may become defiled, that no one be an immoral or profane person like Esau, who sold his birthright for a single meal.
For you know that later, when he wanted to inherit his father's blessing, he was rejected because he found no opportunity to change his mind, even though he sought the blessing with tears.

You have not approached that which could be touched and a blazing fire and gloomy darkness and storm and a trumpet blast and a voice speaking words such that those who heard begged that no message be further addressed to them, for they could not bear to hear the command: "If even an animal touches the mountain, it shall be stoned." Indeed, so fearful was the spectacle that Moses said, "I am terrified and trembling."
No, you have approached Mount Zion and the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and countless angels in festal gathering, and the assembly of the firstborn enrolled in heaven, and God the judge of all, and the spirits of the just made perfect, and Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and the sprinkled blood that speaks more eloquently than that of Abel.
See that you do not reject the one who speaks. For if they did not escape when they refused the one who warned them on earth, how much more in our case if we turn away from the one who warns from heaven.
His voice shook the earth at that time, but now he has promised, "I will once more shake not only earth but heaven."  That phrase, "once more," points to (the) removal of shaken, created things, so that what is unshaken may remain.
Therefore, we who are receiving the unshakable kingdom should have gratitude, with which we should offer worship pleasing to God in reverence and awe.
For our God is a consuming fire.

     As a collective people, as a Nation, we Americans obviously have been growing  worse in our negligence of spiritual things and our drift toward selfishness.  So, now, God cannot withhold disciplining us as a Nation, for our sake, to redeem and purify us, and to help us be holy again.

     Did we really think that God was going to indefinitely excuse our collective cowardice, selfishness, and apathy we, as a Nation, manifested ...
  • by not praying hard enough, 
  • by not sacrificing and doing penance hard enough, 
  • and by not having the courage to fight hard enough politically and socially...

... to end abortion on demand, to defend Marriage as a union of one man and one woman, and to foster a culture of life in accordance with God's will?

     As a nation and as individuals we deceived ourselves with the fantasy that God would indefinitely overlook our obsessions with sex, pornography, food, technology, recreational drugs, money, clothes, shoes, cars, jewelry, entertainment, and any of the many distractions we use to center our attention on ourselves instead of attending to God and His Commandments. 

     Well, we were just fooling ourselves by imagining that we would not be held accountable for our collective negligence and apathy!  

     Now we as a Nation -- and you and I, as Catholics who are part of this Nation  -- need to do penance, to renounce our habitual sins and attitudes, and to get active and vocal politically and socially to fight those evils which we have pretended didn't involve us personally.

Note well: 
  • I am not saying that I believe that the end of the world is coming.
  • I am saying that some discipline, or punishment, or re-training should be expected, and deservedly so. 
  • I am saying that I believe that a correction is coming, not Armageddon. 
    The storms and natural disasters, the political and financial disasters, are only some of the signs God is presenting to us to make us remember that we are not God: God is God.  A powerful God.  A just God.  A demanding God whose yoke is easy to bear.  
And to make us remember that God loves each of us, now and always -- even when we betray Him, ignore Him, or offend Him.  Our Father in Heaven loves His sinful kids as much as He loves His holy kids. And God has a set of priorities established to help save and redeem us.  His priorities for us aren't new.  He established them thousands of years ago.

God's Priority List for us is simple: 
  • Be attentive to God, as the first Priority in our daily lives.
  • Be attentive to other people as our second priority.
  • Be attentive to yourself as your last priority.
However, in the United States Of America we have literally reversed God's Priorities:
  • We spend most of our attention on ourselves first, on Me-Myself-and-I and I-Me-Mine.
  • We give a select few people our attention as our second priority (especially when we get something we want from those select few people).  
  • Then, in last place, we consign God to the most remote places in our hearts and minds, places we rarely visit and never pay attention to.
We have become a nation of narcissists.  Recall that Satan nee Lucifer was the original narcissist!  And an insidious narcissistic attitude and narcissistic lifestyle have oozed their way not only into our culture, but into the practice of our Faith.   "Narcissistic Catholicism", which began began to gather steam during the 1960s, coincided with -- but was not the result of -- the Second Vatican Council. 

The Second Vatican Council did not create the problems,  we did -- priests, bishops, catechists, deacons, religious orders of men and women, lay people.  We created and evangelized false theological teachings; corrupt moral doctrines designed to confuse and be relativistic; watered-down and dumbed down "Religious Education"/"Faith Formation" and Sacramental preparation; liturgical abuses and sacrileges ...  all inflicted on Mother Church by narcissistic, political, power hungry Catholics -- not by the Second Vatican Council nor by its Decrees and Teachings. 

