Do we sometimes imagine life if we were somehow famous? It would not have to be for the money. Fame could also bring influence and this influence could be for the good. However, even if many of us are not famous, God nevertheless wishes that we go forward as “ambassadors” (Eph 6:20), men and women called to have the sort of influence seen with celebrities – touching many, many hearts. And to touch many hearts, we receive the needed grace for holiness through the “water flowing from the Sanctuary” (Ez 47). Our Lady also comes to help us best find that flow!
With the FBI’s concern expressed, then later retracted, about attendees of the Traditional Latin Mass, and considering the efforts coming from the Vatican to suppress this Mass, it has started me wondering: what is going on here? For your consideration, moral theologian, Dr. Janet Smith (i), worthily rebuts arguments by Cavadini, Healy and Weinandy. These three attempt to discredit the TLM and discourage people from attending. What may surprise you are the strong points Dr. Smith offers. She reveals that the traditional Mass, celebrated since the 5th century, is a treasure for us, one able to draw us closer to Christ. (i) Sacrificing Beauty and Other Errors, Dr. Janet Smith, Crisis Magazine, 6 Feb 2023.
It is said that the late Cdl. George Pell exhorted his fellow cardinals to grasp what is going on inside the Church. In our own experience, we know that following Vatican II, the celebration of the very “source and summit” of our faith, Holy Mass, changed dramatically. Many, however, have argued that these changes did not help the faithful, but in fact impoverish them. Worse, there is now pressure from inside the Vatican to suppress the traditional Mass. Yet, one wonders, considering the challenges facing the world today and the presence of much evil, is there to be found in the inexplicable pressure a holy secret for us? Is there something in the Old Mass that the devil is singularly concerned about? My experience at a traditional, Eastern Rite, Catholic Mass not only has me still recalling last Sunday, but looking forward to this Sunday!
There is a growing, unspoken belief in the world that with enough science, man will achieve his happiness, putting an end to all that ails us. Pope Benedict XVI argues in Spe Salvi that this could not be further from the truth. Even if that kind of science were found, it would come at the expense of man’s freedom. Aristotle concluded similarly four centuries before Christ. In the Nicomachean Ethics he observes that there are two levels to man: man-as-he-happens-to-be (untutored man), and man-as-he-could-be-if-he-realized-his-essential-nature, his telos. To move from untutored man to man’s greater fulfillment and happiness, each man with the grace available to him, must freely choose virtue.
It is true we stand upon the shoulders of holy giants and enjoy the blessings coming through the Church and civil society. Today, Our Lady is rousing us from a comfortable lethargy to join the age-old battle and give ourselves the acute challenges of our day. Remarkably, she is confident in our prayers, fasting and penance. For strength, we see the grace with which Jesus overcomes the 2,000 demons at Gerasene, the disease of the hemorrhaging woman, and a community’s ridicule. Then, in stride, He raises Jairus’ daughter from the dead. We need to go to Him for the strength we need for our holiness.
In Scripture, Christ tells us that the Law was only part of what we needed after the Fall. He came, so that in doing the will of His Father, we could receive saving grace – the ability to be reconciled with God, to be saved from death. This is something the Law alone could not do. However, surrendering our heavy crosses to Christ, to say with Jesus “I have come to do your will”, we receive his peace. We are also given, in our surrender, an extraordinary gift. We can participate in Christ’s saving work! Our surrender is radical. However, Our Lady tells us in Medjugorje that these times are radical times. She also says that “we are her hope”, her hope to bring Christ’s light and peace to those hearts that are yet closed to salvation. Let us rise up and embrace our crosses!
From time to time, we may notice the world is moving in a different direction. It is as if we are swimming upstream. Therefore, to remain strong against the current of the world we must take the opportunity to recognize God’s love for us. This is a root cause of so many challenges today. Yet, not unlike Moses, turning aside to behold the wonder of the Burning Bush, God also seeks our attention. And as with Moses, he calls us with purpose – in order to free others and us from slavery to sin! God heard the groaning of Israel and hears us too. God knows our challenges well. Even if it seems to us that He is taking a long time to assist us, let us remain confident and remain in prayer. God loves us and seeks our good in all things. Therefore: “Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; yea, wait for the Lord!” Ps 27:14
Much has been written following the loss of Pope Benedict XVI. One of the best articles comes from Dr. Larry Chapp (Tears, thanksgiving, and thoughts from Benedict XVI’s funeral.) He ponders Benedict’s allure in some and how in others he seemed to touch a nerve. However, in a world doubtful of God’s existence, of things spiritual, he came to provide an antidote: behold the face of God. He also confronted us with our own death, judgment and final destiny. Not everyone wants this. Others can never get enough.
