Year of Faith or Year of Fluff? What Will it Be? – Truth and Charity Forum

If the new evangelization means in part trying to bring the lax and the “no-shows” at Mass and Holy Communion back to their senses and practice their faith, it will take a lot more than speeches, programs, and homilies by the hierarchy. It takes exceptional efforts at prayer and penance on the part of the few to save the many.

Before one tries to restore truth to the blind of mind and the dull of heart, we must remember that exceptional graces for others require more than ordinary efforts. We know from our faith that no one can merit grace for others from the perspective of justice but only by appealing to God’s mercy in friendship.

When St. Catherine of Siena wanted to save several of her friends from dying unrepentant, she would beg God to send her the punishments due to their sins so long as he would grant her wish that they repent. After accepting much suffering often for many months, she would “win” back their souls, something some of us can admire but not imitate since it would be based on a great deal of false motives, especially presumption.

Read more . . .

What Will You do Differently for the Year of Faith?

I’ve decided to add the following prayers to my daily regimen, to start the day . As you can see most are prayers to fight the evil of this world and of our souls. Are any of you also doing something special starting in October? Why not share it with us.

P.S. I put a link for a PDF version of these on the PDF Page if anyone would like to join me in these prayers.

THE NICENE CREED from the Council of Constantinople in 381

I believe in one God the Father almighty,
maker of heaven and earth
of all things visible and invisible.

I believe in one Lord Jesus Christ,
the Only-begotten Son of God,
born of the Father before all ages.
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made, consubstantial with the Father; through Him all things were made.
For us men and for our salvation
He came down from heaven.

(At the following words, up to and including “and became man”, all bow)
and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate
of the Virgin Mary,
and became man.

For our sake He was crucified under Pontius Pilate,
He suffered death and was buried,
and rose again on the third day
in accordance with the Scriptures.
He ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory
to judge the living and the dead.
His kingdom will have no end.

I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life
who proceeds from the Father and the Son,
who with the Father and the Son is adored and glorified,
who has spoken through the prophets;
I believe in one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church.
I confess one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
I look forward to the resurrection of the dead
and the life of the world to come. Amen.

HAIL MARY (say 3 times for an increase in Faith, Hope and Charity)

Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.

Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

SALVE REGINA

Hail Holy Queen, Mother of Mercy, our life, our sweetness, and our hope. To thee do we cry, poor, banished children of Eve. To thee do we send up our sighs, mourning, and weeping in this vale of tears. Turn, then, most gracious advocate, thine eyes of mercy upon us, and after this our exile show unto us the blessed Fruit of thy womb, Jesus. O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary. Pray for us, O holy Mother of God, that we may be made worthy of the Promises of Christ.

Let us pray.

O God, our refuge and our strength, look down with favor upon Thy people who cry to Thee; and by the intercession of the glorious and Immaculate Virgin Mary, Mother of God, of St. Joseph her Spouse, of Thy blessed Apostles Peter and Paul, and of all the Saints, mercifully and graciously hear the prayers which we pour forth for the conversion of sinners, and for the liberty and exaltation of our holy Mother the Church. Through the same Christ our Lord.

Amen.

PRAYER TO SAINT MICHAEL THE ARCHANGEL

Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle, be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the Devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray. And do thou, O Prince of the Heavenly Host, by the Power of God, thrust into hell Satan and all evil spirits who wander the earth seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.

OUR LADY, QUEEN OF THE ANGELS – from a Bernardine Sister in 1863

August Queen of Heaven, sovereign Mistress of the Angels, who didst receive from the beginning the mission and the power to crush the Serpent’s head, we beseech thee to send thy holy Angels, that under thy command and by thy power, they may pursue the evil spirits, encounter them on every side, resist their bold attacks, and drive them hence into the abyss of woe.

Most holy Mother, send thy Angels to defend us and to drive the cruel enemy from us. Amen.

All ye holy Angels and Archangels help and defend us.

OUR FATHER . . .

Most Sacred Heart of Jesus,

Have mercy on us. (say 3 times)

We place all our hope in Thee.

