13February

Good Sense for a Strong and Healthy Marriage: Part I

Taken from The Catholic Parent
by Chris Padgett

Good Sense for a Strong and Healthy Marriage: Part I

I recently returned from England. While there, I spoke with a woman who, after forty years of marriage, feels that she is in a constant uphill battle with her spouse. He doesn’t think they need marital healing or growth. While he doesn’t oppose her going to counseling, he doesn’t think he needs it. She is exasperated, wanting more from her marriage, but is unable to initiate change for them both because he doesn’t see any reason for it. She wants her marriage to thrive, not just survive; but at the rate they are going things seem to be heading downhill. I told her to think about St. Monica. After all, she can easily relate to her situation, because she also had a difficult husband. She responded with, “Yes, but St. Monica’s husband had the good sense to die, didn’t he?” Yeah, um, so the suggestions I will be offering will not include hoping your spouse kicks the bucket.

Sacrifice for One Another

The first thing needed for a strong and healthy marriage is the ability to sacrifice for one another. Jesus Christ demonstrates His love for us at Calvary—our Lord willingly and freely gave Himself to the Father, in the love of the Spirit, so that we could be in union with Him, others, and ourselves. This healing love of Christ covers a multitude of sins when we sacrifice in our marriages. Jesus’ selfless act upon the Cross changes our lives, forgives our sins, and casts them as far as the East is from the West (Psalm 103:12). When we sacrifice for our spouse, we are in fact loving them as Christ did on the Cross. Freely giving ourselves physically and emotionally are ways that don’t just idealize love, but it in fact actualize love.

Continue reading at The Catholic Parent.
13February

Good Sense for a Strong and Healthy Marriage: Part I

Taken from The Catholic Parent
by Chris Padgett

Good Sense for a Strong and Healthy Marriage: Part I

I recently returned from England. While there, I spoke with a woman who, after forty years of marriage, feels that she is in a constant uphill battle with her spouse. He doesn’t think they need marital healing or growth. While he doesn’t oppose her going to counseling, he doesn’t think he needs it. She is exasperated, wanting more from her marriage, but is unable to initiate change for them both because he doesn’t see any reason for it. She wants her marriage to thrive, not just survive; but at the rate they are going things seem to be heading downhill. I told her to think about St. Monica. After all, she can easily relate to her situation, because she also had a difficult husband. She responded with, “Yes, but St. Monica’s husband had the good sense to die, didn’t he?” Yeah, um, so the suggestions I will be offering will not include hoping your spouse kicks the bucket.

Sacrifice for One Another

The first thing needed for a strong and healthy marriage is the ability to sacrifice for one another. Jesus Christ demonstrates His love for us at Calvary—our Lord willingly and freely gave Himself to the Father, in the love of the Spirit, so that we could be in union with Him, others, and ourselves. This healing love of Christ covers a multitude of sins when we sacrifice in our marriages. Jesus’ selfless act upon the Cross changes our lives, forgives our sins, and casts them as far as the East is from the West (Psalm 103:12). When we sacrifice for our spouse, we are in fact loving them as Christ did on the Cross. Freely giving ourselves physically and emotionally are ways that don’t just idealize love, but it in fact actualize love.

Continue reading at The Catholic Parent.
17February

Good Sense for a Strong and Healthy Marriage: Part II

Taken from The Catholic Parent
by Chris Padgett

Good Sense for a Strong and Healthy Marriage: Part II

In Part One of Good Sense for a Strong and Healthy Marriage, I spoke of the importance of making sacrifices for your spouse. In Part Two, I will address the importance of making acts of service for one another. Again, I think it is very natural when we first fall in love to serve one another effortlessly. We willingly bring the other a drink when asked, pop the popcorn without complaint, or grab the keys that were left in the house as you both sit in the car realizing someone has to go back in to get them. These acts of service can be even greater when our spouse is sick or hurting. We may bring them a drink when fevered, change the linens when they are sick, or serve them by handling all of the daily tasks for your children, and the like. These are done willingly because we know that loving our spouse is expressed in these little or great acts of service. But as marriages grow over time, there can be a tendency to want to be served instead of being the one who serves. We must stay prepared and stand against this urge. Why? Because Jesus shows us that true love is not about having others serve you; rather, He says that to be great you must be the least.

