Saturday, August 29, 2009
When we approach God, it is right and humble to approach Him not by ourselves. That is, without a mediator. Our human nature is so corrupt that if we rely on our own works and efforts in order to reach God, our works will ultimately become tainted.
God gave us mediators for a purpose! He has seen our unworthiness and He has had pity on us. So to give us access to His mercies, He has provided us with powerful intercessors in able to obtain His mercies. So, to not use or recognize these mediators, and to approach Him directly is to fail in our humility and in our respect for God.
It is the same as if we were to approach some earthly king. We would not wish to approach him without some friend or some person to speak for us.
Our Lord is our mediator with God our Father. It is through Jesus that we ought to pray. It is by Him that we have access to God. "We should approach Him supported and clothed by the merits of His Son."
But we also need a mediator with the Mediator Himself! Is He not God, and in all respects equal to His Father, including all worthiness of respect as His Father is?
We need a mediator with the Mediator Himself, and the divine Mary is the most capable of fulfilling this position. It is by her that Jesus Christ came to us, and it is by her that we must go to Him. If we fear to approach directly Jesus Christ who is God either because of His infinite greatness or because of our lowliness or sins, we should seek out the aid and intercession of Mary our Mother. She is kind and tender, there is nothing too sublime that we can't handle. "When we see her we see our own human nature."
She is not the sun nor its heat or light, which by the brightness and intensity of itself could blind and burn us because of our weakness. Rather, she is sweet and gentle like the moon, which receives the light of the sun (Son) and softens it in order to adapt it to our limited capacity.
All of this has been taught by St. Bernard and St. Bonaventure. According to them, we have three steps to take when we go to God: the first and nearest to us, is Mary; the second is Jesus Christ; and the third is God the Father. To go to Jesus we must go to Mary, our "mediatrix of intersection." To go to God the Father, we must go to Jesus: He is our Mediator of redemption. This is the order to be observed and practiced.
St. Montfort's book is a wonderful read! This book presents and talks about Mary being the essential and infallible key to the heart of Jesus. I highly recommend it for anyone who questions Mary's role in the Church and for anyone wishing to grow in a closer and true devotion with our lady.
May we obtain from God's mercy a true love for Jesus Christ our Lord and that He may receive the burning prayer which we offer with St. Augustine and all who truly love God today, on his feast day.
"Thou art Christ my Holy Father, my tender God, my great King, my good Shepherd, my only Master, my best Helper, my most Beautiful and Beloved, my living Bread, my Priest forever, my Leader to my country, my true Light, my holy Sweetness, my straight Way, my Excellent Wisdom, my pure Simplicity, my peaceful Harmony, my entire Protection, my good Portion, my everlasting Salvation.
Christ Jesus, sweet Lord, why have I ever loved, why in my whole like have I ever desired anything except Thee, Jesus my God? Where was I when I was not in spirit with Thee? Now, from this time forth, do ye, all my desires, grow hot, and flow out upon the Lord Jesus...
O sweet Jesus, may every good feeling that is fitted for Thy praise, love Thee, delight in Thee, admire Thee! God of my heart, and my portion, Christ Jesus, may my heart faint away in spirit, and mayest Thou be my life within me! May the live coal of Thy love grow hot within my spirit and break forth into a perfect fire; may it burn incessantly on the altar of my heart; may it glow in my innermost being; may it blaze in hidden recesses of my soul; and in the days of my consummation may I be found consummated with Thee! Amen."
Happy feast day to all those in the Augustinian family!
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
"Every time we come to Mass we are facing a challenge and must make a decision - will we serve the gods of this world and culture or the Lord who saved us and redeemed us?
Each Mass calls us to make a choice, or to renew a choice, to follow the Lord and not the sins and enticements of this world.
Each Mass is a chance to rise above this world and culture that has no real destination or plan for us and traps and destroys so many lives on a daily basis.
Each Mass calls us to make a choice - to answer the question
Do you also want to leave? Do we want to leave our Lord?
because the priest isn’t holy or attractive, or the music is bad
or we hate Spanish or Latin. or the church isn’t pretty enough
Do we want to leave Our Lord, giving up the Eucharist because for whatever reason we aren’t happy or entertained.
Decide today - Who are you going to serve. The culture and a world of sin and death or Christ the Lord
Do you really want to leave? Then go!! No one is holding you here
No one is forcing you to stay.
Decide - are you going to be a Catholic or a half baked, wishy-washy one with no chance of salvation?
Decide - are we convinced like St. Peter that the Catholic Church is the true Church of Jesus Christ? That Christ is really present in the Eucharist - Body, blood, soul and divinity?
Decide - Is Mass all about you…or is it about God - ?
Is the Church – St. Charles in Coldwater, MI or is the church far bigger, far holier marked as One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic?
The One Church with over a billions members.
The Holy church that offers sacrifice not according the whims of the people or the culture, or the time period but under the direction of God’s representatives.
The Catholic Church that stand against sin and evil and chooses and rightfully so – to worship God as he requires!
The Apostolic Church that follows the directives of our Holy Father
when it come to faith and morals, and liturgy
Decide - Don’t sit on the fence not committing to either side
Decide for yourself. Who is your God? Who do you serve?
and then make your choice
As for me – like Joshua - I choose God. I choose to serve the Lord
to stand with St. Peter and all the Popes who came after him. I have decided to stay because I know that only in Christ are the words of everlasting life. Only in Christ have I become convinced and believe
that there is a God - who is real, true, loving, and merciful
I am convinced that there is no salvation for me anywhere else but in Christ. I believe that the Spirit of God is the one who gives me life; who will reward me with happiness; who is my peace in this life
who is my joy and my all in the next.
