Archives for November 2013

Happy Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving 2013

Father, all of Creation rightly owes you thanks and praise. Your justice, love and mercy abound. We thank you this day for all that you have given us:

For the Passion and Death of your Divine Son, we thank you Father, through the Cross, He redeemed the world.

For the Church, we thank you Father, it is our beacon for salvation.

For the martyrs and saints who give testimony to your Son, we thank you Father, their witness to your Son is our inheritance.

For our loved ones and friends who have died and gone before us, we thank you Father, their love abides with us forever.

For loving spouses, we thank you Father, together we seek you.

For the gift of children, we thank you Father, they are your precious gifts to us and to the world.

For the gift of our families, loved ones and good friends, we thank you Father, Through them we see the reflection of your Son.

For jobs, our homes and all that we have, we thank you Father, give us only that which we need, as we seek Your Kingdom.

For the bounty we are about to eat, we thank you through Christ Our Lord.


I hope that you and your family had a blessed, happy and safe Thanksgiving.

Offer It To The Lord

Offer It To The Lord

Guest contributor:   Ed Trego

Holy Week, the week leading up to Easter Sunday, is a time of the year that means a lot to me. To contemplate the Passion of our Lord, the pain he suffered, the death he endured, and finally, his glorious resurrection is, along with Christmas, one of the primary highlights of our Christian year. It provides the whole of the plan of salvation and enables us to focus on that plan and what it means to our life.

There is one Holy Week that had a major impact on my faith and understanding of Jesus’ gift to us. By Tuesday of Holy Week I was so sick I could barely walk or even get out of bed. Once my loving wife convinced me I needed to go to the emergency room, I spent Wednesday, Thursday, and most of Friday in the hospital. Thankfully, it was not a serious illness, mainly the result of extreme dehydration brought on by what was probably a virus. It’s amazing how God uses situations such as this to our benefit even though we may not realize it at the time. This virus, or whatever it was, helped me to learn and better understand the true meaning of Holy Week and the final victory of Easter Sunday. There truly is a silver lining to every cloud.

As a convert to Catholicism, I had often heard that when in pain or distress we should “offer it up to the Lord”, but never truly understood what that meant or why you would do that. Surely Jesus didn’t want us to suffer, so why would we offer our suffering to him? Jesus spent his ministry relieving the suffering of others, so did it mean we were supposed to offer it up so he could take it away? I didn’t really believe that was the reason. At least if it was, it seemed not very many people were doing it right, because there continues to be a lot of suffering in the world.

However, due to my experience that Holy Week, I found a whole new meaning to this practice. I found what I believe is the purpose of offering it up to the Lord. It made a great impression on me and taught me a lesson that I hope will never be forgotten and gave me a far greater appreciation for the true meaning of Holy Week than I had ever had before.

As I lay in bed sometime on Tuesday, so weak that even raising my head was a chore, I was aware of the desire to offer this suffering up to the Lord. This seemed a little odd to me because, as I’ve said before, I had never understood why you would do that. But it didn’t seem to matter the reason, my whole being was insisting that I offer my suffering up to Jesus. So I did.

I didn’t know what I was doing, and really didn’t know why, but I opened myself up to the presence of the Lord and offered him my suffering as a gift from me to him. I didn’t know of any special prayers for this, so it was just a one on one conversation with my God. I didn’t know what to expect, and to be honest, didn’t know if I should expect anything. What I received was one of the greatest gifts of my Christian life. I wasn’t “cured” or anything like that. I discovered that healing isn’t the reason for offering suffering to Jesus. It is an opportunity to share in his suffering and to better understand the sacrifice he paid for our sins.

The gift I received was a deep, personal experience with our suffering Lord. It was almost as if I were there during His passion. I knew, more than I have ever known before; the pain of his scourging; the crowning of thorns; the carrying of the cross. Not only his physical pain, but his personal pain as well. The pain inflicted by the desertion of his friends. The same friends who had just shared supper and the first Eucharist with him. Those who hadn’t had the strength to stay awake and pray with him in the garden of Gethsemane. The humiliation and pain of being betrayed by one of the twelve that he had chosen. Peter’s denial that he even knew Jesus, not once, but three times. It was incredible to understand his suffering as deeply as I did. Finally, the pain and humiliation of the crucifixion and his death on the cross. All the while it was like I could see his face and I could see the love in his face through the pain and the suffering. The love he had shown by becoming man in order to pay the debt for our sins. It was the most incredible spiritual experience I have ever known and I’m sure that it will affect me as a Christian for the rest of my life.

