Archives for December 2012



We have hope. It is like light against darkness. Without the light of hope, the darkness of despair would overcome and consume us.

Our hope is for ourselves, each other, the country and the world. We hope for good jobs and good health. We have many hopes for our children. We hope our country does not descend into complete moral depravity. We have grand hopes such as world peace and trivial ones like sports championships.

These desires are natural hopes and are good. Our healthy wiring is for such good and emanates from God within, even if we deny Him. Such hope gives us a reason to get out of bed, to embrace the day and to enjoy life…   or to at least look forward to better times.

Natural hope is short-term.

Christian hope is supernatural, not just an immediate purpose but an eternal one. Without it our lives are merely mortal and often selfish. Our faith would rest in people and institutions. Then we die.

I feel sorry for atheists. If they truly believe what they profess (something I am not always convinced of), their coming death marks for them the complete end of their existence. However, denying God is like denying gravity – stepping off the top of a 33-story building would undoubtedly bring a big surprise. When the atheist stands before Christ at his particular judgment, he will similarly be surprised – and confused – and remorseful. Some of you may remember Lucille Ball’s television husband Ricky Ricardo (Desi Arnaz) and his oft quoted line: “you have some ‘splainin’ to do.”

God sent His Son to offer us the hope of eternal life. HE SENT HIS SON! Our hope rests in God and His promises, not any promises born of this world.

I feel sorry for agnostics too. They are like atheists, but want to keep their options open “just in case.” Their eternal hope is vague and couched in conditionals. They have mastered the sin of presumption. If some sort of supreme being or beings exist, he / she / they will accept me because they accept everybody and/or I am a good person. God sent His Son and this is their take-away.

We have a lot of evangelizing to do.

Evangelizing not just to atheists and agnostics but to Catholics and other Christians too. In a couple weeks we will see (thank God) CEO / ChEaster (Christmas and Easter Only) Catholics. Essentially, they are culturally Catholic agnostics. Let’s pray that their hearts open fully to the Holy Spirit and that they truly come home. Pray also for the faithful who have listened to secular voices, placing secular “values” above God’s will. His will is not about feelings, partisan politics and certainly not about “choice.” Blessed Pope John Paul II taught us that “freedom consists not in doing what we like, but in having the right to do what we ought.”

Pray too for our brothers and sisters in separated Christian communities. Through their baptisms they have entered into the ordinary means of salvation, but their paths are guided by maps with missing sections. Some are taught much of the truth while others astonishingly little. Some have little error introduced while other dangerously much. They differ greatly from each other. Few meet Jesus through the sacraments He gave us.

Our Lord Jesus Christ came into our lost world to bring us hope – to reveal God’s truth and to offer us a path to salvation. He did not leave us alone when He ascended to heaven. He sent the Holy Spirit to us, beginning with our first pope and bishops. His real presence remains too, most especially in the Eucharist (communion; literally receiving the body, blood, soul and divinity of Christ) and in the other sacraments. He gave us a deposit of faith and one Church to teach it, infallibility protected to the end of time by the Holy Spirit. Our hope rests on truth proclaimed from that rock and sanctified through the sacraments.

Therefore, we are not discouraged; rather, although our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this momentary light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to what is seen but to what is unseen; for what is seen is transitory, but what is unseen is eternal.

The Least Among Us

The Least Among Us

Guest contributor:   Ed Trego

Imagine yourself as a young boy, eight or nine years old. Imagine that you and your family are on a hillside in Israel over 2000 years ago. As you look around you see more people than you have ever seen in one place. Hundreds, probably thousands, far more than can be counted in a day’s time. Everyone was there to listen to a man named Jesus speak. He spoke in a way never heard before; of love and acceptance of others. He spoke of the kingdom of God and what was required to enter that kingdom.

Where others had spoken of the righteous entering God’s Kingdom, Jesus spoke of the mild and the meek inheriting the world. He spoke of sadness and hunger being relieved and replaced by joy and plenty. These things were never talked about in this way in the synagogue. To hear the leaders of the synagogue speak one would have to be a member of their elite group to have any hope of heaven. This Jesus talked of acceptance of the poor and the common into the kingdom.

He had been speaking since early morning and it was now afternoon. In fact, it was getting close to dinner time. As you look around, you notice a stirring in the crowd. They seem to be getting a bit restless. Jesus is still speaking and it’s nearing meal time. No one wants to leave and miss what he is saying, but people are getting hungry.