I choose to serve the Lord because He is my God. I choose to stay because there is nowhere else to go.
I have found my treasure…have you found yours?
Sunday, August 23, 2009
So please keep checking in and commenting!!
After the Mass and Holy Hour the Sisters talked to our family and gave us some prayer cards with pieces of Mother Theresa's clothes inside (hopefully soon to be second class relics of a saint!) and they just happened to have Mother Theresa's rosary with them as well (it is passed around from order to order--they just happened to have it) so we kissed it.
My little sister has said that she wants to be a nun. Specifically, a "Dominican Tertiary." Remember, she's eight! =D She was so happy to meet these Sisters, and to talk to them. We don't have any sisters around us or our parish so we don't see them that often. Oh, how many vocations are lost due to this!!
Soon afterwards we left because the Sisters went to go fishing over in the pond near the chapel. They saw the row boat over by the pond and insisted that they wanted to go fishing. One said she had never been fishing before!!!
It was a very special day filled with God's graces.
Sorry about the inconvenience.
It's encouraging that there are Bishops supporting the recovery of this "authentic worship."
TULSA, Oklahoma, AUG. 19, 2009 (Zenit.org).
The bishop of Tulsa explains his decision to celebrate Mass at the diocesan cathedral "ad orientem" -- facing east -- as an effort to recapture a "more authentic" Catholic worship.
Bishop Edward Slattery affirmed this in an article featured in the September edition of the Eastern Oklahoma Catholic, titled "Ad Orientem: Revival of Ancient Rite Brings Multiple Advantages, Some Misperceptions."
In a discussion about liturgy, the prelate said, it is necessary to grasp this "essential" truth: "At Mass, Christ joins us to himself as he offers himself in sacrifice to the Father for the world's redemption."
He reminded his readers that "all of the faithful offer the Eucharistic Sacrifice as members of Christ's body" through baptism.
The priest has a unique role in this offering, the bishop affirmed, to stand "in the person of Christ, the historic Head of the Mystical Body, so that, at Mass, it is the whole body of Christ -- Head and members together that make the offering."
Bishop Slattery explained that "from ancient times, the position of the priest and the people reflected this understanding of the Mass."As well, he added, "everyone -- celebrant and congregation -- faced the same direction, since they were united with Christ in offering to the Father Christ's unique, unrepeatable and acceptable sacrifice."
The prelate continued: "When we study the most ancient liturgical practices of the Church, we find that the priest and the people faced in the same direction, usually toward the east, in the expectation that when Christ returns, he will return 'from the east.' "At Mass, the Church keeps vigil, waiting for that return. This single position is called 'ad orientem,' which simply means 'toward the east.'
"This traditional posture lasted for nearly 18 centuries in the Church, he noted, as something that was handed on from the time of the Apostles.
The bishop observed that this single eastward position "reveals the nature of the Mass" as an act of worship shared by the priest and the congregation.
However, he said, this "shared orientation was lost" as the priest and people became accustomed to facing opposite directions.
Bishop Slattery explained, "This innovation was introduced after the Vatican Council, partly to help the people understand the liturgical action of the Mass by allowing them to see what was going on, and partly as an accommodation to contemporary culture where people who exercise authority are expected to face directly the people they serve, like a teacher sitting behind her desk."Unfortunately, he added, this change had some "unforeseen and largely negative effects."
Not only was it a "serious rupture with the Church’s ancient tradition," the prelate asserted, but it also "can give the appearance that the priest and the people were engaged in a conversation about God, rather than the worship of God."
He stated that it also "places an inordinate importance on the personality of the celebrant by placing him on a kind of liturgical stage."
The bishop noted Benedict XVI's appeal to "draw upon the ancient liturgical practice of the Church to recover a more authentic Catholic worship."
He continued, "For that reason, I have restored the venerable 'ad orientem' position when I celebrate Mass at the cathedral."
This gesture, he stated, is not one of rudeness or hostility toward the faithful, nor an attempt to "turn back the clock."
Rather, Bishop Slattery affirmed, it represents the fact that "we journey together to God."
As well, he continued, it is an attempt to respond to the Pope's invitation to "discover what underlies this ancient tradition and made it viable for so many centuries, namely, the Church's understanding that the worship of the Mass is primarily and essentially the worship which Christ offers to his Father."
This website has been made to help prepare us for the transition into the use of these translations. This is merely a website that will be a resource for the faithful, for the clergy, for parish and diocesan leaders, and for music publishing companies so that they may become familiar with these translations.
Here's the article from CNA:
U.S. bishops launch website on new Mass translation
Washington D.C., Aug 21, 2009 / 11:14 am (CNA).- After years in the making, the English translation of the new Roman Missal is nearing its completion and is now awaiting the final approval of the bishops and the Vatican. In an effort to begin educating the faithful and clergy on the new translation, the U.S. bishops have launched a website.
The new website, which was launched on August 21, includes background material on the process of the development of liturgical texts, sample texts from the Missal, a glossary of terms and answers to frequently asked questions.
A press release from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) says that content will be added to the website on a regular basis over the next several months.
