Pope Francis and Me: Praying to St Thomas More

Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons. http://www.presidencia.gov.ar/

Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons. http://www.presidencia.gov.ar/

Pope Francis and I have something in common. He asks St Thomas More to pray for him every day and so do I.

He also listed “15 diseases of the Curia” in the same address to Vatican officials. Among the “diseases of the curia” are spiritual petrification, existential schizophrenia, spiritual Alzheimer’s, funeral face and gossip.

I think all of us suffer from the same diseases to some degree. They are spiritual diseases of our times, and of the fallen human.

From Chronica:

Pope Francis has revealed that he prays to the English martyr St Thomas More every day.

In his annual end of year address to Vatican officials the Pope said that there is a prayer to the saint for good humour which he prays daily saying that a healthy dose of humour in our daily lives is very beneficial.

Pope Francis also outlined “15 diseases of the Curia” which included the diseases of mental and spiritual petrification; existential schizophrenia; spiritual Alzheimer’s and the disease of the “funeral face,” reports Vatican News.

The Pope said that “spiritual petrification” was when men “lose their internal peace, their vivacity and audacity, choosing to hide under papers and become procedural machines.

He also described “existential schizophrenia” as the disease of “those who live a double life” and endure a “spiritual emptiness” which cannot be filled with degrees or academic titles.

He explained to diplomats that “spiritual Alzheimers” was a “progressive decline of spiritual faculties” which “causes severe disadvantages to people”, making them live in a “state of absolute dependence” on their, often imagined, views.

The Pope also appealed to the officials not to give into gossip describing the sin as a form of “satanic assasination” of other people’s good name.

Like Patheos Catholic on Facebook!

Patheos Catholic LogoCLICK HERE TO "LIKE" PATHEOS CATHOLIC ON FACEBOOK

Ascension Press: Following Jesus to the Priesthood

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by VISION Vocation Guide https://www.flickr.com/photos/visionvocationguide/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by VISION Vocation Guide https://www.flickr.com/photos/visionvocationguide/

Ascension Press has released the beautiful video below to encourage young men to consider the priesthood. I am drawn to the raw honesty of these young men’s testimony. It also appeals to me that this is a video about vocation to the priesthood that focuses on God, instead of us.

Too much of our discussion about vocations focuses on attacks on the liturgy, women in the Church and other things that are supposed to make us more worthy of God. That leads to blaming, attacking and limiting one another. It creates self-righteousness and hurtful behavior that drives people away from Jesus rather than drawing them to Him.

Vocation to the priesthood really is about God and His call. We need to trust Him more and our prejudices and rages less.

Enjoy the video. It’s well worth the look.

YouTube Preview Image
Like Patheos Catholic on Facebook!

Patheos Catholic LogoCLICK HERE TO "LIKE" PATHEOS CATHOLIC ON FACEBOOK

Pope Francis Calls Human Trafficking a Shameful Wound Unworthy of Human Society.

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by thierry ehrmann https://www.flickr.com/photos/home_of_chaos/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by thierry ehrmann https://www.flickr.com/photos/home_of_chaos/

YouTube Preview Image
Like Patheos Catholic on Facebook!

Patheos Catholic LogoCLICK HERE TO "LIKE" PATHEOS CATHOLIC ON FACEBOOK

Pope Francis: Without Fathers Young People Feel Orphaned

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Yvette T, who wrote, I love my father as the stars, he is a bright, shining light. https://www.flickr.com/photos/12327292@N00/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Yvette T, who wrote, I love my father as the stars, he is a bright, shining light. https://www.flickr.com/photos/12327292@N00/

We have a nation of children who feel orphaned because their fathers are not in their lives.

Fatherhood requires something that a lot of people in our society have grown up thinking is immoral: It requires self-sacrifice and putting someone else ahead of yourself.

What it gives is something a lot of people in our society have been taught to think is worthless: Love and the incredible blessing of shielding and shepherding new life.

YouTube Preview Image
Like Patheos Catholic on Facebook!

Patheos Catholic LogoCLICK HERE TO "LIKE" PATHEOS CATHOLIC ON FACEBOOK

300 Pakistani Muslims Attack Christian Boys School in Retaliation Against Charlie Hebdo

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

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

Now this makes sense.

A publication in France published a cartoon that at least some Muslims find offensive. So, 300 Muslims in Pakistan attack a Christian boys’ school, injuring a bunch of unarmed Christian students.

