Cardinal George, Dead of Cancer at 78

Photo Source: Wikimedia by Photobra Adam Bielawski https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Photobra

Photo Source: Wikimedia by Photobra Adam Bielawski https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Photobra

Cardinal Francis George, archbishop emeritus of Chicago died at 10:45 this morning of cancer. He was 78.

From National Catholic Register:

CHICAGO — Cardinal Francis George, the archbishop emeritus of Chicago and among the most influential Church leaders of his generation, died today at age 78, after a long battle with cancer.

“A man of peace, tenacity and courage has been called home to the Lord. Our beloved Cardinal George passed away today at 10:45am at the [cardinal’s] residence,” announced Archbishop Blase Cupich of Chicago, in a statement marking his predecessor’s death, at a press conference.

“He was a man of great courage who overcame many obstacles to become a priest,” said Archbishop Cupich, who noted his critical role as the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) during the 2002 clergy sexual-abuse crisis and the counsel he provided to the Vatican during three pontificates.

Archbishop Cupich touched on Cardinal George’s devotion to the faithful in his native city.

“Here in Chicago, the cardinal visited every corner of the archdiocese, talking with the faithful” and pursuing “an overfull schedule — always choosing the Church over his own comfort and the people over his own needs.”

“Most recently, we saw his bravery firsthand as he faced the increasing challenges brought about by cancer,” said the archbishop.

“Let us heed his example and be a little more brave, a little more steadfast and a lot more loving.

“This is the surest way to honor his life and celebrate his return to the presence of God.”

The archdiocese has stated that there will be public visitations at Holy Name Cathedral on Tuesday and Wednesday ahead of the funeral Mass on Thursday.

Read more: http://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/cardinal-francis-george-a-man-of-peace-tenacity-and-courage-has-been-called/#ixzz3XgI1DQG0

 

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Rep David Dank was My Friend. His Funeral is Today.

Photo Source: Oklahoma House of Representatives File Photo.

Photo Source: Oklahoma House of Representatives File Photo.

Oklahoma’s elderly lost a key supporter in the Oklahoma legislature last Friday. Representative David Dank died in his home of an apparent heart attack. His funeral is today.

David and I were friends for 35 years. In all that time, he never told me a lie. He was always someone I could turn to for help.

David was a principled legislator who saw corruption and tried to end it and who stood unfailingly for the needs of elderly people. A few weeks ago, a friend of mine asked me if I was worried about what would happen to the Adult Day Care program here in Oklahoma without me in the legislature to defend it.

“David’s there,” I said. “He’ll take care of it.”

Now, with David gone, I fear for the program, and for all programs that help elderly people in this state.

David’s wife Odelia was a former legislator herself. A few years back, Odelia was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. David took care of Odelia through the hard times of that illness.

I remember once I was walking into the capital as David was rushing out. I called hello to him across the oval.

“I can’t talk now,” he said. “Delia fell.”

I’ll never forget how upset he was on that day, or how sad he was as her disease progressed toward its inevitable end. He took care of Odelia while he fought the good fight against corrupt practices in the legislature. That was heroic for anyone, but David was not exactly a spring chicken himself at the time.

We had lunch with a group of friends last December. He talked about Odelia a lot during that lunch. At one point he said that all he wanted was to follow Jesus and be as good a person as he could so that when he died he could go be with Odelia.

The last time I saw David was a few weeks ago. I stopped in at St Joe’s for noon mass. David went to mass there every day, so it wasn’t a surprise to see him, sitting in his usual place in a pew on the back row.

I scooted into a seat beside him, and we attended mass together. After mass was over, when we were heading out on our separate ways, he reached out and hugged me and kissed me on the cheek.

“Bye Darlin’,” he said, “I’ll see you later.”

 

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Divine Mercy Novena: Praying for Those Who are Neither Hot nor Cold

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Mark Cristino https://www.flickr.com/photos/streetunka/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Mark Cristino https://www.flickr.com/photos/streetunka/

You say you are rich and need nothing. You don’t realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. You are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold. I am about to spit you out of my mouth. Jesus Christ

I doubt if there are any lukewarm Christians in Iraq. Ditto for Iran, Yemen, Saudia Arabia, North Korea, China and much of India.

Lukewarmness is the luxury of the privileged. In fact, it seems that the more privileged the person, the more tepid their faith. For instance, high school students staging walkouts and throwing tantrums at Catholic schools always seem to be among the over-privileged, too-entitled class. I doubt very much that we would see this kind of behavior if these schools were populated by students from the other side of those proverbial tracks.

When Christianity becomes the faith of the powerful, it becomes a powerless faith. Christianity thrives when it speaks with the radical and radicalizing voice of Jesus Christ. It grows when pastors preach Christ. It overcomes all before it when we follow Christ and Him crucified, Him resurrected.

We are the Easter people. But we are also the people of the cross.

There is no place in true followership of Christ for me-first lukewarmness. Following Jesus means doing what Jesus taught us to do, even when it hurts, even when people make fun of us, shun us and attack us for doing it.

