Today is Ash Wednesday and that means that one of my favorite passages in scripture is going to be highlighted:
Even now, says the LORD,
return to me with your whole heart,
with fasting, and weeping, and mourning;
Rend your hearts, not your garments,
and return to the LORD, your God.
For gracious and merciful is he,
slow to anger, rich in kindness,
and relenting in punishment.
Perhaps he will again relent
and leave behind him a blessing,
Offerings and libations
for the LORD, your God.
Blow the trumpet in Zion!
proclaim a fast,
call an assembly;
Gather the people,
notify the congregation;
Assemble the elders,
gather the children
and the infants at the breast;
Let the bridegroom quit his room
and the bride her chamber.
Between the porch and the altar
let the priests, the ministers of the LORD, weep,
And say, “Spare, O LORD, your people,
and make not your heritage a reproach,
with the nations ruling over them!
Why should they say among the peoples,
‘Where is their God?’”
Then the LORD was stirred to concern for his land
and took pity on his people.
If you go to a Catholic Mass today that reading from the book of Joel Chapter 2 verses 12-18 is the first scripture you’ll hear and it emphases one of the most important themes of Christianity and that’s this:
It doesn’t matter how bad your sins have been, how far down the path you’ve gone or what any person thinks of you and your sins. Even now at this very moment God will forgive and forget if you sincerely repent your sins.
Will the path be easy? Probably not, the other side is not going to let you go all that easy, and in modern society if you choose to turn to Christ without a question the Joy Behars of the world will ridicule you.
But in terms of eternity it pays dividends that the world doesn’t offer.
Lent is a time for repentance but in truth the time to take the first step in the right direction is always NOW!
An argument arose among the disciples about which of them was the greatest. Jesus realized the intention of their hearts and took a child and placed it by his side and said to them, “Whoever receives this child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me. For the one who is least among all of you is the one who is the greatest.”
Then John said in reply, “Master, we saw someone casting out demons in your name and we tried to prevent him because he does not follow in our company.” Jesus said to him, “Do not prevent him, for whoever is not against you is for you.”
One of the things that a Catholic sees over the years is an incredible array of different devotion that various people insist IS the devotion you should pray, or that THIS devotion is the one that will finally get your kids or grandkids to church or change the heart of that horrible boss of yours or will bring peace to your friend or finally get the world on the right track.
Then there are all the various prayers and chaplets from the standard Rosary, to the Divine Mercy Chaplet, the St. Michael Chaplet, The Litany of the Saints , the Penitential Psalms and the prayers of various saints.
And beyond that if you go to a divine mercy chapel or to some other place of devotion you will without fail find home made slips with various special prayers that can be prayed on a standard Rosary or various chapelts
In fact I even contributed to this with my own bloggers prayer on my site that went up as soon as my pastor at the time approved it. It goes like this:
Oh God, you who gave free will to your creation, bless those who use that precious gift to blog
May we though this gift of freedom of expression enlighten, entertain and inform our readers, and we ask particular blessing for those who bring your word across the net, that they may faithfully execute your command to make disciples of all nations.
We ask this through Christ our Lord, Amen.
This situation is amplified by 10 if you write about the church, attend Catholic events or go to any national event. The number of such devotions you are exposed to, involving saints both ancient and modern, miracles long forgotten or new and all kinds of revelations to the point where you realize that not only is God not dead as the left insisted in the sixties but he and the saints still seem to be working overtime for the salvation of souls.
But that leaves the questions on the floor? Of all of these various devotions:
What are the best ones to pray?
Which one are the most likely to be answered?
The answer to both questions is the same: all of them.
In terms of what you should or should not pray, as long as your it is legitimate, unherticial and not forbidden by the Church, ANY prayer, devotion or practice that is the direct worship of God the Father, the Son, or the Holy Spirit or intercessory in nature asking the Blessed Mother or the saints to pray and intercede with God the Father, the Son or the Holy Spirit either directly, is of value and worth encouraging.
