A Relevant Church?

liturgical dance

The musty old Church of the Catholic Christians has been called judgmental and misogynistic; so we have made ourselves welcoming to the roles of women and non-judgmental to lifestyles and tolerant of all the new confusing genders that have recently been invented. Since families did not want to come and hear condemnations of their behavior which seemingly judge them personally, making them feel guilty for things such as abortion, contraception or abnormal sinful behavior; we now apply every Bible verse to the relevant topic of being more loving and forgiving of one another. So now we’re called the Church of Nice and so we strive to be. We are nice and we are Church. Why then are so many people leaving this improved version of Christianity? Have we not made enough changes? Is it because we aren’t being nice enough to those who want to have homosexual marriages in the Church or divorced and remarried couples receiving Communion; though only a small minority really believes it to be the Body and Blood of Christ anymore? Perhaps we could be more accommodating . . . by continuing to do more of what hasn’t worked so far.

Christ has been made to be a spiritual Santa Clause of love and forgiveness Who demands nothing to fill our stockings yet nobody believes in Santa anymore. We annul nearly every prior marriage and will forgive any sin in the Sacrament of Penance and nobody wants to go. We have inclusive language and have increased the roles of women but now the men do not even darken the doors of their local parish. We have liturgical dance, folk songs, and tunes with a good beat to engage the young men and women but once they are confirmed into the Church they stay home with dad. Indeed, what is the problem? Can’t you see how the Church has become relevant and concerned with the big issues such as global warming, feeding the poor and social justice? What can we do that would attract more of you to attend: bingo, dances, movies, clowns, sing-a-longs, or maybe a free lunch or breakfast? It must be that we have not changed enough and have not yet rid ourself enough from our old image of rigidity and being too judgmental: but we are told every week how much we have changed and how much more we must change in order to be the pastures where the sheep wish to graze.

I’m afraid that we can’t compete with the secular world in distributing worldly treasures. We keep trying to out give them, to out love them and to show everyone that we are even more tolerant than the world. It is a fool’s errand that we are on. The attraction of things of this world is not what converts hearts and makes good Christians. Making people feel special and stroking their egos is not going to help them strip away a life of self-loving for a life of self-giving. Had it been that simple, we would now have record numbers of Catholics and the whole world would have changed. I’m afraid that what makes a Christian a Christian is the awakening of a small inner voice that condemns them in their sins or that leaves them feeling empty with all the treasures that the world has offered and given them. It is the Faith of our Fathers and the Pearl of Great Price that makes men want to strive to earn it and children to desire it and women to fall in love with it. This is the gift of Christ that cannot be matched by any worldly goods and is being ignored by the teachers of the faith and destroyed by the lover’s of this world. If it isn’t in-season in this world, they won’t preach or teach it and therefore it is not being done. And so, as Scripture tells us, they will “strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.” Pray the leaders of our Church recognize the problem before only a small remnant remains.

What Happened to Roman Catholic Culture?