Lukewarmness is another word for nothing much. Lukewarm Christians are nothing much. They can’t save anyone. They can’t transform the world. They aren’t the Light that shines in the darkness. They are, for all their money and glitzy worldliness, nothing much.

They use the privileges and the many gifts of their lives for self-pleasuring and self-deifying. They do not follow Christ, except when sorta following Christ feels good and fits in with the comfortable mud bath of warm worldliness where they dwell. They don’t bring people to Christ. In the overall, their lukewarmness leaves people indifferent and turns them from Him.

Today, Jesus asks us to bring to Him the Souls who have become Lukewarm … these souls wound me most painfully … My soul suffered the most dreadful loathing in the Garden of Olives because of lukewarm souls.

Loathing. Consider that, for a moment. Lukewarm souls caused loathing in the heart of Christ when He considered them at Gethsemane.

I would think that anyone with any intelligence at all would do most anything to avoid Jesus Christ looking at them with loathing. I can think of nothing more heartbreaking for these people.

Pray and pray again for those who are lukewarm. They have the faith and they reject it. They see the Way and they won’t walk it. They are perhaps the most lost of all.

Ninth Day
Today bring to Me the Souls who have become Lukewarm,

and immerse them in the abyss of My mercy. These souls wound My Heart most painfully. My soul suffered the most dreadful loathing in the Garden of Olives because of lukewarm souls. They were the reason I cried out: ‘Father, take this cup away from Me, if it be Your will.’ For them, the last hope of salvation is to run to My mercy.” 

Most compassionate Jesus, You are Compassion Itself. I bring lukewarm souls into the abode of Your Most Compassionate Heart. In this fire of Your pure love, let these tepid souls who, like corpses, filled You with such deep loathing, be once again set aflame. O Most Compassionate Jesus, exercise the omnipotence of Your mercy and draw them into the very ardor of Your love, and bestow upon them the gift of holy love, for nothing is beyond Your power.

Eternal Father, turn Your merciful gaze upon lukewarm souls who are nonetheless enfolded in the Most Compassionate Heart of Jesus. Father of Mercy, I beg You by the bitter Passion of Your Son and by His three-hour agony on the Cross: Let them, too, glorify the abyss of Your mercy. Amen.

 

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Divine Mercy Novena, Praying for Those in Purgatory, Where We are Made Fit for a King

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Keoni Cabral https://www.flickr.com/photos/keoni101/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Keoni Cabral https://www.flickr.com/photos/keoni101/

I pray a Rosary every Sunday for people in Purgatory. It takes quite a while, since I name every single person I know who has died, and I mean died, ever. I include great-great-grandparents I never met and friends of friends.

It’s the least I can do for them. I only hope that when I die, someone will take the time to pray for me.

I don’t know a great deal about Purgatory. But I do have a few surmises. These surmises are based on an experience of my own. I believe that God gave me part of my Purgatory now, in this life. What I will describe here are the ideas about Purgatory I gained from that experience.

What that means to you, dear reader, is that nothing I am about to write is official Church teaching. It comes from a personal experience and my private interpretation of that experience. If reading it edifies you, good. If it doesn’t, no matter. These are just my thoughts.

 It is a terrible thing to experience the other side of the evil you’ve done to the people around you. I believe that is what happens to us in Purgatory. Everything we do, every small act of kindness, every cutting word, every hurt we’ve inflicted on others, every joy we’ve brought to them, matters.

We are forgiven for our sins, but we aren’t always healed of what committing them has done to us. Heaven wouldn’t be very heavenly if we took our petty malice, gossip and grudge-holding with us when we went there. Even the best of us is unfit for heaven when we die. I believe that Purgatory is the transformation process that fits us for heaven. Part of that cleansing has to be facing up to who we really are.

Purgatory is bearable because it’s temporary and because it heals us ultimately and completely. Our salvation is assured when we turn to Christ for forgiveness. He washes the stain of sin from our souls in that instant. But we are still fallen people, living in a fallen world. Conversion on this side of heaven consists largely of failing down and getting back up again. The outward sign of conversion is a changed life. The interior mark of conversion is not perfection, it is trust.

As St Paul said, “I know whom I have believed, and I am confident that He is able to keep that which I have entrusted to Him against that day.”

Purgatory does not limit or grant eternal salvation. We already have eternal salvation when we enter Purgatory. What Purgatory accomplishes is the final clearing away of the detritus of our fallenness. It strips off the old torn and spotted garments of our finite existence and clothes us in our eternal garment. It transforms us into heavenly beings, fit for a King.

There are many theories about Purgatory, all of them far more authoritative than mine. But my belief is that in Purgatory we face what we have done from the viewpoint of those we did it to. If, say, you hit someone, in Purgatory you would experience the blow you gave in this life. If you gossiped about someone, in Purgatory you will feel the humiliation and hurt your words inflicted.

