(Photo©Father Lawrence Lew, O.P. Used With Permission)

"Among creatures no one knows Christ better than Mary; no one can introduce us to a profound knowledge of his mystery better than his mother." - St. John Paul II

A Letter to a Friend

Charlie:

God has prompted me to share this little story.  I thought you would enjoy it and maybe pass it on.

Harry had known Larry for years. Larry was a wonderful man who for most of his life did everything He could to bring honor and glory to God. He obeyed God’s commandments and shared God’s love with those around him. He gave of his time generously to help those less fortunate than himself.

Larry led a good life but eventually became a little complacent in his faith and stopped going to Mass on Sunday.  He had always gone to Mass because he loved being there with His Lord and others who believed. Overtime, he forgot St. Paul’s advice that it is not how we start the race but how we finish it that counts.

Larry told Harry that he had stopped going to Mass.  Harry loved Larry very much.  Although it was difficult to do so, he reminded Larry that it was a mortal sin not to attend Mass on Sunday.  But he quickly reminded Larry that all he had to do was to go to confession, express his sorrow and resume going to Mass.  Satan hoped Larry would ignore his friend. Fortunately, Larry appreciated Harry’s love and concern for his eternal well-being and followed his friend’s advice. This really “ticked-off” Satan who thought he was about to snatch this good man from his heavenly reward.

What a sense of peace Harry felt after leaving confession and what joy it was to be back at Mass and to receive His beloved Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. Heaven was in his grasp.

Much of my life I have been too afraid to speak the truth to those I love. Maybe God can use this story to touch the hearts of those who need to hear it. What do you think? Should I put it in my book?

I enjoyed our recent visit and hope we can get together more often.


Of Hell and Other Things

Upon further reflection and prayer, I prefer this version to that post which I previously posted.  

After recently reading the familiar Gospel story about Lazarus and the rich man, I saw the following internet headline: “Pastor who does not believe in hell fired!”  God’s timing is impeccable, isn’t it?
My immediate thought after reading this headline was: “and this pastor was caught off guard by his dismissal?”  The sad reality is that it is not just this specific minister, but so many other Christians, including many Catholics (even some of their priests), who have abandoned the fundamental truth that there are eternal consequences to a life lived in unrepentant and unconfessed sin (see Catechism of the Catholic Church, Sections 1033-1041). 

“Our God is far too merciful,” these dissidents argue, “than to banish anyone to an eternity in hell.” What Scripture and what Catechism do they read?

How have we arrived at this state of confusion on such a crucial article of faith? When was the last time you heard a sermon on sin, death, hell, and the last judgment?  Chances are not too recently. Been encouraged to go to confession regularly? How many funerals have you attended where the decedent’s arrival in heaven has been happily and definitely announced?  - far too many, probably.

The only way you can subscribe to a theory of universal salvation is to assume that  God, His Church and the many individuals He has used over the centuries to teach and guide us never really meant what He or they said. You would have to conclude, for example, that the story of Lazarus and the poor man (Luke 16:19-31), the description of the Last Judgment (Matthew 26:31-46), and the Catechism references set forth above were never intended to be taken seriously. Maybe that is why verses 41-46 of Chapter 25 in Matthew are so often excluded when that Gospel is proclaimed in our Churches.

Of course, St. Augustine didn’t really mean it when he said: “God made you without yourself; God redeemed you without yourself; but God will not save you without yourself.”

I am equally as certain that St. Bernard was faking it when with tears he said that “there was hardly one ship out of ten lost on the sea, but on the ocean of life there is hardly one soul saved out of ten.”

What was Ven. Louis Granada, O.P. thinking when he opined that “Men have eyes as keen as those of an eagle in discerning the things of this world, but they are as blind as beetles to the things of eternity?”

Finally, I suspect that the late Father Winfrid Herbst, S.D.S. must have been hitting “the sauce” before he was foolish enough to write the following: “I am sure many lost souls in hell right now would cry out to preachers and writers if they could: Oh, why did you not tell us more about the horrors of hell? Why did you not strike such fear into our hearts by your realistic description of hell that we would have made greater efforts to avoid it?...Why did you spare our feelings in a matter of such eternal moment? Oh, why did you not make hell a thousand times hotter than you did, then perhaps we would not be here today? ”

Where is the zeal for the salvation of souls?

God made us to be with Him eternally. He gives us all the graces we will need to join Him there. We can believe what He teaches, respond to His graces, humble ourselves by confessing and seeking forgiveness for our sins and enjoy eternity in His Presence, or we can reject what He teaches and offers us here on earth and discover to our eternal regret that God never lies. The choice seems so obvious, doesn’t it?

St. Thomas Aquinas reminds us that no one “is in hell who did not have, time after time, the chance of taking heaven in his grasp”.  Father Leo Rudloff, O.S.B. reinforces the Angelic Doctor, when he stresses “that hell is not a blind destiny into which the sinner plunges unawares, but is his self-chosen and fully deserved portion.”

We are entitled to the truth. Our priests and bishops must not hesitate to teach that truth, no matter how uncomfortable it may make them or us.

Oh, how our priests and bishops need our prayerful support and encouragement!

A Reflection On Unrequited Love

We can not get to know another person or develop a loving relationship with that individual unless we spend time with that person. To say that you love someone, but never visit, engage in conversation with or spend time with that person would be to live a lie and deceive yourself.

God is calling each of us to a personal and intimate encounter and relationship with Him.  But how can we experience such a relationship if we do not get to know Him, or spend time with Him, or talk to Him, or lay our burdens before Him, or listen to Him, or trust Him? Just as we could not maintain our physical health by limiting physical nourishment to one hour a week, we are foolish to think that our mere presence in a Church building on Sunday for an hour can create and sustain the type of intimate spiritual relationship God offers and desires with each of us.  