Jesus Wants Us to Serve One Another

This willingness to sacrifice and serve for our spouse certainly is a countercultural mentality, but it is a Christological certainty. In other words, Jesus wants us to serve one another in marriage because that is the example He gave to us, His bride. Jesus sacrificed everything so that the Church could be born, and His example of giving everything—showing us how to love—is meant to show us how to treat our spouse in marriage. To serve is not based on obligation, but on a willing heart. To lovingly serve our spouse demonstrates our recognition of how much value and worth they have. Even if our spouse does not notice our acts of service, this should not be a surprise, or keep us from serving; Jesus’ love for His bride often goes unnoticed too.

Continue reading at The Catholic Parent.
10March

Gothic’s Genius: Abbot Suger

Taken from Crisis Magazine
by Dr. Christopher Blum

Gothic’s Genius: Abbot Suger

“To me, I confess, one thing has always seemed preeminently fitting: that every costlier or costliest thing should serve, first and foremost, for the administration of the Holy Eucharist.”

If one were able to compare the great churches of France in the year 1100 to those standing a century and a half later, the marked difference in architectural style would be easy to see. Many of the elements that had characterized the Romanesque style remained: high stone vaults, internal elevations of multiple stories, pointed arches, extensive sculptural programs, and prominent towers. Yet these same elements were taken up into a more generous conception of interior space and overall monumentality that successfully created what most of us think of when we hear the word cathedral: the Gothic style.

It was in the Renaissance that the new style of the twelfth century came to be called Gothic, because the Goths had been barbarians, and the men of the Italian renaissance tended to downplay the achievements of their rivals to the north. With Chateaubriand’s Genius of Christianity (1802), ideological classicism was dealt a severe blow, and it became respectable and even common to admire high medieval architecture, so much so that the name Gothic has long since lost its original, negative connotation. It is, however, well to be aware that the creators of the style did not call their own churches Gothic. Indeed, we have no idea what they called them, for these master builders left behind no narrative accounts. But their German neighbors, who admired the new style and imported it, did give it a name: the Opus Francigena, or, loosely, the French way of building.

This French style was born at the Abbey of St. Denis, just north of Paris, under the patronage of one of the most extraordinary men of the twelfth century, the Abbot Suger (1081-1151). Beginning in 1137, he presided over the reconstruction of the abbey of St. Denis. His master-builder is unknown to us, but between the builder and the abbot, a new style was forged, a style through which, to borrow from its patron’s own words, “the dull mind rises to truth through that which is material.”

Continue reading at Crisis Magazine
14March

Have Faith in God’s Rescue Mission

Taken from Catholic Exchange
by Dr. Mark Giszczak

Have Faith in God’s Rescue Mission

March 16, 2014

Second Sunday of Lent

Genesis 12:1-4a

http://usccb.org/bible/readings/031614.cfm

It is easy to think that God is distant, uncaring, comfortably sitting in the sky somewhere, and ignoring us. We have a lot of problems and if we were omnipotent, that’s probably how we would treat humanity and everybody else. Total, absolute power sounds like a quick way to establish permanent, perfectly comfortable vacation away from all the noise, evils and “issues” that take up so much of our time. After Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit, God could have condemned humanity to reap the harvest of its own sin. He could have left us to our own devices or even annihilated us. But he didn’t. Instead, he tracked down a guy named Abraham and calls him to do something unusual—to believe.

Lectionary Plan for Lent

On this Second Sunday of Lent, the Lectionary provides us with a second snapshot of salvation history. The Sunday Old Testament readings for Lent follow a chronological progression. In the first week, we hear of Adam and Eve, in the second, Abraham, then Moses and David, then finally the prophets Ezekiel and Isaiah. In this way, the Lectionary takes us by the hand for a whirlwind tour of humanity’s creation, fall, and promised redemption, which will be brought about by Jesus during Holy Week. This chronological telling of Salvation History will be recapitulated in the many readings of the Easter Vigil.