Living In the Presence of God

prayer..

It is our task in life to live in the presence of God continuously; “to pray without ceasing.” It is impossible for man but nothing is impossible for God. So we may think we are incapable but as we have already discussed everything is possible with Christ.

About 3 posts ago I wrote a post that nobody seemed to understand. It didn’t strike me until the comments all had a similar ring to them that belied the intended message I wished to convey. I finally had to give the commenter, Jay, an explanation of what the blog was intended to be and so I apologize: it’s not the reader, it’s the fault of the author when things are not understood.

The post was titled, Failure to Commit, and my explanation could be paraphrased as follows:

 My point of reference was myself, as I am the only one I can speak for with any certitude; and as the author I was afraid that if done poorly, it could sound as if I were pointing a finger at my readers.  It was written solely for the purpose of showing the reader that we all need God’s grace to accomplish anything: that even simple prayers for an increase in faith, hope and love, may one day help us in this task of making and keeping important commitments. I’m no saint and recognize that most people fall short as well; but that does not mean that any of us have lost the opportunity as long as God continues to hold us in existence upon this earth. I was just trying to get across our real need for increased grace and that I too must be realistic about my own failures. Our failures show a weakness; and the weakness usually resides in our own individual will. Only love can motivate the will sufficiently to make the hardest commitment of all: dying to self. Without this truth indelibly infused into our minds there is no hope of dropping the pose for the true inner experience that we desire. The death of our ego, which we should seek, must begin within us so that God can be allowed to live His life within our souls. He will not accept competition in this regard. Only a very strong love and desire to die to self and to be reborn in Him will allow this to happen. And we will all fail; over and over again. That is why our prayers for each other are so necessary and beneficial for our advancement. My final analysis was that successful commitments need a strong love and a strong sense of sacrifice. In short, sacrificial love.

 It is important to get this straightened out at the outset of this post should you have read the last three entries.

So we acknowledge that we need to develop sacrificial love in our hearts, agape love, the type that Christ had for us. As Christ perfects our souls in love through many trials, we continue to work on our virtues and our prayers, failing often but setting out again with the knowledge that Christ is teaching the soul and perfecting our love.

This action of repeatedly traversing from consolations to desolations and back again, occur both in our prayers and in our everyday living. This cycle brings us to a point where we begin to see God in all aspects of our lives. He is there in the joyous moments and even more present when our souls are suffering great torment. It is in this well-spring of spiritual life that God’s presence becomes the living water and an abiding presence that never leaves us.

Only then can our will gain the loving resolve to accept God’s will in all things. We are ready, finally, to surrender ourselves to Divine Providence. A complete abandonment of our self-serving will: I am yours, O Lord, do with me what you will.

A Prayer for Guidance

…and a word of caution.

Writing a Catholic blog can be perilous especially for one who has taken as his apostolate, the responsibility for guiding new converts in the faith. On the one hand, you want to make sure they have been given a solid understanding of all the teachings of the faith and have grounded them in the traditions of the Church and on the other hand you want to make sure that you do no harm: for we can never forget that it is Christ who plows the field of the new convert’s soul. How I or others tend that fertile field is a responsibility that bears with it everlasting consequences and presents many dangers both for the catechist and the catechumen.

This may be a useful metaphor.

Some Catholic dialog is like fertilizer: too strong for the young roots – capable of burning and extinguishing the life within them. For the stronger plants, spreading manure (the vile waste that God uses to grow us in our spirituality), is useful in making a plant stronger and more alive.

This blog was not intended for the newly formed Catholic with delicate souls but I am aware that it is always possible that my posts may reach these souls from time to time. So it is a balancing act that must be dealt with in a serious manner. It is to some extent the same challenge as dealing with a group of individuals with varying needs: we do our best to encourage those who are inquiring about the faith and entering RCIA without giving them too much too soon.

We desire for all our new converts to seek holiness in their lives and  to develop an understanding that the Church and Her Sacraments are indispensable in achieving that goal. Her sacred theology can help souls understand when their spiritual quest is going off course and the Church can provide devotions and prayers that lead souls closer to God.