Oh, how He Who is love is not loved in return! He hungers to have you acknowledge His Real Presence in the Eucharist.

He desires to fill you with His peace, comfort and love.  He wants you to come and lay your burdens down before Him.  He wishes to strengthen you in your daily duties, trials and challenges.  He longs to make you like Him and to equip and sustain you as you become more Christ-like to others.

But God will not force Himself on anyone.  Each of us must freely respond to His invitation.
                               
So let me ask you: Where does God rate in your life?  How much do you love Him and how important is He to you in your daily and weekly lives?  How much time each week do you think of Him and devote to Him in contrast to the time you spend caring for yourself and family, working, eating, watching television, using the computer, gambling, sleeping, engaging in sports, socializing with friends and families, participating in community programs? 

 Look at the 24 hours in each day and the 168 hours in each week and see how often you have anything to do with Him.  For most of us, I would imagine the answer is not much.  You get the point.

           In many Dioceses of this country, we Catholics are blessed to have Churches in which someone is always present with Our Lord, praying 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.  Remarkable isn’t it? - a life-changing experience for those who (often at great personal sacrifice) spend one specific hour each week in the presence of our Eucharistic Lord; a devotion most pleasing to Him Who is deserving of our worship, adoration and praise; and the source of untold blessings to so many in our families and communities.

 God has blessed our Churches with His Real Presence where He can be worshiped, adored and loved, where He changes, heals and comforts the hearts and souls (and sometimes bodies) of many.  Yet few come to keep Him company or to make reparation to Him for those who do not believe in Him. Where are the courageous prayer warriors willing to get up in the early morning hours to be with Him while the rest of us sleep?  How sad and lonely is Our Lord – so intimately present among us but ignored by the majority of people claiming to love Him.


Jesus asked his disciples in Gethsemane, and He is asking each of us right now: “Could you not watch one hour with Me?” What an affront, insult and gesture of ingratitude it would be to such a caring, loving and merciful God if (where it exists) Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration devotions had to be curtailed because so few of His people loved Him enough to be with Him.

Belief in the Real Presence of our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament is a gift from God.  No one but He can give it to you.  He will do just that if you trust Him enough to spend time with Him. He awaits you with open and loving arms. If you come to Him with an open heart, He will give you His! That’s His promise!

What are you waiting for?  Consider this a personal invitation from the King of Kings and Lord of Lords! He will transform you, your family and the communities in which you worship, live and work.

A Timely Confirmation For Reverent Behavior in Our Churches

See the link below. Padre Pio says it a great deal better than the sentiments I shared yesterday. Would that we would listen to his voice and disseminate his words widely in our Churches.

 http://www.sanpadrepio.com/PadrePioLetter.htm

It’s Enough To Make God And A Grown Man Cry

What if you had given everything you had (including your life) in order that others might live but only a handful of those for whom you died seemed to care?  What if you returned ready to comfort, strengthen and sustain them through life’s daily challenges and struggles, but only a small number acknowledged your presence among them and even fewer spent time with you or sought your aid? What if the majority of people totally ignored you and acted as if you were not even there? 

If you or I were treated this way, we would cry.  Jesus, the King of King and Lords of Lords, is treated that way day after day by many who claim to be Catholic.  Yet, so great is His love for us that He chooses to remain locked in the tabernacles of His churches, day after day, waiting for us to acknowledge His presence among us, to visit and speak to Him, and to ask for His help. 

He too must have recently cried.  I’ll tell you why.

A man entered a Catholic church a few days ago to spend some quiet time in the soothing loving presence of His Lord. He was the only one there.  He kneeled and prayerfully pleaded with Him to protect and heal his granddaughter and return peace to her young but troubled heart.  The silence, solitude and flickering candles brought peace to his heart as this man gazed upon his imprisoned Lord. 

This consoling silence was short-lived, however, as one parent after another arrived to pick up their elementary school age children from religious education class.  It was not too long before this quiet and sacred place was filled with the din of loud adult voices discussing the burning issues of parenthood, politics and current economic challenges - no matter that their Lord was just a few feet in front of them; no matter the presence of a man obviously attempting to pray.

This man saw no visible evidence in the actions of these adults that any of them really believed that Jesus Christ was really, truly and substantially present, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity in the Sacred Eucharist reserved in the Church’s tabernacle or that any of them even thought this would be an appropriate time for them to silently pray. As their children began to filter into the Church from the parish hall, bedlam followed them and the last vestiges of sacredness vanished, save for the one sole man sitting and silently praying, determined to offer good example. Maybe he should have spoken to these parents and their children.  How will they learn if no one teaches or corrects them? No one did. 

The conduct this man observed must not occur in the presence of such a loving God. It happened not only this afternoon but happens every Sunday (if not more often) in far too many of our Catholic parishes. These disrespectful behaviors will continue to occur so long as a majority of Catholics no longer believe that Christ is really, truly and substantially present in the Eucharist.

Catholic Churches are intended to be sacred places – different from all other structures in which we spend time – a silent prayerful oasis of quiet, comfort, solace and grace.  The stark reality that we have lost that sense and our belief in the Real Presence, is enough to make Our Lord cry. 

We must insist on reverent silence in our Churches.  Hard to believe but we must re-teach this fundamental truth.  Our every action while within our Church buildings must evidence our belief that we are in a sacred place and in the presence of God – otherwise the rest of what we teach or do in Church will be for naught.

It would be so easy to correct this tragic situation if our priests would remind us at Sunday Mass as to the proper way to conduct ourselves while in this sacred place and the reasons for doing so.  Their instruction and example can be lovingly reinforced by conspicuously posting a reminder at all entrances that “Silence is the reverent language spoken here”.

So why don’t they? Their continued failure to do so makes this grown man cry.