New Year, Resolutions?

January 1, 2019. Another year, and the push to make new resolutions for a “New Year, New You” for the coming twelve months, mixed with the jokes about broken resolutions and the unending cycle of same.

For us as Catholics, the year begins with Mass – not for a new year, but to honor the power of the Incarnation through the fiat of Mary, in a grand Solemnity. I cantored for a local Mass last night, and played at the chapel for another, this morning. This is a very good way to begin.

We are in a grave time of crisis, and we have important choices to make. Our culture is running mad. Children are being exploited as sex objects, even applauded for being transgender or a drag queen on national television, for all our children to see and to think should be imitated or looked up to.  Local libraries and bookstores are promoting reading hours with drag queens — again, to influence our children and to lure them into a false glamour, to rob them of their innocence.

There is an increasing push to criminalize reparative therapy:  the gay lobby insists, very loudly, that it is impossible to change one’s gender preference and that reparative therapy is abuse of a criminal degree — while they insist that one can overcome biology to change one’s own gender.

Public schools are promoting these ideologies, and even taking children to begin the process of “transitioning” — without parental consent.  Parents who oppose these manipulations of their children are being charged with criminal acts and losing their children to the State.

It’s being reported than nearly 14,010,000 babies were aborted in the past year.

The hallmarks of paganism are human sacrifice and sexual depravity.

More and more, Christians and those who hold traditional moral and social values are being scorned, persecuted, punished in the public square.

And even our beloved Church, which is supposed to be the safeguard of all things holy, and the example of sanctity in the world, is embroiled in one controversy and crisis after another — as princes of the Church protect one another from accountability for grave misdeeds, and promote individuals who defy Church teaching in order to promote deviance in the name of “love” and “acceptance.”

We can’t even take our own pontiff seriously, any more, for whatever words he might utter about homosexuals being kept from the priesthood, he promotes and protects the apologists for the homosexual lifestyle and punishes those who actually hold faithful to the Magisterium.

So, in this coming year, I propose that we must be resolved:

  1. to make an oblation, an offering, of our lives to God.
  2. to live faithfully to Christ, even in isolation, even in defiance of the tsunami of atheism and insanity that is pouring in on us.
  3. to know our Faith better, day by day, through diligent study of the Scriptures and works of the Magisterium (beginning, in conjunction with the Scriptures, the Catechism)
  4. to foster a greater love for Christ, through an increase in prayer and devotional time, so that the whole of our life might be a continual, unceasing prayer and praise
  5. to practice the Works of Mercy – which includes the often-uncomfortable Works of rebuking sinners and instructing the ignorant
  6. to guard our minds and hearts against the influence of the Evil One
  7. to do all in our power to protect our homes and families from evil influence
  8. for those who are married to pray together as a couple, and those with children to incorporate the family rosary and prayer in your daily routine
  9. for those who are not married to find prayer partners with whom you will unite in prayer and service, holding one another up to God and to accountability
  10. to serve faithfully in the Church Militant in that sphere of life to which we are called, and in which we daily live.

Frankly, I think our culture has gone past the point of no return. I don’t believe we can recover the innocence and purity of past generations.  I believe we are now on a Search And Rescue mission.

Let us do our very best.

Vivat Christus Rex!

Stewardship for the Rest of Us

The talk I’d like to be able to give to my parish:

Over the past several weeks, we’ve heard some inspiring stories from some wonderful people who serve our parish in a variety of ways. These stories have celebrated the goodness of God and challenged us to give back to Him from the blessings with which He has gifted us.

But some of us are living a different sort of life. We’re broke. Our health is poor. We are weighed down with grief and bereavement, and sometimes with estrangements. In a variety of ways we are just barely hanging on for dear life. We’d like to give something to God, but all we can see in ourselves is emptiness, pain, and lack.

My dear friends, when this is all you can see, then this is what you give.  Catholics have a wonderful saying: “Offer it up.” We are a people who believe that God is not limited by our limitations. We are a people who base our lives on the hope of a Divine Economy which takes our sufferings and transforms them into something redemptive.   And out of our brokenness, God will give us something we can give back to Him.

Many years ago, I knew a precious woman who was so crippled with arthritis that, when her youngest child was born, she was unable to hold him. But this same woman had a rich and powerful prayer life, and she was an effectual intercessor. Your sufferings may prevent you from teaching CCD, your poverty may prevent your contributing to the offering basket as you would like — but God will open to you ways of serving Him:  in prayer. In counseling and comforting. In encouraging.  All our gifts are needed to fulfill the purpose of the Body of Christ. Even the ones you don’t know you possess.

