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!

Merry Christmas, I say, since I stubbornly hold that the Christmas season begins on December 25. Happy New Year as well, keeping in mind that each day begins a new year.

I’m grateful to readers, fellow writers, and DTG himself for this spot on the blog.

To all, I commend these words from Pope Francis, spoken to a group of laypeople in 2015. The words are on my own blog’s home page as an epigraph to that particular project. Even if you and I don’t share a religious faith, I suspect we have in common a commitment to our nation’s political culture. As Pope Francis says, get to it.

Engaging in politics is martyrdom: truly a martyr’s work, because one needs to go the whole day with the ideal of building the common good, always carrying the cross of many failures and carrying the cross of many sins. It’s difficult to do good in a society without getting your hands or your heart a little dirty…Don’t allow this to discourage you. 

…You can’t watch from the balcony! Get involved! Give it your best. If the Lord calls you to this vocation, get to it, engage in politics. 

Cheers and best wishes to all!

Ellen Kolb is a writer and pro-life activist from New Hampshire.  

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As far as pilgrimages go, my annual trip to the National Shrine of Our Lady of La Salette in Attleboro Massachusetts was not an epic journey.  It involved a five minute walk then an hour long bus ride on a luxury motor coach.  On the way we stopped at Wright’s Chicken Farm, which I most highly recommend.  They serve all you can eat chicken and french fries.  Both are outrageously good.

If you’re planning on visiting, I would recommend taking a bus trip.  The shrine is hard to find and the traffic is very bad this time of year.   For those who want to drive there, arrive early and use a good GPS device.  The traffic into the parking lot usually starts to build around 3 pm so I would try to arrive before then.  By 5 pm the traffic is bumper to bumper for miles each time I visited, which was always the Saturday two weeks before Christmas.

There is plenty to do if you arrive early.  They have a nativity museum with over 2000 nativity sets from around the world. The grounds are very peaceful with Christmas music playing over church bells.  At 3 pm they usually have an Christmas concert in the church followed by a mass at 4 pm.

At about 10 minutes to 5 there is a candlelight procession to the large outside manger where a brief prayer service is held.   At exactly 5 pm the lights are turned on.  That is an amazing sight.  This year they have over a half million lights spread over a large area.  The pictures I’m posting only show a very small fraction of the entire display.  It is well worth the trip.

Merry Christmas everyone !!!

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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Consider subscribing. While you might have heard I’ve been unexpectedly rehired at my job. how long that will last is anyone’s guess (I have Jan 7th or 8th in the pool) but if we can get 87.5 more subscribers at $20 a month I can do this full time without worry.


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Finally might I suggest my book  Hail Mary the Perfect Protestant (and Catholic) Prayer makes an excellent Gift for the person of faith on your Christmas list?

by baldilocks

Many of my Facebook friends – most of whom are conservatives — are arguing about controversies of recent vintage and of this particular day: whether or not to continue watching the NFL, whether Christians should allow their children to take part in Halloween festivities or participate in those festivities themselves. I find it amusing, as I do with most purse fights.

But today is also another anniversary: the 500th anniversary of the day on which Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the door of the Wittenberg Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany, signaling, in hindsight, the Protestant Reformation. I put up a short status noting the occasion and received not one bit of blowback from my Catholic friends like Fausta or our host!  Not one bit of purse fight. I’m almost disappointed!

Seriously, I love that noting this event in 2017 is almost mundane, especially since the split between the two parts of Christianity generated lots of bloodshed all those centuries ago and did so for some time in the previous century.

The evolution of this relationship between Catholics and Protestants was exemplified by the fact that, when my great-aunt was alive, I would drop her off for Mass at St. Brigid Catholic Church in South Central LA, continue on to my Protestant non-denominational church in Glendale, then, when my church’s service was over, come back to retrieve her.

Having read a lot about theology and church history, one overarching theme seems inescapable to me – every church denomination is capable of falling into error, division and even violence because we forget these things: that God believes in freedom and that our primary commandments are to love Him and each other. I, for one, don’t want to forget.

God bless the peace between His children and Happy Reformation Day …

And thank you, my Catholic friends, for the love and for the reconciliation.

Also, this seems like a good place to put a link to Peter’s book, The Perfect Protestant and Catholic Prayer.