It would be terrible enough to experience this in this life. But in Purgatory, I think our souls will be so tender and so pure that the pain will be even more exquisite.

The souls in Purgatory are not being tortured. They are being educated about their real selves. They are seeing themselves as they are, and this insight hurts. It is the deepest grief imaginable to confront the full reality of your own sins. But from this grief comes conversion of a thorough and unalterable kind.

That is true, even here in this fallen world while we struggle with the many weaknesses of our flesh. In Purgatory, when we are naked spirits, it will be absolute. The best way to describe my understanding of Purgatory is that Purgatory is where our conversion to Christ that we began in this world is completed and made perfect.

Today Jesus tells us to bring to Me the Souls who are in the prison of Purgatory and immerse them in the abyss of My mercy … All these souls are greatly loved by Me … It is in your power to bring them relief.

It is yet another miracle of grace that we can, while we are still here in this Earthly existence, reach across the divide to aid those in Purgatory.

Please pray the Divine Mercy Novena with us today. Bring your loved ones who have died and are now in Purgatory to Jesus and immerse them in His Mercy.

Eighth Day
Today bring to Me the Souls who are in the prison of Purgatory,

and immerse them in the abyss of My mercy. Let the torrents of My Blood cool down their scorching flames. All these souls are greatly loved by Me. They are making retribution to My justice. It is in your power to bring them relief. Draw all the indulgences from the treasury of My Church and offer them on their behalf. Oh, if you only knew the torments they suffer, you would continually offer for them the alms of the spirit and pay off their debt to My justice.”   

Most Merciful Jesus, You Yourself have said that You desire mercy; so I bring into the abode of Your Most Compassionate Heart the souls in Purgatory, souls who are very dear to You, and yet, who must make retribution to Your justice. May the streams of Blood and Water which gushed forth from Your Heart put out the flames of Purgatory, that there, too, the power of Your mercy may be celebrated.

Eternal Father, turn Your merciful gaze upon the souls suffering in Purgatory, who are enfolded in the Most Compassionate Heart of Jesus. I beg You, by the sorrowful Passion of Jesus Your Son, and by all the bitterness with which His most sacred Soul was flooded: Manifest Your mercy to the souls who are under Your just scrutiny. Look upon them in no other way but only through the Wounds of Jesus, Your dearly beloved Son; for we firmly believe that there is no limit to Your goodness and compassion. Amen.

 

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Blessed are the Merciful, the Living Images of Jesus’ Compassionate Heart

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by BK https://www.flickr.com/photos/pictoquotes/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by BK https://www.flickr.com/photos/pictoquotes/

Blessed are the Merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.

Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.

Jesus Christ.

Instead of giving up chocolate this past Lent, I went on a personal pilgrimage of forgiveness.

I made a list, and I didn’t have to check it twice, of all the people I was holding a grudge against. I was astonished by how long the thing was.

Some of those grudges were decades old. In fact, five of them went back to the beginnings of my adult life. Others were more recent.

It was my own spring housecleaning, and it was hard spiritual labor.

Some of these people were easy to clear off the list. They were the ones where I got crossways with them but they were good people and I’m a good person and we both did things we shouldn’t have done to one another. One in particular is someone I owe more than enough to clear the debt for him, just based on what he did for me before he started doing to me.

But others, especially the ancient ones, went way beyond a grudge, cut deeper than hurt feelings. These hurts that punched through to the marrow of my spirit were not so simple to put down.

That’s because forgiveness is not easy. When it deals with massive wrongs, it feels like a vulnerability, a weakness in the face of that which we must defend against.

During the time (which was most of Lent) that I was sick, I watched a video on Amazon Prime about a woman who had been on the Mengele Twins. She had nearly died from the things Dr Mengele did to her in the concentration camps. Her twin, even though she survived the camps, ultimately died of the injuries inflicted on her.

A few years back, this woman issued a public statement of forgiveness, not only of Dr Mengele, but of all the Nazis who killed Jews. This action alienated many of the other Holocaust survivors from her, including other Mengele Twin survivors.

She said something when she was talking about this that helped me a great deal. She said that she realized that she “had the power over these men” to forgive them. Forgiveness was an empowerment to her. Rather than make her vulnerable to her attackers, it was a power she had over them.

She had found a great truth, one that helped me.

Forgiveness and mercy are not weaknesses, even though the world may count them as such. It takes enormous strength to forgive. It requires sacrifice, work and hardship to be merciful. These are not cheap graces. They are hard fought, hard won and deeply healing gifts we give, both to ourselves, as well as those we forgive.

Without forgiveness we become ravening wolves to one another. Without forgiveness, we are all doomed to spend our lives dipping and dodging and hiding behind facades to protect ourselves from one another. Without forgiveness, we will purge one another in a useless attempt to purge ourselves of the demons we hide inside our own souls.

Without forgiveness, there can be no mercy. And without mercy, there can be no life.

