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!
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?
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 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.
From our parents, we inherit both physical gifts and challenges, as well as spiritual graces and, sometime, vulnerabilities. Though we may not be conscious of these things, they are still active in our lives and bring with them the good and the bad. To respond well to both it is helpful to be conscious of the four ways we are vulnerable to the devil’s approach, and three ways we can be healed of these vulnerabilities.
We may have a system for washing dishes. It is certainly different from the one we use to wash our car. In the spiritual world, there are different systems also. These is God’s system, the Devil’s system, and our system. Things become interesting when we consider what each system produces. Better still, when we find ourselves in pain, say in a family relationship, we may discover that, unwittingly, we are engaging a “system” we did not expect – and that system is simply producing its “fruits”.
The coming of Christ was greatly prophesied. And for good reason. With him would come the source of all wisdom. Our happiness, our fulfillment depends on wisdom and grace. The Church’s seven “O Antiphons” that we celebrate during Advent reconnect us with the power, majesty and goodness of God. This is a key dimension in the beautiful hymn “O Come, O Come, Immanuel”. And not only do we anticipate wisdom from on high, but the goodness of God who, in his goodness, frees us from slavery to sin and guides us to remain free.
God wills our healing. The devil opposes it. In ancient Israel, God sent the prophets to heal. In our day, he wills to send us. Recognizing these realities is an important step toward healing. We might also consider the example of Jesus. In order to free us from our sins, the beginning of any healing, he offered himself on the cross. We too are invited to offer something of ourselves to accomplish the “greater things” that Jesus promised we would do – things greater than the Apostles saw him do! Ask God for the grace to let go of any pride, unforgiveness, shyness, or false notions of what contributes to good relationships. Then, ask him to send you to be an instrument of healing.
We know that God can heal, but do we sometimes wonder why not in our situation? Alternatively, we may know of God’s power, but have not yet come to believe it. Telling family and friends about God’s healing power is a first step in moving our knowledge – that God can heal – from our heads to our hearts. We also see in Scripture that when Jesus heals, he begins by healing the interior – by forgiving our sins. Sins block grace from acting in us and through us. Let us seek his forgiveness through the sacrament of confession. But also, recall the role of the four friends of the paralytic. They were instruments of God’s healing! We, through grace, can be instruments of healing in our own family!
John Paul II takes us back to “the beginning”, to that time before the Fall of Adam and Eve when they enjoyed the kind of relationship we all wish to have. It is something beautiful, sweet and loving. JPII takes us back to the beginning to discover the “operator’s manual” for our relationships. First, we see Adam recognize that he is different from other animals. And he is thankful for this. He knows he has a relationship with God. With Eve, however, he recognizes that he is no longer alone, and better still, he has someone whom he can love! By giving himself to her and by receiving her gift in return, “man finds himself”. More beautiful still: Christ makes this relationship possible for us today.
Do you have any friends in a frustrated relationship, or have you ever been in one? Sometimes frustration follows when we have not operated something well. For example, your cell phone may not work properly after being used in the rain. Similarly, God, who created us male and female, knows in what ways we will be happiest together. This happiness is an opportunity that we lost with the Fall of Adam and Eve, but one that Jesus restored with His death and resurrection. Through his grace, by recognizing and accepting that God created us, and did so with a plan in mind and not accidentally, we can find the happiness that is otherwise elusive.
(Note: For a short and easy guide to JPII’s “Theology of the Body”, see “Men & Women are from Eden”, Dr. Mary Healy, Servant Press.)
In the alleged messages given by Our Lady in Medjugorje are both encouragement and guidance. Her words take into consideration the crisis in the Church today and give us a graceful way to respond. We do not need to be confused by buffeting winds and waves assailing the Barque of Peter. The crisis is real, but so too is the invitation offered by Our Lady. Our Lady invites us to draw closer to her Son and to pray. She then promises to present our prayers to her Son as “flowers from the most beautiful garden.” That’s encouraging, and this is an action we can take for our own good and the good of the Church!
We may have important talents, but these are different from our charisms. Charisms are given to the baptized for the healing of the Body of Christ, the Church. When we exercise our charisms, others benefit. In fact, the results coming from the exercise of our charisms are indicators that we indeed have a charism. For example, do people make a special effort to thank you when you exercise your charism? Do you recognize the need of others and feel compelled to attend to that need? And when you attend to the needs of others – as a teacher, as an evangelist, as an administrator or in hospitality – do you feel centered, as if in prayer? These are some of the indicators of a charism, and by exercising them you offer a special gift to others, as special as one part of your body making a gift and uniquely serving your whole body.