Bishop Arthur Serratelli, who chairs the bishops’ Committee on Divine Worship, welcomes the faithful to the new site in a video, saying, "In the years since Vatican II we have learned a lot about the use of the vernacular in the liturgy and the new texts reflect this new understanding." Describing the translation, Bishop Serratelli says, "The new texts are understandable, dignified and accurate. … They not only strive to make the meaning of the text accessible for the listener, but they also strive to unearth the biblical and theological richness of the Latin text."
The process of translating the new Missal began in 2003 and has been ongoing since then.
Now that they have studied, reflected and adjusted the translation for five years, the bishops are expected to conclude their review and approve the final portion of the translated texts at the end of this year, the USCCB says in a press release.
Following the approval of the bishops, the translation will require a final approval (recognitio) from the Holy See before the texts can be published and used in the liturgy.
Speaking in the video, Bishop Serratelli explains that he sees this time of waiting as an opportunity for the faithful to learn and prepare."
We have a great opportunity during this period not only to learn about the changes, not only to learn about the revised texts, but also to deepen our own understanding of the Liturgy itself," he says. "We encourage priests, deacons, religious, liturgical ministers, all the faithful to avail themselves of the information that we are making available."
The website dedicated to the new translation can be found at: http://www.usccb.org/romanmissal
(Click on "Examples," it will walk you through the Mass and what is to be changed)
Wonderful!!! God's Graces are at work.
Saturday, August 15, 2009
While we were camping my Dad and I have been going to daily Mass in Paw Paw. One morning Fr. Adams (newly ordained priest!!) came over to me and asked if it would be alright if I served a TLM with him. I told him I never have before, but I would love to! So later that day he taught me and another boy to serve the TLM Low Mass. After our training he prayed Mass, and I was serving it.
Who would've thought that just a few hours after he asked me randomly I would be trained and be serving the TLM? Truly it was God's Grace at work. It came through Fr. Adams. He is a very Holy man. He gives off holiness, and compassion like an aroma. He is such an inspiration to me, and sets an example of what kind of a priest I want to be. Yet with such a GREAT love of God, there comes the GREAT power of the devil. The holier you are and the closer you are to God, the more the devil will work at pulling you away from Him. Pray for Fr. Adams and for all priests.
Words cannot describe the emotions felt in a TLM Mass. It is truly Right and truly Perfect. To serve at it, is amazing. You get IT!! You see the faith in the TRUE presence, the entering before God with fear and trembling, and Jesus being revealed to us all. He is the rising SON coming over the mountains to shine forth His light to the world. How amazing is that!? All of the actions have specific purpose and meaning. There is no room for personal preferences, or changes.
Everything makes sense in the TLM. It flows and moves with ease and gentleness. It shows absolute reverence, and puts the priest, servers, and faithful back to where they are meant to be. The priest becomes the person we shove up there before God. We say, "Here!! You go up there with God! You do it!" The congregation is praying for the priest and the servers while they, in return, carry out the sacrifice of the Mass and bring back from Calvary Jesus (LITERALLY!) and distribute Him to the faithful!! How AWE some!?
Anyways, it was an incredible grace and experience. Actually, the Mass was very simple to learn. I had it down the first day. I just need to work on my Confiteor. =D I hope to serve the Mass several more times this next week (we are going back to Paw Paw on Monday). It will be hard afterwards to not be able to serve it.
For hundreds of years, Catholics observed the feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary on August 15 -- celebrating Mary's being taken bodily to Heaven after her death -- but it was not until 1950 that the Church proclaimed this teaching a dogma of the Church.
Mary's Assumption is a sign to us that someday, through God's grace, we too may join the Blessed Mother in Heaven. The Assumption is a source of great hope for us. It points the way for all followers of Christ who through her take obedience to God's will. Where she is now, we are meant to eventually be, and may hope to be through God's grace. We must try to imitate her self-sacrificing love, her indestructible faith and her perfect obedience.
"More and more I am beginning to believe that we as a Catholic people, as moral people, are going to begin facing challenges and trials that will ultimately cause us to draw that line in the sand. There are always instances and times in our lives that call us into an act of faith and loyalty to our faith, but as I grow I sense a great suffering of the church, and a point at which we will have to stand up for our faith, and what the Church truly teaches.
In the past it seems as though we have followed an extremism in which we have cared and nurtured our emotions rather than our intellect. This, I believe, caused many problems to thus erupt, the main being the misunderstanding of Vatican II. One can still see the effect our emotions play in our logic and morality that we use everyday.
I'm not saying emotions are a bad thing. On the contrary, I think emotions are a wonderful thing. They are what drive us to love God. I am saying that we need to build these emotions, on Truths. Moral Truths.
If we as Catholics, and as Christians, use our intellect, with all emotions aside, we start to understand what the Church has to teach and why. Knowing this creates a stronger faith inside of the individual.
I believe we need both emotions and intellect. But, I believe we need to always rely and base our emotions off of our intellect and reasoning. For emotions with no (good) reasoning behind them are pointless and uncalled for.
The tide is shifting. Soon, I believe, we will be forced to fall back to our intellect and to then either stand up for our faith, and the Truth. Or, we run away, and fall. Sadly enough I think this is where most of the people who "leave" the Catholic Church digress. They do not have the faith in God, nor the strength. But would rather flee and run from the trial (even though, I believe trial will reach you in one form of another-- you can't out run it).