I had been praying “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us” in every mass, every time I prayed the Rosary. And each time I prayed it, there was a jab of conscience that reminded me I was praying a lie. I had not forgiven, and I did not want to forgive, certain people.

I nursed my hurt in the relatively petty instances of personal fallings out. But I fled in fear of weakness, of disarming myself in the internal struggle with the deeper and more outrageous hurts of the past. I had tried before, in many ways and at many times, to forgive these things, but the anger kept coming back, like a tree I had cut down that sprouted saplings around the stump.

When I began to work on sweeping my house clean, I found without surprise that personal grievances were easy, the deforming hurts, not so much. There are sins against ourselves that run so deep that we can not forgive them of ourselves. Only by the grace of God can we take up this power that we have over them and the harm they have done and wipe it clean with forgiveness.

Mercy, Shakespeare said, is twice blessed. It blesses the person who is given mercy. It also blesses the person who gives mercy.

Jesus asks us to bring Him the souls who especially venerate and glorify My Mercy … They are the living images of My Compassionate Heart. 

In other words, when we show mercy, when we forgive from the heart, when we reach out to those in peril or suffering and lift them up with our loving care, we are being Christ to them.

Please pray the Divine Mercy Novena with us today. Bring before Him in prayer those you know who live lives of giving and forgiving. Hopefully, the day will come when we will all be able to count ourselves among them. 

Seventh Day
Today bring to Me the Souls who especially venerate and glorify My Mercy*,

and immerse them in My mercy. These souls sorrowed most over my Passion and entered most deeply into My spirit. They are living images of My Compassionate Heart. These souls will shine with a special brightness in the next life. Not one of them will go into the fire of hell. I shall particularly defend each one of them at the hour of death.

Most Merciful Jesus, whose Heart is Love Itself, receive into the abode of Your Most Compassionate Heart the souls of those who particularly extol and venerate the greatness of Your mercy. These souls are mighty with the very power of God Himself. In the midst of all afflictions and adversities they go forward, confident of Your mercy; and united to You, O Jesus, they carry all mankind on their shoulders. These souls will not be judged severely, but Your mercy will embrace them as they depart from this life.

Eternal Father, turn Your merciful gaze upon the souls who glorify and venerate Your greatest attribute, that of Your fathomless mercy, and who are enclosed in the Most Compassionate Heart of Jesus. These souls are a living Gospel; their hands are full of deeds of mercy, and their hearts, overflowing with joy, sing a canticle of mercy to You, O Most High! I beg You O God:

Show them Your mercy according to the hope and trust they have placed in You. Let there be accomplished in them the promise of Jesus, who said to them that during their life, but especially at the hour of death, the souls who will venerate this fathomless mercy of His, He, Himself, will defend as His glory. Amen.

*The text leads one to conclude that in the first prayer directed to Jesus, Who is the Redeemer, it is “victim” souls and contemplatives that are being prayed for; those persons, that is, that voluntarily offered themselves to God for the salvation of their neighbor (see Col 1:24; 2 Cor 4:12). This explains their close union with the Savior and the extraordinary efficacy that their invisible activity has for others. In the second prayer, directed to the Father from whom comes “every worthwhile gift and every genuine benefit,”we recommend the “active” souls, who promote devotion to The Divine Mercy and exercise with it all the other works that lend themselves to the spiritual and material uplifting of their brethren.

 

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I Apologize. I was Wrong. I. Had. No. Idea.

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Steve Moskowitz https://www.flickr.com/photos/alyssafilmmaker/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Steve Moskowitz https://www.flickr.com/photos/alyssafilmmaker/

I apologize to everyone I ever dissed for being too concerned about the state of the liturgy.

Evidently I have lived a blessed Catholic life. I’ve attended mass all over the world, on … lessee … three continents, an island nation and another island out by itself in the Pacific that was not a nation. I’ve participated in truly holy liturgies in private homes, on mountaintops, in one-room churches and grand cathedrals. In all that time, I have not seen anything like this.

In Oklahoma — otherwise known as God’s Country — the mass is the mass is the mass. Some of our priests can sing; others are tone deaf. That’s about it for problem liturgy around these parts.

I honestly thought the people who came on this blog and ripped and snorted about bad liturgy were hypering themselves into a frenzy over nothing much at all. But now I know.

There really are nutty masses and performer priests who knock Jesus right out of center place and take a big swooping bow for themselves.

I offer exhibit A from Seattle, the land of high school students who determine Church teaching and bishops who let them do it; the same bishop who was supposed to discipline the sisters and bring them back in line. Instead of mass, what we get here is a high school production of Fiddler on the Roof or some such.

Again, I apologize to every person I ever dissed for their talk of clown masses.

I. Had. No. Idea.

YouTube Preview Image

 

NOTE: The video above was uploaded to YouTube in 2010. However, this photo was taken of a parish during mass in the same archdiocese this year. See also the video of the full mass in this same church.

