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Monday, February 20, 2012

The Thirst Which Drives Us All: JESUS!!!

Our world is motivated by thirst, whether it be actual thirst for water or other beverage, thirst for food, thirst for material things (which seems to be unquenchable), thirst of the heart for love, or the thirst of the heart for more, for that one thing that will satisfy us completely.  Why is this seemingly random topic of thirst important, because it is what drives us.  If we thirst to be financially secure, we are scrupulous at saving.  If we thirst for a bigger house or car we are hard workers taking all the overtime we can get.  If we thirst for solid families (rare it seems in this culture) we devote our time to our kids.  If we thirst for God we devote our time to Him.  We devote our time to prayer, to adoration, to the Sacraments, to the Holy Mass.
As a volunteer at my local parish before coming to school you see this thirst in youth, adults, elderly.  You see the desire for more, and many times if someone is not there to tell them that the only thing that will quench their thirst is Jesus, then it is sought in the world.  A world full of relativistic and materialistic agendas that seek out the bigger and the better.
As a student in the Theology/Catechetics program at Franciscan University I came across this quote by our Holy Father when he was still the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and it struck me and inspired this post.
"It is the purpose and meaning of all Catechesis to lead to this thirst.  For one who knows neither that there is a Holy Spirit nor that one can thirst for Him, it cannot begin otherwise then with sensory perception.  Catechesis must lead to self-knowledge, to the exposing of the I, so that it lets the masks fall and moves out of the realm of something into that of being.  Its goal is conversio, that conversion of man that results in his standing face to face with himself.  Conversio ("conversion", metanoia) is identical with self knowledge, and self-knowledge is the nucleus of all knowledge.  Conversio is the way in which man finds himself and thus knows the question of all questions:  How can I worship God? It is the question that means his salvation; it is the raison d' etre (reason for being or the purpose that justifies a thing's existence) of Catechesis.
Joseph Ratzinger, Principles of Catholic Theology pg. 354-55
Since we are all called to know God in an ever deeper way, we are all continuing called to conversion and from the continuing conversion springs the desire to bring others to this beautiful gift called faith.  Thus springs forth Evangelization of which Catechesis is but a part.  In my previous post I expressed that now was the time to Evangelize, Catechize and Commission.  At the root of all of this is the fulfilling of thirst of the human soul, which thirsts for the love of God which is given freely to all those who thirst.  The wellspring of eternal life resides in the saving work of Jesus Christ and Now is the Time to spread the Gospel, the "Good News."  Indeed the wellspring should be bubbling over in all of us so that we cannot help but to flood the world with the "Good News" of Jesus Christ
"All you who are thirsty, come to the water! You who have no money, come, receive grain and eat; Come, without paying and without cost, drink wine and milk!" Isaiah 55:1

"Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." Matthew 11:28-30
All of must first come to the water, drink of the waters of eternal life and then go forth and spread the "Good News"  Brothers and Sisters it was never promised that it would be easy, that it would fun, but we must always remember the words of Jesus.
"So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven; but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.  "Do not think that I have come to bring peace on earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man's foes will be those of his own household.  He who loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and he who loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and he who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.  He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for my sake will find it. "He who receives you receives me, and he who receives me receives him who sent me. He who receives a prophet because he is a prophet shall receive a prophet's reward, and he who receives a righteous man because he is a righteous man shall receive a righteous man's reward.  And whoever gives to one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he shall not lose his reward." Matthew 10:32-42
The cross may seem heaviest now but this is when Jesus is there with us helping us to lift the burden and to carry on.  In the face of persecution, the truth rings out with a clarity like that of a bell ringing throughout the land.  Persecution is occurring ever more in our country and in the world and in spite of that we stand for the Truth because we can do nothing less than what Our Lord did for us.  
Stand for Truth, Stand for Jesus, spread the Good News to all for the world is drinking the sand is dying of thirst because the waters of eternal life have not been shared with them.  The call has been issued forth, it is incumbent upon us to answer and to spread the waters of eternal life, Let the flood pour forth in our country!!! 

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Now is the Time – Evangelize, Catechize and Commission

Now is the Time – Evangelize, Catechize and Commission
People Drink the Sand Because They Don’t Know the Difference

So no doubt there has been a lot going with the HHS mandate, lawsuits and other legal action.  However this corrosive mandate which has only been made worse by the “compromise” put forth by the administration is an opportunity.  There is a great deal of division in our country right now, things are a royal mess.  Even though I am only 29, I look back in recent history and can’t find a time where our rights have been so impinged upon.