In spite of all of our shortcomings, It has been and still is our God-given obligation to evangelize our sinful, morally ill world.  But evangelize the world in a new way, leaving behind all the worthless and sinful baggage and debris we have picked up since the time of the Second Vatican Council.  

You and I  are required to evangelize the people around us -- at home, at work, anywhere. Why? Because Our Lord Jesus commanded us to do so. Even if it is inconvenient!  Because so many people are being pulled into the secular, Godless culture surrounding us and they are growing into the majority.  What they decide and what they do will have a direct effect on us Catholics.   Many of those people are / were Catholics themselves at one time.  The probability is high that  these drifting Catholics -- and all those being swept away into secular culture -- may have never really heard the Gospel -- THE true and powerful Gospel -- preached accurately and completely.

An example of what is required of us and what has been lacking in our evangelization efforts can be seen in the following video featuring Ralph Martin -- an official expert at the Synod on the New Evangelization .  He spoke of the need to restore the Church's missionary zeal and our role in that effort. 

Academicians, it is my personal theological observation and spiritual discernment that Our Lord Jesus Christ is now purifying His Church and trimming it down to leave a faithful, holy Remnant.  
  • Our Lord is allowing certain Catholics to abandon and desert His Church.  
  • He is letting His Grapevine be “pruned” by permitting the deadwood, the fruitless, and the diseased branches to have things their own way, and to arrive where they want to be and freely choose to be: cut off from Jesus Christ and His Holy Roman Catholic Church.
And, so, to you, my faithful sisters and brothers  -- those who remain on the Vine by choice, who daily decide to remain faithful to Our Lord Jesus, and to His Teachings, and to His Holy Church --  to you I bid a hearty, "Welcome to the Remnant Church."

It is no coincidence that the Holy Spirit is directing us, His faithful Remnant, to make a new effort at evangelizing those who are fast becoming Godless. 

Nor is it a coincidence that the Holy Spirit has inspired Pope Benedict to issue an Apostolic Letter entitled, Porta Fidei ("The Door Of Faith"), announcing a Year Of Faith for all Catholics, which began October 11, 2012 and ran through November 24, 2013.  

Angela Sealana, who heads a Catholic Evangelization Ministry for the Archdiocese of San Antonio called The Pilgrim Center of Hope, has provided the following excellent synopsis of the Holy Father's Apostolic Letter:

As a good pastor, [Pope Benedict] wrote us a letter called The Door of Faith (Porta Fidei). In this letter, he gives us a road map for this special Year.  Here are the basics:

REDISCOVER. Our Holy Father says this Year is a time to rediscover the journey of faith, “rediscover a taste for feeding ourselves” on the Scriptures (as they are given to us by the Church) and on the Eucharist, “rediscover the joy of believing and the enthusiasm for communicating the faith,” rediscover God’s love “day by day,” and “rediscover and study the content of the faith.”

Since that’s a lot to swallow, he breaks it all down further into bite-sized chunks. 
[Numbers in parentheses indicate the corresponding paragraph number of Porta Fidei.]

1. BE RENEWED. We’re called to renew commitment to our Catholic faith, but true renewal only comes by God’s grace. Our transformation and turning towards God is supernatural! We can’t do it on our own; we have to cooperate with God. The Pope reminds us: “To the extent that he freely cooperates [with grace], man’s thoughts and affections, mentality and conduct are slowly purified and transformed” (6). So, we need God’s grace! How do we receive it? As Catholics, we especially receive grace through the sacraments. “Without the liturgy and the sacraments, the profession of faith would lack efficacy because it would lack the grace which supports Christian witness” (11). How will you commit to receiving Confession and Holy Communion more often this Year?

2. REFLECT. Even when we receive the sacraments, we need to be open to receiving the graces. Are you keeping up walls that have become obstacles to God? This Year, our Holy Father calls us to “reflect on the act of faith” (9). He reminds us that we cannot have any certainty in our lives unless we abandon ourselves into God’s hands (7). We need to reflect: How am I clinging to my wants, fears, and habits? Why am I not trusting God with everything? How can I begin to shed the obstacles that are keeping God out of every area of my life?