Our Lady is sent by God to bring us joy! It is alleged that she came on Christmas day in Medjugorje to give two messages. Both messages speak about the necessity of light in our lives. No surprise there. However, Our Lady invites us to pray in order to receive the gift of peace, and in so doing, to become an instrument for hearts to open to the light of Christ. Simple. Beautiful. Possible… for Our Lord to accomplish in us!
Living in the world presents many temptations. Perhaps like ancient Israel, we think that our security will be increased by having the things that other people have. In the case of ancient Israel, this prompted them to ask God for a king. Nevermind that that meant they preferred an earthly king over God himself. Do we find ourselves shifting our allegiances away from God to things of this world? It is ever more tempting these days to do so, facing serious challenges in our Church and in our nation. However, although we may be disappointed in our fellow man at times, God comes through on his promises. Consider the promises he made David – to build him a “house”, and to seat his heir upon a throne. At Christmas, we are invited to celebrate the fulfillment of this promise and be members of his kingdom!
In a world often disconnected from God, it is difficult for man to be happy though we might search for it high and low! To remedy our unhappiness, God offers two cures. First, He reminds us that he created the earth, our home. God also gave us life to enjoy our home and experience God’s love. By embracing this truth we take the first step. Second, Our Lord Jesus came “that [we] may have life, and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10) God wants us not only to live, but to flourish! And what does flourishing mean? He wants to restore what has been lost by our sins. Consider His answer to the disciples of John the Baptist: “Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have good news preached to them. ” This is why Jesus comes to us!
It is alleged that in Medjugorje, Our Lady came to console us by explaining the strangeness of what is going on in the world. “Mankind,” she said, “has decided for death.” This can be helpful to us, perhaps like knowing your car is running out of gas. In addition, Our Lady also reminds us: “The Most High permits me to be with you, and to be joy for you and the way in hope…” Are these not reasons for joy? There is also this: no matter what the world has decided, we have chosen life! And to remind ourselves of what kind of life that is, we have the ancient Jewish practice of the 18 Benedictions or praises of God. This is a reservoir of goodness. With it, we can more easily be the “fruitful trees” bountifully bearing fruit “every month”, growing alongside the water flowing from the Temple! (Ez 47: 1-12)
We celebrate All Souls Day and recognize that we too have entered the pathway toward heaven through the sacrament of Baptism. But what about those who are ignorant of the Good News, can they be saved? And among the baptized and others of faith, how can we make sense of the mounting challenges facing mankind today? Is this a Tower of Babel moment? Has man thought too much of his own ingenuity and not recognized his abilities as gifts from God? Join us for these topics and more.
The kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it. (MT 13) This is what Wayne Weible did when he discovered Our Lady’s apparitions in Medjugorje. We too can grow our spiritual riches in the same way. “The Most High permits me to be with you.” He desires that Our Lady be “joy for us” and “our way in hope.” We then can give powerful witness to those who do not yet know the God of love.
The headlines continue to roll, one after another, bringing news more challenging to believe than even yesterday. Yet, for these times Our Lord has called us. And how are we to respond? We can respond by recognizing the world around us for what it is. In many ways, we live in a post-Christian world. Seeing this can inform how we give witness. Another response is to take stock of the vastness and richness of our Christian heritage! As an example, it is popular today to have various DNA laboratories investigate our ancestry, revealing things about ourselves we did not know. As exciting as this may be, we can learn about our Christian heritage from the “DNA laboratory” centered around the Jordan River. Throughout salvation history, and even in our time today, the Jordan marks God’s saving work in us!
The Messiah was first “announced” in the Gen 3:15… “I will put enmity… between your seed and her seed;”. However, the anticipation of the Messiah became more explicit with David and God’s promise to him that a son of his would forever sit upon his throne (1 Sam 17:12). We also see in the Psalms, particularly PS 110 and 132, how after the Exile the people were given hope in God’s promise to David. We too can increase our hope and nurture our faith by recalling that Jesus is the Son of God, that he was anticipated from all ages, and that he was sent to save us. Therefore, let us hope fervently in the Lord!
