One of the problems with people are the expectations we set for ourselves in things, including prayer.

Many times we will offer prayers and find ourselves disappointed because what we pray for doesn’t come at once.

One must remember not to pray as if you are casting a magic spell because that’s not what it is, nor should we assume that the specific item that we are praying for is God’s will.

Regardless of our feelings, our desires God will use our prayers in the way that most suits his purpose and as Jesus taught us to pray “Thine will be done.” not “my will be done.”

So if after today’s final day of prayer you find that the world is still not the world you want it to be don’t lose heart or faith, persevere both in pray and action and take comfort that when you pray the our father / the Lord’s Prayer and declare: “Thine will be done”, that request will be granted.

As Christians that should be enough.

Monday Pope Francis gave a homily at daily masses whose main points should be taken to heart by every Christian in general and Catholic in particular:

Beware, the Pope warned, of the devil’s seduction.

“The devil is a seducer,” Francis reminded, saying, he “knows what words to tell us” and this is dangerous as “we like to be seduced.”

“He has this ability; this ability to seduce. This is why it is so difficult to understand that he is a loser, because he presents himself with great power, promises you many things, brings you gifts – beautiful, well wrapped – -‘Oh, how nice!’ – but you do not know what’s inside – ‘But, the card outside is beautiful.’ The package seduces us without letting us see what’s inside. He can present his proposals to our vanity, to our curiosity.”

His light, Francis said, is dazzling, but it vanishes.

More importantly he advises not having a dialog with him

Do not converse with the devil

Finally, we must be careful not to dialogue with the devil as Eve did. Jesus does not dialogue in the desert, but rather responds with the Word of God. He hunts the demons, sometimes he asks for his name but does not make a dialogue with them.

And gives first rate advice on what to do when confronted by this enemy:

in the end, go to the mother, like children. When the children are afraid, they go to the mother: ‘Mom, mom … I’m scared!’ When they have dreams … they go to their mothers.

“Go to the Madonna; she guards us. And the Fathers of the Church, especially the Russian mystics, say: in the time of spiritual turmoil, take refuge under the mantle of the great Mother of God. Go to the Mother. May she help us in this fight against the defeated, against the chained dog to win it.”

Pope Francis concluded, urging us always to seek refuge in the Mother of God.

And offers this prayer

As I said when I announced my three days of fasting and prayer for the Church while this pope has been a mediocre one at best one of the best things about him has been his constant reminders that the Devil is real, cunning and needs to be resisted.

I have said on more than one occasion that I think Pope Francis is a mixed bag.  He talks a lot about mercy and the reality of the Devil which is very good but tends to act like a local pastor ignoring that he is the head of the entire church which is very bad.  I think he, like most Popes, has been mediocre.

Since we had a canonized saint as Pope (John Paul II) for over a quarter of a century it’s natural that Francis would pale in comparison but there are real reasons to critique the way this Pope has handled things from China and the underground church to the Dubia which has still remained unanswered after over 550 days.  It is entirely proper to critique these failures, nevertheless he is still the Pope the head of the church until God wills that he is not.

There is always the danger that such a critique progresses to the point of considering the Holy Father our enemy ( which ironically would require us per the non-optional doctrine of the church, to love him and to pray for him) and causes us to embrace that first of the deadly sins, pride which Christ warned us of.

Two people went up to the temple area to pray; one was a Pharisee and the other was a tax collector. The Pharisee took up his position and spoke this prayer to himself, ‘O God, I thank you that I am not like the rest of humanity – greedy, dishonest, adulterous – or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week, and I pay tithes on my whole income.’

But the tax collector stood off at a distance and would not even raise his eyes to heaven but beat his breast and prayed, ‘O God, be merciful to me a sinner.’

I tell you, the latter went home justified, not the former; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”

Luke 18:10-14

And we can we can be sure that if our zeal takes us there our foe the Devil will be at our shoulder trying to tempt us in just that direction.

So what are we to do if we want to do something yet want to avoid crossing the line that our true enemy wants us to?  Fortunately as Catholics there is simple answer.

Prayer and Fasting.

I propose a three-day period of Prayer for the Pope, the Church and ourselves, where we implore God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit to bless, the entire Universal Church on earth.

For these three days I propose the following prayers:

Starting the day with an Our Father in the morning asking God the father to provide for the basic needs of the Church.

