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 :-)

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:

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Unhappy Halloween: Should You Visit Or Stay In A Haunted Place?


Greetings Academicians!

Back in July 2014, I had the pleasure of a brief on-the-air telephone conversation with Drew Mariani on Relevant Radio. (Actually, it was the first time I participated in a radio talk show;  I'm glad it was Drew Mariani's show!)

The topic of our conversation was an incident involving one of Drew's friends.  She had asked his advice concerning an upcoming overnight business meeting required of all the employees.  

She discovered that the hotel they would be staying in was notorious for being haunted:  The Skirvan Hilton Hotel in Oklahoma City. 
The Skirvan Hilton Hotel, Oklahoma City
So notorious and so spirit infested, that several NBA Basketball Team Managers -- after their Teams had frightening overnight experiences in the Skirvan -- notified the hotel's management that their Teams would no longer book rooms there.

Drew related that he advised his friend to stay at a different hotel and just show up at the Skirvan Hotel for all the meetings scheduled there.

Drew went on to explain that even though he knew that his advice about staying at a different hotel was the correct course of action for his friend -- or for any of us -- he said, 

"When we have to take these "better-safe-than-sorry" actions, it feels as if we are giving in to the evil: surrendering, giving power to those dark beings. ...It's like being run out of a hotel room by the legends, myths, stories or encounters others have had.  …I don't like giving in, because I think that is what amplifies, or animates, or gives power to the Evil One: the fact that he loves when we are afraid."

Drew advised his friend not to stay in that hotel.  But Drew confessed, 
"I didn't like the way it made me feel, because I felt I was being a coward." 
Scared senseless by a ghost
Ghost of The Decebal Hotel in Baile Herculane, Romania
Not so, Drew! Not so! You were not being cowardly!  Avoiding locales and buildings which have "ghosts"/evil spirits haunting them is not cowardice, but the height of spiritual prudence, and one of the tactics of preventive spiritual warfare!
Demons are angelic beings. They are  more intelligent than we are, shrewder. They exist outside of time and space, and have observed
human beings since our  Creation. 
The "Shadow Man" Ghost of
The Crescent Hotel, Eureka Spring, Arkansas

They are unmercifully vicious and ruthless. They hate us and want to mislead us, so that they may  destroy us and drag us down into their endless agony, sharing their everlasting punishment. 

To willingly go to a haunted place or building so you may deliberately witness the activities and influence of "ghosts"/evil spirits is extremely reckless and dangerous!

To willingly and recklessly attempt to   communicate with spirits through "New   Age" and spiritualistic practices, or with psychics/mediums, or a Ouija Board is extremely reckless and dangerous!

You ordered room service, sir?  Need a new sheet?
Consider the meaning of the verb, haunt:
Regarding a "ghost": Haunting is the spirit's activity of regularly manifesting itself in a particular locale or in a building.
Regarding human beings: To be haunted is to find oneself being kept persistently and disturbingly present in some memory, idea, emotion, possibility, or fear. 
"Ghosts"/evil spirits/demons are experts in haunting human persons. That is why staying in locales which "ghosts"/evil spirits haunt is a very bad idea.  By doing so, you risk the torment of becoming personally haunted in your mind, memories, and senses by evil spirits/demons! 

That's why the Catholic Church, down through the ages, has wisely warned us to keep away from haunted places, buildings and objects, and to stay far away from so-called psychics/mediums/channelers who willingly act as intermediaries for "ghosts"/evil spirits.

So, cowardice has nothing to do with avoiding haunted places. To keep yourself spiritually safe from the influence of "ghosts"/evil spirits/demons and from their  attacking us , personally, is not only spiritually mature and prudent, it is an obligation!

Chernobyl Nuclear Reactor Plant
Would you willingly go into the reactor vessel room of the Chernobyl Nuclear Reactor -- with no protective clothing -- to peek around for two or three minutes?  If you do, you will not smell anything odd, nor feel anything.  