A sacrament is visible sign endowed with Christ’s authority and power. In light of the Church crisis, which may be a dominating subculture of homosexuality, we might be tempted to de-value our membership, or even to separate from her. However, from ancient times we can see that it is God who calls a people to himself and did so through Moses at Mt. Sinai. It was not we, or our ancestors back then who found God, but God who has called us and all peoples to be with him in a special community. And he calls us for a holy purpose: to restore the supernatural perfection of every human being, a perfection lost by Adam and Eve in the Garden!!!
Stay with your Mother, the Church and love her!
The crisis in the Church continues. Amazingly, this is even being fueled by those who know the truth and are silent. Yet, with what might we compare the crisis? Mgr. Charles Pope has reflected on the recent Office of Readings from the Liturgy of the Hours. Does Our Lord accompany us in the Church’s prayers? Over the last couple of weeks, Mgr. Pope notes that the readings warn ancient Israel about the pending destruction of the temple and even of Jerusalem itself. Israel was called to repent ahead of the disasters we can now know about! (Jeremiah 7) How serious is the current crisis? We may want to weigh the facts seriously and recall that our faith is in Jesus Christ and not in buildings, earthly wealth, or worldly power.
Archbishop Vigano has testified that Pope Francis knew about McCarrick’s evil and, even so, removed the sanctions placed on McCarrick by Pope Benedict. There may never have been an accusation like this in Church history. Is it credible? I propose here context, background and sources for your consideration. In the end, however, if our home, the Church is under deadly attack, consider that God “meant us to exist in this time and place. And unless you think He put us here solely as punishment… He must believe we are, at least in principle, the right people to accomplish what must be accomplished.” – Dr. Robert Royal, Conference of Catholic Families, Aug 24, 2018.
It beggars belief. The Catholic Church may have a subculture of homosexuals, and this is triggering a crisis. There appears to be an ever-growing number of sources reporting this. However, how might we respond? First, we should understand that “striking the shepherd will scatter the flock” (Zec 13:7). Therefore, I ask you: would this not be a key stratagem of the devil? We must recognize this for our spiritual and emotional safety. Furthermore, Our Lady invites us to respond by gathering the “5 stones for our Goliath”.
Do we ever face situations that are impossible for us? Perhaps we are in a difficult marriage and are tempted to divorce. Maybe we are involved in a relationship that we know is not right, but neither have we ended it. Into these and other “Missions Impossible” comes God’s grace. In Veritatis Splendor, St. John Paul II tells us that although Moses allowed divorce, it was not so “in the beginning”. He then explains that “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible” (Mt 19:26). JPII is bringing to our attention that there was no salvation, no recovery of our place in Paradise lost by Adam and Eve, without Jesus and the grace coming from him. To acknowledge that we face impossible challenges in life is the first step in asking for the grace to overcome them!
Jesus invites the rich, young man, and each of us, to “come, follow him”. This can be challenging. As St. John Paul II explains in Veritatis Splendor, we are to give up “our own wealth, our very self” in order to do so. This “giving up” has different implications depending on our calling in life, but sacrifice is common to them all. Yet, it is this sacrifice that places us on the path of Jesus Christ. And like Jesus, our self-offering works for the salvation of others who may not yet be close to Jesus. Think of that! Therefore, this invitation is to be like Him. It is how we will be happiest.
Jesus invites the rich, young man to “sell his possessions” and to “come, follow me”. While we may not be able to sell our possessions because of responsibilities to family or employer, we can still make significant sacrifices. St. John Paul II tells us this is an ingredient to following Jesus more closely. It is to reach full, human maturity; holiness. We begin by following the commandments, but we grow deeper in our love for Our Lord by offering self-sacrifices. This leads to our greater joy and happiness… our greater union with God.
Pope St. John Paul II gave us a treasure in Veritatis Splendor. The riches begin to appear in Jesus’ conversation with the rich, young man. “What good must I do to have eternal life?” JPII explains how Jesus connects moral goodness and eternal life, and that the commandments lead us to the good and deeper into life.
Splendor is defined as great brightness or luster; brilliancy. Pope St. John Paul II invites us to consider the how truth offers us splendor. He makes this invitation so that it might “enlighten man’s intelligence and shape his freedom.” Noble goals. These are nothing less than having light in a dark place to keep us from stumbling.
Pope St. John Paul II gave us a great gift in his encyclical: Ecclesia de Eucharistia. It reconnects us with the treasure Christ gives us in the Holy Eucharist. In fact, it is more than treasure. It is life-giving! “The Church draws her life from the Eucharist”, JPII begins. Are we not the “living stones” of this Church? Therefore, let us draw our life from Our Lord’s presence, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity, in the Holy Eucharist.