At midday A Divine Mercy Chaplet in the Afternoon to implore God mercy for the church through the sacrifice of God the Son.

Ending the Day with the Come Holy Spirit asking the God the Holy Spirit to envelop the entire church with the Spirit of discipleship.

For these three days I further propose a fast of varying degrees depending on one’s circumstances.

Abstaining from meat (full disclosure I already abstain on Wednesdays)

An Ash Wednesday like fast

A complete fast.

One could choose any of these or to progress from one to the next each day.

I further propose to begin this on May 8th the Feast of Apparition of St. Michael the defender of the church and end May 10th a feast day for Martyrs (Saints Gordian and Epimachus) High Churchmen ( St. Comgall, Abbot St. Cataldus Bishop, St. Antoninus, Archbishop) and ordinary people (St. Isidore) thus representing both the heavenly nature of such a prayer and the earthly span of the church from high to low.

If we want to banish the demons that plague the church and ourselves this is the way to do it, after all this is exactly what Christ suggested :

Then the disciples approached Jesus in private and said, “Why could we not drive it out?” He said to them, “Because of your little faith. Amen, I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you. But this kind does not come out except by prayer and fasting“.

That’s good enough for me.

Early this week R. Lee Emery the marine turned actor first known for Full Metal Jacket but more famous for his show Mail Call died at the age of 74

A few days ago Barbara Bush, wife of one president, mother of another not to mention the mother of a governor and matriarch of a grand political family after a long and useful life died at the age of 92.

Yesterday we learned that one of the legends of wrestling and one of the working class heroes of my pre-teen years Bruno Samartino died at the age of 82.

Finally we also heard that Harry Anderson actor and magician, who millions knew as the eccentric but honorable Judge Harry Stone from the very long running series Night Court died at the age of 62.

These people are very different in terms of where they come from although all in the end had fame and were performers (don’t think for one moment Mrs. Bush did not have to perform).  Some had lasting fame, others less known, some had a niche, and others would be recognized anywhere they showed their faces but all of them taught a lesson this week and this is it.

Everybody dies!

It does not matter how rich you are, how famous you are, how funny you are, how strong or fit you are or how determined you are.  It doesn’t matter if your friends are the most powerful and wealthy people in the world or if  you have access to the best doctors and the best medical treatment, either experimental or conventional  that the world can offer you.

In the end YOU ARE GOING TO DIE!

Today society denies reality all the time, our society has pretended that marriage is something other than what it is, that we can spontaneously change our sex/gender (which meant the same thing for more than 2000 years), that criminality is never the fault of those who commit it, that Islam is a religion of peace and that if we only use the right invented pronouns, smoke the right weed, and bring down western civilization as we know it, we will create paradise here on earth, but no amount of denial will change the fact that every single person who reads this post (and every person who doesn’t for that matter) is doomed to die along with the author of that post.

Act accordingly.

In closing I strongly suggest, implore and plead with you dear reader to take that reality into account, not in terms of life insurance or estate planning (although both are sensible things) but in terms of your soul and the mercy of God.

I am a very ordinary Catholic in a theological sense,  but in one respect my Catholicism is very strange in that it’s not faith based, but reality based.

I maintain that the doctrines of the Catholic Church are truth.

God’s exists.
Jesus Christ, born of the Virgin Mary was his son.
Christ suffered, died and rose from the dead to pay the debt for the sins of man.
Either Hell or Heaven (after a comparatively brief stop in purgatory for purification) awaits us for the rest of eternity.
The Choice of Heaven or Hell rests on our decision to accept the Mercy of Christ and act accordingly.

I submit these are not matters of faith and opinion but facts to be dealt with.

Now you might say my maintaining that these are facts make it so and you are right.  No amount of my stating these facts makes them true, however by the same token no amount of denial of them or insisting they are all fantasy make them false.

100 years from now we will either not exist or both know that I am telling the truth, the only question is will that knowledge be a source of eternal joy or pain.

For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.            – Jn 3:16

Why do you seek the living one among the dead? He is not here, but he has been raised.       – Lk 24:5-6

Faith is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen.                – He 11:1

Happy Easter!

There have been three images that come to mind for me when I think about Easter. The first occurred twenty years ago, when I celebrated my first Easter as a father. I was familiar, or course, with the famous John 3:16 verse, but it wasn’t until my own son was born that I was able to understand the depth of love that would be required to make such a sacrifice. All of you who are parents can I’m sure relate to that feeling.

