O Lord Thou shalt open my lips and my mouth shall declare Thy praise.

Monday, June 27, 2011

My Birthday Patron: the Theotokos of Perpetual Help

Our Lady of Perpetual Help - IV Class
Missa Gaudeamus
Epistle: Ecclus. 24: 23-31 [The wisdom of the Blessed Virgin.]
Gospel: Jn. 19: 25-27 [Our Mother is given to us at the foot of the cross.]

In the icon of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, we see that Christ is receiving a vision of Sts. Michael and Gabriel with instruments of the passion. St. Michael has the lance and St. Gabriel has the cross. The Christ-child is terrified of this and is clinging to His mother in fear. He is so scared that He is even loosing one of His sandals. Our Lady is there comforting Him, calming Him down, and taking care of Him. This is how she takes care of all her children. It is in today's Gospel that she is given to us as our mother on Calvary. The same way that she takes care of her biological Son in His troubles, she takes care of all her adoptive children when we are overwhelmed by life's problems. She is there to comfort us, calm us down, and take care of us.

The original icon of Our Lady of
Perpetual Help in Rome.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Divine Love vs. Satanic Love

II Sunday after Pentecost - II Class
Missa Factus est
Epistle: I Jn. 3:13-18 [God's love vs. the world's "love".]
Gospel: Lk. 14:16-24 [Parable of the Great Banquet.]
Full Latin-English propers here.
Many places will do an External Solemnity of Corpus Christi today. This meditation is on the Mass of the day; the "green" Sunday. I did a meditation on Corpus Christi on Thursday.

At some point in your past, God spoke to you and invited you to follow Him and live your life with Him. It was not some booming voice from the heavens, it was some desire burning inside you pushing you towards things of God. This burning desire was subtle, it didn't make a large display, and wasn't highly tangible, but at some point it became obvious. There was something pushing you to live your life with God. Since then you have either followed that force and desired what it pushed you towards or rejected all those things as less interesting than other things around you. That something was a grace from God. Grace is just simply the presence of Holy Ghost, the presence of God either in the soul (sanctifying grace, which comes from the Sacraments) giving the soul life or around the soul (actual grace) pushing the soul to where it needs to go. At some point in your past, an actual grace of some sort gently pushed you along towards God and you either cooperated or you didn't.

This invitation God makes continuously; constantly drawing us to himself. We can either accept this invitation and turn to God or reject it and turn to the world. If we turn to God, we will love Him and neighbor as He loves. If we turn to the world, we will "love" God and neighbor as the world "loves". Now, how does the world "love" and why is it in quotes? The world refers to every desire as "love". If a desire offers you any sort of happiness or pleasure (be it sexual, emotional, or any other kind of pleasure), then it is called love. You "love" food. You "love" animals. You "love" your spouse. You "love" your sports team. The capacity for making you happy is the things capacity for being "loved". The happier it makes you, the more it is capable of being "loved".

At this point, we only desire God if He can give us happiness immediately, the way we want Him to, without us having to work or get into heaven. At that point God is largely ignored. God is seen as boring because He doesn't make us happy as quickly or as intensely as or as easily as the things of the world. Also, our neighbor is only good and lovable if he makes us happy now & in the way we want him to make us happy. Otherwise he's a bad person. If he makes us happy, we'll make him happy in return. Otherwise we'll ignore and despise him. This is manipulation. This is lust. This is not love. That's why I have used so many quotes. It is the world's false love set up under the guidance of Satan to replace God. So it is what the world claims to be the path to lasting happiness. The world's idea of "love" is self-centered and all about "How much enjoyment can this thing give me?" This is the exact opposite of love.

What God offers us and has been drawing us towards using that small voice burning inside us this entire time that we have ignored for so long is love. Love is a desire to give yourself, to sacrifice yourself for the good of another. Love does not desire good times but rather companionship through life in the both the good times and the bad. It does not matter if they make you happy or not. Their actions do not decide whether or not you love them as love is not a desire for them to make you happy. That means they are the ones acting. No. In love you act. You are the one that gives yourself, sacrificing yourself for the ultimate good of the beloved. If we accept the invitation that grace gives us, the God will teach us how to reciprocate His love for us. He sacrificed Himself on the cross to make us clean and worthy of entering Heaven. All that's left is to bring the effects of the cross to us. For that we need to attach ourselves to Him by loving Him the way He loved us on the cross. He Himself will teach us His love for us that we may love Him in return. He will also teach us how He loves our neighbor so that we can love them the way God loves them. Look at a crucifix. That is how God loves, sacrificing Himself for the good of others. That's true love. At that point we are not acting the way wise men or successful people act. We are even greater. We are acting as God Himself acts. God has been inviting us to live this way for a long time. It's not a question of how will we answer Him, but rather how have we already answered Him so far since the time He called us long ago?