The idea is not so which prayers or devotion you embrace but that you regularly pray bringing your devotions to the Lord and make such prayer habitual. It is that regular prayer, whether the liturgy of the hours, a daily rosary or regular adoration or whatever devotion you embrace that will bring you closer to God and if you find you are more inclined to one devotion more than another by all means go with it.
My rule of thumb is the best prayer is the one you actually DO.
As for which prayers will be answered the likely hood God answering any prayer is dependent not so much on the prayer used, but on the following:
Your request being in accordance with the will of God.
If what your praying for is contrary to God’s will, it’s just not going to happen. The desire for God to do our will via prayer rather than the desire of us to accomplish God will through prayer is not only ineffective but is conducive to the Sin of Pride. If we treat our communication with God like the voice taking your order in a drive through we shouldn’t be surprised if we open the bag after leaving and find something other than what we expected.
Your faith in God’s ability to answer your request. Presuming your request is in accord with God will faith is still a key ingredient. Over and over in scripture Jesus notes where faith is the difference between a prayer even by a person “unworthy” (“Lord, even the dogs under the table eat the children’s scraps.” Then he said to her, “For saying this, you may go. The demon has gone out of your daughter.” MK 7:28,29) being granted to a prayer by the worthiest ( Jesus rebuked him and the demon came out of him, and from that hour the boy was cured. 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. “Mt 17:18-20a ) Just as faith without works is dead, prayer without faith is just words without meaning. It’s worth noting that a sign of faith in prayer is persistence in prayer.
The disposition of the Target of a prayer. This is a function of the freedom God provides us as humans. One of the most common prayers you will run into is someone praying for the conversion to the faith or that someone will find their way to God. These prayers are of great use and can aid a guardian angel in opening doors and opportunities for such repentance but while our guardian angel is always on the job and God never tires of opening doors that lead to his right hand in the end a person has to be willing to take step however small to seize that opportunity, walk though that door or grasp that hand. Furthermore we have to remember it’s not WHEN such a thing takes place but THAT such a thing takes place that matters. So be persistent as the Holy Spirit does the heavy lifting.
So here is my advice: Pray liberally, wait patiently and have faith that while you might not know what God & the Holy Spirit is doing, he does.
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In Obergefell v. Hodges, the Supreme Court, relying on little more than the majority’s “reasoned judgement” that “liberty” as mentioned in the Fourteenth Amendment somehow encompasses the dignity of same-sex couples, created a right to same-sex marriage. As the case was being deliberated, traditional marriage supporters, including me, were concerned that creating such a right would immediately create tension (to say the least) between this newly-created right and the right to Religious Freedom and Freedom of Speech. In his dissent, Chief Justice Roberts correctly pointed out that “Many good and decent people oppose same-sex marriage as a tenet of faith, and their freedom to exercise religion is—unlike the right imagined by the majority— actually spelled out in the Constitution.” In a separate dissent, Justice Thomas elaborated on what Religious Liberty actually means, pointing out that it “is about freedom of action in matters of religion generally, and the scope of that liberty is directly correlated to the civil restraints placed upon religious practice.” In an apparent attempt to mollify the dissenters, Justice Kennedy explicitly stated in his majority opinion that “Many who deem same-sex marriage to be wrong reach that conclusion based on decent and honorable religious or philosophical premises, and neither they nor their beliefs are disparaged here.” Unfortunately, the LGBT community has done nothing but disparage us and our beliefs since.
Fast-forward two years and we’re back at the Supreme Court for Masterpiece Cakeshop v Colorado Civil Rights Commission, the case where a same-sex couple sued a Christian baker to force him to create a custom cake to celebrate their “wedding.” The baker, Jack Philips, declined to create a custom cake, but offered to sell them anything else in the store. Naturally, the couple cried “discrimination” to the Commission who claimed that Philips not only had to use his creativity and talent to create a cake to celebrate an event to which he was morally opposed, but also had to teach his staff, including members of his family, that his religious beliefs about marriage were discriminatory. The Commission’s ruling blatantly violated both Philips’ right to freely exercise his religion and his freedom of speech, and eventually led to oral arguments at the Supreme Court last week.