Shouting idiotic slogans such as “We martyr for the prophet’s sanctity,” the mob attacked Panel High School in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

This attacks follows another, more deadly one in Niger, where Muslim mobs, also “protesting” Charlie Hebdo,  burned down a number of churches and Christian pastor’s homes, killing at least 10 people.

I don’t know if the leaders of these attacks are aware that Charlie Hebdo mocks Christians, the Catholic Church in particular, far more than it does Muslims. I also don’t know if they are aware that the Christian response has been to argue back. I doubt it.

There is a pervasive air of ignorance hanging over behavior like this; ignorance, cowardice and sadism.

From The Christian Post:

Close to 300 Muslim students armed with iron bars and sticks attacked a Christian boys’ school in northern Pakistan, reportedly in retaliation to French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo’s controversial drawings of the Muslim prophet Muhammad. The attack left four Christians injured.

“It is very sad that Islamic radicals attack Pakistani Christians because of Charlie Hebdo. Christians condemn the blasphemous cartoons. It is a shame that even after 67 years since the birth of Pakistan, Christians have not yet been considered Pakistani citizens, but are seen as ‘Western allies,'” Nasir Saeed, director of the NGO Center for Legal Aid Assistance & Settlement, told Fides News Agency.

The attack occurred on Panel High School in the city of Bannu, in the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The Muslim students apparently were able to jump over the outer walls of the school and open the gates before attacking the Christians.

The school has been closed down at least for two days, with additional security measures being considered to protect the students.

Last weekend, Muslim mobs burned down a number of churches and pastors’ homes in Niger, also in protest of Charlie Hebdo’s drawings. At least 10 people were killed in the clashes, with pastors in the capital Niamey revealing that almost anyone associated with churches was targeted.

Like Patheos Catholic on Facebook!

Patheos Catholic LogoCLICK HERE TO "LIKE" PATHEOS CATHOLIC ON FACEBOOK

Pope Francis: We Cannot Privatize Salvation

Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons. http://www.presidencia.gov.ar/

Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons. http://www.presidencia.gov.ar/

YouTube Preview Image
Like Patheos Catholic on Facebook!

Patheos Catholic LogoCLICK HERE TO "LIKE" PATHEOS CATHOLIC ON FACEBOOK

All I Need is You

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Art4TheGlryOfGod by Sharon https://www.flickr.com/photos/4thglryofgod/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Art4TheGlryOfGod by Sharon https://www.flickr.com/photos/4thglryofgod/

 

JimmyZ brings the truth: Following Jesus means putting aside everything else and making Him Lord of your life for real.

YouTube Preview Image
Like Patheos Catholic on Facebook!

Patheos Catholic LogoCLICK HERE TO "LIKE" PATHEOS CATHOLIC ON FACEBOOK

January 22 and Bunnygate

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons, Public  by Elvert Barnes  Protest Photography https://www.flickr.com/photos/perspective/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons, Public by Elvert Barnes Protest Photography https://www.flickr.com/photos/perspective/

I’ve ignored the flap over Pope Francis’ latest airplane interview, mainly because it has no merit.

What I mean is that the carrying-on about the Holy Father’s use of certain phrases has no merit. It seems that Pope Francis affirmed the Catholic Church’s teaching on artificial birth control. In the process, he said that this teaching doesn’t mean that people need to have babies “like rabbits.”

Big deal.

All he meant was that people can use natural family planning. Big news.

The reaction was predictable.

On the one hand, Margery Egan, over at Crux, came out as a full member of The Pope is Catholic, Egad crowd. She reacted with hurt and outrage because Pope Francis stands by the Church’s teaching that artificial birth control is illicit. Here’s a bit of her reaction:

The news that Pope Francis has strongly defended the Church’s ban on artificial birth control left me, in a word, devastated.

I had hoped for so much more from this man.

Although he has not lived it himself, I had thought he understood something about good people living real lives in real marriages. I had thought he even understood something about the beauty of sex in marriage, the need for sex in marriage.

Then we have The Pope is Human, Egad crowd, going full tilt, as well. Most of this is showing up on Facebook and in chat rooms. A lot of people like their popes neat and straight-edged. What they want are popes who come out for display, recite Scripture and Church teaching as if they were programmed by a computer and then quietly go back inside to say their Rosaries.