Friday, June 24, 2011

The Best Man's Job is to Evangelize

Feast of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist - I Class
Missa De ventre matris

Epistle: Is. 49:1-3,5,6,7 [St. John was called from the womb.]
Gospel: Lk. 1:57-68 [The birth of St. John the Baptist.]
Full Latin-English propers here.

Every now and then, two feasts that go together very well fall next to each other. The Church calendar has a way of doing things like that. Yesterday, on Corpus Christi, we celebrated the Agnus Dei and today we celebrate the man who said, "Ecce Agnus Dei, ecce qui tollit peccata mundi." Christ is the Nymphios (Bridegroom) and the Holy Eucharist is the intimacy between He and His Bride. St. John the Baptist is the best man at this Holy Wedding.

Now, what does a best man do? He is a witness to the marital union. What does St. John the Baptist do for Christ the Bridegroom? He likewise bears witness to this union. He is the one who said, "Behold the Lamb of God. Behold him who taketh away the sin of the world." He is the one who goes "before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways: to give knowledge of salvation to his people, unto the remission of their sins." This union between Christ and His Bride is needed because of the sin of the Bride. It is a response to her sin. The Bride was united to her Lord, but that union was destroyed by her sin. So the Bridegroom's instrument for re-uniting Himself with His Bride must be imbued with the power to take away her sins. That then requires the Sacrifice of Calvary, which is made present through the Seven Sacraments. The Sacraments re-establish that union and it is in the Holy Eucharist that the union of Christ and His Bride is consummated.

St. John the Forerunner then is the one who proclaims this union. His duty is one of evangelization: he goes on announcing the coming of the Bridegroom. He doesn't use just any title for the Bridegroom, but the title "Lamb of God". Christ is the Lamb of the Sacrifice of Calvary, which destroys the sins of the Bride. That same Sacrifice is made present to her in the Eucharist. So the Eucharist is called the "Lamb of God" and it is that same Communion that is the intimacy between her and her Bridegroom. This is what St. John the Forerunner bears witness to. He proclaims this coming of the Lamb to be with His Bride and that same union, because it is the Sacrifice of Calvary, takes away her sins. This is what St. John is best known for. He is repeatedly referred to in Sacred Scripture as the one announcing the coming of the Lord for the forgiveness of sins. The accounts of him in the desert and also the Benedictus, which the Church chants so solemnly today at Lauds, all focus on St. John's duty to proclaim the coming of the Lamb to take away the sins of the Church, to proclaim the coming of the Bridegroom to re-establish His relationship with His Bride.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Human Intimacy Must Imitate Divine Intimacy

Feast of Corpus Christi - I Class
Missa Cibávít eos

Epistle: I Cor. 11:23-29 [St. Paul's Last Supper.]
Gospel: Jn. 6:56-59 ["He that eateth My Flesh, and drinketh My Blood, abideth in Me, and I in him."]
Full Latin-English propers here.

When most people think of sex, the last thing they think of is the Eucharist and when they think of the Eucharist the last thing they think of is sex. OK, maybe they're thinking of sex anyway, but they see the two as contrary to each other. Now, if you're talking about sex as the world sees it, that is, sex which exists for pleasure and procreation is a part of it only if you really want it to be, then yes sex and the Eucharist really are contrary to that degree. Simply because the notion of sex being about pleasure is contrary to God, the Eucharist is God, and you can do the rest of the math. Now, the Eucharist is the intimacy between Christ and His Bride the Church. Therefore it stands to reason that holy sex, sex done in accordance with God's plan, will share a number of similarities with the Eucharist and will be, to a certain extent, modeled on it. After all, the love of Christ for His Bride is the original love and couples are called to imitate that love: the groom loves and cares for his bride as Christ loves and cares for His, and the bride is submissive to her husband as the Church is to hers. The more a couple's marriage imitates the Holy Marriage of Christ and the Church, the happier and healthier that couple's marriage will be: their love is then just a reflection of the supreme love.

