Saturday, February 27, 2016

"When a man begins to fast, he straightway yearns in 
his mind to enter into converse with God." 
--St. Isaac the Syrian

"Fasting is the soul of prayer, mercy is the lifeblood of fasting. So if you pray, fast; if you fast, show mercy; if you want your petition to be heard, hear the petition of others. If you do not close your ear to others, you open God's ear to yourself." 
--St. Peter Chrysologus

This weekend we enter into the third week of our Lenten acts of detachment. How is your journey through this sacred desert going for you?  How has the LORD consoled you in your own desolation? The Church offers us the richness of Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition to shepherd us as we travel through the desert. 

The Liturgy of the Hours/Divine Office of Readings is provided for all to pray.  Our Priests and Religious take the vow to pray the eight Liturgy of the Hours daily for their entire life. And many Catholic Christians choose to do the same.  It is an inherent act of sacrifice to step away from all that consumes us in our daily lives to once again be reminded that our lives are not meant to be lived in pursuit of our own desires and ambitions.  A little play on words here: the "office" of the Liturgy of the Hours (sacred reading and prayer) is found in our own minds and hearts even though our bodies are located smack dab in the middle of the here and now. And isn't it the here and now, the what if's and the what could be's, that threaten to swallow up our souls?   

When we enter into concert with Christians around the world to pray, we enter into the eternal act of worship where all the holy ones that have gone before us are (See Revelation 7:9-17 and chapters 19;21;22) in the REAL "here and now."   The Scriptures are "living and active and sharper than a two edged sword," slicing through time to accomplish in God's people his Divine Will! If you will, praying the Liturgy of the Hours pulls away the gossamer veil of what humanity thinks so important and binding and reveals out eternal identity as created children of God.

We invite you into the Liturgy of the Hours with us and with the millions of other Catholic Christians around the world.  If you need a little motivation, consider that the Saints, Martyrs, Priests, Religious, and our Holy Father, Frances, are praying with you.

Now, a meditation for you on how prayer, fasting and works of love propel our return to our created identity.  During the Lenten Fast we choose to deny our appetites in order to train us to live in union with God and all the holy ones that have gone before us.

"It is because we hope in God's promise of a new heaven and a new earth, and a new heart for ourselves, that we cannot simply deny our appetites. There is meant to be a harmony between our wants and our world, but that harmony is the orchestration of one basic theme, which is the intended union of God and man in love.

It is the desire for God which is the most fundamental appetite of all, and it is an appetite we can never eliminate. We may seek to disown it, but it will not go away. If we deny that it is there, we shall in fact only divert it to some other object or range of objects. And that will mean that we invest some creature or creatures with the full burden of our need for God, a burden which no creature can carry. activity can finally assuage our hunger for God. If, like the prodigal son, we 'return to ourselves,' like him we shall recognize that we have been trying to fill our bellies with husks, and we shall turn our minds towards home, towards our Father's love...

Our natural need to love 'returns home' when it turns to God; he is the truly faithful lover, who will never let us down...

It is around this central need that all our other needs and desires fall into place. Without it, they cannot help but be disordered, and no attempt to reduce them to order will have much effect except further disorder."  --Father Simon Tugwell, O.P.

Holy God, we ask that this sacred season of Lent will reveal the fruits of redemption and sacrifice. As we restrain from disordered appetites and unruly desires, we ask that you would lead us onward and upward to you, our truly faithful lover.  Amen

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Bishop Robert Barron's Lenten reflection for today:

Lord God, have mercy on us as we fight against the temptation to live grounded in this life's economy. Lift our eyes above the sensual desires that assault our senses and our sensibilities. Train us in detachment from anything that thwarts your divine nature in us. Train us to desire what you desire and hate what you hate.

Saturday, February 13, 2016


Where do you begin when talking with a curious unbeliever or Protestant Christian about your Catholic Faith?