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Praying the Divine Mercy in an Age of Exploitation and Murder of Innocents

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Alyssa L Miller https://www.flickr.com/photos/alyssafilmmaker/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Alyssa L Miller https://www.flickr.com/photos/alyssafilmmaker/

If you do not become be converted and become as a little child, you shall not enter the Kingdom of heaven … And whoever receives a little child in my name receives me. But it would be better for those who harm one of these little ones if a millstone was hung around their neck and they were cast in to the sea. Jesus Christ

Today we pray for the little children and souls of those who are meek and humble. In other words, we pray for the innocents and the good people of this world.

Humbleness of heart is the opposite of narcissism and self-deification. Humble-hearted people do not seek to re-write the teachings of the Gospels to say their sins are not sins; they simply do their best to obey those teachings.

Children trust with a profound trust. They believe and build themselves on that belief.

These things truly do mirror Jesus’ own heart. The human Jesus did not rely on human understanding when the devil tempted Him in the wilderness. Instead, He quoted Scripture in reply to satan’s taunts and relied entirely on God.

He could have walked away at Gethsemane. He didn’t need 2,000 angels to battle for Him. All He had to do was get up and run; leave Jerusalem and take His ministry elsewhere.

But He did the stupid thing and stayed. In obedience.

He was God, and yet He obeyed God. That is the confounding truth of God made human. It is why His sacrifice purchased our redemption. He Who was sinless, paid the price for our sins, and He did it in obedience, the obedience of a humble human soul.

There are those in our society who do not view innocence as a call to offer their protection. They view it as an opportunity. They view the trusting innocence of children as an opportunity to change our culture with pernicious programs in our schools. They see innocent people as rubes to be misinformed by propaganda posing as news, laws written for the powerful that steal from them, and a plethora of other abuses.

They look on innocence in the womb and deny that what they are seeing is a fellow human being whose life by every understanding of human rights should be protected. They consider the new innocence of our elderly and infirm and see a burden and an expense that could easily be eliminated with euthanasia.

Innocence is not a protection in our society because the wolves are in charge. In this world, innocence is an opportunity to abuse, exploit and kill.

The humble of heart and the innocent thus seem like the world’s victims. And yet, Jesus tells us that if we want to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, we must become converted and be innocent ourselves. If we want to be forgiven, we must bring “a humble and contrite heart” to Him, because Scripture tells us He will never refuse such a heart.

The key to eternity is in the hands of the innocents that we use, abuse and kill; in the hearts of the humble we scorn.

In the world that is coming, these are the ones who will be lifted high. While those of us who prance about and posture in the many conceits of our possessions, power and accomplishments will be blessed by God’s Mercy if we get in at all.

Today Jesus asks us to bring to Me the meek and humble souls and the souls of little children … (they) most closely resemble my own heart.

Today, as we pray, we should bring to Him the unborn, the babies, the little children, the elderly wandering in their fog of dementia, the humble woman next door whose horizon is her family for whom she gives her life, the sweet man down the street who goes to work and comes home and is always ready to help you out.

Bring to Him the simple souls, the salt of the earth on which all stability and kindness in human society is built. Bring to Him the good people without whom this world would be a living hell. They, and not the glitzy power brokers and difference makers are what make life livable. They are the only goodness humanity has to offer.

Pray the Divine Mercy Novena today. Bring the good people to Him and immerse them in His mercy. While you’re at it, ask Him to make you more like them yourself.

Sixth Day
Today bring to Me the Meek and Humble Souls and the Souls of  Little Children,

and immerse them in My mercy. These souls most closely resemble My Heart. They strengthened Me during My bitter agony. I saw them as earthly Angels, who will keep vigil at My altars. I pour out upon them whole torrents of grace. I favor humble souls with My confidence.    

Most Merciful Jesus, You yourself have said, “Learn from Me for I am meek and humble of heart.” Receive into the abode of Your Most Compassionate Heart all meek and humble souls and the souls of little children. These souls send all heaven into ecstasy and they are the heavenly Father’s favorites. They are a sweet-smelling bouquet before the throne of God; God Himself takes delight in their fragrance. These souls have a permanent abode in Your Most Compassionate Heart, O Jesus, and they unceasingly sing out a hymn of love and mercy.

Eternal Father, turn Your merciful gaze upon meek souls, upon humble souls, and upon little children who are enfolded in the abode which is the Most Compassionate Heart of Jesus. These souls bear the closest resemblance to Your Son. Their fragrance rises from the earth and reaches Your very throne. Father of mercy and of all goodness, I beg You by the love You bear these souls and by the delight You take in them: Bless the whole world, that all souls together may sing out the praises of Your mercy for endless ages. Amen.

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Mama

Copyright: Rebecca Hamilton. All Rights Reserved.

Copyright: Rebecca Hamilton. All Rights Reserved.

We had a family discussion last night. The upshot was that the time has come to consider putting Mama in a nursing home.

That’s what the family members I love told me. Their verdict was simple: You will kill yourself, taking care of her.