Traditional vs. Novus Ordo

The pre-Vatican II Church culture, on the parish level at least, was a vibrant, robust culture that embraced its uniqueness and derived much of Her strength from the global communities who pledged the care of their souls to the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. It was a Church that centered itself on the priesthood, the Sacraments, the prayers of the Saints and of course, its devotion to Mary. It was a bulwark against the world, the flesh and the devil and strengthened its members with the faith, hope and charity which stitched the whole of the Church together. Its centrality to the lives of the Catholic families around the world attested to the belief that this was surely the Church that Christ had founded and thereby drew close to the never-changing constancy of its Truths which were taught or instilled amongst all of its members: Truths which had stood the test of time and would be held in perpetuity.
     Like all cultures that are united in will and purpose, the Catholic Church embraced its own language, music, rites, customs and celebrations which it shared with the world; spreading its influence far and wide throughout the wider cultures of many countries and civilizations. It was a source of constancy, in a world of perpetual change, a certainty in the midst of ambiguity and doubt. It was at once, both ancient and new as it transformed and invigorated the children of the Church with the ever-new spiritual direction of Her saints and martyrs, punctuated with their numerous miracles and prophecies, and igniting the love and devotion of every Catholic. All of this filled Her ranks with those who dreamt of attaining holiness and filled them with the common desire to emulate the lives of these most extraordinary men and women. It was a safe haven from the troubles of this world and a comfort to all the broken lives and suffering souls. One might even say that it might be likened to a salvific balm or salve which contained a seemingly inexhaustible supply of paternal healing strength and maternal love. And for Her children of faith, She was a small piece of heaven living amidst the torments and temptations of a fallen world.
     It was a culture that embraced a True Egalitarianism, not the egalitarianism of this world that tries to eliminate differences and uniqueness; for it made everyone equal in the thing that counts most . . . our quest for eternal happiness and holiness . . . to be counted amongst the saints of Christ’s own Church. It was a Church that was distinct among Christians, known for the penitential signs of Ash Wednesday, meatless Fridays, and days of fasting and abstinence. We had duties to perform: days of Holy Obligation, Confessions, penance for sins. And we celebrated quite openly our joy of the saints and especially our love of Mary, with festivals and feast days throughout the year. We were united by a deep love and respect for the men of God that were given us; the priests, bishops and of course, the Pope. This culture defined us more than any other characteristics that we might bare; race, language, wealth or social status.
      These past 50 years has seen a loss of much that united us as a Catholic culture. We have lost or suppressed our common language, music, rites, customs and celebrations. In short, we have become more like everyone else. Our external and internal culture has been nearly extinguished and our once vibrant and robust uniqueness has been rendered rather anemic as a distinct Catholic culture. We have largely lost our confidence, our respect and our joy of being a member of this ancient faith. We have lost our identity. It might well be said that we no longer know who we are, how we should act, how we should worship or what we must believe. It is quite often a joyless faith and only temporally and humanly happy in the sense that the world envisions happiness: smiles, pats on the back, clapping for one another, giving recognition to each other and living out our own subjective faith apart, in a divine sense, from one another. The unity of the Catholic culture no longer exists. Factions have multiplied and individualism is celebrated and encouraged whilst the old is denigrated and the new is viewed as a blossoming of the faith out into the world. The embroidered richness of the ancient Church is now replaced with polyester and felt, classical art replaced with smiley faces. A rich tradition and culture, uniquely Catholic, is now superseded by the same vulgar culture that the world supplies and embraces. The marble altars have been stripped and replaced with wooden tables as we now celebrate a common meal instead of the Sacrifice of all sacrifices. It is all about community, though the community of our common culture and our heritage has been destroyed. We have been robbed and given a stone though we asked for bread; a snake though we asked for fish.
     Where once we went unto the Altar of God Who gave joy to our youth we now go unto a table of men where the remnant faithful lament the loss of our Catholic identity and in some instances the faith itself. They decry a watered down, Protestantized hybrid Church that seems to have lost its memory as well as its zeal to save souls: having become light on teaching and training in the things of God and heavy on eliminating social injustice rather than the development of the virtues and righteousness. For it has become a Church long on excuses for sinful living and short on providing the means for forming souls in the pursuit of holiness. Psychology, social and political science has made theology and spiritual formation nearly obsolete.
      Such is the reality that dawns on me today: that it was much easier to love God and His Church when we were consoled by a culture that prepared us for our natural end: God Himself. But when the consolations end, how much harder it is to love God and His Church when both have seemingly withdrawn their blessings. To love God for Who He is and not simply for what blessings He brings us is a maturation of love; the kind of love that God is desirous to receive from His Bride . . . a sacrificial love. Is this perhaps the point in the Passion of Christ’s Church where She cries out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” The current crisis of faith seems to indicate that such a thought is not overly far-fetched.
      If this is the time of purgation and darkness, one might expect a dark night of the Soul for the Catholic Church. Can we continue in this darkness until we once again find the Living Flame of Love lighting our way into the next world? I know the Church will succeed and I pray that I too might remain faithful in this spiritual pilgrimage even in the face of spiritual dryness. By faith we must accept, though unknown to us, that everything, which is unfolding presently, was eternally known as part of the Divine plan of Almighty God. May He forever remain Lord over our hearts and minds and bring us to Everlasting Life. We must continually remind ourselves that our prayer needs to be; not my will but may Thy Holy Will be done.

The Magi and Death Before Birth – Truth and Charity Forum

I do not think that popular sentiment has come anywhere near close to granting those extraordinary travelers, the Magi, the honor they truly deserve. These “watchers of the sky” must have been divinely inspired, in addition to being intellectually gifted, to have enough faith to leave the comforts of their homeland and embark on what must have been an extremely arduous journey.