God Launches His Rescue Mission

Here in Genesis 12, God launches his rescue mission to fallen humanity. Adam and Eve sinned; Noah’s generation sinned; the people after the Flood sinned. Our ancestors established a rather consistent track record. God now initiates a more drastic—and yet more subtle—plan of action. He puts in a call to Abraham, who lived in Mesopotamia (modern day Iraq) and later in Haran (in modern Turkey). This is the beginning of the story of salvation, God’s intervention in history. In fact, when St. Stephen offers his defense to the Sanhedrin, he starts the retelling of salvation history with the call of Abraham (Acts 7:3). The Lord invites Abraham on a mission. He calls him to leave his homeland and family and go to a place where he has never been in order to initiate God’s rescue plan for humanity. Abraham plays a key role as the father of the Chosen People and the Father of Faith. His “yes” to God begins the story of Israel, within which Jesus will appear to bring salvation to the whole world.

Continue reading at Catholic Exchange
04November

Holiness in Photographic Negative: The Life of Blessed Junipero Serra

Taken from CrisisMagazine.com
by Dr. Christopher Blum

Holiness in Photographic Negative: The Life of Blessed Junipero Serra

The 24th of November this year will afford a significant opportunity for North Americans to reflect upon their common past: the three hundredth anniversary of the birth of Bl. Junipero Serra. In commemoration of the founder of the California missions, the Huntington Library has assembled an exhibition devoted to his life and work, co-curated by an historian whose new biography of Father Serra has also just been published. Steven W. Hackel’s Junipero Serra: California’s Founding Father is a monument almost as astonishing as the life of the saint it reports, but what amazes is its author’s incomprehension of his subject. A true image of the great missionary indeed it is, but it is an image cast in photographic negative.

The reader of Hackel’s book would do well to keep certain essential facts in mind before beginning. Its subject, christened Miguel Serre on the island of Mallorca, lived out—in the first half of his life—the kind of rags-to-riches story that the wealth of the Church once made possible, if not exactly common. From the dirt poor son of peasants he became, at the age of 30, the prestigious holder of the chair of Sacred Theology at the university in Palma de Mallorca. A comfortable, meaningful life lay ahead: he could reasonably expect to have become rector of the university and perhaps even a bishop. We should recall that the second half of the eighteenth century in Europe was an era liberally provided with wealthy, pampered prelates. With the occasional Talleyrand out in front of the pack, it was not too difficult for a man to combine respectable clerical station with all the soft pleasures afforded by that gracious era.

But this son of St. Francis had no intention of slouching his way to Gehenna. In 1749, he left Europe forever, to spend the next thirty-four years on mission in Mexico and California. The scope of his labors defies the imagination: nine Alta California missions founded under his leadership, well over 6,000 baptisms and over 5,000 confirmations personally celebrated by him, many, many Masses, sermons, and catechetical lessons, the endless labor of building civilization in the wilderness, and much of this work while vexed by a Spanish colonial bureaucracy that did not fully share his aims. Then, of course, there is the most astonishing fact of all, that he traveled some 20,000 miles or more on foot to bring the good news of Jesus Christ to the Indian tribes of northern Mexico and California.

How does one go about portraying such a life as anything other than generous and heroic?

Continue to full article at CrisisMagazine.com.
21February

Holiness Overcomes Hate

Taken from Catholic Exchange
by Dr. Mark Giszczak

Holiness Overcomes Hate

February 23, 2014

Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

Leviticus 19:1-2, 17-18

http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/022314.cfm

Leviticus! The Lectionary avoids Leviticus like the plague. This reading from Leviticus is one of only two in the whole 3-year lectionary cycle for Sundays. Most Bible readers avoid Leviticus too. Who wants to read about how ancient animal sacrifices were supposed to be conducted or how the Israelites dealt with lepers? Yet Leviticus has at its core a powerful focus on loving, covenant faithfulness, on clinging close to the Lord even in the most mundane of our daily tasks.