The second image that comes to mind is when I first watched “The Passion of the Christ,” which has become an annual Good Friday tradition for me. I remember hearing as a kid in Catholic school that Christ actually suffered enough in the garden on Holy Thursday to make up for our sins, and I had heard of how awful death by crucifixion would have been, but it was largely an intellectual argument. To see such an intense depiction of what Jesus may have actually gone through puts into perspective just how much He actually did suffer for us.

And the only way any of that makes sense is that He actually did rise on Easter Sunday. There is no way the Church could have survived its early persecution and thrived as it has for two millennia if it were based on a lie.

And I saw the “evidence of things not seen” about four years ago as my mom was dying. When I visited her shortly before the end I witnessed her receive the sacrament of Anointing of the Sick. Seeing the look of peace that came over her at that time, I am certain that she is in a better place and that I will see her again. I know that Jesus has led the way.

I pray that you and your family share in the joy of Easter today and throughout the year.

I want to thank Pete for giving me the opportunity to write more often, starting today. I’m looking forward to being able to comment on things closer to when they happen. And please remember to hit DaTipJar!

The Damned being Cast into Hell, Frans Francken 1610

Anyone who gives you a cup of water to drink because you belong to Christ, amen, I say to you, will surely not lose his reward.

“Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe (in me) to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were put around his neck and he were thrown into the sea.

If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life maimed than with two hands to go into Gehenna, 10 into the unquenchable fire.

And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life crippled than with two feet to be thrown into Gehenna. And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. Better for you to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into Gehenna, where ‘their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.’

Mark 9:41-48

I’ve been thinking long and hard about the Francis “No Hell” business and I think I’ve figured it out what is going on (although I can’t take all the credit for it).

A long time ago I wrote a post about how the internet empowers “crazy uncles”

It’s not so odd that 1% of any population might be off its rocker, the problem is in a country of 300,000,000 that is 3 million people. Even if 1/10 of one percent is crackers that’s 300,000 people. To give you some perspective that’s more troops than we have in Iraq or Afghanistan.

The problem is with the internet and social networking and the like that crazy 1% or 1/10 of one percent is suddenly empowered. Instead of the crazy uncle at the family gathering that you can ignore, suddenly he has 1000 friends that he can text to rebut and counter rebut all night. He is affirmed and empowered and boy is he motivated, because now there are thousands of people telling him he’s been right all along and is MUCH smarter than everyone thought.

300,000-3,000,000 crazy uncles as individuals isn’t a big deal, but get them all writing e-mails or making phone calls and most importantly AFFIRMING themselves and suddenly you have a potent economic and or political force. Suddenly there is a huge market for a book or 10,000 people willing to pay $20 for a DVD. That’s a fair amount of change and a person can make a good living off of it.

In terms of the church a good example of this is one given by Father Z in one of the best posts on the subject of communion and the divorced that I’ve ever read. It begins with this question:

You wrote in a recent post, “Holy Communion for the divorced and remarried (which in 99.99% of cases would be sacrilege).” Can you tell me what scenario would permit your conscience to give communion to the remarried? I can think of a couple, perhaps; curious what you’re thinking, esp. as I teach a marriage class every semester.

He lays out a scenario where a couple illicitly married choose not to separate for the sake of their children but are made to understand their sin and resolve to live as brother and sister such a couple CAN receive communion but would and should avoid doing so during their mass obligation to make sure it didn’t cause scandal and confuse people by making people think the priest is giving them communion in a state of mortal sin, as father puts it

Now I will track back to what I asked about Communion at the top.

What is it that they want?

Communion with its holy effects? Or do they want to be seen receiving Communion?

Do they want the Eucharist or the “white thing” that symbolizes affirmation?

In theory of course said couple could go for communion in public and the priest knowing that they are not in a state of moral sin could give them communion counting on the charity that people should have to presume that both the priest and the couple are acting in good faith.  In his letter to the Corinthians Paul explains how how such a situation, using the example of meat sacrificed to idols, can lead to sin.

Now food will not bring us closer to God. We are no worse off if we do not eat, nor are we better off if we do.  But make sure that this liberty of yours in no way becomes a stumbling block to the weak.  If someone sees you, with your knowledge, reclining at table in the temple of an idol, may not his conscience too, weak as it is, be “built up” to eat the meat sacrificed to idols?  Thus through your knowledge, the weak person is brought to destruction, the brother for whom Christ died.  When you sin in this way against your brothers and wound their consciences, weak as they are, you are sinning against Christ.