The Magi were guided by a star, not a map. They were responding to a belief, not a specific invitation. They were willing to disrupt their lives to venture into the unknown without any assurance that their journey would take them to their destination.

The Magi are prominently featured on Christmas cards. They happily travel three in number, guided by a star, bringing gifts for the newborn babe. It all seems so beautifully scripted. They are easy to take for granted, appearing to be an inevitable part of the Christmas picture. T. S. Eliot, in his poem, Journey of the Magi, however, describes their pilgrimage in most unsentimental terms:

And the night-fires going out, and the lack of shelter,

And the cities hostile and the towns unfriendly

And the villages dirty and charging high prices:

A hard time we had of it.

Read more . . .

What is the Solution to our Stressful and Anxious Lives? Go to the Center. | Archdiocese of Washington

In yesterday’s Gospel for the First Sunday of Advent, the Lord described a kind of self-destructive cycle that assails us and then proposed a solution. In this post there is an attempt to focus in a bit more on the solution proposed by the Lord.

But to review the problem, the self destructive cycle recall this text from yesterday’s Gospel:

Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy from carousing and drunkenness and the anxieties of daily life, and that day catch you by surprise like a trap. (Luke 21:34-35)

To describe the cycle of the problem in more modern terms:

Read more . . .

Is He your King? Really? A Meditation on the Gospel of Christ the King

what-is-truth

On the feast of Christ the King, we are called to acknowledge that Jesus is, in fact our King. It is one thing to say that he is our King because the song in Church we sang said that, or the preacher said that, or the Bible says that. Yes, faith does come by hearing. But there also comes a moment when WE must say that Jesus is our King. When we must personally affirm what the Church has always announced: “Jesus is Lord, and he is King, he is my king. He has authority in my life.”And this must become more than lip service. It must become a daily, increasing reality in our life.

Read more . . .

If I were Satan

Satan as Antichrist

I thought it would be interesting to put myself in the place of Satan and try to understand better his tactics. This is by no means very comprehensive for Satan is pure spirit and his intellect and means of temptation and disruption in our personal lives and in the history of the world could be the subject of a many volume set of books. But it is an interesting meditation to make and many things come to mind that seem to open up our understanding of Satan along the lines that C.S. Lewis did with his Screwtape Letters. This is my first go at it:

If I were Satan and wished to seek the ruin of human souls, I would prowl about in search of weakness and attack without mercy. I would insinuate doubt and confusion where before there was certitude, I would cause factions where before there was unity, I would disguise evil for good and convince these lowly human intellects that neither I nor evil really exists.

No longer would people fear hell, for there would be no hell to go to; and for those who did believe in hell, they would believe that it was empty or that at least they, themselves, were not destined to go there. People would no longer look to the Church to guide them through this life to the Heavenly Gates. They would look to themselves or to their governments to create a heaven on earth that would be eager to excuse their personal indiscretions and no longer would there be a need to endure the embarrassment of Confession. Besides, they no longer need absolution for sins which they no longer believe in anyway. Many will embrace secular scientific interpretations about our beginnings and our final end: embracing ideas of aliens from outer space and their genetic intervention with human beings over the millennia.

I would make attacks on love. First I might attack the family and the children by destroying marriage and encouraging divorce. I will also separate sexual activity from the procreative, rendering these acts sterile. Thus, these human animals can revel in their debauchery and self-indulgence to their hearts content. All sexual acts shall be seen as licit and private and of no business of the Church. For the new Church that I create will be nothing but a shell of what it was. It will now act as a kindly social worker and encourage many acts of kindness and tolerance, especially when it comes to their judgment of sin. In so doing, all moral acts will be tolerated with kindness leaving one free at last to have a conscience that no longer gives them the least bit of trouble.

If given a chance, I will remake the Church – knowing that my powers will not prevail against the powers of Heaven – but also cognizant that I can confuse and divide men and introduce great confusion; winning many souls for the dark kingdom. I will destroy the beauty, the silence, the reverence and the awe not only in architecture but in every way imaginable. I will encourage worldly chatter in the old hallowed halls and invite everyone to Communion whether they have sinned or not or whether they are Catholic or not. For the Church will be much more tolerant after I have had my way with Her.