Notice I quoted ..."Leave" the Catholic Church. The reason I wrote it this way is because I believe one does not "leave" the Church, just the same as one does not enter the Church. We are all Catholics. Whether we accept it (know it) or not. We are all Catholics born into this world, and coming out of it. The Church consumes us. The Church takes us on. We do not take on the Church.
The Church has always gone through trials and hard times. Thus it still expands after 2000 years. With this growth in reform and tension in culture will come conflict. This conflict, I believe, will result in a great suffering and trials that we will have to endure.
Even though the church does not seek to be counter-cultural, but when the church is countered by society and culture of our day, it has no choice. The Church IS, and will never change. The church doesn't wish to create conflict between different standpoints. Really, the Church has, in the past forty years, been too tolerant and accepting of others' views.
But, in another sense, if the culture of our church - its practices, traditions, and moral thoughts- is the culture that is the One True Truth, then it is not a matter of the church being counter cultural anymore. Some would call this an extreme way of thinking, but it is that same extremism that says that Jesus Christ is Lord of all. Christ IS the Church, so thus, our extreme claim for Christ becomes our extreme claim for His Church.
Today there is much that is counter to the Catholic way of being. Every day I encounter something that pushes me (us all) closer and closer to that line; whether it be ignorant teachers or other classmates. The moral Truth is not very popular right now, nor was it ever. But, ironically, it is we who try to follow our moral Truths that are questioned and seen as the "outcast" or "pessimist" to the rest of society's views.
Great trials have begun to come, and will continue to come in bigger forms. I think we as Catholics, as people, and as a country, need this. It is time for us to grow up and stand up for what we believe. We all need to strengthen our faith and catechesis - or else we have nothing but the fire. But I am not afraid. God will deliver. God will bestow upon us however much we can handle."
Holy Virgin Mary, you are reigning in Glory, with Jesus, your Son. Remember us in our sadness. Look kindly on those who are suffering or fighting any difficulty. Have pity on the loneliness of our hearts; have pity on our weakness of our faith and love. Have pity on those who are weeping, on those who are praying, on those who are fearful. Holy Mother, please obtain for all of us hope and peace inside justice. Amen.
Monday, August 10, 2009
First, go HERE to Fr. Zuhlsdorf's Blog---He has answered this question many times. When you go to this page, be sure to click on the link half-way down that says "What does GIRM 299 really say?" Or for more information go HERE.
Next got to this LINK on Amazon that allows you to read Chapter 3, "The Altar and Direction of Liturgical Prayer," of Cardninal Ratzinger's "The Spirit of the Liturgy."
HERE is a link to my blog where I made a very big post about Ad Orientem. It talks about all aspects of it, and I quote the Holy Father and his writtings about the subject (Spirit of the Liturgy), along with others.
For any more reading on this topic please read:
“Turning Towards the Lord” by Fr. Uwe Lang
“Spirit of the Liturgy” by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger
(I quote these two books throughout my blog entry)
There's a case study regarding canon law, in which the bishop of Birmingham, Alabama decreed that Ad Orientem was NOT allowed, especially at televised Masses (remember this is where EWTN films their liturgies). Follow THIS link to see how canon law 838 pertains.
HERE is Fr. Longnecker's Blog where he has posted his letters to his parish about implementing Ad Orientem at Mass. Fr. Longnecker is an excellent resource as well.
St Lawrence is one of the most widely venerated saints of the Roman Catholic Church. Devotion to him was widespread by the 4th century.
St Lawrence is especially honored in the city of Rome, where he is one of the city's patrons. There are several churches in Rome dedicated to him, including San Lorenzo in Panisperna, traditionally identified as the place of his execution. The picture above is of the stone where St. Lawrence was laid after his death.
Here's the shrine in Rome containing the gridiron said to have been used to grill Saint Lawrence to death.
St. Lawrence, pray for us,
that the flames of Divine love may burn away all traces of vice within us,
and that we may be practical and zealous in the service of the poor.
(Info. to Catholic Encyclopedia)
Sunday, August 9, 2009
Saturday, August 8, 2009
One of the days we were at Mass we noticed a man (who I thought looked like a canon from St. John Cantius) in the back of the church who was in cassock and collar with a rosary on his cincture. Sure enough, he was: Brother Chad! Brother Chad was in Michigan on retreat to take care of the grounds around St. Anne's. Fr. Stanley talked to him and asked if he could show my dad and I inside St. Anne's.
Brother Chad was more than happy to give us a tour and talk with us, so about half an hour after Mass we met with him at the chapel. The chapel is just gorgeous inside!!! Amazing! He was one of two men who built the chapel. The chapel is designed after the polish mountain chapel.
It is intended to have a nailed on wood roof with no metal on top. But after the first rainstorm it drenched the inside. So Brother Chad and a few others spent almost a month caulking every crack in the roof. After that it leaked a little bit. Eventually the Superior, Fr. Phillips, decided that they would put on a copper roof over top of plywood. This caused so much additional weight that the walls started to bend out. They put in more braces at the top of the roof and put iron tension beams from one wall to the other to bring the walls back in.
Regardless of the beams and such, it is a beautiful little chapel! It has a choir set up before the altar rails and even has a small choir loft with an organ in the back of the chapel. It is such a wonderful place to send these priests and brothers away on retreat from the city!
We had a chance to talk with Brother Chad about vocations for about a hour and a half. It was just what I needed. I needed to talk to someone and ask them questions about SJC after my visit there a few weeks ago. He answered all of my questions and was very helpful.