The passage chosen for today’s reading is actually two snippets from the same chapter. There’s a gap of about 15 verses between them. The first snippet starts Leviticus 19; it announces the Lord’s authority as revealed through Moses. It contains one of the two key teachings of the chapter: “Be holy as I am holy.” (St. Peter quotes this teaching in 1 Peter 1:15.) The point is that our lives should be patterned after God’s life. That our seeking after holiness finds its goal in God’s own holiness.

What is holiness?

Since Vatican II, the Church has repeatedly emphasized the “universal call to holiness,” that all Christians, whether priests, religious, or laity, are called to union with God in Christ. We are all called by Jesus to “be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matt 5:48 – in the Gospel reading for today). The holiness we are talking about is not a selfish religiosity, but an entering into the love and life of God. It is freedom from our selfishness, our sinfulness, and freedom for a loving union with God. This kind of spiritual perfection, personal holiness, cannot be restricted to mere obedience to a moral law code. Rather, it should be defined in terms of relationship. Holiness is about deeper and deeper union with God, about a more intimate experience of God’s love and a more complete giving of oneself to him. What might begin with humble obedience finds its destination in the radical freedom of love.

Continue reading at Catholic Exchange
30November

Hope in God's Coming Judgment

Taken from CatholicExchange.com
by Dr. Mark Giszczak

Hope in God's Coming Judgment

December 1, Isaiah 2:1-5, First Sunday of Advent

The prophet Isaiah paints a picture of hope, following a time of judgment. The Lord will gather in the Gentiles from around the world to obey his law and walk in his ways. He will judge the nations and put an end to violence and injustice. In this season of Advent, we can rejoice in the hope of God’s judgment, and spend our effort in cultivating our spiritual lives with the plowshares and pruning hooks of prayer, fasting and almsgiving.

Indeed, we are part of God’s in-gathering of the nations to worship and obey him. By our faithfulness to the Gospel we are participating in God’s grand design to bring the whole world to himself. Advent gives us a great opportunity to renew our devotion to him and to reflect on where this whole story is headed—to the point where God will finally vindicate the righteous, punish evil and bring about the fullness of his reign in Christ. The first coming of the babe at Bethlehem points to his second coming in power and glory.

Continue to full article at CatholicExchange.com

11September

Imitating the Saints: From Don Quixote to the Whiskey Priest

CrisisMagazine.com
by R. Jared Staudt

Readers should need no introduction to The Ingenious Knight Don Quixote de la Mancha. Infected with a madness focused on the bygone era of knight errantry, Don Quixote leaves home to enact a new golden age of chivalry. As Don Quixote says to his loyal squire: “Friend Sancho, I would have you know that I was born, by the will of heaven, in this iron age of ours, to revive in it an age of gold, or golden age as it is often called. I am the man for whom dangers, great exploits, valiant deeds are reserved” (1.20). Of course, this new knight errant succeeds only, for the most part, in making a fool of himself and unwittingly terrorizing innocent people across the countryside.

In some ways Don Quixote is a fit image for the struggle against the modern world. The old golden age of Catholic culture has passed away and new age of iron (or worse) has come in its place. To look back on the great deeds of our ancestors should inspire us to action, even if the odds seem hopeless. To most around us, such action would be as foolish as attacking windmills or flocks of sheep. Yet, the fight itself is noble enough to risk the shame and humiliation of defeat.

That said, Don Quixote can also reveal an Achilles heel in the modern Catholic revolutionary. Don Quixote became delusional from reading too many chivalric books; books meant to entertain the reader with unrealistic accounts of the valor of their heroes, more fantastical accounts than ones meant to edify and imitate. In response, his parish priest burnt his books in hopes of removing the source of his madness.

Continue to full article >>

06February

It’s All Relative: Understanding Right vs. Wrong

Taken from The Catholic Parent
by Chris Stefanick

It’s All Relative: Understanding Right vs. Wrong

Right and wrong. True and false. Thanks to relativism, young people use these words when talking about things like math and science—but not faith and morals. You might be thinking, “Relatiwhatism?” If philosophical discussions aren’t your forte, stay with me! Relativism isn’t a philosophy you can afford to overlook, because it’s at the very heart of how virtually every teenager thinks about the most important things in life!