Unfortunately a journey toward holiness, oftentimes leads to issues difficult to understand and to assimilate. Though you do not want to ignore what may be an impediment to a seeker, one still wonders if the newly initiated Catholic has been formed sufficiently to face these problems. Is it better to leave them in their struggles until such time that the Holy Spirit moves them to either seek counseling, find a spiritual director or should they confront the issues by themselves? If meditated upon with a mature spirituality (I speak here of souls who are no longer in danger of becoming despondent or melancholy) the extent of the spiritual battle is made quite apparent; both for our own soul as well as the soul of the Church. And the mature soul is enlivened to enter into this warfare to fight for his soul and for His King, the Church.

So should we explain the attacks of Satan on Christ’s Church and more specifically on these new and delicate souls? Though the dangers are certainly already present, they will always appear sometime in the future as one advances in holiness but is it too much, too soon? My considered answer would be no unless it is a one on one conversation. It is more properly handled by their confessors and by a trusted Catholic who can converse face-to-face making sure that they do not misunderstand what is being said. In that way they may come to understand the value of the evil faced and how they can use it for their own advancement and eventual salvation.

We wish to strengthen their bonds to the True Church and thus to Christ. In time we want them to recognize the wounds that Christ in His Mystical Body endures from age to age and will always face. However, I feel that this is a topic for the mature and not for the neophyte whose instruction may not have been as solid as we would have wished.

As a catechist I am always struck by the diversity of souls that come into the church. Every soul is different and thereby unique to them. In an inquiry class, for instance, I was faced with a young evangelical that just couldn’t quite wrap his mind around many of the arguments for the veracity of the Catholic Church. I had nearly exhausted every apologetic I that I had in my arsenal. To my rescue, a friend of mine gave the young man the book Born Fundamentalist, Born Again Catholic by David Currie and it happened to do the trick; he never looked back. In fact, he bought about a dozen copies of the book to hand out to his evangelical family and friends. He is now a faithful member of the Catholic Church.

As a blogger, I have been given a venue to say many things that are not appropriate to discuss with individuals that I instruct within a group. Therefore, I must continually pray for guidance, hoping of course that a spiritual initiate might not read into my posts a negative assessment of the Faith itself. Let me assure you, it is far from my purpose, to ever devalue the One True Church that I have come to love. Misread articles are a great source of worry and give me pangs of conscience as I publish many of my posts. It is always possible that they can create confusion in those who are unaware of real situations that are going on in the Church. I do believe, however, that these situations, though that may cause a soul grief, will be revealed one way or another as they become better informed Catholics. God will use these difficulties, not to their detriment but to their advancement.

To the initiated and well formed Catholic, I do not think anyone will come to the same conclusions a newly formed or poorly formed Catholic might. I believe that they will understand my love for the Church and my love for Christ; they will see that my sole motive is the propagation of the faith and the advancement of souls to a deeper spirituality and to a life that desperately wants to grow in holiness. At least I like to think that. Only lives lived for holiness and rooted in Christ, can change our world and our culture. Actions and behaviors speak louder than words among those in secular society. It is the only meaningful answer for the problems the secular faces.

For those who find some of my topics disturbing, I actually wish that you do not read them but return to them only when or if you feel drawn to such topics. Having strong convictions in the Catholic Faith is paramount for the examination and evaluation of internal strife and fractures that exist in our Catholic culture.

I therefore pray, and ask all my readers to also pray for me and for one another, that we all might walk that narrow path that will not hinder the workings of our Lord and Savior within these new souls which He has called. But instead, let us help raise up warriors in Catholic apologetics, prayer and the love of God and neighbor. May they go forth to advance in all works of holiness and draw closer to God every day as they draw their nourishment from the Sacraments of the Holy Catholic Church.

May God be ever in my mind and in my heart and guide me to say only that which He Himself would have me say. May my readers likewise be enlivened in their faith and come to recognize the spiritual combat that we each are called to undertake in our own individual way for the advancement of souls. This I ask in Christ’s name. Amen.