So then, how is Christ intimate with His Bride, that the married couple may imitate that union and have their intimacy be more virtuous? Christ loves His Bride, but God the Father always comes first. Christ offers Himself to the Father to provide for the needs of the Bride, which in this case is the forgiveness of her sins. The Father then in turn gives His Son to the Bride (and indeed the Canon of the Mass, by which Christ is made present before us, is addressed entirely to the Father). After all, it is the Father, through the working of the Holy Ghost, who is trying to unite Son and Church together in the first place. Similarly, the Church and her members offer themselves up to the Father to provide for the needs of Christ. What need could He as God possibly have? His Kingdom needs to be spread. The communicants offer themselves to God to be used to spread that Kingdom. The Father then dutifully unites those souls to His Son, with that union finding it's place in the Eucharist. Indeed, Christ Himself said that none can come to Him unless the Father call Him. Now, this union with Christ does not exist only through the duration of Holy Communion, but it exists all the time. The Communion exists continuously, serving as the fuel and basis for everything done in life and it finds it's outward physical expression during the Mass. The union in and of itself transmits life, specifically, spiritual life. As we will soon see, this is where sex and the Eucharist differ, but they do act as counterparts to one another here.

Se we can see already that sex cannot be an act of pleasure. Such a mentality, one of seeking pleasure from the spouse's body (or indeed anyone's body) is foreign to God and cannot exist. We could simply say that sex exists for procreation, and we'd be right, but that doesn't give the complete picture. Each spouse is called to love and serve God first and each other second. The groom offers himself up to God to be used to provide for the physical and spiritual needs of the bride. God then in turn gives the groom to the bride. The inverse happens with the bride offering herself as well. God must be kept between them like this as He is the one uniting them to begin with. The love they have for each other is not some human emotion that they have of themselves. The love they have for each other is a grace from God: it is God's presence in their lives uniting them together. God is the one who created this union and continuously draws them together. Thus they can either cooperate with this grace and be united according to God's will, which leads to joy, or they can not cooperate and do things their own way, which leads to misery. If they decide to reject each other entirely, that creates an even bigger mess.

Now, this union with each other that God creates does not exist only through the duration of the conjugal act, but it exists all the time. The union of love exists continuously, serving as the fuel and basis for everything done in life and it finds it's outward physical expression during the conjugal act. The union transmits life, specifically, physical life. In this, it is a counterpart to the Most Holy Sacrament. At this point we start seeing a number of differences. Unlike the Eucharist, it does not transmit life of itself. Conception is not necessary for the conjugal act to be complete, rather only the emission of semen. This union of love merely serves as an environment for God to create life, whenever He so chooses. This environment is the one designed by God for the creation of new life. However, even a sinful environment can be sufficient if the physical act is properly intact.

So we can see what sex is and what sex isn't. To the world, in all its error, sex is no more than mutual manipulation for pleasure. That is exactly what human intimacy degrades into if it does not imitate Divine Intimacy. As long as the manipulation is mutual, it is seen as acceptable. However, sex, when done in a holy manner, is an imitation of Christ and the Church's intimacy. In both, God the Father is recognized as the most important: both spouses serve Him before each other and love Him above each other. each spouse offers him/herself up to the Father for the greater good of the spouse. The Father then joins them to each other, which is what He has been trying to do the entire time. Each union of love exists continuously, but finds its expression in it's proper act, be it Holy Communion or the conjugal union and each is a source of strength for everything done in life. The two unions also transmit life: the Eucharist transmits spiritual life and marital union transmits physical life. They do this in manners that contrast with each other, but are complimentary to each other. The union of Christ and His Bride the Church is the marriage par excellence. The more marriage imitates that union, the happier and healthier it will be. The more a relationship deviates from the union of Christ and the Church, the more miserable it will be. After all, that's what marriage is: a call to imitate the love of Christ for His Bride.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

...and the Three become One...

Feast of the Most Holy Trinity - I Class
Missa Benedícta sit

Epistle: Rom. 11:33-36 [Who can understand the greatness of God?]
Gospel: Mt. 28:18-20 [Command to baptize the whole world.]
Full Latin-English propers here.