So when we look to the division in our nation, but we should also be looking into the division in our Church, not just the Catholic/Protestant divisive but within the Catholic Church itself.  There is the “Catholic Health Association”, and “Catholics United” who have come out in favor of this mandate with the Obama compromise.  My opinion and it is only my opinion is that they were probably for it even before the compromise but could not actually state that because of the massive outcry that there would have been.
The Catholic Church right now in the current moment has unprecedented unification amongst its bishop.  All 180 bishops have spoken out against this mandate and why is this?  Because they can see that this is fundamentally wrong, the morality of it notwithstanding, but the rule of law being violated is egregious.  This moment of unity should be used as a time of evangelization and catechesis on what the church actually teaches.  The threat is real and so should be the catechesis given by our bishops, priests and lay catechists.  That is not say that I am not extremely proud of what the US Bishops are doing, I just hope to see more done.  It seems the bishops not only have reacted to the mandate but heard the words of the Pope in his this address…
“…it is imperative that the entire Catholic community in the United States come to realize the grave threats to the Church’s public moral witness presented by a RADICAL SECULARISM which finds increasing expression in the political and cultural spheres. The seriousness of these threats needs to be clearly appreciated at EVERY LEVEL OF ECCLESIAL LIFE.” Benedict XVI, January 19, 2012
As many have said the sleeping giant that is the Catholic Church has been awakened, I would say though the giant has been startled and is waking up blinking his eyes and looking around.  The normal Catholic in the pew is looking around and seeing what is going on.  It could very easily if not pushed roll over and go back to sleep.  Thus the importance is shown of the necessity of catechesis and evangelization in the present environment on life issues.  Properly showing people why the church teaches what it does, seminars and catechetical events to educate and evangelize.  Secularism and Atheism has made major inroads in our culture and it is time that Catholics stand up and start to take back the culture because without the Catholic Church there wouldn’t be much of a culture to start with. 
So educate yourself, educated others, push your priests and bishops to hold educational seminars, teachings in homilies.  People are desperate for the truth and the as faithful Catholics we have a obligation to give it them. 

I would like to give you two quotes from the movie the American President which I think are exceedingly relevant right now:
 “America isn't easy. America is advanced citizenship. You gotta want it bad, 'cause it's gonna put up a fight. It's gonna say "You want free speech? Let's see you acknowledge a man whose words make your blood boil, who's standing center stage and advocating at the top of his lungs that which you would spend a lifetime opposing at the top of yours. You want to claim this land as the land of the free? Then the symbol of your country can't just be a flag; the symbol also has to be one of its citizens exercising his right to burn that flag in protest. Now show me that, defend that, celebrate that in your classrooms. Then, you can stand up and sing about the "land of the free"…We have serious problems to solve, and we need serious people to solve them. And whatever your particular problem is, I promise you, [Barak Obama] is not the least bit interested in solving it. He is interested in two things and two things only: making you afraid of it and telling you who's to blame for it. That, ladies and gentlemen, is how you win elections.”
“[Lewis Rothschild] People want leadership…and in the absence of genuine leadership, they'll listen to anyone who steps up to the microphone. They want leadership. They're so thirsty for it they'll crawl through the desert toward a mirage, and when they discover there's no water, they'll drink the sand…[Andrew Shepherd] People don't drink the sand 'cause they're thirsty. They drink the sand 'cause they don't know the difference.”

People have been complacent, lazy, thinking that what we have in this country is easy.  People have been drinking the sand for way to long and it is time for us [the Catholic Church] to lead them to the water, the water that gives eternal life, the divine wellspring that is the Catholic Church started by Jesus Christ when he walked this earth and sealed with the promise of the Cross.  It’s time to stand up, to be counted as passionately Catholic, to live what we are called to live, the Gospel Message, the Good News.  The news we have doesn’t get any better and yet we have not been sharing that, now is the time to change that, now is the time to reach out, now is the time to make a difference.  Whether it is one person or a thousand, it is time to speak out and speak up because if not there might not be an opportunity to do so again.
“The Church exists in order to Evangelize” Evangelii Nuntiandi 41 (Pope Paul VI)
“I sense that the moment has come to commit all the Church’s energies to a new evangelization and to the mission ad gentes.  “No believer in Christ, no institution of the Church can avoid this supreme duty:
to proclaim Christ to all peoples.”  Redemptoris Missio 3 (Blessed John Paul the Great)
Now is the time, Now is the time

Thursday, February 9, 2012

A Battle for Souls and Opportunity to Evangelize – The HHS Mandate

Being at war, something no one wants to hear.  But the Catholic Church on earth, its Bishops, members, organizations are all part of the Church Militant.  By our baptism we are baptized into the Army of God.  The Church is always under attack for one belief or another and it has always stood firm in its beliefs.  People keep saying that the Church should get with it, modernize, can’t they see the signs of the times.  Well the Catholic Church most certainly does and what we see is our liberties slowly being violated one at a time.  The encroachment on our religious liberty, right to unreasonable search and seizure (airport patdowns), and the right to bear arms has been under assault for decades.  In this battle we are seeking to not only uphold morality but save the souls in our charge. 