The only word that even comes close to describing what occurred that day is revelation. This was an experience deeper and more meaningful than any other in my life. As I contemplated and virtually witnessed his suffering, I could almost hear Jesus saying to me that all of this was for me. All that he suffered was his gift to me, and to you, and to all mankind; the greatest gift of all, the gift of salvation and eternal happiness with him. I’ve known this throughout my Christian life, but never to the depth that I now understand it.

I know now that “offering it up to the Lord” is something each of us should and need to do. While we are offering our suffering as a sacrifice to Jesus, we also open ourselves to Jesus and to having a better understanding of the suffering and sacrifice that he endured for our salvation. Our relatively minor suffering can’t possibly begin to compare with his suffering for us. But if we are willing to suffer for Christ, perhaps, in some small way, we can say thank you for the suffering he willingly endured for us. This isn’t to say that he wants us to suffer. It certainly doesn’t mean that we should seek to suffer. But there will be some suffering in everyone’s life; maybe physical, maybe emotional, maybe financial. If we can take that suffering and make it a gift from us to Jesus, I know that it will help us understand his gift to us. It will also help us put our hardships in perspective and understand that regardless the suffering we experience in this life, Jesus gave his life that we may not experience suffering in the next.

One of my favorite prayers was written by Thomas Merton. In part it says:

“… the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But, I believe that the desire to please you does, in fact, please you. And I hope that I have that desire in all that I am doing.”

I believe that offering my suffering to Jesus does, in fact, please him.

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.

7 Quick Takes Friday (set #119)

7 Quick Takes Friday

This week: Some middle school football players understand what true charity is all about. A US late term abortion capital (Albuquerque, NM) sadly chose death this week; a video shows what they embrace. An interesting new film for the upcoming Easter season: Heaven is for Real. Near death experiences, FWIW. Fr. Barron looks at Reza Aslan’s Zealot and finds it to be exceptional – in poor scholarship. A viral make-over video of a homeless vet. z8_GND_5296 is more than a catchy phrase.

— 1 —

Some might say that charity and love are synonyms. They kind of are, but more nuanced than that. A lot of words have been poured out in explaining it more deeply. The danger is that the meaning gets obscured. I prefer to define charity as simply “love in action.” Here is an example:

Spotted by my friend Tom

— 2 —

Live Action has produced a new undercover video on late term abortion. It is not graphic, but is clear. For example, the doctor explains why and how they kill the baby before delivery. More than outrage, this is just sad. Very sad. Albuquerque voted to keep the practice this week.

— 3 —

I love the title of this up-coming (Easter 2014) movie. It’s premise is interesting and I expect to enjoy it. BUT I must say – and this is just a personal opinion – I do not believe in “near death experiences.” I don’t believe that people can visit heaven and be returned. In my opinion, when you die you have irreversibly left your “mortal” life and advanced to your particular judgment in which returning to earth is not one of the possibilities.

On the other hand, maybe my issue is just terminology. I certainly believe anything is possible for God and that supernatural miracles happen all the time. That includes everything from God speaking to us (which happens frequently if we listen) to personal revelations. Anyhow, here is the trailer for Heaven is for Real:

— 4 —

While I am on the topic, those of you who believe in the possibility of near death experiences may want to check-out Fr. Jose Maniyangat’s. He suffered a serious auto accident (which he terms “fatal”) a result of which showed him the afterlife. Fr. Jose believes that he saw many bishops and priests in Hell for misleading people. (I don’t quibble with the assertion, just that he saw the real thing.) His story is here.

In my read of his story I see several theological issues, but do not doubt the sincerity of Fr. Jose. Near death or otherwise, he is completely consistent with Church teaching on the existence of Heaven, Hell and purgatory, who goes there and why.

— 5 —

Fr. Barron looks at Reza Aslan’s Zealot. It is incredibly poor for that sort of book. It’s obvious, has poor scholarship and childish reasoning. (I read elsewhere that other purveyors of this “debunking Jesus” genre feel it makes them all look bad.)

— 6 —

A homeless, destitute, alcoholic, thrown away life? Many would probably have walked by Jim Wolf just as the rich man ignored Lazarus on his door step (Luke 16:19-31). Yes, many would ignore their neighbor, this Army veteran, this child of God in his time of need. Fortunately, not everyone.

— 7 —

Z8 GND 5296

From the Convert Journal astronomy desk: a new galaxy has been discovered with the catchy name z8_GND_5296. It is the most distant ever found and a bit of a hike to get there from here – about 30 billion light years. It’s a small galaxy, but is producing stars at a rapid rate.