People have come up with many different ways of explaining the Trinity over the centuries. They just can't get their heads around the notion of one person being three people while still being one person all at the same time. The basic problem is that God is infinite and the human mind is finite, so fitting the human mind around God is as vain as a struggle can get. St. Paul figured that out 2,000 years ago and tells us so today. However, we can still get some of God in our minds. We can still get a basic understanding. Thus, St. Patrick used the three-leaf clover to explain God. Many theologians have used the imagery of God the Father being a person, God the Son being the Word He speaks, and God the Holy Ghost being the Breath by which He speaks. This example works a bit better.

Another example come from considering the love which is the Holy Ghost. Love has two aspects. First, love has a desire to be together with the beloved. Any separation is painful. More importantly, love also has a desire to give oneself to another for the beloved's own good. It is this self-sacrificing aspect that separates love from all other emotions desires. All people are willing to be with you and have good times with you. Only those who love you will give of themselves to take care of you through all sorts of difficulties that they must go through to take care of you. This self-sacrifice is the love of God. Not only is this the love with which God loves us, but it is the love with which the Three Persons of the Trinity love each other. The Father loves the Son with a love of perfect desire and perfect self-giving and the Son loves the Father with a perfect desire and perfect self-giving. This exchange of desire for the beloved and self-giving to the beloved is the Holy Ghost. This bond is so strong that it binds the Three as One Being. Furthermore, the bond of love is so strong that the Three Persons of the Trinity always existed as a perfectly bound union of love. This bond of love that the Holy Trinity shares is the model for all other unions.

It is with this same love that Christ loves the Church. Christ has a perfect desire to be together with us, using the Eucharist as the temporary means for establishing that union (akin to dating) and Heaven is the permanent means (akin to marriage). Christ has a perfect desire to give Himself for the good of His Bride. This is accomplished on the cross. That is where we see Christ's love made the most clear: that He loves us so much that He is willing to undergo all that suffering, offering Himself as the sacrifice to expiate our sins. In return, we are called to reciprocate this love. We are to have a desire to be together with Christ Our Bridegroom, first in the Eucharist and later in Heaven. We are also to have a desire to give ourselves for Christ, suffering whatever pains for His sake. Those who love Christ are not those who stick with Him when the going is easy, when they are surrounded by an environment that makes it easy to pray and enjoy many spiritual consolations. Those who love God are those who endure suffering for His sake, putting up with persecution, praying even when in places controlled by the enemy, without any consolations coming from that prayer, just dryness.

It is with this same love that bride and groom are to love each other. Their love is this same two-sided coin: a desire to be together with the beloved (not only in the marriage bed, but also as companions through life, and it even goes as far as wanting to be together in heaven) and also a love of self-sacrifice, undergoing whatever pain is necessary for the good of the other. This is how all people are to love each other. We are to have a desire to be together with each other in Heaven and endure what ever suffering we put each other through, putting up with each other's bad habits, being patient, guiding each other to Heaven, loving them as the Trinity loves, that we might all be together with the Trinity in Heaven. May it be so.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Come Holy Spirit of Love

Pentecost Sunday - I Class Feast with I Class Octave
Missa Spiritus Domini

Epistle: Acts 2:1-11 [The Descent of the Holy Ghost.]
Gospel: Jn. 14:23-31 [Promise to send the Paraclete.]
Full Latin-English Propers here.

There are two ways of going about romance. A boy could go around trying to impress a girl, stressing himself out, worrying about whether she will impressed by his efforts, whether or not she will stick around or go after other boys. He rehearses many times beforehand what to say when he tries to talk to her. When He does talk to her, he gets nervous and forgets to say half of what he thought of. When he gets a date, he worries about how well it will go. When they are dating steadily, he worries about keeping her happy and getting the relationship to the "next level".

Or...he could pray to the Holy Ghost. He could ask the Holy Ghost to take care of the relationship. He could ask the Holy Ghost to decide how things will turn out, since, as God, He can give the boy and the girl a better life than they could give themselves. If God is allowed to decide the outcome, it will be greater than if they themselves decide the outcome. Often times the boy worries about what he is to do to impress the girl in different situations. "What does she like?" "What does she want?" Handing things over to God and letting Him choose is exactly what he needs.

The Holy Ghost is the Paraclete. A paraclete is one who speaks for another. A paraclete is exactly what a nervous boy needs and you can't do better than the Paraclete. The Holy Ghost is the one who created the body, so the boy could ask the Holy Ghost to teach him how to properly respect and admire her body. The Holy Ghost is the love between the Father and the Son, a sacrificial love, not a pleasure seeking love, joining them as One, so he could pray that the Holy Ghost teaches him how to love the girl and that their love may join them as one through Holy Matrimony in imitation of the Holy Trinity.