In looking around you also notice that most have nothing to eat with them. Maybe they didn’t think he would talk this long so they didn’t bring food with them. Thankfully, your father had thought ahead. In your bag you had the family meal. Not much, just a couple of dried fish and two or three barley loaves. It is just a light meal, but certainly enough to relieve the hunger.

Suddenly, one of the men who have been with Jesus approaches you. He seems to be looking for something and when he sees your bag he comes over to you. “Son, is that food you have in your bag? If so, please tell me what you have.”

“Sir, it’s just two fish and some barley loaves. It’s only a small meal for me and my family.”

“Jesus has need of it. Will you give it to him?”

What a strange request, why would Jesus want to take your meal. The man can see the hesitancy in your face and says, “The Master needs it to feed the crowd. They are hungry and there’s no place nearby to get food.”

“But sir, what good is this small bit of food for so many,” you ask. “But, if Jesus wants them I will give them to him.” The man takes you by the hand and leads you back to where Jesus is sitting. He looks up at you and smiles. In that smile you see and feel more love than you’ve ever known, even more than your parents who certainly love you with all their heart.

“Sir, if you need my fish and loaves, they are yours.” You say as you hand the bag to him.

“Thank you,” he replies. “Your generous gift will be well used I promise you. Stay and eat with me.”

As you sit down, Jesus takes the food you have given him, holds it up and looks up to heaven. “Father, bless these gifts and bless the one who has given them. May they nourish us both physically and through your goodness, spiritually.”

Jesus places the food in two baskets and asks two of his friends to begin passing it out among the crowd. As you watch, the men give food to more and more people. How can this be? They have given food to at least fifty people and there is still more in the baskets. In fact, you can see that the baskets are completely full of food. You look up at Jesus questioningly but he simply smiles at you as he eats his meal. Soon the people in the crowd begin to notice what is happening and start to realize the miracle that is being performed for them.

Jesus puts his arm around you and you can again feel that special love you had felt when he first looked at you. “You see, even a small gift can work great miracles. Always remember that there is no gift so small that God cannot use it to do great things.”

I think we are many times like that small boy at the Sermon on the Mount. We don’t believe the gift we have to offer is worthy of God. So we don’t give it. We wait, saying that when we have a gift significant enough we will gladly give it to God. Unfortunately, the gift never gets big enough in our eyes to make it worthy of God so it never gets given. God never has the opportunity to show us the wonders he can do with our small offering.

There is no gift so small that it can’t be a blessing when given to God or in God’s name. Something as simple as a smile can change a life for someone who feels no one cares anymore. A kind word can lift the spirits of a person in distress and help them overcome their problems. Instead of throwing last year’s jacket in the trash, give it to a shelter to help keep someone warm through the next winter. We have so much and we give so little. We should be ashamed!

What small gift have you been withholding because it isn’t good enough to give to God? If you will only give it, he will use it to work wonders. We may never see the benefit of our gift in this world but I believe in the next we will know the greatness that God has done with our small gifts.

The next time you have some small gift that you can give, remember the young man at the Sermon on the Mount. In the hands of Jesus, his gift of a couple of fish and a few loaves fed thousands. There are no limits to what God can do with your gift and there is no gift too small to please God.

The above meditation is a chapter from Ed’s new eBook “Thoughts of God”. Only $1.99 on Amazon, Apple, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Smashwords, Sony and other fine publishers.

Elsewhere: Mass, from a Protestant perspective


Catholic bloggers are motivated, driven and called to do what we do to share the fullness of the Christian faith with everyone (in other words, to fulfill The Great Commission). Converts have a unique viewpoint, looking back at our pre-Catholic Christian past and comparing that to what we know now – the “fullness” of the Christian faith (not a “subset”) and nothing but it (the truth).

The source and summit of that faith is The Most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and the Blessed Sacrament (the Eucharist). The Mass is so much more than a “worship service” and the Eucharist so much more than “a community meal.” Who knew?!

Renée Lin is a 2003 convert from the Evangelical world and a new blogger. Her love and excitement for the Mass is abundantly evident in her 13 part series on it. Renée explores the Mass in a unique way, as if you – her Protestant friend – were accompanying her. She shows you… what you would be surprised to find (and not find), how scriptural it is, the beauty and sheer awe of the Mass. Her writing is engaging and full of wit.