There are people who are open and searching for what The Church has provided since the commission of Christ.  There are other people who are curious about what they may think are the wacky traditions of The Church.  There are still other people who want to engage you in debate about the Catholic Church and the Protestant Movement. That is why we admonished you in this series introduction (see our February 2 post) to know your faith by knowing the Sacred Tradition, Sacred Authority and Sacred Scriptures that is referred to as the Deposit of Faith.  Rely on what has already been authoritatively recorded.  A caveat: people may bristle at the idea that you submit to the authority the Catholic Church and choose to accept what has been passed on through the Apostles and Church Fathers. Our advice, don't engage in the debate. Remember St. Bernadette's advice, "[Our] job is not to convince, it is to inform."   Point your friends to the Catechism of The Church. We have put  "discussions" to rest by advising that the Catechism be read cover to cover.  So, what will the Catechism reveal to your friends?  Let's take a gander at the Catechism's outline.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church

Some thoughts from us:
Article 2466 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, states that "In Jesus Christ, the whole of  God's truth has been manifest. 'Full of grace and truth,' he came as the 'Light of the World,' He is the Truth." As Catholic Christians, we have the Deposit of Faith defined for us in the Sacred Tradition, Sacred Authority and Sacred Scriptures of The Church.  The Catechism is the body of the revealed 
Truth in the Sacred Scriptures and Sacred Tradition that has been held through the ages and kept intact by the Sacred Authority of the Church. The Catechism is the authoritative and reliable resource for the Deposit of Faith.  
Your Protestant friends have the Mother Church to thank for the integrity of the parts of the doctrine the Protestant Movement took from her with it into the multifarious denominations that have come and gone since the early 1500's. 

We can confidently point nonbelievers and fellow believers to the Catechism for answers to their questions about what The Catholic Church has declared from the beginning and protected through the tides of history with her 22 ecumenical councils. The first in 48 A.D. referred to in the New Testament (see Galatians 2:4, 11; Acts 15), the most recent, referred to as Second Vatican Council in 1962-65. The purpose of nearly every council was to protect the Church from heresies that threatened Christianity. The Catechism has four sections:

The Profession of Faith: affirms Christian belief. By reading statements 144-1065 and exploring the footnotes, unbelievers and Protestants will find the foundation of our Christian Faith. 

The Celebration of the Christian Mystery: explains the sacramental economy of The Christian Faith. This part of the Catechism is where Christians divide and unbelievers scratch their heads. Protestant Christians accept some of what The Catholic Church has held sacred from her beginning, Statements 1066-1690 expand upon the Sacraments of the Church. Most Protestants agree, to some degree, with the doctrinal statements on baptism and communion. It is the other parts of those doctrinal statements and the 5 remaining Sacraments that cause the confusion about, and rejection of The Catholic Faith. These doctrines have been developed and defined throughout history through the Sacred Authority present in The Magisterium of the Church. If the Sacred Authority of the Pope and The Magisterium are denied then all any of us can do is to intercede for our fellow Christians and pray for unity to be restored in The Church. In other words, cordially inform. The Holy Spirit convinces.

Life in Christ: expands upon the truth that Christians are called to lead a life "worthy of the gospel of Christ." Statements 1691-2557 put forth how the Doctrine of Faith is lived out in our morality and virtue and deeds. No discerning follower of Christ would or should quibble with the Catechism of the Catholic Church's teachings on Life in Christ, yet there are those who do. The great Shema, "Hear, O Israel: the LORD our God is one LORD." is echoed in Christ's summation of our duty as the created toward Creator--"You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind." The Ten Commandments guide us through how we live our faith and thereby become children of God, partakers of the divine nature. Reading Part Three of the Catechism should cause all Christians to rise to the dignity of character that our Triune God ordained for us. The statements are a catechesis to enable us to reveal in all clarity the joy and the demands of the way of Christ. Frankly, weak catechesis in the Catholic Church and the Protestant Movement has eroded society's confidence in the Christian Faith. 

We quote here from statements 2549, 2550: "It remains for the holy people to struggle, with grace from on high, to obtain the good things God promises. In order to possess and contemplate God, Christ's faithful mortify their cravings and, with the grace of God, prevail over the seductions of pleasure and power. On this way of perfection, the Spirit and the Bride call whoever hears them to perfect communion with God." One of our many favorite quotes from St. Augustine completes Part Three of the Catechism: "There will true glory be, where no one will be praised by mistake or flattery; true honor will not be refused to the worthy, nor granted to the unworthy; likewise, no one unworthy will pretend to be worthy, where only those who are worthy will be admitted. There true peace will reign, where no one will experience opposition either from self or others. God himself will be virtue's reward; he gives virtue and has promised to give himself as the best and greatest reward that could exist...'I shall be their God and they will be my people...' This is also the meaning of the Apostle's words: 'So that God may be all in all.' God himself will be the goal of our desires; we shall contemplate him without end, love him without surfeit, praise him without weariness. This gift, this state, this act, like eternal life itself, will assuredly be common to all." 