It's amazing the contrast between the world's way of running a relationship and God's way. The world's way involves doing a lot of work on your own amidst much worry seeking in the first place pleasure and good times for yourself. It is a product that feels good for a while but in the end passes like a cloud. She might be pretty now, but after having a baby takes a toll on her body, you no longer find her attractive. What you claimed was "love" is not a thing of the past. It was no more than infatuation. It is a human emotion, nothing more. Love however, is a grace from God. Love is the presence of the Holy Ghost, guiding you to the Sacrament of Matrimony and then through that sacrament throughout your life together. He guides you during the good times, but it is in the bad times that He really makes Himself known. The one who loves you is not the one who shows you a good time; the one who loves you is the one who sticks with you through bad times.

The Holy Ghost teaches you self-sacrifice made not for your benefit, but hers. Love does not desire to receive pleasure but give yourself for the other's good. Love does not seek good times, but companionship. Love teaches you that this girl's body is not something to be used for pleasure, but rather it is the masterpiece of the Divine Artist. He teaches you the dignity of the body. At that point, having a baby only makes her body more respectable as this is the purpose for which her body was made and not only has it served it's purpose, but it has served it's purpose for you. This is a beauty in the body the world cannot see as it cannot see the Creator, the Giver of life. One cannot simply look at the body and see this great beauty or look at a person and love them, whether it is romantic love or familial love or whatever other kind of love. These are things the Paraclete must teach. Why? To love someone is to see them as God sees them and treat them as God treats them. Ergo, no one can love unless the Paraclete teaches them how.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Can Love Ever Abandon The Beloved?

During the Easter Season I'll be bringing you gems from St. Faustina's Diary, after reading it for Lent. Finally, I've reached the last one.
Diary of St. Faustina, 1682
+ May 1, [1938]. This evening, Jesus said to me, My daughter, do you need anything? I answered, "O my Love, when I have You I have everything." And the Lord answered, If souls would put themselves completely in My care, I Myself would undertake the task of sanctifying them, and I would lavish even greater graces on them. There are souls who thwart My efforts, but I have not given up on them; as often as they turn to Me, I hurry to their aid, shielding them with My mercy, and I give them the first place in My compassionate Heart.

It seems rather counter-intuitive. You love someone, so that means that you must abandon them completely to another. That sounds like exactly what you shouldn't be doing. However, that all changes when you see how much the other can take care of your beloved. Take for example a child who gets cancer-a very painful cancer like pancreas, bone or lung cancer. The child is in constant pain. There is throbbing burning pain even while resting that leaves the child crying day and night. The child will die in a matter of months. Of course the mother can't do anything about it. She has no pain relievers powerful enough. She has no way to treat, much less cure, cancer. She can't do anything to relieve the pain, let alone prevent her child from dying this horrible death. All she can do is abandon her child to a doctor who is able to treat the disease and make it more bearable, while giving the child a chance at surviving.

This is what we must do with sinners. If someone we love has been butchered by a life of sin, we must hand the person over completely to the Divine Physician. God can give us a better life than we can give ourselves, just because He's God, so we must let Him decide how things will turn out, so that the result might be greater. Therefore, the more we abandon those we love to the care of God, the more we are leaving God free to improve them as He wishes. Otherwise, we are limiting God inside of the life we are trying to compose for the beloved. If God is free to compose the beloved's life, the that person's life will be greater. When you love someone, you want them to have the greatest life possible. Sometimes that means abandoning them completely to someone more powerful than yourself, like the mother abandoning her sick child to a doctor. So if we want someone to be a good person, we must abandon them completely to God, leaving Him alone to decide the outcome, that the one we love might have a better life. It is these sorts of sacrifices that show our love for others, not words or happy times together.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Amor Vincit Omnia - Love Conquers All

During the Easter Season I'll be bringing you gems from St. Faustina's Diary, after reading it for Lent.
Diary of St. Faustina, 1622
Throughout this Lent, I am a host in Your hand, Jesus. Make use of me so that You may enter into sinners Yourself. Demand anything You like; no sacrifice will seem too much for me when souls are at stake.
The devout life has, at it's foundation, an offering of self to God. After all that is what love is: a desire to offer yourself completely to another for their greater good. A person who loves God, then, behaves this way towards God. The soul offers herself up to God so that God can do as He pleases with her. The soul takes comfort in the fact that God can give the soul a better life than she can give herself. The soul can give herself a pretty good life. However, God, being far stronger than she, can give her a much better life than she can give herself. At this point one cannot help but wonder, "Why wouldn't you want to give everything to God? What reason could there be for not letting God decide the outcome of everything? He can give you so much better!" But alas, the easy to acquire, albeit vain, pleasures of sin are more attractive to human weakness.