Brother Chad is a very holy and loving man. They all are at SJC! We told him, "Ya know, we've noticed that you guys are always so joyful!" He replied with, "Well, I just think we're down-to-earth!" That's exactly it! The men of St. John Cantius are just "down-to-earth," joyful men. They love God and the church's liturgy, but they do not approach it with faces and attitudes of such somber seriousness as others do. They are joyful in their works and liturgies while still being very serious about them. They are just regular guys who are called to be priests and brothers.
Brother Chad gave a very wonderful analogy that I thought I'd share with you. It helps me to explain why I'm interested in SJC and their works. Along with how they fit into the church and it's mission.
He said that the church is the Body of Christ. So to have a body you need a heart, and that's the cloistered nuns and monks who pray for us who can't pray all of the time. They pump the blood (the faith) out to everyone else. The skin is the laity. The laity (or skin) is what everyone sees, it is the face of the church. We need lots of people to be laity so that they can spread the good news and live a christian life. Likewise, we don't need as many people to be the heart and live a cloistered life. Then all of the other religious are at different locations in the body, the diocesan priests are like the muscles who are closest to the skin (we need lots of muscles, but not as much as we need skin), while the deeper you go into the body the more of a monastic life you live until you reach the heart. Brother Chad said that the Canons Regular of St. John Cantius are like the veins that bring out the faith from the heart to the rest of the religious on to the laity.
This is why I find SJC so appealing! They set an example for other religious who in turn set an example for the laity! They live both a monastic and a diocesan lifestyle. They minister to people, yet their mission is to keep that Catholic bloodline pumping out to the rest of us.
It was an excellent visit and an excellent talk. Just another push from God.
Praised be Jesus Christ! Now and Forever!!
The Church is blessed to have such fine men like these enter into her Holy Priesthood!
Sadly, I was not able to attend the ordination Mass (My high school marching band had a parade to play at). But I will be attending Fr. Adam's (bottom left in picture) first Mass in Paw Paw: Sunday the 9th at 2pm. I know Fr. Adams personally, and he is a VERY holy and loving man. He is what I aspire to be.
Congratulations to you all!! Ad multos annos!
Friday, August 7, 2009
The fact that we can think of a greater happiness than we posses now is proof that we are not happy. If we were perfect we would be happy all the time. At one time or another in our lives we have tried to obtain what would make us happy, but when we get it, are we happy?
Remember how we look forward to a vacation or Christmas, and we thought about how great a time it was going to be and how happy we were going to be? But then as our vacation ended, or we are falling asleep in our beds after Christmas day, we feel that somehow or other it did not meet our expectations.
We want to be perfectly happy, but we are not. Our lives have been a series of disappointments, shocks, trials, sufferings, and disillusions. The real question lies in how we reacted to our disappointments; either we became cynical, or religious.
If we decide to become cynical, we decide that, since life is a snare and a delusion, we ought to get as much thrill and fun out of it as possible! In a case such this we grab at any excitement we see, making our lives a consistent search for a "good time." This would be the right attitude if we were just an animal. But we have a soul as well as a body. So there are joys in life as well as pleasures.
There is a world of difference between these two. Pleasure is of the body; while joy is of the mind and heart. One can become quickly tired of pleasures, but you can never tire of joys. A pleasure can keep building until it reaches a point where it stops being pleasure it may even begin to cause pain if carried beyond a certain point. Therefore, if we live focused on pleasure we are missing the joys of life.
Have you noticed that as our desire for pleasure increases, the satisfaction from the pleasure decreases? The drug addict, to have equal pleasure from his drugs, must increase his dose or kind of drug. Otherwise the thrill runs off. Any addict deals with this. You keep searching for the next big thing because the pleasure of the last wore off.
On the other hand, one will react to disappointments in a religious manner. If we see that we haven't found the happiness we are looking for we come to the conclusion that, "If we want happiness, we must have been made for happiness." We realize that we have been looking for happiness in all of the wrong places. Therefore we look for happiness somewhere else, in God.
If our philosophy is always to have a "good time," we have already learned long ago that we will never really have a "good time," because we are always in the pursuit of happiness without ever capturing it. We will spend our whole lives searching for happiness, and what ends up happening is that we go through life without noticing how happy we could be if we look to God for our happiness. "We turn the pages of life, without ever reading the book." --Fulton Sheen.
This is why those who live for pleasure become cynical. They blame things, rather than their self, and they end up chasing mirages until death overtakes them.
Our whole lives will be disordered and miserable if we base them on the principal of always having a good time, simply because happiness is an end product, not a goal. One should not seek happiness, but rather seek good and happiness will come as a result.
From all of this comes the question; "Why am I disappointed and unhappy?" The reason for this is simple; because we have such a large unbalance between our desires and our realizations.
For example, one would look forward to some earthly pleasure, or position, but once they attain it, they begin to feel the large unbalance between the idea they desired and the reality of what actually happened. This causes disappointment. The more material and earthly our goals are the more disappointment follows; the more spiritual and "God-centered" our goals are the less disappointment there is. That is why, if we devote our lives to God and His will we can ultimately find happiness in everything.
Certainly we would never want this perfect life, perfect Truth, perfect Love unless it existed. The very thought that we enjoy these things to the best of our abilities means there must be a place where we can enjoy these things in complete happiness. That's heaven! Would there be an eye if there was no beauty to behold? Then would there be a craving for unending life, perfect Truth, and ecstatic love unless perfect Life and Truth and Love existed?