In case you haven’t gotten the news, Pope Francis is not that kind of pope. He’s so completely relaxed in his papal skin that he just says whatever comes into his head. Fortunately for us, nothing that comes into his head is against the Church. Every single time he makes a comment that the press latches onto and tries to massage into a change in Church teaching, they are using an off-the-cuff comment that did no such thing. Misinterpret as they might, Pope Francis is not going to teach modern nihilism instead of the Gospels.

This good man, our Pope Francis, is Catholic. He’s also human. He’s a pastoral pope who loves to forgive sinners and who is using his papacy to say in every way he can that Jesus meant it when He said He came to save lost sinners.

Margery Egan asked if Pope Francis understands the real lives of real people, including the beauty and goodness of marital sex. The answer is yes, he does. That’s where the ‘you don’t have to reproduce like rabbits’ comment came from. All he meant was that Natural Family Planning works and Catholics should feel free to make use of it.

Now what does Bunnygate have to do with January 22? After all, Bunnygate is just Pope Francis, making good copy, and the media, proving once again just how significant the Church really is in today’s world.

If you doubt that, go stand on your front porch and should “reproduce like rabbits.” Do it several times. The only thing that might happen is that your neighbors will have something new to talk about. The New York Times, BBC, NBC, CBS, CNN and all their pals will give your behavior a big pass.

But when the pope uses such phrases, it’s front page news all around the world. Everything he says, every little gesture he makes, is observed, reported and interpreted according to the interpreter’s prejudice in every media outlet going.

Why?

Because what he says matters.

Because the Church is not irrelevant.

Because Jesus Christ, despite all the attacks and attempts to destroy faith in Him, is Lord, and billions of people bend their knee to Him.

That’s why Bunnygate is Bunnygate. It’s a big deal because the Church and Jesus are big deals.

How does that apply to January 22?

Just this.

The early Christians stopped the practice of exposing infants, primarily baby girls, by three methods. First they refused to do it themselves. Second, they went out and rescued these babies, brought them home and raised them as part of their families. Third, they said it was wrong, over and over and over, until the message finally got through.

January 22 is the anniversary of the day when we resurrected the old practice of discarding unwanted children. We went further after that with our rights talk and brought back the Baals in new form as we sacrificed our babies, our elderly, our sick and even our unhappy people to the little g gods of modern convenience.

In our world today, bunnygate matters because it is the Vicar of Christ, however awkwardly he might phrase it, affirming once again that He is Catholic and that this means that he stands for life. The Church did not waver one inch in that airplane interview. The pope just stuck his foot in his mouth a bit. That’s all.

But he said the right things. He just said them in an off-hand and humorous way.

That is the only part of the interview that matters, which is why I haven’t bothered talking about it until now. The pope reiterated Church teaching. He practiced number three of the three things the early Christians did to overturn the practices of human sacrifice and exposing unwanted babies.

We do our version of number three when we go out into the streets today and march for life. We are saying, once again, that the Supreme Court was wrong. We will continue saying it until the message finally gets through.

At the same time, pro life people must also refuse to engage in abortion, euthanasia, embryonic stem cells research, egg harvesting and the attendant anti-life activities that saturate our world. Our most important testimony for life is living pro life.

That means we take care of other people. We put people ahead of profit and ahead of convenience. If we believe that the right to life is the first and most essential human right, then we have to behave that way in our private lives and our public lives.

We are called to follow Jesus when we are in the shower and when we are on a stage; when we pay our bills and when we go to work. Most important of all, we are called to follow Jesus in our homes and with our families, in how we treat the people closest to us.

January 22 and Bunnygate go together because they are of a whole. The United States Supreme Court unwittingly called forth Christians to witness to the sanctity of human life. The Holy Father has affirmed that the Church does not back down from this call.

Today is a special day for each of us to re-affirm to ourselves and to others that we stand for life and that we will continue to stand for life in our homes, on our jobs and on the streets until the world finally gets the message.

 

Like Patheos Catholic on Facebook!

Patheos Catholic LogoCLICK HERE TO "LIKE" PATHEOS CATHOLIC ON FACEBOOK

What is the Most Perfect Prayer?

Photo Source: Flickr Commons. Created by Tito and Eva Marie Balangue. https://www.flickr.com/photos/titobalangue/

Photo Source: Flickr Commons. Created by Tito and Eva Marie Balangue. https://www.flickr.com/photos/titobalangue/

In keeping with my longstanding tradition of kicking over hornet’s nests, I’m going to ask a question.

What is the most perfect prayer?