So now we have sinners. We do not just see the soul with God, but we see the soul with God and the soul's neighbor is in sin. The soul loves the neighbor. The soul does not want the neighbor to be in sin any longer but to immediately go be with God alone. So the same love we have described acts towards neighbor. The soul wants to offer herself up, undergoing whatever sacrifices and hardships for the sake of the neighbor's conversion. Even the greatest pains and difficulties seem small just because they are endured for the sake of the beloved. The strength of the love is greater than the strength of the hardships. The soul accepts whatever pains might come, not shying away from any of it, but offering the sacrifice of obedience, in imitation of and strengthened by Christ's sacrifice. She follows God through whatever difficulties, no matter how hard and thus God is able to freely use the soul to sanctify the neighbor. The great love she has for her neighbor is what gives her the strength the whole way through.

Thus we see that love cannot be expressed by words, but only by actions. Lovers often struggle to come up with accurate ways of verbally expressing their love. Words are never enough. Actions speak louder than words. It is the one who puts up with you that loves you, not the one who has fun with you.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Looking for God's "on" button...

During the Easter Season I'll be bringing you gems from St. Faustina's Diary, after reading it for Lent.

Diary of St. Faustina, 1610
+ When I asked the Lord to be so good as to cast a glance upon a certain soul [probably Father Sopocko] who was struggling alone against many difficulties, the Lord gave me to know, in an instant, that all people are as dust under His feet. So do not worry; you see that they cannot do a thing of themselves. And if I allow them to seem to triumph, I do this for the sake of My impenetrable decrees. I experienced great peace in seeing how all things are determined by the Lord.

Life often gives us great difficulties. Whether a loved one has descended into a life of sin, or we or a loved one have a serious medical condition, or whatever other injustice or cross we have to put up with, many times we have a problem that just won't go away. No matter how much we pray, no matter how much we try, the problem just won't get resolved. It's especially frustrating if we can come up with a solution but God just won't let it happen. We start to question just whether or not God wants to help us, whether He ever will help us, whether He is on our side at all in the matter, whether our desires for a better life are virtuous and inspired by God or just simply a delusion and out of touch with real life.

The reason why we worry is because many of our problems and difficulties are greater than we are. We are not strong enough to deal with it on our own. However, God is the Pantocrator, the Almighty. Even though our problems are greater than ourselves, God is even greater. All our problems, even the biggest and most shameful problems are insignificant dust in God's eyes. God's power is so great, that everything is tiny and as nothing in comparison to Him. God isn't worried. He can blow away our enemies, convert our enemies, and heal even the most painful and shameful wounds (both physical and emotional). Our cross seems big to us because we are so small, but it is a mere toothpick in God's eyes.

So then, if God is so powerful why doesn't He help us more often? What do we have to do to get God to act and help us. Well, all we have to do is just let God act. It sounds stupidly simple, but there it is. If you want something a little more in depth, then we must offer our suffering and difficulties up to God that He might rule over them and decide how they will turn out. We must say to God, "God, I want _____, but I will let you decide how that will happen." Letting God decide how something will happen or how something will turn out is key. God, because He's almighty and far more powerful than we could ever be, can give us a much better life than we can give ourselves. We can build some very good lives for ourselves, but God can always give us an even greater life. So we must offer up everything we have, both the good and the bad, letting God decide how everything will turn out, so that we can have a better life.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

...or you can ask for directions.

During the Easter Season I'll be bringing you gems from St. Faustina's Diary, after reading it for Lent.

Diary of St. Faustina, 1561
And now I am going to tell you something that is most important for you: boundless sincerity with your spiritual director. If you do not take advantage of this great grace according to My instructions, I will take him away from you, and then you will be left to yourself; and all the torments, which you know very well, will return to you. It displeases Me that you do not take advantage of the opportunity when you are able to see him and talk with him. Know that it is a great grace on My part when I give a spiritual director to a soul. Many souls ask Me for this, but it is not to all that I grant this grace. From the moment when I gave you this priest as spiritual director, I endowed him with new light so that he might easily know and understand your soul...