Most concerning in our culture, is the simple moral degradation of our society because of the erosion of values due to the legalization of abortion, contraception and the widespread plague of pornography.  The loss of the family, of fatherhood, of motherhood, of our ability to educate our children the way we want.  Who warned of this, why Pope Paul VI in Humane Vitae:
1)      General lowering of moral standards
2)      A rise in infidelity, and illegitimacy
3)      The reduction of women to objects used to satisfy men.
4)      Government coercion in reproductive matters.
            Does that sound familiar?
            Because it sure sounds like what's been happening for the                past 40 years..."

Why does the church fight so hard to preserve life, because it is human dignity, the dignity of every human life that is one of the bedrock foundations of morality.  One just has to look back at the superbowl ads this past week and you can see the simple erosion of morality in this country.  People will say, “Sex sells.”  Those two words illustrate how cheap our culture has become, how cheaply we sell ourselves.  Sex only sells because people are willing to buy it!!  Wake up America and see what you have become, rise up and fight for yourselves, your dignity, for your eternal salvation.

While you may say these two issues, human dignity and religious freedom, are completely unrelated they are however two battles in the same war that we fight everyday in our world against the moral downslide that we are on and for the salvation of souls.  One has only to look to the excesses of Rome to see where our culture is heading, and it is not a pretty image in the least.

So in this battle Obama fired the first salvo and battle lines have been drawn.  The Church stands strong on over 2000 years of history, tradition.  But what is the battle ultimately over, is it over rules and mandates, yes and no. It is a battle for saving souls.  For bringing the Good News to those who have not heard it and for reenergizing those who have heard but need a booster shot. 

So when we go forth debating, talking, and conversing with people over this mandate, not only should be opposing it but also seeking to use that moment as an evangelistic one, inviting them back to church or to a prayer service.  Letting our witness shine forth, the love of God in our hearts received from the Jesus in the Eucharist, burst out of us.  Our joy should be so great it is uncontainable.

Remembering always that we are at war, we are foot soldiers in the arm of the Lord.  It is a battle for holiness, a battle for our very souls.  The fight goes on and our weapons stand at the ready.  Our battlefield commanders the saints stand ready.  We need to don our amour.
“Therefore take the whole armor of God that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.  Stand therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the equipment of the gospel of peace; besides all these, taking the shield of faith, with which you can quench all the flaming darts of the evil one.  And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” (Ephesians 6:13-17)
Take a stand against the culture, fight for beauty, and fight for the Lord.  “The Lord Jesus is the beauty of holiness and only from His Heart does holy beauty shine upon the earth.”

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

HHS Mandate: Not Just a Catholic Issue

While the HHS mandate is being portrayed as a Catholic issue it is not.   This is a violation of a fundamental right.  In the past few weeks there have been outspoken criticisms from all different denominations.  From different Protestant denominations, Jewish groups, and the Orthodox bishops have all spoken out against this mandate.  Why this rare sign of unity because the leaders of these groups see the handwriting on the wall.  This is a test of what the US population will swallow without protesting, what rights we will give up without too much of a fight.  While the administration is seeking to characterize it as a “Catholic Issue” the groups speaking out against it show it for what it is a religious freedom issue.    

Obama is thumbing his nose at the Bill of Rights, at our forefathers; saying that does not apply to me, The systematic eradication of our rights has only begun, if Obama is able to get this passed and get reelected imagine what would occur in four years not having to worry about reelection.  His entire focus for most of the past 3 years has been getting reelected.  Without that hanging over his head what right is next – right to bear arms is probably right up there on his liberal agenda, what are you going to do when they come for your guns, will that make you wake up and realize what is happening.  Unreasonable search and seizure is being pushed very hard with the latest airport screenings and the pat-downs (groping) that goes on, so the fourth amendment seems be in jeopardy as well.  The sleeping giant of conservative Christian groups has been riled at the top, and they see the dangers in what is going on.  Will the average American realize what is being undermined before it is too late.  Stand up and speak, be heard, sign petitions, send letters.  Now is the time to do something before it is simply too late
First they came for the communists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a communist.
Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a Jew.
Then they came for the Catholics,
and I didn't speak out because I was Protestant.
Then they came for me
and there was no one left to speak out for me
By Martin Niemöller 
I know this may be viewed as alarmist speech and this could never happen in the United States but to be sure it is happening now and will continue to happen under this administration.  Those that have spoken out in the past against regimes that seemed to be infringing on people’s rights were also called alarmists before they were silenced, is our right to free speech, to assembly going to be the next right taken away.  The military silenced the military chaplains from reading the letter written by the military archbishop…

I, as do many others, thank my Protestant, Orthodox, and Jewish brothers and sisters for speaking out and standing with the Catholic Church on this issue.  May this showing of unity bring more unifying efforts in the future so that the words of our Lord are fulfilled; “I do not pray for these only, but also for those who believe in me through their word, that they may all be one; even as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. (John 17:21)

I am person who likes to speak his mind; I might not be able to do that very soon.  The wolves are at the door, banging against are freedoms.  Now is the time to stand up and be counted as someone who values their freedoms because if we do not, they might not be around much longer.