Over on the Facebook page of a friend of mine, a commenter who identified himself as a priest said that the Holy Mass is the “most perfect prayer.” A Deacon of the Church responded that yes, it was.

I’ve been rolling that one around in my mind ever since I read it.

Mass is, from beginning to end, one long prayer. It is also the sacrifice of Calvary, brought into our daily lives. More than that, it brings that Sacrifice and the Lord Himself into a reliable, supremely accessible form under the guise of bread and wine.

As we would say in Oklahoma, that’s pretty stout.

But is it the most perfect prayer? Is there such a thing as a perfect prayer?

I can’t answer that, even though I raised the question myself. Instead, I will tell you what I know and why I ask the question in the first place.

I know that my personal conversion experience was a sort of eucharist. Let me describe it and explain what I mean.

I was driving in my car, on my way to make a speech. I was deeply troubled and sore at heart because of a sin I had committed against another person. Almost from nowhere, I said aloud, “Forgive me.”

The moment I said that, I felt the long years of sinfulness lift off me. It as an actual physical sensation. I also felt this Other, a Being, respond with such joy and love that words fail to describe it. In the same moment, I felt this joy and love, filling me up.

What was all this? I didn’t know at the time. It was a while into the future before I figured out that the Being I met that day and Who has never left me since was the Holy Spirit.

I never, until I read that exchange on Facebook, considered the possibility that in that moment, I became a form of Eucharist. What I mean by that is that I now believe without doubt that what I experienced was what Protestants call “the baptism of the Holy Spirit,” and what I’ve seen described in other places as the “indwelling of the Holy Spirit.”

In fact, even though I didn’t know it when it happened to me, Scripture has quite a lot to say about the Holy Spirit, dwelling within us. That Scripture is not describing a theological concept. It is talking about an absolute reality of Christian life. I suppose that what I am also describing might be what Catholics call “a state of grace.”

All I know is that God reached down into that car and loved me back to life in an instant, He came to live within me and me with Him and He has walked with me since that moment. All this happened because of a two-word prayer that I didn’t know was a prayer: “Forgive me.”

I read the comment that the mass is the most perfect prayer, and I agreed with it. But I also know that God can and does create individual Eucharists in people’s hearts every day. I was not unusual or even especially blessed by what happened to me. The reason is that God answers sincere prayers. And He can make a Eucharist, a communion, of any person, at any time.

I know of a young woman who was kidnapped off the street on her way to school. She was put in a brothel and sold over and over as a victim of human trafficking. She lived in India. She had never heard the name of Jesus, knew nothing about Him.

One day, He came to her in the tiny room where she was held when she was not being sold. She saw a light, then a vision of a man. “I am Jesus,” He told her. “I will take care of you.” This young woman now attends a Christian university here in Oklahoma in preparation for returning to India to work among trafficked women.

Her prayer was no prayer at all, at least not as we normally understand it. Her prayer was the desperation and suffering of a young girl, sold into sex slavery. It was the wounded cry of one of His children, reaching up to heaven. Her prayer was not of her own initiative. Her prayer was His love, and it came from Him to her, not the other way around.

And that is the crux of it.

I did not deserve forgiveness. I did not deserve the love and joy that He gave to me.

The goodness was all His. The need and unworthiness was all mine.

The young girl, held prisoner in a brothel, did not even know His name; she did not call to Him because she did not know Him. He came to her. Because He loved her.

I have a friend who spent years trapped in the sins of prostitution, drug dealing,  alcoholism and addiction. For a long time, she would visit one of our Catholic churches here in Oklahoma City. She didn’t go there during mass. She sat at the back of the sanctuary alone, when it was empty. Her reason for being there was that Christ in the Eucharist was calling her to Him. She went there because He called her to Himself.

Her prayer was shame and a sense of unworthiness. It was isolation and alienation and aloneness. It was believing that the good people of the parish would never have her there, but knowing, because He called her, that she had to be there. With Him.

The perfect prayer is a mother, sitting up at night in a steamy bathroom with a croupy baby. The perfect prayer is a father, going to a job he hates and taking all manner of humiliation in order to support his family. It is the rape victim who chooses life for her baby and the cop who follows the evidence rather than just cooking up a case against the most likely.

The perfect prayer is to look at insurmountable problems and terrible insults, to stare in the face of your deepest terror and say, “Lord Jesus, I trust You.”

The mass is a gift, but it is not a gift we give to Him. It, along with the Church, is a gift that He gives to us. The Eucharist is a gift, a covenant, a bond and a promise that He is, as St Paul said, able to keep that which we have entrusted to Him against that day.