Should the Church let down Her guard sufficiently (becoming complacent), I will give Her a new Sacrifice of the Mass that will cause divisions between Her members and encourage the lack of prayer and devotions that were once Her mainstay – many will leave the Church and seek their own factions. Dividing the Kingdom of God will return man to the state of Babel where no one truly understands another which was healed at Pentecost. By then it will no longer matter, for the Church will no longer be silent or reverent and completely unsuitable for prayer or devotions anyhow.  It will simply become a meeting hall that is there to coddle and stroke the people and encourage them in dealing with their sins; a church reduced to an army of social workers. The Church will not demand Confessions; only forgiveness and tolerance of others. Nay, but there is one exception: anyone that holds to the old ways shall be reviled and hated by all. It is the only commandment one must never break. They will be the new enemy of the Church.

This new Mass will no longer be called the Sacrifice of the Mass; it will be called Eucharist or thanksgiving. Yes, it does sound a bit like our holiday by the same name; now devoid of giving thanksgiving to God but a chance to eat with friends and enjoy the bread and circuses of football, drinking to excess and great revelry. So they shall no longer refer to the altar as an altar but as a table and the thanksgiving (Eucharistic) meal. They will eat the food from their own hands with no belief in the difference from the consecrated hands of the priest and our own hands. The lines between priest and laity will be blurred. With this in mind, the idea of sacrifice will of course be missing; all may share a meal together without remembering their sins and ignoring the fact that many have not been to Confession in years. Even Confessions will be renamed Reconciliation as it sounds more like receiving validation of our basic goodness and receiving a pat on the back rather than divulging one’s sins. Even so, no one will see the reason to go to Reconciliation as they will receive all the affirmation they could possibly want from their secular world and also within the newly fashioned Church of the non-judgmental and tolerant.

They will no longer speak of transubstantiation and will use the confusing term “real presence” to speak of Christ in the Eucharistic Species. In this way, it will be confused with the protestant term which at times means: consubstantiation, trans-signification or trans-finalization. There will no longer be seen a distinction between these competing and opposing theological doctrines. This will allow no Church to claim an exclusive right to the Sacrament that Christ once gave to His One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. The lines will be confused and obfuscated by changing the use of terms. People will then believe that no church is better than another and that all churches are basically the same. Salvation can be gained in any religion and there will no longer be a need to evangelize our neighbors or to send missionaries to convert other faiths. Such meddling in other denominations and faiths will seem, in itself, to be unkind and expressing a self piety that is completely unacceptable; what will be derided as Triumphalistic in their approach. This new enlightened approach will confuse all Christian churches and create a complete ambivalence among their members.

After that I will present new Rites for the Church: I will rewrite the Rite for the Ordination of Priests, for the Rite of Baptism and for the Rite of Exorcism. Confusion will enter into many factions as to the legitimacy and efficacy of the new Rites and render a fog surrounding the Sacramental validity as offered by the Church. Doubt will reign among the more informed Christians and apathy will reign among the lukewarm Christians. Hatred and distrust will be the undercurrent between these various groups. In fact the Church will more and more appear to be an extension of a political party and one more organization among many that pushes their own political and social agenda. Each will push an ideology that split their unity into a multi-faceted coalition of personal beliefs. They will decide on truths based on their individual beliefs.

So beneath it all, love will be replaced with infighting between factions and the Churches will be divided in an effort to isolate each of them into competing groups vying for dominance in their public discourse. It will be indistinguishable between the political discords we see in the public square.

My plan will nearly be complete. My attacks on the priests, theologians and biblical scholars will produce discordant expert commentary that fundamentally disagrees with one another. The Church will no longer be viewed as a Church that speaks with a single voice but many voices with disparate views. Confusion will abound and the striving Christian will be busy digesting, fighting and arguing with one another to such an extent that the primary purpose of worship and prayer will be almost lost to the world.

It is not important that the Churches sacraments remain valid, protected by the Holy Spirit. It is more important that I introduce doubt and divide my foe. My plan is not to win the war; for it is ordained that in the end the war will be lost. However, my desire to inflict as much pain and loss on my enemy will allow me to win many battles before the day when the King of kings returns to dispose me from my throne as Prince of the World.

