Lost in the Desert of Lent

I think that I am lost in the desert. Hope that I find my way out by Easter.  My desire to
lent desert
pray more, fast more, give more, and blog more has not translated into action.  Yes I know that there is still time to get my act together.

Lent is about turning back to God. It is about accepting God’s mercy and forgiveness for sin and transforming ourselves. It is about growing in holiness. Why is it so hard?

Just looking upon the cross and realizing what Jesus has done for us should be enough to motivate us.

If I want to become a saint, I have to get off the couch and get on my knees.

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Oh My. The End Must be NIgh

Just when I have been thinking that Americans have become so polarized that agreementIsaiah 11 6 on anything is impossible, I see this headline (H/T New Advent)

National Catholic Journals Unite: ‘Capital Punishment Must End’ 

Joint Editorial of America, National Catholic Register, National Catholic Reporter, and Our Sunday Visitor:

We, the editors of four Catholic journals — America, National Catholic Register, National Catholic Reporter and Our Sunday Visitor — urge the readers of our diverse publications and the whole U.S. Catholic community and all people of faith to stand with us and say, “Capital punishment must end.”
The Catholic Church in this country has fought against the death penalty for decades. Pope St. John Paul II amended the universal Catechism of the Catholic Church to include a de facto prohibition against capital punishment (CCC 2263-2267). Last year, Pope Francis called on all Catholics “to fight … for the abolition of the death penalty.” The practice is abhorrent and unnecessary. It is also insanely expensive as court battles soak up resources better deployed in preventing crime in the first place and working toward restorative justice for those who commit less heinous crimes.
Admirably, Florida has halted executions until the Supreme Court rules, and Ohio Gov. John Kasich has postponed all seven executions in the state scheduled for 2015 pending further study. Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf declared a moratorium on the death penalty until he has received and reviewed a task force’s report on capital punishment, which he called “a flawed system … ineffective, unjust, and expensive.” Both governors also cited the growing number of death row inmates who have been exonerated nationwide in recent years.
In a statement thanking Wolf, Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput said: “Turning away from capital punishment does not diminish our support for the families of murder victims. … But killing the guilty does not honor the dead nor does it ennoble the living. When we take a guilty person’s life we only add to the violence in an already violent culture and we demean our own dignity in the process.”
Archbishop Chaput reminds us that when considering the death penalty, we cannot forget that it is we, acting through our government, who are the moral agents in an execution. The prisoner has committed his crime and has answered for it in this life just as he shall answer for it before God. But, it is the government, acting in our name, that orders and perpetrates lethal injection. It is we who add to, instead of heal, the violence. (Read more….)

Reminds me of a joke; so a progressive journalist, a very orthodox journalist, a very progressive journalist, and an orthodox journalist walk into a bar…..

Now if we could get them to unite on pro life issues including abortion, torture, care for the poor etc. etc . Well all things are possible through and in Christ.

And this is a start.

Posted in Abortion, Catholic Moral Teaching, Culture of Death, Pro life, Social Justice, Social Teachings | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Keep Holy the Sabbath

The third commandment tell us: Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days youSabbathshall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God; in it you shall not do any work.” This commandment is often ignored in our hectic contemporary lives. We have forgotten that “the Sabbath was made for man” (Mk.2:27). Keeping holy the Sabbath is much more than an obligation. It is a gift from God.

In the creation account of Genesis (1-2), God finished his work of creation in six days. On the seventh day God rested. God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it (Gn 2:3).  At first glance this does not seem connected to the third commandment as there is no mention of Adam and Eve giving worship to God.

The Ten Commandments were given to Moses and the Israelite s as part of the covenant between God and his chosen people. The covenants that God makes with his people are not contracts. Nor are they just a set of promises between God and man. Covenants are how God enters into relationship with human beings. God gives himself to man as a free and undeserved gift.

Covenants are an exchange of hearts between God and and his people.

“The goal of creation is the covenant, the love story of God and Man…If then everything is directed to the covenant, it is important to see that the covenant is a relationship: God’s gift of himself to man, but also man’s response to God.” (The Spirit of the Liturgy, Pope (emeritus) Benedict).

The way that human beings respond to God, who is love, is by worshiping him in gratitude and thanksgiving.  It is in worship that we love God who loved us first.

When Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead, he fulfilled the old covenant. The day of resurrection, the first day of the week became the new Sabbath. This is because His resurrection recalls the first creation. “Because it is the eighth day following the Sabbath, it symbolizes the new creation ushered in by Christ’s Resurrection.” Sunday is the feast of feasts, the day of days. Sunday is the Lord ’s Day. (CCC 2174)

The Sunday celebration of the Eucharist and the Lord’s day is at the heart of the life of the Church. This is more than participating in Mass every Sunday. Sunday is also a day to give to God. It is a time to rest in the Lord. When we keep holy the Lord’s day we participate in God’s rest. We participate in God’s freedom. It is only by putting God first that we can truly be free.