So begin where you are. “Lord, I am empty, so far as I can see. But please take my life and use it for Your Glory. I make an offering — an oblation! — of my life to You.”

Amen.

A Prayer of St Benedict

Grant to me, O Father,
most holy and most merciful,
wisdom to understand Thy intentions with
regard to me, a heart to share Thy feelings,
courage to seek Thee alone, and a way
of life that contributes to Thy glory.

Give me, O my God,
eyes that see only Thee,
a tongue that may speak only of Thee,
and a life devoted entirely to Thy will.

Finally, O my Savior, grant me the joy
of seeing Thee one day, face-to-face,
with all Thy saints in glory.

Draw close to Christ

So much upheaval, and the acceleration is alarming! – Planned Parenthood, gay marriage, Islamic terrorism on the rise, public school crises, personal violence  . . .  crises in the Church . . .

It’s easy to take our eyes off God, but now, more than ever, we must draw close to Him.  All the indignation in the world, all the activism, means nothing if we aren’t close to the Source of our passion.  There must be time each day, out of the craziness, which we devote to being still and quiet with the Holy Trinity. Time for prayer, time for Lectio, time for entering a personal sanctuary where nothing matters at all but His sweet Presence.

 

Drifting by the Sloth of Disobedience

From the Prologue of the Rule of Benedict:

. . . The labor of obedience will bring you back to him from whom you had drifted through the sloth of disobedience. (v. 2)

It’s a funny thing about drifting:  you’re just there, and you get distracted by new ideas, new distractions, new activities . . . and you finally look up and — Whoa! where am I?  I was over there, but now I’m over here! How did that happen?

It’s particularly easy to do in our walk with the Lord.  A day of skipping prayer makes it easy to skip again, and before you know it, weeks and even months have gone by . . . and you’ve lost your bearings and you aren’t really even sure when or how it happened.

Sloth. Laziness. Slack off in the habits of discipleship and before you know it you’ve been carried way on downstream and not in the direction you’d intended to go.

So stick with it.  If you’ve been lazy, if you’ve been careless, renew your resolve and turn the “ear of your heart” to sound instruction.

Prayer before reading

There are lots of prayers before reading the Scriptures.  I just did a quick Google search, and I found dozens, probably hundreds.  Pick the one you like best.

I talk to God rather plainly, and I say something like, “Father, come to me in the Scriptures, and help me to know You better. Make me tender-hearted to what I learn here, so I might be more fully converted. Amen.”   It varies from day to day.

Point is, do ask God to “open the eyes of your heart” and increase your receptivity to the Message.  The fancy words don’t matter. The intention of the heart does.

Pre-Lent reflection on living in the Last Days

Dear friends, as I post on news comment boards and read the comments left by other participants, I am astonished by the willful ignorance, compounded by the unveiled hostility, of other posters toward Christianity and Christian moral values. We do indeed live in the age foretold by Isaiah, when people would call black, white, and white, black. The Enemy has so deluded men and women that they have become his willing servants, hating what is true, hating what is holy.

Rather than posting the list here (I am thinking of compiling a list of examples to post as a note here, or on my Facebook Notes), I simply ask you to commit yourself to renewing your part, as Church Militant, in the Great Battle during this season of Lent which begins tomorrow.

Let your Lenten sacrifice not be merely the continuing of an old tradition, but a genuine offering of self to God through some form of denial that brings you closer to Christ’s gift of self in His Passion, and on the Cross.

And I ask you to pray daily – throughout the day – for the salvation of souls, for the conversion of sinners, for the forces of this present darkness to be pushed back… for our beloved Nation to be once more spared from the Judgment we increasingly seem to be begging for.

We have come full circle. Christianity began as a small, persecuted minority in the midst of a great pagan Empire – rose in influence and political power through the centuries until the entire West was shaped by the Church’s teachings and values… only to have declined, so very rapidly, into, once again, this persecuted and despised minority.

It is because of this cyclical reality I am seeing that I feel that this present crisis differs from the crises of prior generations. Our modern technologies take the evils once confined to major metropolitan areas and push them into our own living rooms – when once upon a time outlying and rural areas were largely spared from the wickedness marking various rulers and Courts, preserving enclaves of quiet, peace, and safety.

I believe we will soon – perhaps in my lifetime – see the culmination of human history as we have known it, when Christ will “Come Again in Glory to Judge the Living and the Dead, and His Kingdom will have no end.”

So – “let us not weary in doing good” as we enter into this Lent, but let our love for Christ be flamed, and our desire for sanctity burn brighter than ever before.