CS. Lewis offers us the wonderful Chronicles of Narnia. In one story, the children encounter a “marsh wiggle” who helps them in their quest. He reminds them of the importance of heeding Aslan’s “signs”, those indications that they are on the right path. In our day, amidst so much turmoil in the world, it can be difficult to know that God is concerned about us and helps us in our afflictions. However, he encourages us in many ways, not least of which is through the guidance of Our Lady allegedly given in Medjugorje. She exhorts us there to be “joyful seekers of God” and “to do good to our neighbor.” These are our “signs” in our quest to draw closer to God and do the good he asks.
Man is confused today. Up is down and black is white. Why is this? Some suggest that it stems from a philosophy of secularism – that man has ceased recognizing God as part of his life. History traces this notion to the so-called Enlightenment when, with the good growth of science, philosophy was misunderstood to be merely opinion, not something to orient life with. Might we counter this by recalling the ways God has been part of our lives from ancient days? These historical realities, and our natural attraction to truth, beauty and goodness, draw us back to God. With Him we can begin clearing our minds and hearts.
Our Lady exhorts us: “You be courageous and do not be afraid, because God is with you.” We are here in this world at this time to deal with, by God’s grace, the challenges facing us. Scripture gives us many encouragements. Isaiah tells us: “Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you!” Do we reflect on this as we go about our business each day? Acts also reminds us: “I have set you to be a light to the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the uttermost parts of the earth.” Furthermore, do we not see the action of Judith, David, Noah and so many others on behalf of God? Judith vanquished the attacking Assyrian general, Holofernes. David defeated the Philistine, Goliath. And Noah, by following God, preserved a remnant of faithful man and all land creatures. What can you do amidst the challenges of our day?
Pointing ahead to the challenges of man in our day, St. John Paul II said in 1992: “… giving himself over to relativism and scepticism, [man] goes off in search of an illusory freedom apart from truth itself.”* Why illusory? Because satan, the father of lies, wishes to draw us away from the truth, and when he does, it will not end as we hope. One defense – in addition to prayer, Scripture and the sacraments – is to take stock of the good things God is giving us. This humility helps insulate us from temptation. What are these good things? For starters, we are chosen by God to be his adopted sons and daughters. Furthermore, His is the glory, and He has established covenants between us and Him. He has also given us the law. We are blessed to be His! There are none so blessed. Following God more closely leads to our greater happiness!
Daniel was a “young lad” who, despite his age and lacking any social stature, spoke against the evil he witnessed – the false condemnation of Susanna. Do we face similar situations and have a similar opportunity today? Many of those in authority whom, previously, might have defended us morally, culturally, and spiritually are struggling to do so now. We, therefore, must be ready to defend ourselves and our loved ones. Imagine if you lived in the “Old West” and you saw a rattlesnake. Likely, you would know how to deal with it properly. Today, we face many snakes, but from a lack of practice have forgotten the power of God in our lives and have grown soft in taking action. It is time we stopped this behavior. It is time we defend ourselves. It is time for us to “be not afraid!” – St. John Paul II
We live in a world facing many challenges. Jeremiah too faced many, including the attack of Babylon and Judah’s exile. But how did Jeremiah prevail in doing God’s work? He did so by humbly surrendering to God. He recognized that “God is stronger than I am.” (Jer 20:7) Think about how that admission alone could help us in the challenges we face! Pope St. John Paul II also brings forth a treasure for our challenging times. He gives us “Veritatis Splendor”. With eloquence he explains how man is suffering from temptation to “exchange the truth about God for a lie”. And having done this, “[man’s] capacity to know the truth is darkened” and, we “go off in search of an illusory freedom apart from truth itself”. Can we not, in seeing this, make a different decision?
There is a temptation today to wonder whether or not stories in the Old Testament really happened. For example, were there really 10 Plagues? Did God part the Red Sea? Some scholars would have you believe that the Old Testament is intended to convey “ethical” points from which we may draw moral principles. But is this enough? Why include all those unflattering stories about our family history if the point is only to convey some truth? Also, if we remove from the Old Testament all the miracles and call them myth, we also remove God’s presence from among his people today. If we are not ready to believe in those miracles, how do we today believe in His miraculous presence among us? The events of the Old Testament were real. God’s divine presence in the seven sacraments, in Sacred Tradition and Scripture are equally real today. Come, Lord Jesus!