What is Relativism?

Relativism is the philosophy that there is no objective reality, but that truth is relative to what each person thinks. We’ve all encountered relativism in statements like, “Jesus is God for me, while Vishnu is God for someone else,” “You have your truth, and I have mine,” or, in regard to issues like the abortion debate, “You can’t impose your morality on another person.”

This “agree never to disagree” philosophy is considered necessary to guarantee peace, tolerance, and equality in a pluralistic world. Conversely, people who think we can know the truth in moral or religious issues are considered intolerant, bigoted, and sometimes even downright dangerous.

That caricature of us “absolutists” is reinforced at every level of society, not just among your teens’ peers. According to Justice Scalia, when it comes to the marriage debate, the Supreme Court has bypassed intelligent debate and labeled those who want to protect “traditional” marriage as “enemies of the human race.” Of course, we fail to live up to that label. In the 2,000-year history of the Church, you won’t find a single bishop on record calling for physical violence against gays.

Facts aside, perception is reality. And the reality is that people perceive those who believe in spiritual and moral absolutes as bigots. Perhaps that’s why, according to one study, 93% of teens said they do not believe in absolute truth. No one wants to be a jerk, right?!

Does believing in moral absolutes lead to hate?

If we want young people to receive the Faith as something more than “a belief system that works for me,” but rather “as something real that I’m called to conform my life to,” we need to show them that moral and spiritual absolutes don’t lead to hatred. In fact, history shows us that some of the most intolerant people in history were not real believers, but relativists!

Benito Mussolini, the fascist dictator of Italy, is one clear-cut example. Early in his political career, he wrote:

Everything I have said and done in these last years is relativism, by intuition. From the fact that all ideologies are of equal value, that all ideologies are mere fictions, the modern relativist infers that everybody has the right to create for himself his own ideology, and to attempt to enforce it with all the energy of which he is capable. If relativism signifies contempt for fixed categories and men who claim to be the bearers of an objective immortal truth, then there is nothing more relativistic than fascism. —Mussolini’s “Diuturna”

Since Mussolini didn’t recognize any objective reality—moral or religious—to which he should conform, he invented his own moral code and enforced it on everyone he could. If truth is really relative, why not?!

And while it might seem that if we could just “imagine there’s no heaven … no hell below us … no religion, too,” then we could “live life in peace.” The 20th century proved John Lennon’s dream wrong time and again. People in the 20th century who imagined that there was no “objective immortal truth”—no heaven, hell, and no religion—made many of the crimes committed in the name of faith look like child’s play.

Continue reading at The Catholic Parent.
12January

Jesus the Servant: Appointed and Approved

Taken from Catholic Exchange
by Dr. Mark Giszczak

Jesus the Servant: Appointed and Approved

It is easy for us to take justice for granted in our society with courts, appellate courts, judges, lawyers, prisons, laws, and constitutions. We rarely personally feel the sting of injustice. I like to look back on an earlier time, the Old West, when, at least in all of the fictional presentations, a strong sheriff with integrity in town is necessary for the enactment of justice. Without the sheriff, bandits and outlaws can rob banks, steal cattle and wreak havoc. Sin is the same way—it makes a moral mess of our lives and imprisons us by addiction. We need a powerful and righteous deliverer to free us from its chains.

January 12, 2014, Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, First Reading: Isaiah 42:1-4, 6-7

The Suffering Servant

This Sunday’s reading from Isaiah 42 portrays the Lord’s “Suffering Servant,” who will bring justice not only to the people of Israel, but to the Gentiles as well. Isaiah contains four so-called “servant songs” (42:1-7; 49:1-13; 50:4-9; 52:13–53:12) which describe this heroic figure. This first song explains the calling of the Suffering Servant: He serves the Lord. He is upheld by the Lord. He delights the Lord. And the spirit of the Lord is upon him—just like the spirit of the Lord came upon the judges and kings of old. The Lord has appointed the Suffering Servant to fulfill a mission—bringing justice to the Gentiles (nations).