Below is a quick tour of the series with small snippets from each piece. I love the titles too, they are a hoot!

Tourists At Mass:

We kneel just as Jesus knelt to pray in the Garden of Gethsemane (Lk 22:41). We stand at different times during the Mass to show respect, during the processional and before the Gospel is read, for example. We sit down because we’re tired.

So basically Mass will be more of a workout than what you’re used to on Sunday morning, but well worth it, I think. I hope you’ll stick with me! Next post we’ll talk about why you might need to bring a handkerchief or two.

I’m Sniffling As Quietly As I Can:

I used to think it was the music – maybe I just got emotional when the music swelled….   But then I attended a Mass where the music was provided by a band, complete with two saxophones and a drummer with a very heavy hand. Their rendition of the Gloria was reminiscent of a one-man band with a kazoo. But when we began to sing:

For You alone are the Holy One, You alone are the Lord,
You alone are the Most High, Jesus Christ?

I dissolved into tears, hoping all the while that no one would think that I was crying because the band was that bad. No, I was crying because the Mass is that good.

Liturgy – You Say It Like It’s A Bad Thing:

There seems to be a great deal of repetition going on in the heavenly worship! Notice, too – worship quite clearly is corporate. St. John reports that certain worshipers all cry out the same thing at the same time. Had he visited a charismatic Heaven, he would not have been able to report much more than “There was quite a cacophony when the Lamb received the scroll!” As it is, he knows exactly what the worshipers said, because they cried out in unison. They responded as one.

The Divine Proposal:

In a Protestant worship service, things generally end with the sermon. It is the pinnacle; it is the final word — a quick altar call and you’re outta there. When Protestants broke away from the Church, they took the Liturgy of the Word with them — the hymns, the prayers, the sermon — and relegated Holy Communion to an afterthought. If the Protestant worship service is a body, the sermon is the heart, and the Lord’s Supper is the appendix — it’s there, Protestants know God made it, but they’re not sure exactly what it’s for. From a Catholic perspective, the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist are inseparable. The Liturgy of the Eucharist is the response to the Liturgy of the Word, a response for which the Protestant “altar call” is a paltry substitute.


To say that I was apprehensive when I attended my first Mass would be something of an understatement. I had read all the books I could find on Catholicism. I had no access to EWTN, so I couldn’t check out the Mass from the safety of an armchair in my living room. I had no Catholic friends who could enlighten or accompany me. I finally just had to GO and see for myself. One Sunday morning I dropped the kids off at their Baptist Sunday school, and I drove over to the nearest Catholic parish, with furrowed brow. All my life I had heard about liberal Catholic priests pooh-poohing orthodox doctrines like the Resurrection and the Second Coming. I really didn’t want to be there when the earth split open in a convulsion of divine retribution and swallowed up the heathen. I sat in the seat nearest the exit.

CSI: Vatican:

Let’s talk about a few of the things that may be distracting you when you come to Mass with me. I’ve been babbling on about the wonders of the Mass, but I’ve noticed that you can’t concentrate; you keep staring at the larger-than-life crucifix we’ve got strategically positioned right behind the altar. I know what you’re thinking — He’s RISEN!

If it makes you feel any better — we know! The Catholic Church has been proclaiming the literal death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ to the ends of the earth for 2000 years! And what’s the point of proclaiming Him if He is not risen? If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain! (1 Cor 15:14).

Catholic Guilt:

If you’re a Protestant who’s been taught that nothing you do can jeopardize your salvation, of course these repeated pleas for mercy seem useless and sad. If you’ve been told that all the sins you will ever commit were forgiven when you prayed the sinner’s prayer, then this Catholic groveling is offensive. So what if that pesky Lord’s Prayer says “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us”? So what if Jesus admonished his listeners “whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.” So what if the unforgiving servant was not forgiven, but was delivered to the jailers till he should pay all his debt? So what if 1 John tells us “IF we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness”? So what if 2 Peter tells us that we have been cleansed of our PAST sins? So what if “Lord, have mercy!” was the cry of the tax collector, the one Jesus said went home justified”

How Beautiful on the Mountains:

Protestants probably feel more at home in one segment of the Mass than in any other. They may be suspicious when we praise God in song (Don’t sing along, Martha! When they come to the part about Mary you might accidentally sing that, too!). They may feel uncomfortable when we pray “Lord, have mercy!” (Don’t Catholics know that all our sins, past, present and future, are under the Blood??? What’s with all the servile cringing???). They may get miffed when it is explained to them that no, they can’t go forward for Holy Communion (I’ve been in churches all across America, and no one ANYWHERE has EVER told me that I can’t take communion!!!). But when the priest announces:

“The peace of the Lord be with you always.”