We cannot go it alone. We need the help of those around us. Doing things alone is dangerous. It leaves one open to mis-interpretations and getting lost. Those who break away from the Church do so based on their misinterpretations and false ideas that were not properly quenched. One needs the help of others in the Church to keep oneself on track, so that one may stay in line with Church teachings, not get distracted by less important affairs, and be able to learn from their experience instead of learning the hard way. Learning the hard way essentially just wastes your life which could have been spent serving Christ the King instead of serving your own desires. The hard part is finding a faithful Catholic who knows enough about the faith to do lead you properly (and not lead you to false ideas himself), but thankfully those numbers are increasing.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Video: Ecce Homo Feast

This past Sunday was Ecce Homo Sunday, our titular feast here at the blog. I wasn't able to do anything b/c my internet was busted. With a hat-tip to Christus Vincit, here are highlights from this year's feast at the shrine in Ponta Delgada, Azores, Portugal, presided over by HE Cardinal Levada, who is, like me, Azorean-American.

Photos of the procession:
Video of the procession: The Fort of St. Blaise (Portuguese Army) salutes Ecce Homo:
Yes that was a military fly-over in the salute.

Friday, June 3, 2011

You Anointed Him with the Oil of Gladness

During the Easter Season I'll be bringing you gems from St. Faustina's Diary, after reading it for Lent.
Diary of St. Faustina, 1521
The Lord said to me, My daughter, do not tire of proclaiming My mercy. In this way you will refresh this Heart of Mine, which burns with a flame of pity for sinners. Tell My priests that hardened sinners will repent on hearing their words when they speak about My unfathomable mercy, about the compassion I have for them in My Heart. To priests who proclaim and extol My mercy, I will give wondrous power; I will anoint their words and touch the hearts of those to whom they will speak.
This gives us an excellent insight into the reality of the priesthood. Hardened sinners will repent on hearing the words of priests. Now, if you look at the situation, the priest has nothing to offer. Here is a sinner, living as the world lives. What the world sees as good, she sees as good and what the world condemns, she condemns. She uses the standards of the God-less world around her as the measuring stick of the success of the world. If most people cohabit before marrying outside the Church, she considers herself successful and good for doing likewise. When she sees the Church, it's just an old-fashioned organization with oppressive rules. It's just people trying to force their personal opinions on people as if their teachings were infallible truth (ironically, they actually are). When she sees the priest, she sees a guy who couldn't get a date no matter how hard he tried. Now he's doing this thing hoping that it might lead him to some sort of happiness. She has no esteem for him whatsoever. She's successful because she does what everyone else is doing to make themselves happy and she definitely doesn't need some antiquated, narrow-minded organization with a nerdy loner in a collar as it's representative.

Yet, she is moved by his words. They cut to the depth of her soul, of her very being. She sees that what she has been doing with her life since she was a young teenager is wrong. God, her whole life, has been trying to give her a certain life with Himself. She ran off into the world and found great happiness that has lasted for a long time. However, in comparison to the contrary life God has been trying to give her, it offers only meager carnal and emotional pleasure that passes as quickly as a cloud. Upon seeing how much greater life with God is, her life with the world is nothing. Comparing the two, she realizes it has been a waste of time to go after the world. She has destroyed her life. How was some loser able to convince her of this, of some idea so far-fetched and impossible to believe from her vantage point in the world, away from God? God anointed the priest's words with His wondrous power. The priest was speaking, but it wasn't as much him speaking as it was God speaking through Him. God's words are his words and his words are God's words. His love for her is God's love for her and God's love for her is his love for her. So perfectly are God and man joined in the priesthood, that when one speaks, they both speak.

God is the Pantocrator, the Almighty. To Him, her life is but a bad case of indigestion. It is nothing. A good trip to the bathroom fixes it quickly. She cannot possibly repair the damage she has caused to her life. She has destroyed her life, her very existence, beyond repair. She cannot go back in time and undo the harm she did by leaving God for the world. For that matter, the priest can't either. He is only a man. However, for God, repairing the damage is easy. Operating through the priest, God can turn her into a great saint. Her sins are erased completely. Not only are they no longer a part of her present, but they also cease to be a part of her past also. They are removed from space and time completely. They never happened. For man, this is impossible to even comprehend. For God, it is nothing. This is the power with which God anoints His priests.