Nonetheless, during your three minute snoop around, you will have absorbed  deadly invisible forces that will quickly destroy the integrity of your internal organs, bones, and skin. These are the irreversible effects of radiation poisoning. You will be dead in fewer than fourteen days after suffering an excruciatingly painful and depersonalizing illness.

Likewise with "ghosts"/demons! Willfully choosing to wander into their domains will render you "spiritually radioactive."  Like the radioactivity you would carry home with you from Chernobyl, after you visit a haunted place or a psychic/medium,  you will carry home one or more evil spirits who have spiritually attached themselves to you.

Another analogy I often use to guide persons regarding their involvement with haunted places and psychics is this: Evil spirits are like lint! And this demonic lint is extremely difficult to remove from your soul, mind, and memories.

When you willingly go to a haunted place, or stay overnight in a haunted hotel, or go on a "ghost hunting" escapade, or consult psychics/mediums, or use a Ouija Board:

So, dear Academicians, as the mutated, modern version of Halloween fast approaches, please do keep away from areas of spiritual radioactivity -- where demonic lint exists in abundance.  

It is one thing to stay in a place and discover later that the place is haunted.   
It is quite another thing to seek out and enthusiastically rush to the place, knowing that you'll be carting home some frightening new, invisible playmates with you which will guarantee you an Unhappy Halloween!

But, I thought YOU brought the Holy Water!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Many Hands Make Light Work...or By the Sweat of Your Brow...

This Youtube video reminded me of the Gospel passage from St. Matthew that we recently heard at Mass:  “Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock." (Matthew 7:24).    The video is made from a series of photographs of an Amish barn raising taken at 20 second intervals over a period of 10 hours. 

It's quite astounding and a real example of how a huge project can be completed so efficiently when many people work together with a clear plan.  The rhythm of the work and the pace indicate that these men know what they are doing and each one does his part. There is not a single power tool or pneumatic hammer in sight!  In fact, I only saw a little ladder toward the end of the video.  They seem to know how to climb the beams and which way to work themselves down without moving a ladder around.

This morning I chatted with a few men outside of my house who are digging trenches for new gas lines.  This work can only be done manually so as to avoid breaking existing lines or cutting power supplies.  They were chest deep in the ground, shoveling out the dirt.  Talk about earning their living by the sweat of their brow!

May God bless all of those who labor in all kinds of weather and conditions.  May they be given the help of others to make their task lighter.

(via Jonah Goldberg at National Review Online)

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

We Remember 9/11... RIP Father Judge, The 343, And All Who Perished

May the souls of all the faithful departed who lost their lives on 9/11/2001 rest in peace.
Eternal rest grant unto them, oh Lord, and may perpetual light shine upon them.

May we never forget the sacrifice of those firefighters, police and emergency personnel who so fearlessly rushed into those burning buildings.  No greater love...

Monday, September 8, 2014

Place This Poster In Your Window To Show Support For Persecuted Iraqi Christians

Greetings Academicians!

We would like to share a poster we made to show moral and spiritual support for Iraqi Christians.

The front of the poster displays the Arabic letter, Nun, and the Arabic word, "Nasara."
The rear of the poster is an explanation.  It reads:


     The army of Islamic terrorists who have invaded Iraq and Syria call themselves “ISIS” (The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria).  ISIS is conducting a massive persecution of Iraqi Christians.  
     Tens of thousands of men, women and children are fleeing for their lives. Rape, torture, and beheading of Christian adults and children are being committed to the extent that ISIS is essentially waging genocide against Christians.
     ISIS leaves the symbol you see ... on the bodies of the Iraqi Christians they torture and murder, and on the homes where Christians live. 
     It is the 14th letter of the Arabic alphabet, Nun, which is pronounced like the English word, "noon." 
The letter is used as shorthand for the word, "Nasara" -- Nazarenes.  It is a pejorative Arabic slang word for referring to Christians. 
     Please display this symbol on your front door or window as an act of moral and spiritual support for our Christian sisters and brothers suffering so terribly at the hands of ISIS’s Jihadi Muslim terrorists.

If you would  like to print out this poster, you can access it at this link:

The poster is in PDF format. It can be printed out as a one-page document -- front and rear sides -- if your printer can print "duplex"-- on both sides of paper. If not, two separate sheets will be printed.