3. REPEAT & RECALL. When we allow God in, He can give us the supernatural gift of faith. But we need to cultivate this gift by repeating and recalling the Creed. The Holy Father point us to words by St. Augustine—the former sinner extraordinaire—who tells us that reciting the Creed in church isn’t enough. “In your minds and hearts you must keep it ever present, you must repeat it in your beds, recall it in the public squares and not forget it during meals: even when your body is asleep, you must watch over it with your hearts” (9). And Pope Benedict reminds us, “A Christian may never think of belief as a private act” (10). You might start by discovering ALL that our Church teaches, even one paragraph of the Catechism at a time. Perhaps find a letter by a pope on a subject you find interesting. Then, commit to repeating and recalling our Faith in every area of your life.

4. RETRACE. We learn how to constantly “repeat and recall” our faith from the lives of faithful people who’ve gone before us. The Pope says retracing our Faith’s history “will be of decisive importance in this Year” (13). We can do this in a variety of ways. Here are just a few examples:
Sign up for a Scripture study about the Old Testament or the Early Church.
Read the lives of the saints – buy a book, check out some from your local library, or search online.
Attend a presentation on Church history – ask your parish or diocese for ideas.
Participate in a pilgrimage to the Holy Land or other holy site... .

5. RECOGNIZE. Inspired by these models of faith, we are called to “recognize the face of the risen Lord in those who ask for our love” (14). This means giving ourselves in service to others. Pope Benedict XVI reminds us that the Scriptures say, “Faith without works is dead” (James 2), and that Jesus asks us to care for him through “the least” among us (Matthew 25). How will you commit to recognize and serve Christ in others this Year?

6. RELATIONSHIP. Our Holy Father ends with two more pointers. First, that “this Year of Faith make our relationship with Christ the Lord increasingly firm” (15). Interestingly, he writes in this section about the suffering and joyful experiences in our lives. As with anyone, our relationship with Jesus strengthens when we share our joys and our sufferings with Him—and when He’s the cause of our joy and suffering! When you truly live your Faith, you’ll “have to suffer various trials, so that the genuineness of your faith…is tested by fire” (1 Peter) like gold. So, how will you commit to share your joys and sufferings with Jesus? You might schedule regular prayer time, keep a journal, practice Lectio Divina, drop into a Eucharistic Adoration chapel, or even place a picture of Jesus in a special place at home or work.

7. RECONCILIATION. Finally, every time we fail to do all of the above, God offers us mercy. Pope Benedict reminds us that the Church is “the visible community of (God’s) mercy” (15). We cannot be the Body of Christ all by ourselves; we are each members who are part of the whole Body (1 Corinthians 12)! This Year of Faith, accept God’s gift of mercy by going to Confession frequently, The Sacrament of Reconciliation. Then, commit to being an active member of your local parish—one who offers the peace and forgiveness of Jesus to everyone.

What the world is in particular need of today is the credible witness of people enlightened in mind and heart by the word of the Lord, and capable of opening the hearts and minds of many to the desire for God and for true life, life without end. (Pope Benedict XVI, Porta Fidei (15))


Saint John Bosco's Dream of the Two Columns is highly applicable to the dangers and troubles that we as Catholics will be facing in the years ahead as we undertake the challenge of the new evangelization.  

Saint John Bosco (1815-1888), an Italian priest, a  visionary and the founder of the religious order of the Salesians of San Juan Bosco, had a revelation in 1862 through this well known dream: 

In the dream appeared a great flagship (symbol of the Catholic Church), piloted by the Pope, floundering in a fierce storm and from a pernicious attack from all sides by enemy galleons, heavily laden with armaments and shooting missiles (anti-Catholic books, pamphlets and other forms of propaganda and untruths)

Suddenly in the midst of this perilous dream scape two enormous columns emerge from the sea. 

Atop one column appears the Holy Eucharist and atop the other a statue of Mary Help of Christians. 

Despite all perils the Pope is able to anchor and stabilize the ship to the two columns as the adversaries perish. The smaller accompanying fleet (representing the far flung churches of the world) draws near to the mother ship to be saved.

In explaining the dream, Saint John Bosco prophesized the dangers and challenges to Catholics in the modern world, and foresaw the trials we would face as a Church, surviving and stabilizing through:

  • Faith
  • The Mystical Gift and power of the Divine Body and Blood of Jesus Christ in the form of the Holy Eucharist
  • and Devotion to and the intercession of our Holy Mother, the Virgin Mary.

No matter how rough the seas get, no matter the kinds and frequency of the spiritual attacks to come, the Barque Of Peter (the Ship Of Peter) will not sink nor be wrecked, will never disappear, and will never become extinct!
As Our Lord Jesus guaranteed, "Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." [Matthew 28:20]

We have a lot of praying, fasting and teaching to do. 
Let's get started.  But remember, we're in this together and we are not alone.

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.