A Rescue Mission

This mission is like the mission of a just sheriff, but in the ancient world the chief law-enforcer or justice-bringer would be the king. Part of his job was to make sure that people were dealt with fairly at all levels of society, that cases were adjudicated correctly and that the poor were not oppressed. The Suffering Servant appears as a kind of Messianic king—one who will come to free people from oppression and establish the reign of justice. The Hebrew word here for justice is mishpat, which comes from the same root as “judge”—as in Gideon, Samson, etc.—in the Old Testament. So this appointed representative of God will bring justice, but he will also act with mercy. The text says “a bruised reed he shall not break, and a smoldering wick he shall not quench” (Isa 42:3). These images show him acting with clemency, not severity. He does not come to crush, but to rescue those who are oppressed and broken.

Continue at Catholic Exchange.
28February

Lent: A journey that leads us toward the Blood that purifies our consciences

Taken from The Catholic Servant, February 2014
By Professor Douglas Bushman

Lent: A journey that leads us toward the Blood that purifies our consciences

There is no better way to journey through Lent than by tending to one’s conscience. Why? Because Lent is a forty-day period of preparation for the solemn celebration of the Paschal Mystery. Everything points to and culminates in the sacraments and rites of the Triduum and the vigil Mass for Easter, when catechumens are baptized and the whole Church renews its baptismal faith, and conscience is at the heart of the theology of Baptism.

The apostolic Church understood Baptism as a cleansing of consciences. St. Peter instructs us that Baptism “is not a removal of dirt from the body but an appeal to God for a clear conscience, through the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.” (I Pet. 3:21) Baptism initiates us into the New Covenant, sealed by the blood of Christ, that is, by His merciful love. This blood, the Letter to the Hebrews tells us, “purifies our consciences” from works of death, that is, from sin. (Heb. 9:14; see also Heb. 10:22)

The text of Hebrews 9:14 is significant because it asserts that the new covenant prophesied by Jeremiah has been fulfilled by Christ’s sacrifice in which His blood, the blood of the new and eternal covenant, is poured out for the forgiveness of sins. Jeremiah previsioned a new and definitive covenant that would be written on people’s hearts, their transgressions would be forgiven, and God would no longer call their sins to mind. (Jer. 31:33–35) The Letter to the Hebrews quotes this passage in chapter eight, and chapters nine and ten show how He fulfills it by His sacrifice.

There is, however, a slight difference in vocabulary: whereas Jeremiah speaks of “hearts,” Hebrews speaks of “consciences.” God writes His law on hearts when Christ’s blood purifies consciences. His blood being a symbol of His love, this means that the cup of the new and everlasting covenant is God’s merciful love. It means that our consciences can again call good and evil by their true names by making their judgments about right and wrong in reference to the definitive revelation of God’s love on the Cross.

This is a crucial point. A conscience purified by Christ’s blood through Baptism genuflects before every truth that God has revealed in Christ. Using liturgical language to describe conscience’s submission to truth may seem exaggerated. In reality, it is an act of intellectual veneration of the truth, and through this veneration of the truth it is an act of adoration of God, the Source of truth. The purification of consciences by Christ’s blood makes us “true worshipers [who] will worship the Father in spirit and truth.” (Jn. 4:23)

By coming to know and to believe in the love God has for us (I Jn. 4:16), we know that love is the motive for every commandment that Christ enjoins on us. This is why to transgress any one of His commands is to reject His love. It is to say, in effect: “I know better than You do what is best for me.” Of course, we don’t, and the result is that in every act of sin either evil is called good or good is called evil. The disobedience of any of God’s commandments is self-diminishment, the self-chosen forfeiture of our true good. A conscience purified by Christ’s blood abhors the thought of committing what could be called interior blasphemy by speaking falsely about what God has established as good and evil.