Thank you in advance for spreading this poster
to as many Christians as possible!
Please pray and fast for our
Iraqi Christian brothers and sisters! 

God bless you!

Friday, August 22, 2014

If You're Dumping Ice Water...Be Careful Where You Send Your Money

The latest charity/fundraising trend is the "ice bucket challenge", whereby a person is challenged to dump a bucket of ice water over their head and send a donation to the ALS Association to fund research for a cure for Lou Gehrig's disease (more formally known as ALS).  The problem that has surfaced recently is that the ALS Association is committed to using embryonic stem cells in its research.  These are stem cells taken from aborted babies and the Catholic Church strongly condemns such experimentation.  While the disease of ALS is awful and patients are desperate to find a cure, we can never justify wrongful means merely because they achieve a good end.  Taking the life of an unborn child to provide tissue and cells for experimentation is always and everywhere wrong.  No matter how good the outcome.

As an alternative to donating to the ALS Association, several dioceses and bishops are encouraging "challengers" to send their donation to the John Paul II Medical Research Institute a research facility that, in its own words: "focuses on the most ethical and cost-effective way of conducting medical research to help develop therapies and cures for a variety of diseases."  No babies are destroyed in this experimentation.

So, when taking the challenge - please consider where your money is going.  Find an ethical charity, research facility or medical institution to receive your funds.

Or... you can just donate directly to a good cause where a sick person can personally benefit from your donation (hint, hint)  Just like we mentioned in our previous post.  There are so many needy causes and people out there.  God bless you for your generosity, just be careful about what's being done with your hard earned money.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Two Brave Little Girls and A Family's Great Need

Little Zonera 

Zonera, a beautiful little two year old girl, is suffering from a blood disease.  As a result, this past June, she required a bone marrow transplant from her five year old sister, Hooria.  The transplant required that Zonera be hospitalized for almost three months.  She was finally able to come home a few weeks ago, but after being home for a short time she developed infections in every one of the three ports inserted in her little body to feed her the required medications.

After being rushed back to the hospital and spending time in ICU recuperating from the resulting pneumonia, she is now back home with her loving family.  Her dad has been working two jobs to maintain the health insurance that is so desperately needed by the family and to cover the costs of the illness.  At the same time he has been driving back and forth to the hospital making sure that the baby gets to her follow up appointments.  During the time of the transplant, he was making the trip on a daily basis.  Her mom takes in sewing to help make ends meet, but because of the little one's illness, she has not been able to do this work for several months.

In the middle of this medical crisis, the family was notified by their landlord that they would have to vacate their apartment.  They were recently served with an eviction notice and are scrambling to try and find a new home.  However, with the burden of the medical bills and related costs, they are unable to come up with the funds to move.  They have been desperately searching for a new apartment, but the rents are all higher than what they are paying now and they barely have enough to cover their existing costs.

Zonera's Sister, Hooria, the bone marrow donor

In order to try and help the family, a GoFundMe set has been set up to raise the funds needed to cover the cost of the security deposit, the additional rent for a one year period, and the cost of moving.  The funds needed are conservatively estimated at $6,500, but of course any additional amounts raised would be used by the family to cover medical and other expenses.

If any of the readers of the Catholic Jedi Academy blog are able to contribute, a link to the Go Fund Me site is included at the end of this post.  Any contributions, large or small, are so very much appreciated.  And, of course, prayers are greatly needed for this family, as well.  They are a beautiful loving family who are so giving to others.  Now they are in need themselves.  God bless you for anything you can contribute, materially or spiritually.

Well It's My Birthday, Too, Yeah!

The Catholic Jedi Academy Weblog
celebrates its fifth year in service. 

Happy Birthday to our
Academicians and Catholic Jedi!
Click On The Image To Help
The Catholic Jedi Academy Weblog
Celebrate Its Fifth Year Of Service!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Welcome To The Catholic X-Files! (The What?)

(The What?)

The Catholic Jedi Academy Blog is pleased to introduce you to it's "Library's" Special Files: The Catholic X-Files. 