And we respond:

“And with your spirit!”

the Protestant is finally on familiar ground. It’s a meet-and-greet!

Well, actually, no — it’s not, but I can’t blame you for thinking that….

Extraordinary Ordinary:

When I became Catholic, I was overwhelmed by the joy of constant celebration in the Church. To my delight, Christmas and Easter were not just one day to look forward to, but rather entire seasons in which to meditate upon the Incarnation and the Resurrection. No longer did I suffer through the euphemistically entitled “holiday season” — Advent was emphasized as a time of preparation not only for the coming of the Christ Child to us in the past, but also for the soon coming again of Christ the King of Glory. Lent with its communal fasting and abstinence only served to heighten the meaning of the Suffering, Death and incredible, unfathomable Resurrection of the Lord. Solemnities like the Most Holy Trinity or Corpus Christi emphasized how real these theological concepts are to Catholics and how important their contemplation. I reveled in the seemingly constant celebration.

Where’s Mary?:

Now that would have gotten the attention of most Protestants; after all, we’re not just talking about Christ born of the Virgin — we’re calling the Virgin Mother of God. That’s like waving a red Marian handkerchief in front of an already irritable Protestant bull.

Christ the King:

I’m so glad you’ve stuck with me this far for the Mass. As you’ve seen, in some ways it’s like your Protestant worship service, because Protestants, when they separated themselves from Catholicism, took certain elements of the Mass with them. We share the music, the Scripture reading, and the preaching. At some of your worship services you also offer Holy Communion. That is where we part ways. Holy Communion, or the Eucharist as we call it, is not an addendum to an otherwise complete Sunday morning service. Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist is the entire point of the Mass.

Because He Said So:

As we come to the climax of our worship service, I think you can see that our emphasis and yours coincide — Jesus Christ is the entire focus of the Mass, just as He is the entire focus of your Protestant worship service. This is a great point of agreement between Catholics and Protestants. And yet, ironically, we have just come to our biggest point of disagreement. The fact that Catholics believe that Jesus is really present, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity, in the Holy Eucharist strikes many Protestants as odd. Not grossly offensive — more of a small, peculiar irritant than a major provocation. It’s weird, all this Body and Blood stuff, you admit, but there are other Catholic doctrines a lot more objectionable. Actually, from the Catholic perspective, you’re wrong about that. The Real Presence is the watershed doctrine separating Catholics and Protestants — not “faith ALONE,” not “once-saved/always-saved,” not Mary’s place in the divine scheme of things, not the Pope’s authority or infallibility….   It’s Christ Jesus in the Holy Eucharist. A Catholic who believes that Jesus is really present in the Eucharist can wholeheartedly confess with the likes of Flannery O’Connor that the Eucharist “is the center of existence for me; all the rest of life is expendable.” It’s THAT important.

Go There!:

As I was saying, some sermons are better left unpreached, and some connections better left unmade, at least from an Evangelical Sunday-morning-sermon point of view. But if you ever get weary of what’s being left unsaid, come on over!

We “go there” every time we have Mass.

If you are Protestant and want to understand where we Catholics are coming from, read this! Renée relates well to where you are at. It may look like a lot of reading, but it’s not really – and trust me, it will be a lot of fun!

For your convenience, here is a numbered list so that you can read them 1-at-a-time:

  1. Tourists At Mass
  2. I’m Sniffling As Quietly As I Can
  3. Liturgy – You Say It Like It’s A Bad Thing
  4. The Divine Proposal
  5. Alleluia!
  6. CSI: Vatican
  7. Catholic Guilt
  8. How Beautiful on the Mountains
  9. Extraordinary Ordinary
  10. Where’s Mary?
  11. Christ the King
  12. Because He Said So
  13. Go There!

Follow Renée at Forget The Roads.