The Eucharist heals, gives life, and assures us that at the other end of this earthly passage, in the words of Julian of Norwich, all will be well, and all will be well, and all manner of things will be well.

The Eucharist comes from Him, to us. Not the other way around. In like manner the perfect prayer is always His prayer in us. The mass is prayer. A simple forgive me is prayer. Desperation and fear are prayers. Shame and sin sickness are prayers. Love, fidelity, courage are prayers.

Grace is a gift. Mercy is a gift. Salvation is a gift. The Eucharist is a gift. Life is a gift.

They are gifts to us from Him.

The only gift we have to give Him is our love. Everything else, including obedience, comes from that.

What is the most perfect prayer? I think it is to take the whole of our selves, including the pits and stains, welts and scars, lay them down in peace, and say with the confidence of a child talking to her Daddy, “Lord Jesus, I trust in you.”

YouTube Preview Image

 

Like Patheos Catholic on Facebook!

Patheos Catholic LogoCLICK HERE TO "LIKE" PATHEOS CATHOLIC ON FACEBOOK

What are You Doing January 22?

89084976 1b6e3d4387 z

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons. Elvert Barnes. https://www.flickr.com/photos/perspective/

 

I remember the predictions after Roe v Wade. I thought that the people making these arguments were, to put it bluntly, nuts.

Abortion will lead to euthanasia, they said.

Abortion will lead to human cloning, they warned.

Abortion will be used as birth control. 

Abortion will damage the respect our society holds for human life. 

I thought they were nuts. Such things would never happen.

But look at us now.

Scientists are in the process of creating animal/human hybrids. We are euthanizing people for being depressed and oftentimes against their will and without their knowledge. Euthanizing children and people with dementia is the new killing trendy. Babies are designed, created, bought and sold over the internet. Egg harvesters run ads on Facebook, and in college newspapers to lure young women into allowing their bodies to be harvested for eggs.

I personally know a woman who has had 7 abortions. I’ve spoken to many women who have had repeated abortions.

Abortion has not just damaged our respect for human life, it has ravaged it.

As for respect for women, we are now talking about legalizing polygamy, and gay marriage is the new de facto.

January 22 is the anniversary of the day when the United States Supreme Court decided to create a legal class of sub-humans. They set up a fiction far more deadly and discriminatory than separate but equal. With one rather verbose and confusing bit of judicial lawmaking, they defined a whole class of people as lives unworthy of life.

In a bitter reflection of the “useless eater” argument that the Nazis used to justify their euthanasia program, the Court announced that it could not determine when life began, and thus, it would operate as if unborn people were not alive at all.

That is how a whole class of people lost their legal right to be alive. This draconian ruling wasn’t the end of assaults on human life; it was the beginning of a decades long unraveling of the very fabric of society. It ushered in a new era of deconstruction of Western civilization that has widened and gathered force with time.

We stand today in the pit of this new low. It reaches past abortion and into the whole body politic, which has been reduced to a quest for power with no regard for this country or its people. Today, we are destroying the basis for civilized society as we demolish marriage, broaden the attacks on human life and pound away at Christianity in a effort to force the one voice that speaks against this death-dealng nihilism into silence and out of the public square

January 22 is the anniversary of the day that the Supreme Court cut the heart out of our American civilization. On January 22, the Supreme Court ruled that the Constitution of the United States, a document founded on the universal worth of all human beings, held an invisible and heretofore unknown “right” to kill a whole class of people with impunity.

How could anything ever be the same after that?

We cannot let this day slide by unacknowledged. It is the anniversary of the day when dealing death to innocents became a legal “right.”

January 22 should be edged in black on all our calendars.

What are you doing this Thursday to mark that black day?

Are you going to march? Will you gather with friends for prayer? Do you have plans to volunteer at a crises pregnancy center, or to write a letter against euthanasia, egg harvesting, human cloning, or one of the other attacks on human life that sprout each day?

Will you spend the day living pro life by caring for your own children, you own elderly parents, your husband or wife? Political pro life is only an adjunct to the real work of living pro life. Living pro life means living your responsibility to yourself and to other human beings.

What are you doing January 22? How will you mark the day?

Like Patheos Catholic on Facebook!

Patheos Catholic LogoCLICK HERE TO "LIKE" PATHEOS CATHOLIC ON FACEBOOK