1 Cor 8:8-12

Now if you are dealing with a small parish, and there is a busybody or a crazy uncle who sees this, the pastor could explain privately to a person scandalized by this that the couple in question are working with him and living as brother and sister (and if they fail confessing with a firm purpose of resolution) and count on that person not to gossip about this couple’s private situation or blast it out on twitter or facebook. Of course if he is unlucky the person might have already blasted this out and suddenly not only is he dealing with his bishop and the local press asking if he’s defying the church but the couple in question suddenly have all of their business out in public making leading them away from sin a complicated matter.

And that brings us to Pope Francis

A priest friend of mine one noted that the weakness of Pope Francis is he forgets that he not just a local pastor dealing with local issues but the Pope of the entire church whose every pronouncement is given scrutiny. This whole business about “There is no Hell” and the Vatican’s weak response to it is a great example of this.

Now Pope Francis might think that this is no big deal, just a conversation with an old man, John Allen describes it

The cardinal said he’d asked Pope Francis the very same question, and here was the pope’s answer: “You know, by now he [Scalfari] is quite old … we have to be gentle with him,” which is consistent with the pope’s repeated pleas to respect and cherish the elderly.

Francis’s Vatican team, sensing the pope’s preferences, may have gotten the message that when it comes to Scalfari, normally the gloves stay on.

Unfortunately he’s not just an old man Scalfari (the elderly atheist/communist journalist) is the founder of a major paper that is read by thousands and while as Allen explains, his reputation for accuracy or the lack thereof might be well known in Italy in general and Vatican circles in particular, Allen again:

It’s also worth remembering that in 2015, when Scalfari quoted Francis as having said that “all the divorced and remarried who ask will be admitted” to Communion, the then-Vatican spokesman, Father Federico Lombardi, added a very telling aside to the official denial.

Those who have “followed the preceding events and work in Italy,” he said, “know the way Scalfari writes and know these things well.”

In other words, the Vatican officials who approve public statements may have thought that it’s all been said before – forgetting, naturally, that the share of humanity that’s followed the preceding events and works in Italy is, in all honesty, staggeringly small.

Alas while Vatican officials, living in their bubble might think that this is no big deal in the age of the internet and of Drudge and a media who would like nothing more than to bring down the church this is gold and while Scalfari might be an old man, don’t think for one moment that that old Communist, Socialist Atheist and Fascist who has spent a lifetime trying to bring down the west and the Christian Culture that made it strong didn’t know what he was doing nor what it would do.

This brings scandal and disrepute to the church that he rejects but it does something even worse

Last night was the day when most new converts are received into the Church, many of them I’m sure doing so in defiance of the opinions of family and friends. How many of them, do you think, might have had second thoughts or even decided against entering into full communion because of this business, particularly the Vatican’s decision not to make a direct unequivocal denial of these statements and affirm the truth of the doctrine of the church?

Pope Francis may think of this as an attempt to reach out to an old atheist near the end of his life in the hope of conversion is mercy and decide that the idea that the Pope has to deny contradicting Saints, Popes, Marian Apparitions and Christ himself is nonsense and if Francis was a local pastor and Scalfari was just some old man near the end of it days he might be right about that.

But in so thinking and doing or in this case again (amoris laetitia) failing to clearly and unambiguously confirm and repeat the Church’s doctrine, unchanged for its two thousand years, he has managed to not only take the focus away from the sacrifice of Christ for humanity during Holy Week but has actually brought the sacrifice of Christ and the Chruch’s understanding of it into question.

This is an own goal, a gift to the enemies of the church on earth and for the enemy of men’s souls in eternity and it’s what comes of thinking like a local pastor instead of the Pope of the Universal Church responsible for the faith of hundreds of millions.

Let us pray that through the grace of God that the Holy Father figures this out.

“I, Sister Faustina Kowalska, by the order of God, have visited the Abysses of Hell so that I might tell souls about it and testify to its existence…the devils were full of hatred for me, but they had to obey me at the command of God, What I have written is but a pale shadow of the things I saw. But I noticed one thing: That most of the souls there are those who disbelieved that there is a hell.”