After the feeding of the five thousand, Jesus comes to his disciples walking across the water. When He greets them, Jesus tells them “I am; do not be afraid.” Always building up our understanding and confidence in Him, this is a name that reveals who He is. This name, His holy Name also has precedence. It is first used in the appearance of God to Moses in the Burning Bush. But there is more. Notice this: God also reveals to Moses another key attribute about himself, something that is never claimed by the many false gods who surrounded Ancient Israel… and who may surround us today!
Ancient Israel had been under the influence of polytheistic Egypt for 400 years and it was rubbing off on them. Perhaps we are under a similar influence today. Have we forgotten that we are created? Have we forgotten that God created us with purpose, that He created us for all that is good? For Moses, God told him, “I am.” Personally He assured Moses – and each of us – that He existed before all things and is over all things. The gods of the Egyptian world (and perhaps of our lives too) – the gods of the Nile, of life, of the sun, of fertility…all these are distractions from the One, true God Who loves us. If we are similarly distracted or confused today, God comes to remind us that “He is”, that “I am” the God of your fathers – Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. I am the God Who has given you life. I am with you. Do not be afraid.
God asked Hosea to marry a harlot. He did this to dramatize for Israel just what they were doing in their unfaithfulness. God hoped in this shocking way to get their attention and so encourage them to return to Him. He wished to meet their deepest longings and give them true happiness. In Hosea’s time, Israel is accused of four crimes and Our Lord brings these to their attention. The prosecutorial tone may find us accused in the trials of our day. To aid in our return to God, we will also explore the extraordinary value of Sacred Scripture, but consider the essential role of Sacred Tradition in bringing it to us in the first place!
Prophecy ought to astound us. We are not only given needed guidance, but also reassurances that will be helpful to us in the future. Daniel’s prophecies are among the greatest because unlike other prophets who also foretold the coming of the Messiah, the Archangel Gabriel (!) gives Daniel the number of years before the Messiah will come. That’s right, Gabriel. This is only his second appearance in all of Sacred Scripture, and you know when the other occurrence was! Did Daniel get the date right? Let us see!
When we “re-appraise” something, we are asking what is its current value? Today, when much of the world seems to be losing their faith in God, we who still believe can benefit from a better understanding of who Jesus is. This may be like when Judah was taken captive by Babylon, when the promises made by God to David seemed to end. Into this difficulty, Daniel is sent to encourage and guide. Interestingly, Daniel was also of central importance to the early Church. He spoke about the kingdom of God, the Son of Man coming on the clouds, and the Abomination of Desolation. Our Lord would also speak of these prophecies, giving them great importance. Therefore, we too may be encouraged as was the early Church by Daniel’s words.
Man, so it seems, has a tendency to stray from God. At least that was so in Elijah’s time. Therefore, Elijah was sent by God to guide the people back to himself. What is remarkable is how God first worked to get the attention of his children, his Chosen People, and then gave them an easy way to choose him again. And what a gentle Father we have! God’s children had been disinclined to follow him, preferring Ba’al for a long time, even for several generations. In one afternoon, however, God solves this problem! Yet, as great as Elijah was, has not God given us even more? He sends us the Holy Spirit to do what Elijah did and to do even more for the times we are living!
St. Paul tells us that there are wolves among us! It seems as if they have been present in the Church from the beginning. But it is for this reason that the Holy Spirit has made us “guardians, to feed the church.” And if we are called to be guardians, we can be certain of one thing: God has equipped us for the task! But this is not all. God has sent Our Lady to encourage us to holiness and she invites us to be stronger in prayer. Our Lady invites us to be “builders of peace and carriers of joy in the Risen One… for the good to win in every man.” This is a beautiful commission. Let us embrace it!
When stepping off the bus for the first time in Medjugorje, a first impression one has is wondering whether Our Lady is really appearing there. If she is, one’s head soars. If she is not, it is difficult to explain why so many people have gone there and continue returning! It is not a place of visual sights, however. In fact, there is not much physical beauty found there. No. It is different. There is a sublime spiritual beauty. In Medjugorje, one senses being called by God through Our Lady. There is also the quickening of one’s heart, yearning for God. This yearning is something that God longs to satisfy and pilgrims will not be disappointed. These are impressions that come to the pilgrim. They may come through the wonderful availability of priests hearing confession, or from Eucharistic Adoration together with 2000 other people, or perhaps from praying the rosary while climbing Apparition Hill. These things change our hearts. These beauties answer our wondering about Our Lady’s presence there.