Another quality of a conscience purified by Christ’s blood is that it sees sin as a personal offense against God. Because the authority of Christ’s love stands behind each commandment, faith is a package deal, an all-or-nothing affair. St. James demonstrates this when he underscores that God’s personal authority is the origin of every commandment: “You see, anyone who keeps the whole of the Law but trips up on a single point, is still guilty of breaking it all. He Who said, ‘You must not commit adultery’ said also, ‘You must not kill.’ Now if you commit murder, you need not commit adultery as well to become a breaker of the Law.” (Jas. 2:10–11) Purified consciences are acutely aware of the profoundly personal dimension of faith, and their chief concern is to avoid offending the One Who loved them “to the end.” (Jn. 13:1)

The first duty of conscience is to seek the truth. A purified conscience is one that turns to Christ for the truth. He Who is the truth (Jn. 14:6) speaks only the truth that He has learned from His heavenly Father. (Jn. 7:16) The origin of His teaching, then, is Heaven, and by observing His instructions we fulfill the petition of the Our Father: “Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.” The fulfillment of Christ’s teaching “is love from a pure heart, a good conscience, and a sincere faith.” (I Tim. 1:5) If we are serious about praying, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven,” we must be people of conscience. We could say that in purified consciences earth opens up to Heaven and Heaven descends to earth. If we are made for Heaven and called to Heaven, this can only mean that we are made and called to be people of conscience. How does one become or advance in being a person of conscience? By listening to God’s voice. Where can one go to hear this voice? How does one turn to Christ? By turning to His Church. What Jesus said to the Apostles, “He who hears you hears Me” (Lk. 10:16), is true also of their successors, the pope and bishops. By reading the Bible, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the popes’ writings, and the lives of the saints, we hear God’s voice.

Informing one’s conscience is certainly necessary, but it is also necessary to do so with a disposition of humility, a readiness to assent to the truth and to conform our thoughts, words, and actions to the truth whenever it penetrates our consciences. This requires that we cultivate a habit of interiority. In its teaching on conscience, the Catechism says: “It is important for every person to be sufficiently present to himself in order to hear and follow the voice of his conscience. This requirement of interiority is all the more necessary as life often distracts us from any reflection, self-examination or introspection.” (n. 1779)

“Oh, that today you would hear His voice: Do not harden your hearts.” (Ps. 95:7–8) Lent is the time to heed the Lord’s plea! “Now is the day of salvation.” (II Cor. 6:2) Lent is the “today” of our salvation! His voice, our salvation: this is the meaning of every moment of conscience. As Vatican II teaches: “God, Who probes our hearts”—which, we have seen, are the same as our consciences—“awaits us there.” (Gaudium et spes, n. 14) The human heart and conscience: this is the only place in the universe where a personal encounter with God can take place.

The best way to prepare during Lent for Baptism and the renewal of baptismal faith is to become more fully a person of conscience. The devil certainly does not desire this, nor is it a value for the world. No, their work is to draw us outside of ourselves, to so preoccupy our attention with things of the world that we never visit that one place where God awaits us. Lent is a season for spiritual battle, and it is helpful to know the enemy’s strategy. In the contest over souls, Satan has home field advantage so long as we remain worldly, outside of ourselves, out of contact with our consciences. His tactic is to make sure that the necessary conditions for meeting God in the conscience—quiet, stillness of soul, attentiveness to God’s voice—never materialize. God has home-field advantage when we are men and women of conscience, when we turn inward to meet Him Who awaits us there.

St. Paul exhorts us: “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” (Col. 3:2) We do this every time we enter into the inner sanctuary of our own consciences, where we hear God’s voice and, by the power of Christ’s blood, God’s will is done on earth as it is in Heaven.

Douglas G. Bushman, S.T.L., is Professor of Theology at the Augustine Institute in Denver, Colorado, where he holds the Blessed John Paul II the Great Chair of Theology for the New Evangelization.

20January

Life’s Paladin: Jérôme Lejeune

Taken from Crisis Magazine
by Dr. Christopher Blum

Life’s Paladin: Jérôme Lejeune
“Merci, mon professeur, for what you did for my father and my mother. Because of you, I am proud of myself.”