In other words, we are made for God. Nothing short of the infinite satisfies us, and to be asked to satisfy with anything less would be to destroy us. That's why there is a heaven!
While we are on earth, we dream of heaven; we are creatures of time, and we despise it. We are constantly looking for the source of Life, Truth, and Love, and that something is God; and the times when we have been disappointed are when we have lost sight of Him!
It is God that we are looking for. Our unhappiness is not due to our want of a fortune, or a high position, or fame; it is not due to a want of something outside of us, but rather a want inside of us. We are made for perfect happiness. That is our purpose. No wonder everything short of God disappoints us!
But have you noticed that when you realize you were made for perfect happiness, how much less disappointing the pleasures of earth become? Once we realize that God is our end, we are no long disappointed! "This causes us to see that friendship, the joys of marriage, the sunset and the stars, masterpieces of art and music are all gifts from God! He dropped them into our life to remind us that these things beautiful. It is a small foretaste of His eternal kingdom in heaven!"
Life is not filled with disappointments- unless you expect more than what you have at that very moment. Disappointments are merely parts of life saying: "Perfect Happiness is not here." Every disillusionment, every destroyed earthly hope, every frustrated human desire points to God. Though our passions may be satisfied by things of this world, we are never satisfied until we are at peace with our One True God in His eternal Kingdom.
Monday, August 3, 2009
The church is used by the Canons Regular of St. John Cantius. St. Anne’s Chapel is a quiet retreat location for the members of the Canons Regular. In 2001, the Dietz family donated to the Canons Regular of St. John Cantius 96 acres of farmland in Lawton, which will be the site of a future retreat center. Because the parents of the Dietz family were named Anne and Thaddeus, the new chapel was dedicated to St. Anne and a statue of each of their patron saints has been enshrined in the chapel.
The St. Anne Chapel, crafted in the mountains of southern Poland in 2003, and reassembled on the Lawton property, features the traditional style of architecture that has been employed in that region since the Middle Ages.
(Info. From SJC)
Fr. Solanus Casey, Capuchin Franciscan, was born Bernard Francis Casey on November 25, 1870 on a farm near Oak Grove, Wisconsin. He was the sixth child in a family of ten boys and six girls born to Irish immigrant parents. Bernard left the farm to work throughout Wisconsin and Minnesota as a logger, hospital orderly, street car operator, and prison guard.
At the age of 21 Bernard entered St. Francis High School Seminary in Milwaukee to study for the diocesan priesthood. Five years later he contemplated a religious order. Invested in the Capuchin Order at Detroit in 1897, he received the religious name of Solanus.
After his ordination in 1904, Fr. Solanus spent 20 years in New York, Harlem, and Yonkers. In 1924 he was assigned to St. Bonaventure Monastery in Detroit where he worked for 20 years.
Fr. Solanus spent his life in the service of people. At the monastery door as porter he met thousands of people from every age and walk of life and earned recognition as "The Doorkeeper." He was always ready to listen to anyone at any time, day or night.
During his final illness, he remarked, "I'm offering my suffering that all might be one. If only I could see the conversion of the whole world." His last conscious act was sitting up in bed and saying, "I give my soul to Jesus Christ." He died at the age of 86 on July 31, 1957 at the same day and hour of his First Holy Mass 53 years earlier.
After his death the fame of Fr. Solanus continued to spread and many people visited his simple grave in the Friars’ Cemetery. Three years after his death many friends formed the Fr. Solanus Guild to preserve his memory and ideals (which you can visit HERE). The Guild sparked the movement to present Fr. Solanus as a candidate for Sainthood.
By 1981 Cardinal Dearden was ready to petition the Congregation for Causes of Saints to open the Cause. Permission was granted in 1982 and instructions were sent to Edmund C. Szoka, the new Archbishop of Detroit, to begin the Diocesan investigation. After interrogating 53 witnesses the Process was completed and taken to Rome in October 1984.
The canonical exhumation and examination of Fr. Solanus’ body took place on July 8, 1987 in the presence of Archbishop Szoka and Archdiocesan officials. Solanus' body, found to be quite intact, was clothed in a new habit, placed in a new steel casket, and sealed with the Archbishop’s seal. The casket was reinterred in a cement vault beneath the floor of the north transept of St. Bonaventure Church where many people continue to pray for the intercession of Fr. Solanus.
The Positio documentation of the Cause, was studied and approved by the Congregation for Causes of Saints in 1995. On July 11th of that year Pope John Paul II promulgated the Decree of Heroic Virtue for Fr. Solanus and declared him “Venerable.” One miraculous cure attributed to the intercession of Venerable Solanus, then approved by the Congregation will advance the Cause to Beatification and the title of “Blessed.” Another approved miracle after that will advance the Cause finally to Canonization or Sainthood.
"Accustomed to the most severe austerities, beleaguered by swarms of penitents, and besieged by the devil, this great mystic manifested a imperturbable patience. He was loved by the crowds, but he retained a childlike simplicity, and he remains to this day the living image of the priest after the heart of Christ." (Catholic Online)
He heard confessions of people from all over the world for sixteen hours each day. His life was filled with works of charity and love. He died August 4, 1859, and was canonized May 31, 1925.