The trick you see is not so much to overcome the ability of the Church to bind the Sacraments with validity by the guidance of the Holy Spirit but it does not stop me from fomenting distrust, disillusionment, confusion and doubt within the people. Their membership in this Church will be compromised and many defections are certain to stir up great discord and win many to my dark camp where I can subjugate them and torment them for an eternity. I will then have some satisfaction and gratification in denying Christ those who were destined for His Kingdom. I relish the destruction of these souls and the sadness of Christ.  To this end, I will certainly find some success. It will be my only solace throughout eternity. And think of the many secular souls that I will reap because of the divisions in the Christian churches. No clear voice of morality and truth will exist to dissuade their fall into the pit for which they are now destined. My plan is nearly complete, but I have reserved a few secret tactics to catch mankind unaware. Watch my cunning and how flawless my militant strategies will be carried out; often without my minion’s own knowledge of their complicity or how they ultimately share in my plans.

Passing On the Deposit of Faith

For the Catholic there is what is known as the Deposit of Faith which is considered that which cannot be altered, or omitted by the Church. Although our understanding of the contents may be expanded and explained in an organic growth of the Church’s understanding, the substance itself must never be changed. This Deposit of Faith is all that the Church was given by Christ and His Apostles as a deposit to be presented to Him at His Parousia (the second coming): so that we may not be guilty of the stern warning of Christ, “But yet the Son of man, when he cometh, shall he find, think you, faith on earth?” (Luke 18:8)

Indeed the Church is responsible for keeping this faith incorrupt whether by word (Holy Scripture) or by Holy Tradition. She is accountable to God for passing this faith on, spotless and undefiled.

I was thinking of Paul’s verse in I Corinthians 9:24, “Know you not that they that run in the race, all run indeed, but one receiveth the prize? ” It seems to me to paint a picture that may help non-Catholics understand the necessity of this mission to carry forth this Deposit of Faith completely intact.

A Modern Parable might then be constructed as follows:

If there were a great relay Race that were to be run by mankind where a Baton would be passed from father to son until the Judge decided the Race was done, we would expect that the rules would be fair and that a handicap would be given to those in need to compensate for their disadvantage.

At the start of the Race mankind would let the Apostles and those who were converted to the faith at Pentecost carry the Baton until their death. They would all receive the Holy Spirit which could then be passed on to their sons in faith via the Baton. It is a standard Baton with a miraculous property such that it can be multiplied and handed on to many more people than those who start the race and it remains exactly the same no matter how many times this reoccurs. This Baton is measured and weighed for its content before the Race and thereby the Judge can examine the Baton once again at the finish.

Some over the ages will drop their Batons or quit the Race. Others will stoop to pick up something that may look somewhat similar to the Baton but is much lighter in weight, with some of the content gone missing. That is obviously an unfair advantage to those who traded the original for a lighter replica.

If we are to be judged by the Judge at the end of this Great Race, how will He handicap those who have been handed a lighter replica as opposed to those who have succeeded in passing on the Original? Though we do not know the mind of the Judge, it is suspected that if rewards are being given as trophies to those who finish the Race, the more Glorious Awards might go to those who present the Baton intact.

So it is with the Church. Our aim is to pass on the Baton from generation to generation completely intact with nothing added and nothing removed. It might be a somewhat relevant analogy up to a point.

The “Seamless Garment” – Are You Kidding?

President Barack Obama and Senator Ted Kennedy

After pondering great posts concerning the abortion problem in this country on Biltrix and 8 Kids and a Business, I am drawn again to wonder, from my foundational view, where the Church is in this cultural war. Not that the official voice of the Church isn’t plain on the subject because it certainly is. Abortion is a grave mortal sin and we need to eradicate this barbaric practice.

However, it always seems somewhat contradictory when we see high profile people (think Pelosi, Biden or the late Senator Ted Kennedy) who push to keep abortion legal, treated as Catholics in good standing. The man in the street sees this as an enigma not to mention a scandal of the highest order. When discussing this with people in the Church they often argue that it is the hope that keeping them in the Church will allow them to hear the message that may eventually bring about a change of heart. Though I accept the idea of the Church being the best place for these people to learn the teachings of the Church, do we never use the “big stick” anymore; that of excommunication?

I don’t have access to the degree of grace given to our priests and bishops so I cannot tell them or you if they are acting under this grace. I can only tell you what an ordinary lay Catholic sees in this hypocrisy.