The Catholic X-Files will present faithful Catholic teaching on Psychics, Mediums, Seances, Angels, Demons, Satan, ESP, Black Magic, Clairvoyance, Doomsday Prophecies and other topics -- in order to fight the lies of The "New Age" and The Occult. 

The Catholic X-Files are being collected and edited, and as new topic files are ready to publish, you will see them available on the Catholic Jedi Academy Blog. 

Just look for the link on the Academy's sidebar to access our expanding topic lists!

Friday, July 11, 2014

People Aren't Dirt: They're Soil!

     In the course of a lifetime, most of us will have had the experience of hearing someone completely strip another person of their human dignity and worthiness.  Perhaps you have done this yourself.
     For instance, you pronounce judgment upon someone you feel is a disgrace or lazy or incompetent.
     You tell them, “You are the lowest form of life.”  "You’re worthless." "You’re a waste of skin." "You’re nothing." “You’re dirt.”
     There’s an interesting reality about those we consider “dirt.”  It comes from Our Lord Jesus Christ.  To Him, people weren’t worthless “dirt.” Rather, people were like different types of soil.

(Image source unknown.)
[13:1-23]   On that day, Jesus went out of the house and sat down by the sea.  Such large crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat down, and the whole crowd stood along the shore. And he spoke to them at length in parables, saying:
"A sower went out to sow.  And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path, and birds came and ate it up.  Some fell on rocky ground, where it had little soil.  It sprang up at once because the soil was not deep, and when the sun rose it was scorched, and it withered for lack of roots.  Some seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it.  But some seed fell on rich soil, and produced fruit, a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold. Whoever has ears ought to hear."
 The disciples approached him and said, "Why do you speak to them in parables?"
He said to them in reply, "Because knowledge of the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven has been granted to you, but to them it has not been granted. To anyone who has, more will be given and he will grow rich; from anyone who has not, even what he has will be taken away. This is why I speak to them in parables, because  they look but do not see and hear but do not listen or understand.
Isaiah's prophecy is fulfilled in them, which says:
“’You shall indeed hear but not understand, you shall indeed look but never see. Gross is the heart of this people, they will hardly hear with their ears, they have closed their eyes, lest they see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their hearts and be converted, and I heal them.’
 "But blessed are your eyes, because they see, and your ears, because they hear.   Amen, I say to you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.  
"Hear then the parable of the sower.   The seed sown on the path is the one who hears the word of the kingdom without understanding it, and the evil one comes and steals away what was sown in his heart. The seed sown on rocky ground  is the one who hears the word and receives it at once with joy. But he has no root and lasts only for a time. When some tribulation or persecution comes because of the word, he immediately falls away. The seed sown among thorns is the one who hears the word, but then worldly anxiety and the lure of riches choke the word and it bears no fruit. But the seed sown on rich soil is the one who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and yields a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold."

     As Catholics, you and I have the obligation of sewing “seeds” -- planting “seeds” in the soil of  people’s lives.  “Seeds” of kindness, hope,  faith,  forgiveness,  patience, compassion.

      Our Lord Jesus teaches us something critically important in His Parable of  The Sower And The Seeds. 
(Image source unknown.)
The Sower -- Our Lord  Jesus -- casts the seeds in every direction, into every kind of soil:  The soil of the footpath, the rocky soil, the soil with thorns growing, and the good soil. And while he is casting the seed, the Sower doesn't know which soil will produce a harvest and how much of a harvest will result.  It all depends upon the soil!  And regardless of whether the future results may be fruitful or not, the Sower sews the seeds into every kind of soil.
     That is what you and I must do. Give people -- who are considered the lowest form of life, worthless, a waste of skin, nothing, dirt -- the benefit of  doubt:  To believe something good about those persons,  rather than something bad, when you have the possibility of believing either.