I, being Ms Reasonable, let them talk me down. I insisted on a delay, but agreed that, by the end of summer, I would find a place for her.

Then, last night, I sat up and googled nursing homes. I read the laws that I helped write, perused the regs that came from them. I plowed through the patient responses and the details of the inspections of these places.

There is a good place just around the corner from my house. It specializes in caring for people with dementia. It has a great patient-staff ratio. There are only four patients in each unit and a staff of 8 to care for them. The people there are happy.

And I could go get her and take her out every day. We could bring her home for dinner and keep her as part of the family.

I would put her there in a heartbeat. She would be happy there, and that’s what matters.

But it costs over $80,000 a year, out of pocket. My pocket.

Mama’s grandfather lived to be 101. Her family is full of people who lived into their high nineties. I may have her for a long while yet. I don’t have the money to put her in this good place where she would be happy. I just can’t do it.

The Church runs a nursing home that everyone, including the residents, says is a good place. But it is, pardon my language, to hell and gone from where I live. I couldn’t go get her and take her out every day. Or, if I did — which I would — it would involve driving almost 40 miles each way, right across the heart of the most densely populated area in the state. A daily visit would take half a day. Every day.

There is no other place that I can afford that I would consider for my mama.

So, I decided I would call and get her a place in the Catholic nursing home and spend the rest of her life — which I hope is long — driving for half a day, every day.

Then, even as I made this decision, I undecided it. I thought of her fearful reaction, her heartbreak at being put in a strange environment. I thought of how far away from me this place is. I thought of her, of who she is.

And I undecided to make that call.

“If it kills me, taking care of her, then I guess it will kill me,” I said aloud to the empty room. Then I prayed and handed the whole thing over to God and went to bed.

My husband went to early mass Sunday. I stayed home with Mama. He came back with a big bag of donuts. She loves donuts.

She was eating what I think was her third of fourth donut while I sat at the table with her, listening to her prattle.

“Are you any relation to me?” she asked, and took another bite.

“I’m your daughter,” I said.

“Oh,” she said, and reached for another donut.

Her daughter. That’s what I am.

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Bring to Me the Souls of Those Who Have Separated from My Church

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Waiting for the Word https://www.flickr.com/photos/waitingfortheword/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Waiting for the Word https://www.flickr.com/photos/waitingfortheword/

We live in an apostate world, and that apostasy is itself divided into groups.

The direct and honest apostate leaves the Church. He or she walks out and shuts the door.

What I call “the apostate in place” continues, for whatever bizarre reasons they might have, to attend mass, sing hymns, and pretend to be what they are not. They then metamorphose into a practical unbeliever when they step through the church doors and walk out. Since I’ve spent so many years in politics, I am well and truly acquainted with apostates in place.

Apostates in place leave the Church in their hearts, but due to a fundamental lack of honesty, continue to use their church affiliation for whatever it is they think they can get out of it. These phony baloneys are among the meanest and most spiteful people I know. They are also, odd to say, among the most self-righteous.

When I was in political office, I had the opportunity to see them in both places. I observed them at Church mixing with people who actually believed and tried to lived the Gospels. And I observed them with the Christian-bashing crowd where they liked to hang their political hats. It was a disturbing visage, watching them make fun of the same Church that had so kindly offered them a spiritual home, telling sarcastic and demeaning stories about the people who sat next to them in the pews.

Then, later, I’d see them back at Church again, quietly passing as what they were not.

I have to admit it: I detest these people. They irk me. I do not respect them. And I do my best to avoid their company.

The honest unbeliever who is acting without malice is a person I can respect. I can trust them, and in situations where our interests coincide, I happily work with them.

I understand how a person can get so crossways with a church or a parish or a priest that they just get up and walk out the door. I did something quite similar once upon a long time ago. That walkaway of mine launched me into what I call my anti-religion period; 17 years of denying Christ.

I understand the honest walkaways. But I can’t fathom those who hide in place. How can they stand the life they live?

If it was up to me, I’d wash my hands of them until and unless they got their minds right and started speaking truth. If I was God, I’d pass these phony baloney apostate-in-place Christians by and not give them a glance.

But I am not God. And we should all be glad of that. The real God does not take such a short and harsh-minded view of human weakness, including the phony baloneys who are doing their best to rip Him off.

Jesus tells us “bring to me the Souls of those who have separated themselves from My Church and immerse them in the ocean of My mercy.”

I think that He means those who have separated themselves in spirit from the Church, even while they are sitting in the pews as well as those who have walked out and slammed the door shut behind them. I have no doubt the those who are lying about their faith will be more difficult to convert that those who live in honest unbelief.

I also have no doubt that Jesus loves each one of them just as much as He loves me or you. He told St Faustina that while He was suffering and dying, these apostate souls tore at His heart. They added to His pain then, and they continue to inflict suffering on Him now.

Today’s prayer of the Divine Mercy Novena is for those who have, by their own volition, turned their backs on Christ and His Church. The time was that many people who walked away from the Church had reasons why they did it. A good number of them had been wounded by the Church in ways they could not bear.