Juliette Akinyi Ochieng blogs at baldilocks. (Her older blog is located here.) Her first novel, Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game, was published in 2012. Her second novel tentatively titled Arlen’s Harem, will be done one day soon! Follow her on Twitter and on Gab.ai.

Please contribute to Juliette’s JOB:  Her new novel, her blog, her Internet to keep the latter going and COFFEE to keep her going!

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Remember five years ago when Pam Geller talked about the murder of Jessica Mokdad and her mother backed by the MSM insisted her daughter’s murder was not an honor killing and we saw posts like this from the righteous left:

The Jessica Mokdad Story: Family of Deceased Girl Doesn’t Want Pamela Geller Pimpin’ Their Daughter’s Name For Islamophobic Agenda

Nevermind:

But now Jessica’s mother has contacted me to confirm that it was indeed an honor killing and to thank me for standing for her daughter.

She Facebook-messaged me:

My daughter is Jessica mom dad and she was killed by her step father a muslim from Iraq, in Warren, Michigan. I was muslim at that time, but I felt I was brain washed into it. I’m a Christian again Thank JESUS! I believe you had a meeting here in Dearborn in 2011. I wish I was thinking then the way I do now. I’d like to thank you for all u do! I hate Islam and everything it stands for! I was in in for 16 years! I regret every minute! God bless you and all u do!

We always knew this to be true, but now the Muslims and leftists who complained about my event are exposed as liars.

You see Jessica’s mom has left Islam and has returned to her Catholic faith and is now free to speak of things as they are

Wendy concluded: “I thank God every day I’m not in that relationship anymore.” She gave me some advice for other women who convert to Islam and marry Muslims: “I’m totally against it. They have no idea what they’re in for. I don’t care what they tell you. They can sweet-talk you, they can promise you the world, but that’s all going to change mighty fast … either when they marry you or get you pregnant, or whatever else, you know?” Wendy told one woman considering marrying an Egyptian Muslims, “Being with a Muslim person is not what you think. Believe me, I poured my heart and soul into every text to, you know, try to reason with her, to try to save her. I told her, it’ll be the worst mistake of your entire life if you go over there and marry him.”

We should pray for not only her but for all those who have been victimized like this.

Closing thought. I strongly suspect the leftist sites that lionized her will be as anxious to do so again as the Vatican will be to have her speak as a Catholic revert at a conference on Islam.

That’s what we all do when we sin in any way. We go to confession with a firm purpose of amendment and start over with God’s help.

Fr. Z

An important point to make concerning Weinstein / Murphy et/al

Harvey Weinstein and his enablers who knew what was going on have at the very least been a cads and at worst has violated the law.  Furthermore his very pubic backing actions as a champion of liberal women’s causes ring hollow given his actions.  The various fallouts from these actions, financial, legal and social that will him and those who enabled him all are on them and are not unjust.

Congressman Tim Murphy of Pennsylvania finds himself in a similar situation in terms of reputation.  One the one hand portraying himself and running as a champion of the pro life cause while pushing abortion on his mistress when she turned up pregnant.  Murphy is of course not facing any criminal jeopardy as these actions are not unlawful but he has been forced to resign as his voter base is rightly disgusted at this immoral behavior.

However that is only half of the equation.

In eternal terms Mr. Weinstein’s and his enablers sins and former Congressman Murphy’s are in the same boat.  They have sinned but Jesus Christ has paid the price for them said sins thus they are subject to the ,  same binding and loosing power of the Church that Christ granted his disciples.

If Mr. Weinstein and/or Congressman Murphy has actual constriction for their sins and possess a sincere purpose of amending their ways, they can repair the break between them and God and through the ministry of the church be absolved of those sins, meaning that while they might be subject to criminal, civil or social penalties here on earth the’d be on the right track eternally.

That’s the great thing about the church regardless of the nature of man, we can always get another chance, if we’re willing to ask.

Let your ‘Yes’ mean ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No’ mean ‘No.’ Anything more is from the evil one.

Matthew 5:37

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.

Now a year ago a set of Cardinals sent a Dubia asking the Holy Father to clarify this footnote.  The cardinals and the dubia have alternatively been ignored and attacked at the Vatican but most importantly nobody has answered them.

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.

They declined to answer and I wrote at the time:

Now I’m not a professed catholic organization with a big leadership team, chapters around the nation holding national conferences with a list of keynote speakers and endorsements as famous a Christian an ex-president of the United States but I know this much:

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:

Jesus I trust in you.