Christian Prayer: The Catholic Church professes The Mystery of The Faith in the Apostles' Creed (Part One). It celebrates The Mystery of The Faith in the sacramental economy (Part Two--the part your Protestant friends may or may not want to understand and accept). Yet without the Truth recorded in Parts One and Two we are left to formulate with our own desires or protests what the Christian life looks like. Our Life in Christ (Part Three), is built upon the firm foundation of The Faith. It guides us through "the life of the faithful that is conformed to Christ in the Holy Spirit to the glory of God." Part Four enlarges our understanding on how the Mystery of Faith that we believe, is celebrated and lived before all men. We live it in a vital and personal relationship with the living and true God. The totality of Christian prayer is life in Christ; therefore the universal call to prayer is unpacked in statements 2558-2865. It is more than a survey of the Our Father, it is a call to worship. It is a call to all Christians to pray through worship and worship by praying. It is no accident that The Mass is referred to as a prayer--our life in Christ depends on right worship. When understood this way Protestant Christians may begin to understand why the worship at a Catholic Mass looks and feels so different from what they are accustomed to. 

As we continue this series of blogs on quotidian apologetics we will address the sticky wickets that people allow to cloud their understanding and appreciation of The Catholic Church. We will systematically move our way through the Catechism and the Church's doctrines and dogmas (teachings) to discover what The Church actually believes about our Blessed Mother Mary, The Communion of Saints and The Sacraments of The Faith. 

Perhaps it has been awhile since you pondered the worship of the Mass.  We will ponder it with you by looking to Old Testament history, the Early Church, and the historical integrity of The Church.We will survey the devotional practices of Catholics that are often ridiculed by thoroughgoing Protestants and dismissed as superstitions by unbelievers.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

 "Fasting makes sense if it really chips away at our security, 
and, as a consequence, benefits someone else, 
if it helps us cultivate the style of the Good Samaritan, 
who bent down to his brother in need and took care of him." 
--Pope Francis

"Denying material food, which nourishes our body, nurtures an interior disposition to listen to Christ and be fed by His saving word. 
Through fasting and praying, we allow Him to come and 
satisfy the deepest hunger that we experience in the 
depths of our being: the hunger and thirst for God."
--Pope Benedict XVI

How to Avoid a Fractured Spirituality | Word on Fire

Monday, February 8, 2016

The Church provides catechisis for Catholics through all types of media. We have our favorites. We've added a new one to our list:

It's worth your time to browse the blog.  We collected for you the current articles on Lenten Fasting; Prayer and Fasting; Saints on Fasting; into a search. It's our act of mercy toward you today :)

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Jubilee Year of Mercy

Servant of God Father Hyacinth Woroniecki penned these thoughts for us to consider as we embrace this Jubilee Year of Mercy.

"God's love and mercy are acts of his holy will; under the name of mercy come all those manifestations of love which tend to remove any wants, needs, pains, sufferings, in a word, any deficiencies.

It follows, therefore, that in the board sense all exterior works of God, that is, the whole of the created world, is a result of divine mercy or, in other words, that divine mercy is at the very foundation of creation. Indeed, the greatest possible want is the want of being or want of existence; therefore, the act of creation, meaning the act of calling something into being out of non-being, is the first and most fundamental act of God's mercy upon which all his other acts are based. Even divine justice, which rules over the created world, has God's mercy for its starting point, for the world owes its existence to mercy.

Mercy is not limited to the very first act of calling the world into being. Since creatures have no reason for their being in themselves and are finite and limited in their perfections, they carry a germ of non-being in themselves from which their wants and needs arise. Therefore, divine mercy exercises a constant vigil over creatures; preserves their being; makes up for their wants; heals their wounds, and supplies new strength."

Lord God, may we reflect your divine mercy by keeping a constant vigil of prayer over our daily acts of obedience and sacrifice. May we be your hands to the want and need of a society that is untethered from You.  Triune God, may we be healing instruments of your Love. May our very presence in other's live refresh the weak in spirit.  In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, Amen.

Lenten Fast

Why do we Catholic Christians observe Ash Wednesday and the 40 days of Lenten season by fasting?

For your consideration:

Some thoughts from us: 
Prayer and Fasting and Lenten Fasting is a discipline we observed before we reconciled with The Catholic Church.  Those seasons of fasting and prayer trained, and continue to train, us in detachment from our ambitions and appetites.  It so happened that those times slowly yet surely turned our minds and hearts toward the Early Church Father's teachings and the Sacred Tradition of The Catholic Church.  As Christians, there is a gravity, an anchoring of our faith that unfolds through each fast because we identify with Christ's suffering  by denying some part of our own human appetites and lusts. The Catholic idiom, "Offer it up," applies to all of life, especially during a time of prayer and fasting. We offer up our own temporal suffering as a sacrifice of thanksgiving to our Savior who took on all humanity's suffering in the sacrifice of his life.