Lent is a conversion of turning back to the Lord. It is a time to ask ourselves hard questions. Are we serving God alone?  Do we participate in the Sunday Liturgy with our whole heart, mind, and soul?  Are we resting in the Lord by refraining from unnecessary work or activities that keep us from true worship?  Or are we slaves to work and activities that keep God at a distance?

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I Love being Catholic

Even a Satanist can become a Saint:BLongo91

.- Later this month Pope Francis will head to Pompeii: a city which lays claim to the curious story of a former Satanist priest – now on the way to sainthood – and his miracle-working Marian devotion.

Blessed Bartolo Longo is considered the founder of modern Pompeii, which was established in 1891 after he commissioned the building of the city’s sanctuary of the Blessed Virgin Mary of the Holy Rosary.

The sanctuary is home to a miraculous image of Our Lady of the Rosary, which was given to Longo by his confessor, Father Alberto Radente, in 1875.  Continue reading…

I guess there is hope for me 🙂

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Rest in Peace Mr. Spock

From the New York Times:Spock_performing_Vulcan_salute

Leonard Nimoy, the sonorous, gaunt-faced actor who won a worshipful global following as Mr. Spock, the resolutely logical human-alien first officer of the Starship Enterprise in the television and movie juggernaut “Star Trek,” died on Friday morning at his home in the Bel Air section of Los Angeles. He was 83. Continue Reading

I was 13 when the original series first aired on TV. Watching with my Dad, an aerospace engineer, was a weekly ritual.  I loved that show and Mr. Spock was my favorite character.

The NYT article (click on link above) interesting video on how he came up with the Vulcan Greeting (see picture above). It is based on a Jewish priestly blessing.

For an indepth explanation check out The Jewish Origin of the Vulcan Salute by Rabbi Yonassan Gershom

I sometimes learn interesting things while going down rabbit holes.

Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord. And let the perpetual light shine upon them. And may the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

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Finding Holy Silence in the Desert of Lent

Lent is hard for me. It is my busy time in the Church. I am more Martha than Mary. But Istill small voiceknow that I will fail in my ministry, and fail as a disciple, if I don’t cultivate a deep and intimate relationship with Jesus. Of course this means that I have to do more than say prayers or petition God or tell Him that I will do his will.

Christians are called to journey through the desert of Lent so that we are ready to meet the risen Christ on Easter Sunday.

But if we don’t cultivate silence, we won’t get very far. We will just wander aimlessly lost and thirsty.  But holy silence is more than the absence of noise. In our 24/7 plugged in yada yada world that is hard enough to handle for many people.

Sitting without the noise of the world blaring in my ears is not hard for me. But that doesn’t mean that I find it easy to put myself in the presence of God.  So many prayers to say and books about God to read.

Listening for the still small voice of God is hard. There is so much going on. There are so many things that need to get done and so little time.

Then there is the scary part. God might lead me where I do not want to go. I will have to change. I will have to let God transform me. But it just so nice and comfy right where I am.

Yes God meets us in the dessert no matter how dusty and dirty we are. But he doesn’t want to leave us there. He wants so much more for His children.

We are not meant for this world; we are all aliens. We are all immigrants temporarily separated from our true home, the Kingdom of God.

The Christian martyrs of the early Church. That is why they went to their deaths joyfully proclaiming the risen Christ.

That is what the 21 Coptic Christians did when they were martyred by ISIS on February 15th. The Coptic Orthodox Church has declared them Saints. They now wear their heavenly crowns of victory. Here is the lovely icon.

coptic maryers icon

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Religious Freedom is So Last Century

The US Catholic bishops have been routinely mocked for their stance against the HHS Will not comply religious freedommandate. Their concerns have been misunderstood. The bishops are not worried that Americans will not be allowed to worship. But they are concerned that our constitutional right to practice our religion is being eroded.

The Catholic News Agency is reporting that:

.- Catholic and Evangelical humanitarian agencies are among the U.S. groups responding to the massive influx of unaccompanied minors from Latin America, but a new federal rule could require them to refer the children for abortion or lose their grants.  

A coalition of these faith-based agencies called on the federal government to amend the rule so that the government can meet obligations to care for these children while “respecting the religious and moral beliefs of faith-based organizations that, to date, have provided such critical care for this vulnerable population.”

Joining the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in a Feb. 20 statement to federal rule makers were leading organizations like Catholic Relief Services, the National Association of Evangelicals, World Vision, and World Relief. Continue Reading…

I think that the time is coming for the Church to stop accepting government grants for everything from schools to hospitals to social work.

Don’t forget to participate in the annual Fortnight for Freedom. And pray. Of course.

 

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Surf Angel

Cool. A seminarian who died while surfing  is being considered for sainthood (via the WallSeminarian_Guido_Vidal_Fran_a_Schaffer_surfing_Photo_courtesy_of_guidoschaffercombr_CNA_11_12_14Street Journal):

In January, the Vatican gave permission to Rio priests to gather evidence of Mr. Schäffer’s holiness and present it to the pope, a crucial early step in the sainthood process.