St. John Vianney is the patron saint of priests, and this year is specially dedicated to him and his works as it is the "Year of the Priests."
Prayer of St. John Vianney-
I love You, O my God, and my only desire is to love You until the last breath of my life.
I love You, O my infinitely lovable God, and I would rather die loving You, than live without loving You.
I love You, Lord and the only grace I ask is to love You eternally...
My God, if my tongue cannot say in every moment that I love You,
I want my heart to repeat it to You as often as I draw breath.
Sunday, August 2, 2009
A conscience burdened with the guilt of past sins is fearful of divine judgement. But God in His mercy has given us two remedies for such an unhappiness. One is the sacrament of penance, which blots out the past by remission of our sins and lightens the future by means of hope through an amendment of our lives.
Nothing in human existence is as effective in curing our memory or imagination as confession; it cleanses us of our guilt, and if we follow Christ, we shall be put completely out of mind of our confessed sins.
The second remedy is stated by Fulton Sheen as, "The Sanctification of the Moment"--or the "Now." Our Lord even spells out for us what we are to do:
"Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today's trouble is enough for today" (Mt 6:34).
This means that each day has its own trials; we are not to borrow troubles from tomorrow because that day will soon have its cross. We are to leave the past to God's mercy and to trust in Him for the future, whatever its trials may be.
Each minute of life has its particular duty--whatever the appearance that duty may take. The Now-moment is the moment of salvation. Each will of God is a dreaded command to us, but we should wish that the wills of God were multiplied, that there might be more frequent opportunities for our service to Him. Those who truly love God will not protest, no matter what He may ask of them.
A sick person takes medicine without asking the doctor to justify its bitter taste, because the patient has trust in the doctor's knowledge; in the same way the soul that has faith accepts all the events of life as gifts from God, and embraces them with open arms.
This is no small task, no doubt!! If you were to read any doctor of the church you would find them writing about the same thing we are discussing right now. This is something human beings will always be fighting to overcome. It takes a lifetime, and we will not know the fruits of our labor until we reach our eternal kingdom.
But each of these trials and sufferings carries a message God has directed personally to us. Nothing is more individually made to our spiritual needs than the Now-moment.
Those who sanctify the moment, and offer it up in union with God's will, never become frustrated--they never grumble or complain. They overcome all obstacles by making them occasions of prayer. What are often "hard-times" are then made opportunities of growth and trust in God.
It is strange how we accept misfortune--or even an insult. For example; if someone were to stomp on our foot accidentally we would become resentful and upset; but if it were a movie star that accidentally stepped on our foot we would probably boast about the moment to our friends!
So, we are able to adapt with grace to the demands of every Now-moment when we recognize God's will and purpose behind the trials and tribulations of life.
We are all hungry to do great things for God, and we complain that we have no opportunities to carry out such a great mission. But whenever the food is overdone, no good parking available, or the event cancelled we become upset for the rest of the day. We miss our opportunities to love and serve God in the little things He asks of us. God speaks to us in a whisper, but we don't hear Him because we are too busy listening for a trumpet. We should quiet our own wills so that we would be able to hear the will of the one who is really important!
It is in these little daily chores that saints find holiness. To accept the crosses of our state of life because they come from an all-loving God is to have taken the first step in the reform of our world. It is the reformation of the self.
This habit of embracing the Now and glorifying God through His demands is an act of our loving will. We do not need to know God's plan in order to accept it. We can be cured by a medicine (staying with the doctor examples! =D) without knowing its prescription or its ingredients. Just our will to be resigned to Him, and to suffering will give us a far greater understanding of theology than anything else.
"Some souls will gain peace and sanctity from the same trials that make others rebels and nervous wrecks." (Fulton Sheen-- Yes i started reading some of his writings! =D)
Neither the devil nor God can take our will. We are absolute owners in deciding whether we offer our will to ourselves or to God. Our will, operating under our own power, may be busy doing many things, but in the end they amount to nothing. But our will operating under God's will and power can amount to such great things that we cannot even conceive until we reach heaven.
Fiat Voluntas Tua; "Thy will be done." What a wonderful phrase. To say and mean this is to put an end to all complaining; for whatever the moment brings to us is now borne by the Divine will of God.
If we follow completely in God's will we should be able to escape from the accidents that caused us pain and anger. Our life will be carried out in accordance to God's will. No longer will things "Not go according to our plan." People of God's will utter no complaint; whatever comes along they welcome it.
In God's divinity, there is nothing accidental. There is, instead, the meeting of a divine will and the offering of our own wills up to God. In this, we become content, because we know that God knows what is best for us. So then the bitter and the sweet, the joys and the sorrows of each and every moment are viewed as sanctity.
Even the bitterest of life's punishments are known to be joys in the making under their harsh and ugly appearances. Even our enemies can become occasions of advancement in union with God. Each trial is an occasion for faith and love in God.
"Only God changes things for the better. But He does this through us if we give Him the opportunity to use us. There is no limit to how much God gives us except the limits that we put on Him by our self-centeredness and lack of trust. We must constantly be aware of the limits we place and must relentlessly push thier limits back." (Fr. Groeschel--"The Reform of Renewal")
How can we be called to embrace suffering? How can we be called to love to suffer or endure slander? The only answer lies in our love of God. God will only give us what we can handle.
Mother Angelica once said, "Often, in the gray light of dawn, a chill comes over me. I ask what more I could have done if I had really trusted God."