These words, spoken by a young man with Down’s syndrome, were most fitting praise for the scientist who had discovered the genetic cause of his condition. It had long been thought to be due to the misdeeds of the parents, and perhaps even a consequence of syphilis. In 1958, however, a zealous young researcher discovered the extra 21st chromosome in the genes of those who suffered from it. He could hardly have suspected it at the time, but his life, and the world, would be forever changed by the knowledge.

In his early thirties at the time of the discovery, and the happy father of a fast-growing young family, Jérôme Lejeune could hardly have imagined then what would be the greatest significance of his work. True physician that he was, Lejeune was eager to build on the new knowledge and to seek a cure for the condition. Others, alas, many others, would be quick to seek wicked profit from it, and to prey upon the fears of the weak. Today, only 1 in 10 children marked by that extra chromosome is allowed to be born.

Yet God, ever bountiful in his creativity, is able to bring good out of even the darkest evil. So many men and women in the tragic twentieth century made astonishing discoveries and then proved incapable of responding to the misuse of that knowledge. Not Jérôme Lejeune. With the purity of intention of a Galahad or a Gawain, he spent himself to protect the lives of those whose condition he had explained.

In Paris, he saw patients by the hundreds. “People were often surprised at how available Papa was,” says his daughter, the author of a lovely memoir about him. He was one of those who thrives on work, and from the experience of helping others. His daughter tells us that he loved to repeat the saying of St. Vincent de Paul, “What must one do for one’s neighbor? More.” And like all good physicians, he knew that in addition to knowledge of the art, he needed to be present to his patients, to listen to them, and to offer them timely and wise counsel. The testimony of one couple who were expecting a Down’s child speaks volumes: “He helped us to discover our love as parents.”

Continue reading at Crisis Magazine.
05November

Making sense of Pope Francis: Christian ambition in evangelization and the humility of dialogue

Taken from Catholic News Agency
By Dr. Edward Sri

Making sense of Pope Francis: Christian ambition in evangelization and the humility of dialogue

When Pope Francis was interviewed by the Italian journalist Eugenio Scalfari, he began with a joke and a smile. But the Pope’s initial, light-hearted exchange with this prominent European atheist serves as an important window into our Holy Father’s approach to the modern world.

Pope Francis walked into the room where Scalfari was waiting, shook hands with him and with a smile said, “Some of my colleagues who know you told me that you will try to convert me.”

Scalfari responded, “It’s a joke….My friends think it is you who want to convert me.”

To which the pope replied:

“Proselytism is solemn nonsense, it makes no sense. We need to get to know each other, listen to each other and improve our knowledge of the world around us. Sometimes after a meeting I want to arrange another one because new ideas are born and I discover new needs. This is important: to get to know people, listen, expand the circle of ideas. The world is crisscrossed by roads that come closer together and move apart, but the important thing is that they lead towards the Good.”

Later in the interview Pope Francis laments that not more has been done in the last 50 years to dialogue with non-believers. “Our goal is not to proselytize but to listen to needs, desires and disappointments, despair and hope….” He comments on how the council fathers of Vatican II “knew that being open to modern culture meant religious ecumenism and dialogue with non-believers. But afterwards very little was done in that direction. I have the humility and ambition to want to do something.” (1)

And doing something he certainly is. Pope Francis has created quite a stir in his two recent interviews, sparking much conversation from Catholics and non-Catholics alike about the future of the Church and his papacy. His comments, for example, about abortion, gay marriage and contraception are celebrated by some and feared by others as a radical departure from Catholic moral teaching on these matters.

The Pope’s comments, no doubt, have been controversial. But I would like to focus on one theme from his interviews that can shed important light on the Church’s mission of evangelization in our world today. The key to interpreting Pope Francis’ statements properly is found in his vision for the Church. The Holy Father says he wants a Church that doesn’t just open its doors to others, but goes out to the world: to those Christians who are indifferent, to the Catholics who stop going to Mass, and even to unbelievers like Eugenio Scalfari. And that outward focus shapes the way he presents the Gospel message to the outside world.

Continue Reading at Catholic News Agency
<<  1 2 3 4 5 [67 8 9  >>