For instance, we claim that we are against abortion, same sex marriages and the loss of religious liberty. However, the number of priests that actually preach against these things or lead their parishioners to action is a noticeable minority. When it comes to voting for a candidate that is for these things, the common reply is that there are more than these few social issues to consider. Many love to use the horrid “seamless garment” argument of the late Cardinal Bernardin of Chicago. It is a scandal that this argument has been used to equate socialist government programs not only as a substitute for our individual charity but to elevate these programs to equal importance with abortion. Do they not understand that 60 million babies have died in the supposed safety of their mother’s womb? Besides the loss of their lives, do they not know that these 60 million babies were denied 2 things that we feel all individuals are entitled to in life: baptism and a funeral?

It is my contention that the reason we don’t see this as a holocaust of unprecedented proportion is because we never see their caskets or go to a funeral for any of these little ones. If we could see the number of these deaths it would change more than a few minds and hearts. But alas, these evil deeds are hidden from our eyes, our minds and our hearts by throwing their tiny bodies and body parts into a hazardous waste disposal unit. Evil loves to hide in the shadows and hates to have their deeds recognized for what they are.

So for this layman, I have difficulty in understanding why, after 20 years of being a Catholic, I can count on 2 hands the number of actual homilies given on this Sin of sins. It is also amazing how little interest our priests have shown in organizing the parishioners to act or to vote out candidates who support such barbarism. Where are the excommunications? Where is the Catholic Will to eliminate this scandalous affront to human life? I hear the official words but I see little support in the ranks of the bishops or priests that is truly and effectively trying to bring this sad chapter of moral depravity to a close. The Holy Spirit must be telling them something He is not telling the rest of us; because I cannot understand the lack of fortitude we have shown. I and many other Catholics are ashamed at the polls of supposed Catholic “faithful” that record their intention to vote for pro-abortion candidates in the coming election. How can that be?

Is our rhetoric about these objective evils merely that: rhetoric? I pray it is more than that and that someday God will forgive the complacency we have shown. In my mind, no peace will be found in this country until we end the war on the unborn. Why would God hear our prayers when we can’t hear the cries of the poorest of the poor: the helpless and hopeless plight of our own children?

If You Thirst, Drink

St Thérèse of Lisieux (1873-1897) was one of t...

If you are thirsty, then drink. “If any man thirst, let him come to me, and drink.” (John 7:37).

It is common sense and yet we wrestle with demons within ourselves and find no peace. We all have many decisions in life that require some internal search to enable us to choose wisely: careers, friends, ideologies, political beliefs and such. However, the vocational struggle is the most soul wrenching of all. To live a married life, a single life, a life alone, a life in community, a life for God Alone are the toughest on the mind, heart and soul: for they are the essence of how we should live for the rest of our lives. They are the game changing decisions. Careers, friends, ideologies and the like are all decisions that may mutate and change as we come to see our lives differently and we grow in knowledge but the vocational decisions are deep and lasting. They are reminiscent of our choice to choose God and act upon the gift of faith that God pours into our earthen vessels. If we refuse to act by exercising our gift of free will, then our call to faith will seep from us slowly causing us to wither and live our lives in accordance to the ways of the world rather than the divine call to holiness.

If you are weary, then rest. “Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in thee…” __ St. Augustine

Were my children wrestling with a decision concerning the spiritual life or the worldly life I would hope that they might have help from a Spiritual Director who knows the deepest desires of their souls and has examined their character for some appropriate amount of time. I would be much too emotionally invested and not objective enough in my evaluation. After all, it is not my decision. It is between God and the soul He calls and, God willing, a Spiritual Director who can advise and console the deep gut wrenching struggle taking place in the seeker’s soul.

That being said, I do however think that there is some wisdom in answering a call from Christ when it causes a soul a great deal of pain in evaluating. I say this because of the following; the evil spirits do all they can to dissuade souls from entering into a decision of living a life for God Alone. If you are thirsty, drink. If you are weary, rest. Christ is there to quench our thirsts and to give us rest. It is abandonment to divine providence.

I know a woman who had become a sister in a convent in France when she was much younger. It was all she ever wanted to be. However, she got sick and the order sent her home. Ever since, she has lived her life according to the rules of her old order, as sort of a hermit or consecrated virgin. She had not envisioned anything like this but God must have known that it suited her soul better to be alone rather than live in community. We must accept God’s decision once we put the decision on His shoulders.