Some seasons of prayer and fasting are quite literally  a desperate calling upon God to intervene in what seems to us as impossible circumstances.  Yet there are seasons of fasting that don't seem to yield any evidence to our prayers being answered. It is in the practicing the discipline of fasting that helps us to discern that fasting is less about our prayer lists; it is more about the profound effect that self-denial has on the mind, body and spirit. Through self-denial we grow in the understanding that spiritual fasting is more about the conversion of the heart toward the divine nature that God incarnates in all his children as they hunger and thirst for Him. 

The Church's Lenten Fast begins on February 10 this year.  Are you preparing your mind and soul for what God desires to train in your nature through the Lenten Fast?  Are you calling upon God for a miracle?  Are you desiring to enter into the desolation of fasting through detachment from your certain appetites?  Are you longing for the consolation of God that comes through that desolation? 

Along the way toward the Resurrection we are praying that the Lord would resurrect in the Church a holy zeal for self-sacrifice and sanctification.  As we journey with you through the 40 days of Lenten fasting we will share from time to time some of the quotes from the Church's history to encourage you. May God be glorified in His Church!

"Fasting cleanses the soul, raises the mind, subjects one's flesh to the spirit, renders the heart contrite and humble, scatters the clouds of concupiscence, quenches the fire of lust, and kindles the true light of chastity. Enter again into yourself."  --St. Augustine

"Bless those who curse you, and pray for your enemies, and fast for those who persecute you." --Didache

"When a man begins to fast, he straightway yearns in his mind to enter into converse with God." --St Isaac the Syrian

Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist

Yesterday we listened to a most excellent presentation on The Eucharist.  Bishop Robert Barron presented this catechesis to the Eucharistic Congress recently convened in the Phillipines.  Be inspired by the beauty of The Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist!

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Quotidian Apologetics, Introduction:

Quotidian: occurring every day; commonplace, ordinary.
Apologetics: systematic discourse in defense of ....

We, as Catholic Christians, former Protestant Christians, encounter much of the same inquiries that long-time Catholic Christians are asked about The Catholic Church. We thought we would share with you, our fellow Catholic Christians, some of the quotidian apologetics we have chosen to live by as we journey with you.

1. We defend our faith by the way we live the Catholic Faith.  As St. Paul admonished in I Corinthians 13, "If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love. I gain nothing."  Cordial Catholics who practice love draw others to The Faith.

2.  We have nothing to defend or apologize (apologetics) for because we know that the Sacred Tradition, Sacred Authority and Sacred Scriptures of The Catholic Church is intact, she stands proven and true (See our July 4, 2015 post).We are, however, responsible for living our every day existence (quotidian) reflecting the Light of the World--Jesus Christ--in word, thought and deed. The beatitudes incarnated in us as we say yes to God.

3.  The Catholic Faith is seldom understood by unbelievers and Protestant Christians who have not chosen to explore the ancient Church but rely on hearsay and misunderstandings. We must choose to live the words of St. Bernadette, "[our] job is not to convince, it is to inform."  And here is our advice on this.  Lies run sprints, Truth runs marathons.  Lies can last for centuries, but Truth will go the distance. There are common lies and misunderstandings that distract people from the Truth of the Christian Faith.  We come up against some of the same misunderstandings of The Catholic Church as you may.  Do these sound familiar?  The Eucharist as the Source and Summit of the Christian life. The role of our Blessed Mother Mary in Salvation History. The Communion of Saints in prayer and in worship, The Sacrament of Reconciliation (Confession), Purgatory, Holy Orders (celibacy).  Or perhaps you are only asked about the "smells and bells" of the Mass, in other words, the sacred traditions of our worship of the Triune God.

The secular modern thinking started kicking the Mystery of The Faith present  in The Catholic Church  out of the way centuries ago.  It is beyond unfortunate that the Protestant Movement followed suit. We as Catholic Christians not only have the tide of the culture and society to swim against, we have fellow Christians in that tide.  Some are adrift, holding onto their faith but slowly giving way to the tide.  Others are anchored in their faith clinging to what they can interpret from the Sacred Scriptures.  Their anchors are solid, but the ground beneath the rock it clings to shifts and moves and eventually gives-way to the tide of modernity.