Man may prefer the darkness to the light of Christ, but this is constraining our freedom and leading to unhappiness. Examples abound that seem to indicate a trend away from the light. Into our darkness, however, Our Lady comes. She has been looking at us and sees that we are lost. Remarkably, she then exhorts us to return to God. Evidently the path ahead is not so clear to us. Therefore, I conclude she is asking me to re-examine those many, unconscious decisions I make every hour of the day, and to ask God what he thinks. Would I find that many times I rather God answer my prayers as I think best? Is my preference for my ways encumbering my ability to find my way home?
We may not be much surprised by the uproar following Elon Musk’s purchase of Twitter, that mega social media platform. If we are not, can we make sense of this world that we live in? Do we know how we have arrived at where we are today? Our Lord has much to say on this point. He told his disciples that he is the way, and the truth and the life. He also promised to send us the Advocate who leads us into all truth. Then, in addition to Our Lord’s assessment, there are also some dead-end choices mankind has pursued. These are based on misunderstanding how we are made, our essence. However, by knowing these things, we can retrace our steps and return to a path of greater freedom and happiness.
Wonder of wonders, Our God is never short of drama! To ready us for Jesus’ Resurrection, in God’s wisdom we are reminded of who Our Lord is, what he has done in creating our home and each of us, how he calls us to be obedient and then lavishes us with promises beyond our dreams! With these reminders, we are then given the accounts of His Resurrection. The disciples react in different, but very understandable ways. Notice, however, that for them ‘seeing is believing’. Curiously, however, is this why the Pharisees refuse to go to the tomb after hearing the report from the guards? From the scriptures, it is evident that the guards knew, as did the Pharisees, Jesus had risen from the dead! So certain are they of Jesus’ Resurrection that they dare not go to the tomb to see it with their own eyes! They cannot afford to do it. They would either accept Jesus as God or… go insane denying the evidence seen by their own eyes.
Ancient Israel was enslaved in Egypt. They were without rights, had nor arms to fight with, and could not free themselves. God was necessary to their freedom. In fact, it was his idea! Similarly today, mankind is enslaved to sin. We are powerless against it. Unfortunately, unlike ancient Israel, slavery to sin ends in death. Into this impossible situation, impossible for us to resolve, God comes. He offers us the Blood of the Lamb, his Son, that death may pass over us. For those who accept this Good News, they are saved. The difficulty, however, is that the world is doubling-down on its efforts to convince us that there is no slavery, that there is no God. May we reflect on the story of Israel in Egypt and then share with our family and friends that God has come to set us free!
The authors of Veggie Tales were genius in conveying the truths about human nature. The Fib from Outer Space tells of a boy caught in wrongdoing. He fabricates a story to avoid blame, but as he is confronted with questions, his fib grows in size. Is this a phenomenon we are experiencing in our world today? Good has become evil and evil has become good, and heaven help anyone who questions this. Amazingly, the fib from outer space quickly began to disappear each time the boy admitted the truth about what he’d done. Is Our Lady in her message of January 25 encouraging us to take stock of the world situation, namely that we must return to personal prayer, that satan is strong, and to be resolute in doing good? With this clarity about our world and our times, is this not a call to action, a call to holiness?
The Boy who cried wolf soon found himself in a difficult spot. To recover from it, he could have apologized and been honest going forward. Humbly accepting the truth about himself might also have recovered his standing within his community. Today, the world is facing a far more serious situation. A medicine is being forced upon us that is ineffective against the Omicron virus. There are also better medicines that are being suppressed. In order to recover our families, our communities, and our world, we must begin with the truth about what is going on. And for those who, like Jeremiah, may be daunted to proclaim the truth, we need Our Lord and his grace. It is the only way forward.
Finding the loose thread is key to making progress if our business is sowing clothes. We need the end before we can begin. If instead, our business is navigating toward the peaceful waters of life offered by Our Lord, we must separate directions that are true from those that are false. As is shown in the story of Samuel serving under Eli in the Temple, listening to God is the key. Not only this, but so is acting upon God’s truth important. For truth takes root in our hearts when we act upon it. In this way, we not only draw closer to Christ’s peace, but we also show others the way!
Who is telling the truth about the pandemic? Recently, Abp. Vigano provided extensive medical research into treating the virus, research that has been suppressed in many places. This suppression makes discerning the truth difficult. However, we are not alone in this matter. Our Lady has come to offer us her Son and His peace. But to experience this peace, we need to pray, and while we may already pray, let’s consider a couple impediments to praying more deeply. In deeper prayer we can begin experiencing the “immeasurable love” of her Son. In Him is our peace.