That has changed now that Christian bashing and anti-Christian bigotry is the new fashion. Now most of those of leave the Church do it for superficial reasons of going along with the gang and adopting a popular pose.

Group hate-offs have become a kind of new community formation tool in our society. The fact that the communities that form around hatred in this way are a bunch of sick fools does not change this reality. In today’s climate the one group it is safe to hate without reservation is Christians. Just look at the Christian-bashing blogs on the internet and see what I mean.

You will see people trying to outdo one another in insulting Christianity and Christians. What you will not see is anyone calling them to task for being bigots and haters.

Today, when we pray the Divine Mercy Novena, Jesus has asked us to bring to Him the souls of those who have left His Church. He tells us that thinking of them added to the agonies of His passion.

But He does not ask us to discipline them or admonish them. He does not call down vengeance on them.

Jesus directs us to pray for them, to bring them and their sin-sickness to the ocean of His mercy and immerse them in the cleansing waters of eternal love.

Jesus’ Mercy is His final offering to us before the end times. It makes no difference whether the end of all time is imminent or far away. Our end time is always just around the next bend. In that moment when we step from life to death, in that last instance; even then, we can cry out to Him for mercy and receive it.

One of the people I talked about earlier in this post, a person who played Catholic at church and then made fun of Catholics and Catholicism when he was with his political cronies, died last week. He died without warning, in his sleep.

I have no idea what became of him at his passing. I only know that Christ’s mercy is so great that no sin we can commit can separate us from it. The only thing that can keep us from the Divine Mercy is us. We have to say no to avoid it.

Please pray the Divine Mercy Novena today. Pray for all the apostates you know. Pray that God will keep calling them until they turn back to Him. Then trust that He will do that.

Jesus asked us to bring to him the souls who have separated themselves from His Church.

I, for one, need to remember that the next time I get exasperated and want to walk on by these people and leave them to their dissolution. I have something I can do for them. I can bring them to Jesus and immerse them in the ocean of His Mercy.

In this way, I can heal myself, as well as them.

Fifth Day
Today bring to Me the Souls of those who have separated themselves from My Church*,

and immerse them in the ocean of My mercy. During My bitter Passion they tore at My Body and Heart, that is, My Church. As they return to unity with the Church My wounds heal and in this way they alleviate My Passion.”  

Most Merciful Jesus, Goodness Itself, You do not refuse light to those who seek it of You. Receive into the abode of Your Most Compassionate Heart the souls of those who have separated themselves from Your Church. Draw them by Your light into the unity of the Church, and do not let them escape from the abode of Your Most Compassionate Heart; but bring it about that they, too, come to glorify the generosity of Your mercy.

Eternal Father, turn Your merciful gaze upon the souls of those who have separated themselves from Your Son’s Church, who have squandered Your blessings and misused Your graces by obstinately persisting in their errors. Do not look upon their errors, but upon the love of Your own Son and upon His bitter Passion, which He underwent for their sake, since they, too, are enclosed in His Most Compassionate Heart. Bring it about that they also may glorify Your great mercy for endless ages. Amen.

*Our Lord’s original words here were “heretics and schismatics,” since He spoke to Saint Faustina within the context of her times. As of the Second Vatican Council, Church authorities have seen fit not to use those designations in accordance with the explanation given in the Council’s Decree on Ecumenism (n.3). Every pope since the Council has reaffirmed that usage. Saint Faustina herself, her heart always in harmony with the mind of the Church, most certainly would have agreed. When at one time, because of the decisions of her superiors and father confessor, she was not able to execute Our Lord’s inspirations and orders, she declared: “I will follow Your will insofar as You will permit me to do so through Your representative. O my Jesus ” I give priority to the voice of the Church over the voice with which You speak to me” (497). The Lord confirmed her action and praised her for it.

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Divine Mercy Novena: Praying for Unbelievers

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by brett jordan https://www.flickr.com/photos/x1brett/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by brett jordan https://www.flickr.com/photos/x1brett/

Jesus told us that when a lost soul repents, there is abounding joy in heaven.

I experienced this joy when I found Christ. I was driving to Enid Oklahoma to make a speech. I felt — actually felt — an Other. I felt ecstatic love and joy rushing into me. I’ve tried to describe this joy and love, but I can’t do it.  Our language does not have the words.

Human language is inadequate to describe true encounters with God. The reason for this is simple and obvious, and yet we forget what it means.

God is not us. God is the I Am. The standards by which we measure reality do not apply to Him because He made what we call reality. Without Him, there is nothing. Not a vacuum, not non-existence, not oblivion: Without Him, there is nothing.

The concept of nothing in this eternal and absolute sense defies both our understanding and our imaging. We can not describe it any more than we can describe Him.

God is not an idea or an intellectual construct that we can manipulate and bring down to our understanding. God is a Being, a Personality, with a will and emotions of His own.