Therefore, she did not fight and wrestle with the call to be a religious and live her life for God Alone. This woman made the plunge without any reserve. So after her dismissal, her health recovered and she now lives a life that suits her. She is a contemplative in her prayer life and subsists on very little money which I think was derived from her family; for much of her life is hidden even though I know her well. She is a type of ‘desert prophet’ of the ancient Church living in the midst of people who don’t really see her or know who she is. They would never know who she truly is by simply looking at her.

So in my simple way of thinking, it may be better perhaps to let go of the demons one is wrestling with and put the onus on Christ’s shoulders by choosing to let Him lead you to your vocation. Why else would you be wrestling if He had not put the thought in your heart and mind to begin with? Once you let go of the decision, you can step either to the left or right as you think is right. If it is wrong, then God will eventually put it right. I don’t think he would leave a soul, who gave themselves over to Him completely, to suffer in a vocation to which they did not truly belong.

I’m no spiritual director and only speak from my own knowledge: mostly from books and my dear friend, the sister in hiding. There are plenty of retreats to ponder a religious vocation that are offered in most dioceses. But, in the end, everyone must make their vocational decisions themselves, hopefully through prayer and deep meditation. I only wish it weren’t so painful for those poor souls who wrestle with these problems and also for their friends and families to witness their pain as well. But God is the Physician of Souls and we need trust that He will get them through it.

Pray for those who are considering a religious vocation as there are many demons that vex the mind and heart of these poor souls during the time of their discernment.

God is Love

Love Love Love

God is Love Itself and Christ is sometimes referred to as the Truth, the Light, the Good or the Beautiful. In fact, many people find Christ by looking for one of these traits specifically. Each of these attributes is in reality a reflection of our God as revealed in Christ and they possess a common thread.

Love is simply that which mankind needs to fully become human. It fills him and rescues him from his loneliness and his misery. It gives meaning to an otherwise meaningless life.

As it happens, we humans are attracted to the other attributes as well.

Now Truth is the friend of men because it reveals to our reason the object of our attention without distortion. We would not be able to rely on our use of reason if it were not for our desire to seek Truth. Evil loves confusion, perversions of truth and the masquerading of lies as the Truth. We love Truth because we find, in Truth, Love: a reality that lay hidden among all the lies which abound.

The Light is also a friend of man as it reveals to the eye what is hidden in the darkness. Man has always feared the dark. Even in our modern era a vestige of this fear can be seen in those who become depressed and despondent in low light environments. Evil, it seems, prefers the dark and hides in the shadows. It is much like the pesky cockroach that retreats at the first sign of light. But for man, the Light is another manifestation of Love. It shines light on the things we fear and they retreat: leaving us to rely on light as a loving and truthful guide that supplies us with security and courage.

As with the first two attributes, the Good is a reflection of Love and leaves man feeling secure and happy in its presence; the opposite effect being the anxiety associated with those who exhibit evil or wrongful habits and desires. The Good is pleasing to man while Evil fills us with dread, anxiety and loathing. The Good is how man relates to trust and to Love. Its polar opposite leads man to distrust and to hate. It hides the Good and is a perversion of the Truth.

As with the Good, the Beautiful brings out our feelings of wonder and awe at the majesty and grandeur of this world and the infinite cosmos in which we abide. The starry nights help us cope in the darkness and we find the scenes wrapped in splendor. The perversion of this celestial beauty, as when a tempest has ravaged our landscape or dark clouds black out the sky, is disheartening to our souls and our hearts are disquieted and a bit heavier at its sight. The Beautiful leads us to Love as well. We identify with it, want to imitate it, by adorning ourselves, creating music and art to uplift the spirit. When we create something which is antithetical to beauty it depresses and fills us with anxiety and fills us with doubt. It hides the beauty that lies within.

God is Love, and all of Christ’s attributes lead to this revelation. That which is hidden is revealed in these attributes. God, at first, was hidden from man and we feared Him; and rightfully so. But through Christ, we have come to see God as He really is: we found His Truth, His Light, His Goodness, and His Beauty.  So in this way Love reveals all that was previously hidden; it is no longer hidden from man but manifest in Christ. Christ and His gift of Self to fallen man naturally draws man to Himself through these attributes. Any other response to Christ is a perversion of our God and an affront to His Love for us.