Actually, for all we know it doesn’t even exist anymore. The view we have of it now is as it was a while back (13.1 billion years ago). As we gaze upon the light from z8_GND_5296, we are looking back in time to when the universe was only 700 million years old. Putting that in human scale (of an 80 year old), that would be about a 1.5 days after conception.

Some random thoughts or bits of information are worthy of sharing but don’t warrant their own full post. This idea was started by Jennifer Fulwiler at Conversion Diary to address this blogging need. So, some Fridays I too participate when I have accumulated 7 worthy items. Thank you Jen for hosting this project!

Addicted to life

Addicted To Life

Why are most of us not ready for heaven if we were to die right now? Scripture tells us:

  • The treasure and wealth of the nations will be brought there, but nothing unclean will enter it (Revelation 21:26-27a).
  • So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect (Matthew 5:48).
  • “Be holy because I [am] holy.” (1 Peter 1:16b)

We are not ready because we are not clean, perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect, nor holy as Christ is holy. When we at long last die with the grace of final perseverance, we may leave this world with unabsolved venial sins and a lifetime of temporal damage from past sins. It is through the refiners fire (Malachi 3:2-3) of purgatory that the imperfections on our soul like wood, hay or straw will be removed leaving gold, silver and precious stones (1 Corinthians 3:12-15) suitable for heaven.

Part of our problem is attachment to sin. Understanding that as an impediment to heaven is obvious.

There is, I believe, another attachment impediment: addiction to life. We love life – all the joys and hope it offers – and are often more oriented toward it then we are toward its author. Fr. Leo Clifford made this point very well in one of his reflections:

We fall in love with God’s gifts and forget the giver. We give our love to mere creatures and we forget that they are God’s gifts to us. We are so in love with his gift of life, we never want to part with it. We want to stay here instead of going back to the author of life, the God for whom we were made.

Play The Love of God

There has been much speculation on the nature of purgatory. We know it is not Heaven nor Hell. It is not a place in between either, as it is the portico of Heaven. All who enter purgatory ARE saved. For that matter, it is not a place either and “how long” we are there is a complicated concept because it is outside of time. All we know, while we are still in time, is that we must pray for the souls in purgatory (they can pray for us too).

I still like my earlier conception of purgatory as a hospital for the soul. Like any hospital, treatment varies from person to person as does the length of treatment. Treatment is often painful. Unlike earthly hospitals, there is a 100% cure rate.

In the paradigm I am presenting here, “addiction” is a good fit for the primary disease of which we must be cured. Those who are not addicted will not have unabsolved venial sins and have turned completely to God. For them, no treatment is necessary. For most of us (I suspect), some amount of time in purgatory’s 12-step program (as I imagine it) will be necessary. We must let go of our addiction to life and replace it by union with God.

So, what might those 12 steps be? Adapting from Wikipedia’s article for alcoholics, we lifeoholics might need to:

  1. Acknowledge our addiction to life and open ourselves to healing power of the Holy Spirit.
  2. Abandon our false idols, uniting our will with God alone.
  3. Turn ourselves completely over to God.
  4. Make a searching and fearless inventory of our addiction to life.
  5. Admit to God and to ourselves the nature of our addiction to life. In the Church Militant: also use the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
  6. Be entirely ready to have God remove these defects.
  7. Humbly ask God to cleanse our shortcomings.
  8. Recognize the effects of our life addiction and how it separates us from God.
  9. Pray for forgiveness.
  10. Continue to take personal inventory and address our shortcomings as we recognize them.
  11. Seek through prayer and meditation to complete our unity with God, praying only for knowledge of His will and His power to carry that out.
  12. In the Church Militant: help others; In the Church Suffering: enter the Church Triumphant!

The good news is that we can begin our treatment NOW. Progress that we make here on earth will lessen the necessary treatment later.

O Lord, who art ever merciful and bounteous with Thy gifts, look down upon the suffering souls in purgatory. Remember not their offenses and negligences, but be mindful of Thy loving mercy, which is from all eternity. Cleanse them of their sins and fulfill their ardent desires that they may be made worthy to behold Thee face to face in Thy glory. May they soon be united with Thee and hear those blessed words which will call them to their heavenly home: “Come, blessed of My Father, take possession of the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.”

Fr. John P. O’Connell

Baltimore Catechism: on the commandments of God

Baltimore Catechism

Lesson 29

310 Q. Is it enough to belong to God’s Church in order to be saved?
A. It is not enough to belong to the Church in order to be saved, but we must also keep the Commandments of God and of the Church.