I’ve read the transcript of the oral arguments, and while I’m optimistic that Justices Kennedy, Thomas, Alito and Gorsuch, along with the Chief Justice, will rule in favor of Philips, I’m a bit concerned that the ruling may be too narrow to fully protect religious liberty against the same-sex “marriage” onslaught. Much of the argument focused specifically on what aspects of a wedding ceremony counted as “speech” for the purposes of the First Amendment. Trying to draw a line and putting some wedding-related activities, such as cake baking and photography on the protected side and makeup and hairstyling, for example, on the other side, is a complete red herring.
Rather, I believe and hope that the court will take a broader approach to the question of religious liberty that was touched upon by Chief Justice Roberts when he asked whether a Catholic legal aid service could be forced to represent a same-sex couple in a marriage-related case simply because they offered pro bono legal services to the community at large. The question really goes beyond just a wedding. If “decent and honorable” people believe that same-sex marriage is wrong, their “freedom of action in matters of religion generally” demand that they be able to live out their faith.
Christianity teaches that we should treat everyone with love, but it does not demand that we approve of every choice that others make. Why should there be a difference between forcing a baker to create a cake to celebrate a same-sex wedding and forcing a Catholic adoption service to place children with same-sex couples? Why does the same-sex couple’s supposed right to adopt a child supersede a child’s right to have a mother and a father or the Catholic social worker’s right to live out his or her vocation to care for orphans by placing them in healthy family environments?
In either case, the state would be forcing the subject to endorse or facilitate an event or behavior which his sincerely held religious beliefs teach is wrong. It’s really that simple. In either case, the objection is not to the fact that the person is gay. It would be discriminatory if Philips refused to sell the couple a pre-made cake or anything else in the store because they were gay, but that’s not what happened.
The Constitution says there shall be no law prohibiting the free exercise of religion or abridging the freedom of speech. I believe the Court can and should develop a doctrine that allows Christians and other decent and honorable people to avoid endorsing or participating in events or behaviors that their religious beliefs proscribe while still protecting the rights of LGBT persons against discrimination. As Justice Kennedy said in the oral argument, “tolerance is essential in a free society. And tolerance is most meaningful when it’s mutual.”
There is an angle concerning the Roy Moore case that nobody is talking about and that’s the Theological Aspect.
One of the things we are hearing from the Harvey Weinstein left and the Bill Clinton defending media concerning Moore is the hypocrisy of a person who is associated with Christianity in general and the Ten Commandments doing horrible things and then lying about them. How can he do this?
While that statement is rife with irony given that less that 20 months ago they were trying to return Bill Clinton to the White House and worshiping Harvey Weinstein was a God it’s not a bad theological point and deserves an answer, particularly if they actually believe Moore is lying and aren’t looking for a non-democrat to join the ranks of the exposed.
So for the sake of the theological point I’m about to make and to answer the question asked, let’s presume that despite the Harvey Weinstein left and the prevaricating media, that spent decades defending the Clintons and hiding the actions of the predators of the Hollywood and political left, are actually in this case correct about both Moore’s past actions and him lying about them today. If this is in fact the left’s Anders Breivik in terms of sexual harassment how and why would a presumably God-fearing man be so willing to tell such a blatant lie about past since rather than simply admit bad behavior in his younger days that he has gone beyond?
Well assuming that the “God-fearing” part isn’t an act the answer may come from Protestant concept of One Saved Always Saved.
Under this theory, because, as all Christians believe, Jesus Christ died for the sins of all mankind, past present and future (which is how Christ opened the gates of heaven for the righteous who died before he was crucified) once you accept Christ as your savior all your sins, past present and future are forgiven.