To mark the moment, Mr. Schäffer’s remains were transferred to the Our Lady of Peace Church in the beach town of Ipanema. His surf buddies accompanied the remains atop a firetruck in a lively procession. Several held surfboards aloft. One board said “JESUS IS OUR WAVE” in large black letters.

“For him, surfing was a mystical experience, like prayer. He felt the presence of God in the sea,” said the Rev. Jorge Neves, who mentored Mr. Schäffer at Our Lady of Peace and resembles the actor Forest Whitaker. Mr. Schäffer called his hefty mentor “Big George.”

A giant poster of Mr. Schäffer on his board now hangs on the outside of the Ipanema church. In it, a tanned and athletic Mr. Schäffer has just completed a wave and is riding the foam. The Surfer Angel wears blue board shorts and stares intently into the distance. Passersby cross themselves as they walk the busy sidewalk below the poster.

The notion of a surfing saint may surprise those who think of saints as ancient martyrs or inaccessible holy men. But that is the point, some of Mr. Schäffer’s backers say. In Latin America, among other places, the church needs youthful, contemporary priests and saints to compete with the rise of Evangelical Protestantism, the thinking goes.

“When he died, it was hard to understand. We asked God, why did you take him since, as a priest, he was going to bring so many people to the church?” said the Rev. Roberto Lopes, a Rio de Janeiro priest acting as liaison with the Vatican on Mr. Schäffer’s possible sainthood. “Then we realized: Maybe he will bring even more people to the church as a saint.”

Mr. Schäffer spread the gospel through surfing. Before paddling out, he would pray on the beach with his surf buddies. Often, other beachgoers joined in. Out in the water, he struck up conversations with fellow surfers between the sets. He liked to say that Jesus, who walked on water, was the first surfer.

But he was not just a beach bum. He was a physician, served the poor, and he was close to being ordained when he died.  Read more (it may be behind a firewall)…

I just love being Catholic.

Related link from Catholic News Agency

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Lent. Is. Hard

Well it has been a crazy, hectic, and frustrating day. It began whenI tried to blog keep-calm-and-live-lent-2something early this morning before work, but I had nothing. The ole brain just went blank. But I promised a certain deacon that I would blog something every day (weekdays at least) so here I am.

We are only two days into Lent, and I am already worried that I am going to flunk again this year. Come to think of it the only really good Lent I ever did was when I gave up sarcasm. That was beyond hard, but I did it. Once is enough. Hey I was born in New York sarcasm is in my DNA.

So I decided to work on my prayer life, and spend time in silence listening for the small still voice of the Lord.  Perhaps if I just turn it over to Christ he will show me the way.

Thomas McDonald on his blog, God and the Machine, reminds us what Lent is really about:

The point of our time in the desert is to draw nearer to Christ. There are three ways to live Lent:

  • Carrying the cross with Christ by sharing a small portion of His suffering.
  • Emulating Him in acts of charity and kindness.
  • Drawing near to Him in prayer and spending time at His feet, learning from him through Scripture and spiritual writing.

And so, this is the way I make my Lent. Read more for great suggestions.

If that isn’t enough check out Aggie Catholic Lent 2015 page.

That’s all for now folks. I am bone tired.

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Rising from the Ashes

“You are dust and to dust you shall return” (Gn 3:19) Ash Wednesday

When you turn sixty, everyday is a wakeup call that life is short. Now I wake up when my favorite deacon stops snoring.

Yet I am still startled every Ash Wednesday when the Church reminds me that I will return to the dust of the earth.  The time to repent and live the life of discipleship is now.  I know Lord.  I know.

But Lord I am weak and lazy. I am the Scarlet O’Hara of disciples; “I’ll think about that tomorrow”.

Procrastination is not a Christian virtue.

Yes God is merciful, but he is not going to force his mercy on me. Jesus is waiting to  pick us up when we fall down in utter failure. But we have to let him. We have to invite him into our hearts. We have to invite him into the desert of our souls.

It is Lent. It is time to leave the desert and start our march toward our heavenly home.

Baptism is at the heart of the Lenten season. Our white baptismal garments are dusty; our relationship with God is broken by sin. It is time to convert our hearts and to ask God to “Lead us back to you, O LORD, that we may be restored” (Lamentations 5:20).

Conversion begins with remembering and renewing our baptismal vows. Then it is time to get to work.

If we allow Christ into our hearts through prayer, fasting and alms giving, Lent can be a time of conversion and renewal that breaks us of the indifference that Pope Francis calls us to fight in his 2015 Lenten Message. Read More….

If we dedicate our selves to truly practice Lent, we will be ready to rise with Christ on Easter Sunday.

Prayer:

O Lord,
The house of my soul is narrow;
enlarge it that you may enter in.
It is ruinous, O repair it!

(St. Augustine )

Posted in Discipleship, Lent, Liturgical Year | Tagged , | 1 Comment