(Image source unknown.)
     Once upon a time, a retired priest sat in the rectory garden enjoying the afternoon sun.  He looked up suddenly to see the newly ordained bishop of the diocese walking toward him.  
     The elderly priest, delighted, struggled to get up and welcome his visitor.
    “Father, may I sit with you a while?”  The elderly priest and his young bishop began to chat and to trade various stories of life as priests.
     The bishop said, "I must tell you a story: 
“Several years ago, a group of college students had spent an afternoon drinking.  They were walking past a little church.  An elderly priest was inside hearing Confessions.  One of them had an idea: Let's list the worst sins we can think of and flip a coin to see who goes in and confesses them!  It'll be a riot to see how the old priest reacts!  But one of them said, 'Well, seeing how it's your idea, put up or shut up.  I bet you $20.00 you haven't got the guts to do it!’  The first guy took up the challenge.  A list of sins was drawn up and he went inside.
     “He came out of the church a few minutes later brandishing a piece of paper.  ‘Pay me, he said. Here's proof that I went to confession.’ He showed them the paper. His friends asked what the paper was.  “It's my penance,’ he said.  'Didn't the priest say anything?' They asked. 'Nothing -- he just handed me the paper.'  ‘Well   have you done the penance?’  'Don't be silly -- I'm not going to do any penance!'  'Uh-huh, yes you are,' his buddies said, 'We won't pay until you do the penance!'
     "So, he went back into the church and read the paper. 'Kneel before the crucifix at the altar and repeat ten times: All this you did for me and I don't give a damn.'   'No problem,'  he thought, and he knelt before the crucifix. 
     “But, he couldn't do it.  He sawed the nailed hands and feet, and the infinite in the eyes of the Crucified Christ.  'A half-hour later, his buddies wondered what had happened to him and went inside.  They found him crying like a baby at the altar rail.
     "Well, Father," the bishop said, "That's the story -- except for two things:  I was that young college student.  You were the priest!"

Like the Sower and the soil, and the elderly priest and the bishop, you and I may never know what good will be realized from planting the smallest seeds of kindness, of hope, of faith we plant in others.

If we don't allow ourselves to become impatient, or discouraged or intimidated away from what is good and right because others might misinterpret, misunderstand or ridicule it,  you and I can bring forth a rich harvest in very unexpected soil -- in people whom we might not expect to accept and live the Gospel!
“Whoever has ears ought to hear.”

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

One Nation Under god: Which god?

The One, True God: The Blessed Trinity
On this weekend in which we celebrate Independence as a nation, I find myself reminded of the Jewish people, the Israelites, who were waiting for a Savior to free them. 

The Book Of The Prophet Zechariah [9:9-10] communicates the LORD’S promise to His People, the Israelites:
 “Thus says the LORD: Rejoice heartily, O daughter Zion, shout for joy, O daughter Jerusalem! See, your king shall come to you; a just savior is he, meek, and riding on an ass, on a colt, the foal of an ass.  He shall banish the chariot from Ephraim, and the horse from Jerusalem; the warrior's bow shall be banished, and he shall proclaim peace to the nations.  His dominion shall be from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth.”

The Israelites fought for their political and national independence for over 3,000 years.  They were slaves to the Egyptians, exiled to Babylon, subjected to Greek military takeover and then Roman military takeover.  They have been persecuted in our own times by the Nazis, the Soviet Communists, and Muslim Extremists.  The Jews’ national life has been precarious and difficult.

Our life as a nation has been easier.  We've been blessed in many ways.  

We are wealthy in natural resources.  
Until the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2011, our soil had been free of war
   since 1865.  

We have the highest standards of living in the world.  
We are leaders in world affairs, technology, and the exploration of outer space.  
We are an in-dependent  nation.  However...

Five questions haunt me during our celebration of Independence Day.  

First:   Are we losing sight of the truth that God has created human beings to be
inter-dependent  --  are we losing sight of depending on God and each other
           for our personal and national growth and happiness?

Second: Are we, as individuals and as a nation, becoming independent of GOD, setting
              up our own gods? 

Third: Who -- or what -- are our national gods, our false idols in the United States?  
Is it the almighty dollar, celebrities, the gross national product, our movies
              and TV and entertainments, our possessions?  Psychics and Mediums?