Thus if Roy Moore belongs to a denomination that subscribes to this once saved always saved concept (not all Protestant Denominations do) then Moore has no fear of losing heaven by lying past sins or even committing new ones because even a sin of prevarication being committed for the sake personal advancement would already be forgiven, covered by the blood of Christ and of no risk to his eternal salvation. Christ has done the heavy lifting so he can coast.
If Roy Moore was a Catholic of course he wouldn’t have this dodge. The Catholic Church has consistently taught for two thousand years that this is nonsense. Saint Paul himself talks about running the race to keep himself from being disqualified ( 1 Cor 9:2-27) and St John talks about sin that leads to death (1 John 5:16-17), we Catholics call such sins Mortal sins.
For a sin to be Mortal Sin it has to be a question of a grave matter, done deliberately with full understanding that it was wrong.
Furthermore to a Catholic in this case there would be two mortal sins here, the sin of the lie itself and the sin of presumption, that is, committing a mortal sin in anticipation of confessing said sin to be absolved of it.
This is important because for a person to be absolved of sin, they have to have contrition for that sin, either perfect contrition, meaning you hate the sin because of the love of God, or imperfect contrition, meaning you hate the sin because of their fear of damnation (imperfect contrition requires sacramental confession.) If a person is committing a sin with the intention of confessing it after the fact demonstrates a lack of the necessary contrition for forgiveness. After all Jesus himself taught that not all who cry Lord Lord will enter the kingdom of heaven. (Matt 7:21-23).
Now again we don’t know if Roy Moore is telling the truth or lying, and as of this writing I’m still giving him the benefit of he doubt but if he IS lying and figuring it is no big deal because it’s covered by the blood of Christ, believe he has a lot more to worry about than the potential of losing a senate seat.
Closing thought. If he is lying now but later confesses and repents, as Christians we are obliged if asked to forgive the sin. We aren’t however obliged to support his election.
Let your ‘Yes’ mean ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No’ mean ‘No.’ Anything more is from the evil one.
James Hacker:Will you answer a direct question? Sir Humphrey Appleby:I strongly advise you not to ask a direct question. James Hacker: Why? Sir Humphrey Appleby:It might provoke a direct answer. James Hacker: Never has yet.
Yes Minister: The Moral Dimension 1982
I’ve been too busy with other things to talk about Pope Francis and the formal Filial Correction sent to him, the first such document sent to a pope since 1333.
With profound grief, but moved by fidelity to our Lord Jesus Christ, by love for the Church and for the papacy, and by filial devotion toward yourself, we are compelled to address a correction to Your Holiness on account of the propagation of heresies effected by the apostolic exhortation Amoris laetitia and by other words, deeds and omissions of Your Holiness.
We are permitted to issue this correction by natural law, by the law of Christ, and by the law of the Church, which three things Your Holiness has been appointed by divine providence to guard. By natural law: for as subjects have by nature a duty to obey their superiors in all lawful things, so they have a right to be governed according to law, and therefore to insist, where need be, that their superiors so govern. By the law of Christ: for His Spirit inspired the apostle Paul to rebuke Peter in public when the latter did not act according to the truth of the gospel (Gal. 2). St Thomas Aquinas notes that this public rebuke from a subject to a superior was licit on account of the imminent danger of scandal concerning the faith (Summa Theologiae 2a 2ae, 33, 4 ad 2), and ‘the gloss of St Augustine’ adds that on this occasion, “Peter gave an example to superiors, that if at any time they should happen to stray from the straight path, they should not disdain to be reproved by their subjects” (ibid.). The law of the Church also constrains us, since it states that “Christ’s faithful . . . have the right, indeed at times the duty, in keeping with their knowledge, competence, and position, to manifest to the sacred pastors their views on matters which concern the good of the Church” (Code of Canon Law 212:2-3; Code of Canons of Oriental Churches 15:3).
Scandal concerning faith and morals has been given to the Church and to the world by the publication of Amoris laetitia and by other acts through which Your Holiness has sufficiently made clear the scope and purpose of this document.