At first thought one thinks of this being a touching act of humility, but if we are to look closer at what she said we find that she was right. We can always do more if we try to push back the limitations set by our own fears and shame.
Saint Francis de Sales (1567-1622)
Do not look forward to the changes and chances of this life with fear. Rather, look to them with full confidence that, as they arise, God to whom you belong will in his love enable you to profit by them. He has guided you thus far in life. Do you but hold fast to His dear hand, and He will lead you safely through all trials. Whenever you cannot stand, He will carry you lovingly in his arms.
Do not look forward to what may happen tomorrow. The same Eternal Father who takes care of you today will take care of you tomorrow, and every day of your life. Either He will shield you from suffering or He will give you unfailing strength to bear it.
Be at peace then, and put aside all useless thoughts, all vain dreads and all anxious imaginations.
There's an attitude that is very disturbing to me, and it SHOULD be disturbing to us all.
The attitude in which people, sit there, waiting at the end of Mass, glancing over their shoulder and as soon as Mass has ended they dart from their pew, not even bothering to bow or even genuflect, not even seeming to realize that the King of Kings was present, not giving Him another thought.
Maybe it's unfair for me to assume they don't know He is present, but then again; we tend to pay attention to those things we think are important. Is it fair to suggest, that, given the lack of reverence, perhaps people don't realize that Christ is Truly Present in the tabernacle? I won't say it's a deliberate rude gesture towards Our Lord; but the behavior of all too many Sunday-Mass-attending Catholics simply suggests that if they have any faith at all, it is something they do not understand at all.
I say this because even a small understanding of what happens at Mass and WHOM is present is a life-changing realization, and the first thing we tend to do once we realize that Jesus is really there is to do things as a signal of what has gone on inside of us. As in genuflect, or bow, or make the sign of the cross. It may be small, and doing this might make us feel weird; for we might wonder what our friends or family will think of us if we suddenly realize that we've been ignoring Christ and experience even a small change in behavior that signals an even greater change in our hearts.
But, I have learned, it's not easy to be Catholic, even in a Catholic church! Those who actively pursue holiness are often regarded as being "odd" or even "a fanatic”.
It is for this reason I question why people don't genuflect; is it that they don't believe or don't understand, or is it that they are afraid of being seen as a “fanatic”?
I suspect that the answer leans more towards the first, although I'm certain there are a great number of Catholics afraid to practice their faith out loud, the idea that surrounds them and tells them (and all of us!) that "faith is personal".
Yes, faith IS personal...and it is also social. For if the social aspect isn't expressed then faith dies from the act of showing and professing our Love to Our Lord. If we're afraid to even genuflect because of what other Catholics might call us or think about us, then how can we possibly take the next step and be willing to verbally proclaim Christ?
The culture of the lukewarm is in charge. The "lukewarm" are those who claim to be "good Catholics" because they attend Mass "most Sundays and some Holy Days if convenient", send their children to Catholic school, support the school and church sometimes, all if it's fun (and convenient socially!). Yet, they pick and choose what they want to believe. Because of their high status as "church-going Catholics" they also get to sit in judgment and gossip over those Catholics who spend more time working hard to BE Catholic as opposed to talking about or thinking about what good Catholics they are.
In reality, most Lukewarm Catholics aren't so vile; and so they go about their lives, not even considering that they should be genuflecting when they arrive at Mass and when they leave...for they don't even realize Jesus is Present. They don't go to Confession because they think Vatican II "did away" with the sacrament.
We also ALL have the responsibility to educate ourselves (Biggy!); we all have questions. The bad news is that the Church is over 2,000 years old, with theology that goes back to the beginning of time. The GOOD news is that all of the questions we have, in reality, have been asked before. The most common questions are those too many people are afraid to ask...yet if they did, they would be changed forever.
There's a lot of fear out there among the Lukewarms. It's ALL ABOUT fear for them; about what their friends and family will think, about having to change, about those questions they have about the answers they think they should know...but have never been taught.
Catechesis needs to happen, but we have a couple of lost generations out there, adults running around knowing that they should go to church, wanting to raise their children Catholic, but having NO IDEA what it really MEANS to be Catholic! The result is a sort of spiritual standstill as these adults struggle to live a life of faith in a culture that says faith (and life! Did you see a dig there?) has no value.
It's an outright battle for the souls of Catholics and those on the frontlines are taking a beating most people can't even imagine. How do we inspire conversion in those we love, those who can't seem to break out of the relativism that holds them bound? Some get ticked off and leave the Church if they are provided with authentic teaching. Some get ticked off and, through argument and discussion, eventually convert. Others simply disconnect and practice their faith with all the passion and understanding of a headless zombie.
I don't know what the answers are; I'm constantly stressing out my brain trying to figure out how to reach people through the barriers they've put up. Yet, I'll keep trying; over and over again.
I can't help but think of the early martyrs, and all the martyrs throughout the history of the Church, even those of today. They were and are Catholics like all of us, but whose practice of the faith led and leads to death in horrible ways. They were men and women who stepped forward even as their bishops were torn apart by lions, and there, in the face of that reality, in that very presence, they were not afraid to declare themselves to be Christians and follow the bloody footprints into the arena.
Do I think I'd be strong enough to be one of those martyrs? I don't know. I hope so. Because I think a larger persecution is coming and those of us who believe all that the Church teaches and try to embrace it, and seek to preach it and live it...I think we're going to suffer. And I believe that that needs to happen.