We call some commandments the Commandments of God and others the commandments of the Church. We do so only to distinguish the Commandments that God gave to Moses from those that the Church made afterwards. They are all the commandments of God, for whatever laws or commandments the Church makes, it makes them under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, and by God’s authority. It would be a mortal sin to break the commandments of the Church, just as it would be to break the Commandments of God. You must remember that the Ten Commandments always existed from the time of Adam, but they were not written till God gave them to Moses. You know that it was always a sin to worship false gods, to blaspheme, to disobey parents, to kill, etc.; for you know Cain was punished by God for the murder of his brother Abel (Gen. 5), and that took place while Adam was still alive.

Before the coming of Our Lord the Israelites, or God’s chosen people, had three kinds of laws. They had the civil laws for the government of their nation – just as we have our laws for the people of the United States. They had their ceremonial laws for their services in the temple – as we have our ceremonies for the Church. They had their moral laws – such as the Commandments – teaching them what they must do to save their souls. Their civil laws were done away with when they ceased to be a nation having a government of their own. Their ceremonial laws were done away with when Our Lord came and established His Church; because their ceremonies were only the figures of ours. Their moral laws remained, and Our Lord explained them and made them more perfect. Therefore we keep the Commandments and moral laws as they were always kept by man. Fifty days after the Israelites left Egypt they came to the foot of Mount Sinai. (Ex. 19). Here God commanded Moses to come up into the mountain, and in the midst of fire and smoke, thunder and lightning, God spoke to him and delivered into his hands the Ten Commandments written on two tablets of stone.

Every day while the Israelites were traveling in the desert God sent them manna – a miraculous food that fell every morning. It was white, and looked something like fine rice. It had any taste they wished it to have. For instance, if they wished it to taste like fruit, it did taste so to them; but its usual taste was like that of flour and honey. (Ex. 16).

I said there is no difference between the Ten Commandments of God and the six commandments of the Church; and there is no difference as far as the sin of violating them is concerned. But they differ in this: the Church can change the commandments it made itself, while it cannot change those that God Himself gave directly.

*311 Q. Which are the Commandments that contain the whole law of God?
A. The Commandments which contain the whole law of God are these two: first, thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart, with thy whole soul, with thy whole strength, and with thy whole mind; second, thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.

“As thyself” – that is, as explained elsewhere, with the same kind, though not necessarily with the same degree, of love. First we must love ourselves and do what is essential for our own salvation, because without our cooperation others cannot save us, though they may help us by their prayers and good works. Next to ourselves nature demands that we love those who are related to us in the order of parents, children, husbands, wives, brothers, etc., and help them in proportion to their needs, and before helping strangers who are in no greater distress.

*312 Q. Why do these two Commandments of the love of God and of our neighbor contain the whole law of God?
A. These two Commandments of the love of God and of our neighbor contain the whole law of God because all the other Commandments are given either to help us to keep these two, or to direct us how to shun what is opposed to them.

Of the Ten Commandments the first three refer to Almighty God and the other seven to our neighbor. Thus all the Commandments may be reduced to the two of the love of God and of the love of our neighbor. The First Commandment says you shall worship only the true God; the Second says you shall respect His holy name; and the Third says you shall worship Him on a certain day. All these are contained therefore in this: Love God all you possibly can, for if you do you will keep the first three of the Commandments. The Fourth says: Honor your father – who in the sense of the Commandment can also be called your neighbor – that is, respect him, help him in his needs. The Fifth says do not kill him; namely, your neighbor. The others say do not rob him of his goods; do not tell lies about him; do not wish unjustly to possess his goods and do not covet his wife. Thus it is clear that the last seven are all contained in this: Love your neighbor, for if you do you will keep the last seven Commandments that refer to him.

313 Q. Which are the Commandments of God?
A. The Commandments of God are these ten:

1. I am the Lord thy God, Who brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt not have strange gods before Me. Thou shalt not make to thyself a graven thing, nor the likeness of any thing that is in Heaven above, or in the earth beneath, nor of those things that are in the waters under the earth. Thou shalt not adore them, nor serve them. 2. Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain. 3. Remember thou keep holy the Sabbath Day. 4. Honor thy father and thy mother. 5. Thou shalt not kill. 6. Thou shalt not commit adultery. 7. Thou shalt not steal. 8. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor. 9. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife. 10. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s goods.

*314 Q. Who gave the Ten Commandments?
A. God Himself gave the Ten Commandments to Moses on Mount Sinai, and Christ Our Lord confirmed them.