The Document lists seven heretical positions that directly contradict the faith as taught for centuries. and these positions have been propagated via Amoris Laetitia’s
Ironically as I’ve written the vast majority of Amoris Laetitia is pretty good. Paragraph after paragraph contains teaching that a Catholic should take to heart but the infamous footnote included has been used by those on the left in the church have used to drive a bus through doctrine. Much like this exchange from Yes Prime Minister
PM Jim Hacker:I can read between the lines, Some politicians have a feeling for foreign affairs. I could tell that you were warning me that St. George Island might need our help Luke:Oh Yes, Well No actually, only on one paragraph on page 107! PM Jim Hacker: It was enough I can take a hint.
Yes Prime Minister A Victory for Democracy 1986
It didn’t matter how much good was in that document, that footnote was used by several Bishops around the world to directly counteract Catholic Doctrine in their areas of communion for the divorced and remarried, doctrine that has been clearly established as long as there has been a church.
There are many things I like about Pope Francis, his emphasis on Mercy, on Confession and his direct statements about the Devil being real are first rate. He has also been very explicit on life in all of his encyclicals (something that I keep urging the GOP to bring up every time a Democrat quotes one but I digress). Furthermore I certainly get the idea of trying to get those in mortal sin back into the Church to aid their salvation as that is the primary job of the church.
It my opinion, however, that his silence on this matter has been a huge mistake. It is promulgating division in the church and the sooner these questions are directly answered, our yes meaning yes and our no being no, the better for the Church and the people it serves.
It is the job of the Vatican to emulate Christ, by refusing to answer a direct question we have reached this point, that it is instead emulating Sir Humphrey and the civil servants of British comedy.
Two years ago (before we found the reality of Catholic front group” I famously asked Catholic Call to action this question in response to their tweets on Synod 2015.
Any christian individual or organization whether Catholic or Protestant should give Catholic Call to Action the widest birth possible because any organization that can’t clearly and without hesitation proclaim: “Jesus Christ is the son of God and died and rose from the dead” yet claims to be “Catholic” can’t be trusted.
I urge the Vatican not to mimic the silence these fellow’s silence in response to a direct question. It speaks volumes and none of it is good.
My advice to my fellow Catholics, continue to Pray for the Pope and the Church and continue on as you have before, because even at a time like this we should remember that while we have no idea what the Holy Spirit is doing, God does so we must answer this challenge in the words made famous by St. Faustina:
I told my story of the 2nd day of the EWTN family celebration in this post on Stacy McCain in Massachusetts. Because of the Buffet Books and Blather event I was not able to attend Saturday but Sunday was a grand time with Sunday Mass celebrated by Bishop McManus, Confessions throughout the day an area for kids with Brother Leo from the Brother Leo series and an Adoration Chapel for prayer and reflection.
However while I as usual, conducted interview after interview with the folks from EWTN the post from the day only included a single one of those interviews, this one with the National Catholic Register, This was necessary since that post was a part of the series concerning Stacy McCain’s trip and it was evident during the writing of the post that the EWTN interviews simply overwhelmed everyone else
So without further ado here are the interviews from the EWTN Family Celebration in Worcester.
I spoke to Jack Williams the head of EWTN Radio
and the man over his head Michael Warsaw the EWTN Chairman of the Board:
I spoke to Marcus Grodi who hosts The Journey Home one of the most popular shows on the network
And author and frequent TV guest Susan Conroy
Dorothy Radlicz who I had the pleasure of meeting in Chicago showed me around the EWTN religious catalog setup which was very popular
Finally I spoke to Fr. Mitch Pacwa who remembered me from our previous interviews.
Everyone at the Family Celebration was working hard but Fr. Mitch had the longest day as the line to meet him seemed to never end
She gave me a bunch of her time, either introduced or pointed out people for me to interview and treated me not like a member of the media who she had encountered one day 1000 miles away but as an old friend that she was delighted to see.
I am in her debt.
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