              The Internet? Drugs? Sex? Pornography? Leisure time? Football? Shopping?

The god Moloch, to whom babies and
children were burned as sacrifices.

Fourth: Can we proudly say that our nation is still 
                built upon the unchallengeable,
inalienable liberties that protect the 

                rights of all,  as we allow more than a
                million abortions of pre-born children per 

                year? As with the ancient Canaanites and
                later, the Israelites, who betrayed God and
                their Covenant with Him, we as a nation
                are now offering human sacrifices to the
                demonic god, Moloch (see image on left).

Fifth: Does our national moral code reflect 
               Gospel values like justice, modesty,
               compassion, humility, prayerfulness,
               moderation, fidelity, altruism, and

As human beings living in the democratic republic known as the United States of America,  our spiritual lives are directly influenced by the cultural, political, and social prerogatives of our day.   

In the embrace of our nation's Independence Day celebration,  perhaps we might reflect upon whether we, personally as individuals, are IN-dependent of God and one another, or dependent on God and blessed by our INTER-dependence on one another.

The words of Christ in Saint Matthew’s Gospel [11:25-30] show us how to live a life of true freedom:  A life built upon trusting God and helping one another carry our personal burdens. 
At that time Jesus exclaimed:  "I give praise to you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although you have hidden these  things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to little ones.  Yes, Father, such has been your gracious will.  All things have been handed over to me by my Father.  No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him.  Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light."

What God the Father has hidden from the sophisticated, the proud, and the clever,  He has graciously revealed to those who depend upon Him like the smallest children -- while they serve others, and suffer for justice,  make peace, and hunger for holiness.

During this Independence Day weekend, may we offer the Father, Lord of Heaven and earth, praise for the blessings of our free and bountiful nation:  by recommitting ourselves to dependence upon God and Christ-like inter-dependence upon one another. 

So as the Prophet Zechariah told the Israelites, and tells us, "rejoice heartily!  Shout for joy" on this weekend of celebrating our nation's Independence Day!  

And may God continue to bless these United States of America, and make us one nation under God, with liberty and justice for all -- born and unborn!

Friday, June 20, 2014

Psychics, Mediums, And Their Clients Flout God's First Commandment

God prescribed Ten Commandments for us human beings, to protect us from sin and evil.
God's First Commandment reads:
I am the Lord your God: you shall not have
 strange gods before me. You shall not make for
 yourself a graven image.

According to my Dictionary, the verb, flout means:
To defy, refuse to obey, disobey, break, violate, fail to comply with, fail to observe, contravene, infringe, breach, commit a breach of, transgress against; ignore, disregard.

I'm concerned about our societal fascination with "ghosts" and trying to contact the dead.
In a lot of ways, this fascination with the Occult is increasing as our society distances itself further and further from God and true religion.  Ouija Boards. Séances. Psychics. Mediums. Tarot Cards. Astrology. Numerology.

What concerns me are the ways that people are seeking out these phenomena with no regard for the inherent spiritual and emotional dangers in these events.  These people's spiritual recklessness brings several metaphors to my mind:  
"Curiosity killed the cat"   
"If you play with fire, you are going to get burned."
"What you don't know CAN hurt you!"
Or as Steven Wright  once said: "Last night I stayed up late playing poker with Tarot cards. 
I got a full house and four people died.
(Sorry! Just a little humor!) 
But you catch my drift.  

Catholic theology defines the "Occult" and the “Occult arts” 
as the performing of actions beyond the power of human beings with the help of powers other than God’s Divine Power. Any attempt to use the Occult is a grievous sin against 
the virtue of religion. Moreover, prolonged participation in Occult practices can lead to demonic oppression or even possession.

In the ancient times, when God led His people, Israel, into the Promised land, the pagan peoples who inhabited that region were involved in some seriously evil Occult practices which they structured into "religions." They consulted psychics and mediums as an everyday activity.  They worshipped "gods" who were, in reality, demons.  The perfect example of this is the god Moloch.  