I did not convert to an idea. I was not embraced by a concept. I met another Being and this Other, even though He is transcendent, reached into my finiteness and loved me from death to life. The Way by which He did this is Jesus Christ.

Unlike those who lived before Christ, we can see the face of God and live. All we have to do is look at Jesus. He, and He alone, is the Way that leads to eternal life.

The idea that all faiths are equal is nonsense. There is only one empty tomb, only one Way out of the abyss of our sins. No one will ever approach the throne of God and live unless he or she is marked by the shed blood of the Lamb of God.

The Church teaches that it is possible for those of other faiths and those who have not heard His name to be welcomed to heaven, but they must come by way of their works and their sinlessness. They have to earn heaven.

Even then, the only entry, the only Way, is through Jesus. His grace and His mercy are the only hope that any one, anywhere, has. Without Him, we are damned, every one of us, by our own sinful and rebellious natures.

Jesus told St Faustina that unbelievers and those who had never heard His name were in His thoughts as He suffered and died two thousand years ago. He didn’t die only for you and me. He died for everyone, everywhere, for all time. He ransomed lost humanity with His blood — all of humanity.

All anyone has to do is choose Him over the world. Just as He did with the Israelites, God places before us Life and Death and lets us choose between them. Eternal hell is not a punishment. It is a choice that we make as free human beings clothed in radical freedom.

We are called to do more than glory in our salvation. We are called to be the Light in a dark world.

God has set us free, and now we must free others. The universal Christian vocation is the conversion of the world. We must offer Him to those who are perishing right in front of us, even if they rebuff us and shriek with the agony of devils touched by grace when we do it.

We Christians of the laity are conduits of the informal graces of life and love to the larger world. Our lives are the testimony and witness to our faith. We are the ones who go out from the churches, who step away from the altar and enter the fray of bashing and bloodletting that is modern society.

We go into the hospitals, schools, legislative chambers, court houses, construction sites, grocery stores, gyms and on-line com boxes. We go into all the places where ordinary life is lived and we enter them without the confining otherness of the collar. We are part of this larger world and we move inside it with the intimacy of fellow travelers.

Our priesthood is the priesthood of the laity. It is the priesthood that will either convert the world, or leave the world to die in its sins.

We are the People of God. We are the Easter people. We serve a Risen Lord. Our home is in heaven. We are, all of us, wayfaring strangers in this world of woe.

Even though you die, you will live. Jesus told us. Where I go, you will follow, he said.

We are going to die. I don’t write that to upset you, but to free you and comfort you. I want you to understand that there is nothing in this world for a follower of Christ to fear. You and I are just passing through this life. We are going to die. But when we die, we will live. Because of His Mercy.

So what should we do about those unbelievers who attack Christians? What should we do for those who have never heard His name?

Jesus says bring to Me those who do not believe in God and those who do not know Me.

He tells us that He was thinking about them when He suffered and died. His love for them is the unfathomable longing of God Who is love.

I don’t know which ones they are, but I believe that future evangelists for Christ are hiding among today’s Christian-bashing unbelievers. One day, they will say “yes” to Him, and He will fill them with the same love and joy that He poured into my soul and into yours. He will lift them up to testify to Him with all the fervor of someone who understands what it means to be rescued from eternal death.

I also know that among those who have not been told about Him there are people who will one day carry the news of His love to others who have not heard of him. Jesus is the Way, and that way is open to everyone.

But on this Easter Monday, they are still lost. They wander in the acrid bitterness of their unbelief, the noisy silence of their lack of knowledge. They are lost.

Christ’s mercy is the living water that enlivens our souls. Christ’s mercy is beyond our understanding, greater than our ability to reckon. It, like Him, is infinite. His mercy transcends time and place. It is available to everyone.

Please pray the Divine Mercy Novena today. Bring the lost souls of the world to Him and His mercy. He can change hearts that you and I think are beyond reaching.

I know.

I was once such a person myself.

Fourth Day

Today bring to Me those who do not believe in God and those who do not know Me, 

I was thinking also of them during My bitter Passion, and their future zeal comforted My Heart. Immerse them in the ocean of My mercy.”  

Most compassionate Jesus, You are the Light of the whole world. Receive into the abode of Your Most Compassionate Heart the souls of those who do not believe in God and of those who as yet do not know You. Let the rays of Your grace enlighten them that they, too, together with us, may extol Your wonderful mercy; and do not let them escape from the abode which is Your Most Compassionate Heart.

Eternal Father, turn Your merciful gaze upon the souls of those who do not believe in You, and of those who as yet do not know You, but who are enclosed in the Most Compassionate Heart of Jesus. Draw them to the light of the Gospel. These souls do not know what great happiness it is to love You. Grant that they, too, may extol the generosity of Your mercy for endless ages. Amen.

*Our Lord’s original words here were “the pagans.” Since the pontificate of Pope John XXIII, the Church has seen fit to replace this term with clearer and more appropriate terminology.

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