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.

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 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

Rosary cupcakes a delicious devotion

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.”

Luke 9:46:50

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?

and

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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There is one thing thing missing the current spate of pervnado stories that surprises me.

For decades are friends in media and culture have existed that the idea of absolute truths as taught by the Catholic Church is incorrect and that truth, right and wrong are completely subjective and that the idea that man is not just another animal but made in the image of God is nonsense.

That being the case can anyone explain why not a single member of the liberal Pervnado crowd is saying:

I know that to Ms. xxx what I did is wrong, but that’s HER truth. In my truth what I did is perfectly fine.

Since we humans are animals and males are biological driven to seek sex how can you consider me wrong for satisfying that biological urge?

If a woman chooses to sexually satisfy me in order to advance her career who are you to object? It’s a simple transaction that gives both parties what they want.

How dare you try to impose the Christian idea that sex outside of marriage is wrong!

What I choose to do behind closed doors to satisfy myself sexually is none of your business!

Could it be that the reason why we are not hearing any of these defenses either from those accused or from those who defend them be that they don’t believe the pap they have been telling us for decades and instead secretly know that Sr. John Dominic is right?

1: Why Educate in Virtue? from Dominican Sisters of Mary on Vimeo.

I submit and suggest that our liberal friends who decided 50 years ago that because they were so much smarter than every generation that came before them it was a good idea for society to abandon the tenets of Judeo christianity that had centuries of trial and error to test their value to humanity for the whole “Morality is subjective and if it feels good do it” were only slightly less idiotic than those is society who didn’t have the guts to tell them to get stuffed when they had the chance.

That’s the sad part, We as a society did this to ourselves and we did so because we still haven’t figured out that God’s rules are not for his benefit, but for ours.


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I speak to Steven McVey of The Augustine Institute at the 2017 Catholic Marketing Network

Their web site is here.

The Rest of my Catholic Marketing Network posts are here.

I spoke to Tom Nash about his book What did Jesus DO at the 2017 Catholic Marketing Network

You can buy his book here

The Rest of my Catholic Marketing Network posts are here.

I spoke to Richard Atkins of Fundamentally Catholic at the Catholic Marketing Network Event

Their website is here

The Rest of my Catholic Marketing Network posts are here.

I spoke to young author Christoper Sparks about his book, How Can You Still be Catholic

You can buy his book here

The Rest of my Catholic Marketing Network posts are here.