Moloch required his worshippers to sacrifice babies and young children -- sometimes teenagers -- by ritually murdering (stabbing) them and then "immolating" (burning) the children on a sacrificial altar of fire. Doing this "guaranteed" the worshipper a good crop at harvest, or success in some business dealings or in romance.

The LORD Our God could not have made it any clearer that His people must keep away from those "gods" and from the evil promoted by the Psychics and Mediums of that time. And now, in our time, God's prohibition still stands. To consult Psychics and Mediums is to willingly commit the sin of Idolatry,  violating God's First Commandment.  Read all about it:

Exodus 20:3-4  -  God's First Commandment
"I am the Lord your God; you shall not have strange gods before Me. You shall not have strange gods before me. You shall not make for yourself a graven thing, nor the likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or in the earth beneath, nor of those things that are in the waters under the earth."

Leviticus 19:31 

"Do not go to mediums or consult fortune tellers, for you will be defiled by them. I, the Lord, am your God."

Leviticus 20:6 
"Should anyone turn to mediums and fortune-tellers and follow their wanton ways, I will turn against such a one and cut him off from his people. Sanctify yourselves, then, and be holy: For I, the LORD, your God, am holy."

Deuteronomy 18: 9-14 
(Moses addressed God's People just before they crossed the Jordan River to enter into the Promised Land, to drive out the pagan nations founded on demon "god" worship:) 
"When you come into the land which the LORD, your God, is giving you, you shall not learn to imitate the abominations of the peoples there.  Let there not be found among you anyone who immolates his son or daughter in the fire, or practices divination, or is a soothsayer, augur, or sorcerer, or who casts spells, consults ghosts and spirits, or seeks oracles from the dead.  Anyone who does such things is an abomination to the LORD, and because of such abominations the LORD, your God, is dispossessing them before you.  You must be altogether sincere with the LORD, your God. Although these nations whom you are about to dispossess listen to their soothsayers and diviners, the LORD, your God, will not permit you to do so."

2 Kings 17:17-23
With fire, they burned as sacrifices their sons and daughters, practiced fortune-telling and divination, and sold themselves into evil-doing in the Lord’s sight, provoking him till, in his great anger against Israel, the Lord put them away out of his sight. Only the tribe of Judah was left. However, even the people of Judah did not keep the commandments of the Lord, their God, but followed the rites practiced by Israel. 
So the Lord rejected the whole race of Israel. He afflicted them and delivered them over to plunderers, finally casting them out from before him.  
Finally, the Lord put Israel away out of his sight as he had foretold through all his servants, the prophets; and Israel went into exile from their native soil to Assyria... .

So, my dear Academicians, take my advice:  
Attend to our God’s simple instructions!  

If God communicates His warning and He prohibits certain activities or forms of knowledge, then we human beings should be compliant and confident that He knows better than we do, and that His prohibitions are for our own safety and happiness.

To think and to do otherwise is reckless, excessive pride and immature defiance of God.  
Such sinful, exaggerated self-confidence almost always ends in self-destruction.

Theresa Caputo
So, this is why the Roman Catholic Church is against consulting Psychics, Mediums, Astrologers, Numerologists, and
 Tarot Card Readers: because God forbids it!  

If you are engaging in the Occult activities of acting as a Psychic, Medium, etc., you are flouting -- denying, disobeying, violating -- God's First Commandment.  

This is a serious Mortal Sin.

It could lead to your damnation to Hell.

John Edward

James Van Praagh

Sylvia Brown

F.Y.I.: A serious, grave or Mortal Sin is the knowing and willful violation of God's law in a serious matter, for example, idolatry, adultery, murder, slander. 
These are all things gravely contrary to the love we owe God. Mortal sin is called mortal because it is the "spiritual" death of the soul (separation from God).

There's Nothing Like A Soul-Killing Séance!
 If you are consulting and referring to Psychics, Mediums, etc., you are likewise flouting -- defying, ignoring, transgressing against -- God's First Commandment.
Oh, Boy!
Let's Have Some Demonic Family Fun!

Evil Portal That Only Leads To Trouble

This is a serious Mortal Sin. 

It could lead to your damnation to Hell.

I kid you not.

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.