And here we all are, as Catholic Christians, called to the New Evangelization by Pope Benedict XVI to be evangelized and to go forth to evangelize.  To "re-propose" the Gospel of Christ to those who are in a crisis of faith or where the roots of Christianity are deep but are seriously damaged through division and secularization. The secularists damn the Church's stand on moral issues, determined to define the meaning of their own humanity and that of the universe for themselves (gods of their own making).  With this mindset we cannot compromise for to compromise is to deny God's ordinances. The misinformed Protestant Christian, for the most part, simply cannot comprehend the Christian Faith through anything other than Sacred Scriptures. When standing on one leg is all you know (see our July 2015 post, "Eternal Truth of Fallacious Ideology?") it's a big leap (or should we say hop) to have confidence in the Sacred Authority and Sacred Tradition of The Catholic Church. Quite honestly it took us years to discover the truth, beauty and goodness of The Faith, it was a hell of a swim to get here but we are surely beholden to the struggle.  If it weren't for the struggle we would not be standing here in The Church with you, fellow Christian.  

Because we are the Johnny-come-lately, the last of the harvesters to start working the field, we probably are quizzed more about The Catholic Faith than you may be.  No doubt, our answers are similar to yours because we have The Catechism of The Catholic Church,  the Didache, Papal Encyclicals, the Early Church Fathers, and the writings of the Saints and Martyrs to rely upon. When questioned about our reconciliation with The Catholic Church there's a common theme--reluctance and confusion about how the Sacred Authority and Sacred Tradition "works" to complete our faith.  We inform by using the systematic discourse of defense present in what has already been written (we'll get back to that shortly).  When asked why we have to believe/accept  a tradition or dogmatic teaching (the familiar ones we referred to earlier), the best response is to ask why the person doesn't believe what The Catholic Church has stood on for her 2,000 year history. The Protestant Movement broke with The Church yet used some of the Doctrines of the Faith of the Mother Church to help formulate its Movement.  So the culpability really rests with the Protestant to answer why they aren't Catholic or why they do not believe or accept what Sacred Tradition and Sacred Authority has declared as dogmas of The Faith.

Society and some of the many Protestant denominations generally toss aside the Christian Doctrine in its entirety. Others recognize the integrity of The Faith present in the ancient Church yet do not adhere to the fact that the Sacred Authority promised by Christ to his first disciples is intact after 2,000 years.  Others declare The Catholic Church a church of stale tradition and superstition (trust us, we've heard that one in many forms!) As a Catholic Christian we have the Sacred Scriptures, yes! We have them because of the stability of the oral tradition present in the Sacred Tradition that developed through the Old Covenant's understanding of faith and worship and was fulfilled in the New Covenant of faith and worship. And because of the strength of the Sacred Authority present from the beginning of Christ's Church--her doctrine, her dogmatic teachings, her worship has stood the test of time. That is what drew us into The Church, that is what will draw the Protestant Movement back to The Church.  It may not be in our lifetime, but our Sovereign God always sees to it that his purposes are fulfilled--"Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one." (John 17). Take heart, Catholic Christians. Do not despair over the secular attractions of the age that may woo Catholic Christians away from The Church.  Do not be distracted by Protestant Christians' arguments against The Catholic Church.  Defend your faith by living your faith.  Know your faith...and you can know your faith by knowing the Sacred Tradition, Sacred Authority and Sacred Scripture that has been preserved and passed on to you through The Catholic Church. 

Our desire is to share with you what guided us in our long swim to the sure foundation of The Catholic Church.  In turn, our prayer is that you will gain some understanding of your Protestant friends' perspectives through reading about how we came to accept and then be consoled by  those sticky wickets (authoritative dogmas and traditions) that pervade non-believers and Protestant Christians' misperceptions of The Catholic Church.  At the outset, we want you to know how privileged you are as a Catholic Christian to know of the stability and sacredness of The Faith. It is the very thing your non-believing and Protestant Christian friends are seeking.  In a culture of noise and distraction, restlessness and insecurity, the stability and holiness of The Catholic Church beckons the modern mind. In a Movement that is so dis-integrated, it is the integrity of the authoritative ancient Church, The Catholic Church, that will draw the disillusioned and despairing Protestant Christian home.  We often refer to our journey home by saying we "backed into the Catholic Church". We backed away from the Protestant Movement,  little by little. That is how many Protestant Christians are  making the journey. You are placed in their lives for this very purpose--rise to your calling by being a cordial Catholic Christian!