Diary of St Faustina

I will have more to say about this after some prayer and discernment but without commenting on the claims of who said what let me address a simple fact concerning the existence of hell.

For the statement that “There is no hell.” to be true the vast majority of Saints from Faustina to Don Bosco, to the Fatima Saints and more, Prayers like the Apostles Creed, the Saint Michael Prayer, the Fatima Prayer of the Rosary.  Several apparitions of the Blessed Mother,  all the previous Popes the Catechism of the Catholic Church and finally Jesus Christ himself all have to be either wrong or lies or both.

In other words the existence of hell is not an optional doctrine of the church.  For the statement that “There is no hell” to be true then The 2000 year of Christianity in general and the Catholic Church in particular would have to be false.

Any Christian of any Denomination who would bet his soul on Hell not existing is a fool.

…because if he hadn’t practiced it he would be dead instead of the female hostage he traded himself for during an Islamic Terror Attack in France:

Many of the potential hostages managed to escape but Lakdim kept one woman behind. At that point, Lt-COl Arnaud Beltrame offered to exchange himself for the female hostage as negotiations to end the standoff continued. He entered the supermarket unarmed but left his cell phone on nearby, allowing police to hear what was going on inside. When police heard gunshots, the French equivalent of SWAT stormed the supermarket and killed Lakdim. Beltrame, who had been both shot and stabbed, eventually succumbed to his injuries.

Arnaud was honored for his bravery and sacrifice by his own family as well as French President Emmanuel Macron and UK Prime Minister Theresa May. 

Ever notice how the left and media always find Masculinity “toxic” or “bad” until there is a crisis or danger and then when lives are in danger it suddenly is of value?

Bottom line the culture of the media/democrat left is a lie and has been for years from their attack on masculinity to their astroturf protests this weekend, it’s all based on a lie which is why even Cardinal Dolan has finally had enough of the Democrats.

I’m a pastor, not a politician, and I’ve certainly had spats and disappointments with politicians from both of America’s leading parties. But it saddens me, and weakens the democracy millions of Americans cherish, when the party that once embraced Catholics now slams the door on us.

That’s not hyperbole, either. As Dolan notes, DNC chair Tom Perez declared last year that pro-life candidates no longer have a place in the Democratic Party. Their VP nominee in 2016, Tim Kaine, ran as a Catholic who supported his running mate’s determination to get rid of the prohibition on the use of federal funds for abortions. From the HHS contraception mandate to demands to get rid of RFRA laws (the first of which was signed by Bill Clinton), Democrats have been on the march to drive all expressions of religious faith from the public square, mocking it as “bigotry” while demanding silence of Catholics and other people of faith. For the past decade or more, Democrats have tried to redefine freedom of religious expression to “freedom of worship,” confining it to the four walls of the church, chapel, synagogue, and temple.

Cripes Cardinal some of us figured that out decades ago and explained it publicly as far back as 2010


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Finally might I suggest my book Hail Mary the Perfect Protestant (and Catholic) Prayer makes an excellent Gift.

I spoke to Seth and Matt of the Coming Home Network at the 2018 Catholic Men’s Conference at Assumption College Worcester MA..

You can find the Coming Home Network here. You can find my interview with Marcus Grody here.

Previously

March 23rd

Voices of the Catholic Men’s Conference 2018 Seth and Matt of the Coming Home Network

March 22nd

Voices of the Catholic Men’s Conference 2018 Brother Jorchem of St Benedict Abbey

March 21st

Voices of the Catholic Men’s Conference 2018 Robert LeBlanc Author of Where will you Plant Your Seed?

March 20th
Voices of the Catholic Men’s Conference 2018 Holy Family Passionist Retreat Center

March 19th

Voices of the 2018 Catholic Men’s Conference: Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary

I speak to Brother Jorchem of St. Benedict Abbey in Still River Massachusetts at the 2018 Catholic Men’s Conference at Assumption College in Worcester MA.

I should point out that the Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary and St. Benedict Abbey are two distinct groups both operating in the town of Still River

Previously

March 21st

Voices of the Catholic Men’s Conference 2018 Robert LeBlanc Author of Where will you Plant Your Seed?

March 20th
Voices of the Catholic Men’s Conference 2018 Holy Family Passionist Retreat Center

March 19th

Voices of the 2018 Catholic Men’s Conference: Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary