Two Priests In Trouble for Having Boyfriends. Is There a Difference Between Them?

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Quinn Dombrowski https://www.flickr.com/photos/quinnanya/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Quinn Dombrowski https://www.flickr.com/photos/quinnanya/

This is a post about two prominent priests.

The first prominent priest held a powerful Vatican position and taught theology to priests. He told the world — in a press conference, no less — that he’s gay, sexually active and proud of it. He denounced the “homophobic” Catholic Church and departed with a book deal and his boyfriend.

The second prominent priest is from Chicago. He attended Pope Francis’ address to Congress last month. It turns out that he also has a boyfriend. His archbishop removed him from his parish assignment.

The Chicago priest, Father Marco Mercado, is asking for prayer, and says that his priority is the Gospel. He says he’s sorry if his actions have scandalized anyone.

Scandalized? Us?

After the past 15 years, this barely causes a blip on the Church scandal meter. Those of us in the pews are just relieved it was between adults and something is being done about it. After all, the pope himself told us that there was a “gay lobby” inside the Vatican, and just about every Catholic over the age of 12 knows that many of our priests are gay.

What we have here is a tale of two priests. One fell off the chastity wagon and says he’s sorry for what he did. The other denounced the Church for calling his sin a sin.

This situation illustrates a big issue for the Church. How are we going to go forward in this onslaught of satanic evil that is coming down on us if our priests bunt instead of swing away?

It’s not a question of whether or not we should have priests who are homosexual. We do have priests who are homosexual and everybody knows it. The question is, which column does the priest fall into? Is he a priest, who happens to be homosexual? Or is he a homosexual, who happens to be a priest?

I don’t care if a priest happens to be homosexual. I care if he is an authentic follower of Christ. The day is past when we could get by with priests who went to seminary so that they wouldn’t have to tell their mamas they were gay. We need holy priests who will lead us through these times.

It doesn’t bother me to learn that a priest has fallen flat on his face and done something stupid and sinful. Intimate involvement between two adults is definitely not the worst thing I’ve ever heard of a person doing. People long for other people.

As one of life’s all-time sinners whose only hope was and is the love of God, I do not have the qualifications to be anything but understanding about other people’s sins. I have been forgiven too much to draw a line on forgiveness to others.

But forgiveness presupposes that the person acknowledges their sin and asks to be forgiven. We all sin, repent, get cleaned up and try again. That’s life.

The priest in Chicago says he’s sorry. I don’t know the situation, and I leave its resolution in his bishop’s hands, but I’m assuming that his relationship with an adult man did not involve someone who was vulnerable, such as a parish employee or a counseling situation. All I know is that he says he did wrong and that he’s sorry for it.

The priest in Rome wants the Church to stop telling him his sin is a sin. He’s self-righteous and accusatory toward the Church that trusted him, educated him, promoted him and gave him enormous power.

The fact is, he was ripping off the priesthood and it sounds as if he was doing it deliberately. Given his attitude, he had no business wearing a collar, much less being that close to the seat of power within the Church.

Linda LaScola is an atheist blogger here at Patheos who writes in support of Christian clergy who become atheist. She has made comments that I think accurately describe the impact of fallen clergy. Here’s part of what she says.

… There are clergy who are purposely or inadvertently discouraging their parishioners from holding some of the foundational beliefs of their religion. 

… Liberal clergy will continue to lead the move away from biblical religion. They are humanists’ natural allies … We predict they will keep discarding bits of Christian doctrine until it’s gone. 

This is a post about two prominent priests. One fell off the chastity wagon and seeks forgiveness. The other condemns the Church for saying his sin is a sin.

One affirms Christian doctrine and wants to be forgiven for his human weakness. The other demands that Christianity discard 2,000 years of teaching concerning human sexuality and condemns the Church for adhering to it.

Which of these two priests would Ms LaScola consider “a natural ally?”

 

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The Pope Says Priests Can Forgive Abortion. What’s the Big Deal?

Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons by Agência Brasil, a public Brazilian news agency. Their website states: "Todo o conteúdo deste site está publicado sob a Licença Creative Commons Atribuição 3.0 Brasil exceto quando especificado em contrário e nos conteúdos replicados de outras fontes." (English translation: All content on this website is published under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Brazil License unless specified otherwise and content replicated from other sources.)

Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons by Agência Brasil, a public Brazilian news agency. Their website states: “Todo o conteúdo deste site está publicado sob a Licença Creative Commons Atribuição 3.0 Brasil exceto quando especificado em contrário e nos conteúdos replicados de outras fontes.”

So, Pope Francis announced that priests can grant absolution for abortion.

Most American Catholics find this confusing. Where else would they go for confession and absolution?

Here’s the deal.

Abortion is one of those few sins that are “reserved.” “Reserved” means that forgiveness of such sins is reserved to the local bishop. This is a reflection of how seriously the Church takes the sin of abortion; how grave it is to kill a helpless unborn child.

That does not mean that the only sin is that of the woman who has the abortion. The sin of abortion is also committed by the abortionist who performs the abortion, the girlfriend who goes to the abortion with the woman, the boyfriend who tells her “get rid of it,” and the boss who threatens to fire her because she’s pregnant. Everyone involved in an abortion is considered excommunicate.

In truth and in fact, it takes a lot of people to kill an unborn baby. The guilt is like a drop of wine, spreading on a tablecloth. If we want to get really serious about this, politicians who vote against job security for pregnant women, schools who expel them, neighbors who shun them, and publications who make money from baiting and attacking women who are “caught” with an embarrassing proof of their sexual activity in the form of a baby are all, at least to some extent, culpable for the sin of abortion. They may not be excommunicated, but when they stand before God, their actions will go into the account of their lives.

Churches who kick pregnant girls out of their fellowship — and I’ve seen this, up close and personal — are also doing their bit to add to the shame women feel that drives them to try to cover it with abortion.

Abortion is, in many ways, one of the most social of sins.

Perhaps that’s why most American bishops do not “reserve” the sin of abortion, but grant all priests under obedience to them the ability to grant absolution for abortion. If they kept this sin reserved to themselves, they would do little else besides hear confessions concerning abortion.

I’m drawing this explanation out to make a several points. First, there is no sin that Christ can not wash away with His mercy. Second, the Church is the reliable fount of that mercy. Third, none of us has the right to get all high and mighty about the sinfulness of other people.

We need to look into our own hearts and ask God to forgive our own sins. And then we need to tell other people that love and mercy are waiting for them. All they need to do is turn to Him.

I believe this is the message that Pope Francis is trying to convey with this grant of a universal ability to forgive the sin of abortion to every priest, everywhere. The message is that no matter what you have done, Jesus loves you. He can and will forgive you and make you new again. The most direct and sure means to seek His forgiveness is through the gateway of confession.

If you have an abortion on your heart, now is the time to let Jesus wash you clean of your guilt and shame. You do not need to carry this burden through your life. You do not need to hide behind your facade of anger any longer.

Turn to Jesus. Go to the cross.

And be forgiven.

From Vatican Radio:

In the letter Pope Francis specifically turns his attention to women who have resorted to abortion and “bear the scar of this agonizing and painful decision” saying the forgiveness of God cannot be denied to one who has repented. “For this reason – he writes – I have decided to concede to all priests for the Jubilee Year the discretion to absolve of the sin of abortion those who have procured it and who, with contrite heart, seek forgiveness for it”.

Pointing out that a Jubilee Year has often constituted an opportunity for a great amnesty, the Pope includes prisoners in his list of believers seeking pardon, whom he says, may obtain the Indulgence in the chapels of the jails.

And holding out the possibility of obtaining an Indulgence to the sick, the elderly, the homebound and even the deceased, the Pope never neglects to point out that the experience of mercy must be visible in works of faith, hope and charity.

 

Thanks to Public Catholic reader Manny, who brought this story to my attention.

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Can Bruce Jenner Be a Christian? Of Course He Can.

Flickr Creative Commons by  Mike Mozart https://www.flickr.com/photos/jeepersmedia/

Flickr Creative Commons by Mike Mozart https://www.flickr.com/photos/jeepersmedia/

I hadn’t intended to discuss Bruce Jenner, the person.

I don’t mind discussing what I sincerely believe is the medical quackery of “gender reassignment surgery.” This barbarism is being used as  “treatment” for people who experience gender dysphoria. This mutilating surgery is just another of the many quackeries and cruelties practiced on mentally ill people.

Gender reassignment surgery is today’s pre-frontal lobotomy. One day, people will look back on it and wonder how anyone could be so cruel to do this to another person.

Bruce Jenner is a victim of this medical quackery. He also evidently suffers from a terribly painful mental illness. He has all my sympathy. I will never write a word condemning him or what he, personally, has done in this situation. My condemnation is for those who push this barbaric surgery on people for political reasons.

The only reason I discuss Mr Jenner today is because I’ve read a smattering of nonsense out there on the internet challenging Mr Jenner’s Christian faith.

I don’t know anything about Mr Jenner’s personal life or his personal beliefs. I’ve never paid attention to the bizarre cult of personality that surrounds Mr Jenner and his family and I don’t know anything about what he believes.

I have recently read articles saying that Mr Jenner has publicly proclaimed his faith in Jesus Christ. I’ve also read absurd blog posts and combox rants claiming that, because he has come forward about his illness, he cannot be a Christian.

Rubbish.

First of all, whatever emotional/mental problems he has, they are not his fault. Does anyone seriously believe that he would undergo this mutilation and subject himself to high doses of hormones, whose side effects are bound to be long-lasting and damaging, unless he was suffering and desperate?

People who are afflicted with this mental illness are being sold harrowing self-mutilation and damaging hormone therapy as a way out of their misery. This is unconscionable on the part of the people doing the selling. But those who subject themselves to this barbarism are its victims.

Mr Jenner is in no way committing a sin by suffering from a mental illness. He is in no way culpable for the horrendous medical advice he has been given or for the cruel, sicko society in which he lives.

Even if he was fully, totally, and absolutely culpable — and I say again that he is not — that would not in any way mean that he is not a Christian.

I’ve seen it on bumper stickers, and, even though it’s a bit cliche, it’s true: Christians aren’t perfect. They are forgiven.

Transexual people attend mass at my parish. We make them welcome. I do not question their faith.  I have never heard a single word from anyone else in that parish questioning their faith. In fact, I’ve very seldom heard any discussion about them at all.

We are all wounded people. The miracle is that God loves us, heals us and welcomes us to His table without exception. All we have to do is go to Him, warts and all, and place our lives in His loving hands.

Can Bruce Jenner be a Christian? Of course he can.

Is Bruce Jenner a Christian? He says he is.

Jesus loves Bruce Jenner. That I know. Bruce Jenner is God’s beloved child.

Don’t close the doors to the Kingdom on people who sin. We all stand in sinful equality at the foot of the cross. Our righteousness is as filthy rags before God.

We enter the Kingdom by virtue of the enormous price that Jesus paid to ransom us from our sins. There are no exceptions to this. Before you condemn Bruce Jenner and claim that he is not a Christian, go look in the mirror. What you see there will be the reflection of a sinner just like Mr Jenner.

Neither one of you is fit to untie the laces of Jesus’ sandals. None of us — none of us — is without sin. Be careful about condemning specific people in this way. You do not have the authority to make such judgements. That authority belongs to God alone.

Pray for Mr Jenner. He is a suffering fellow human being who is being used by a heartless political movement and medical practitioners bent on quackery. He deserves our compassion, not our condemnation.

 

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This Just In: Catholic Church Will Forgive Your Abortion

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Miran Rijavec https://www.flickr.com/photos/miran/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Miran Rijavec https://www.flickr.com/photos/miran/

Christian bashers are characterized by a number of things.

First, they are bigots.

Second, they are full of hate.

Third, they very seldom get their facts straight.

Consider the headline to a story in the New York Post. Catholic Church Will Now Forgive Your Abortion it proclaims.

The New York Post has evidently learned that the Catholic Church forgives sins, and they are all agog over the discovery. They appear to think that forgiveness of mortal sins is a new fangled invention by Pope Francis. They see this as part of Pope Francis’ efforts to make the Church “relevant” to modern times.

Get an education Mr or Ms headline writer. Your bias is showing.

The Catholic Church has been in the forgiveness business for the past 2,000 years. Women who’ve had abortions go to confession and receive forgiveness every single day in the Catholic Church.

I once went to confession — and this was a couple of pope ago, I might add — for my sins related to abortion. I had a long list, and I must tell you, abortion-related sins were outnumbered. I had pretty much done in the Ten Commandments in my young life.

You know what happened? The priest told me that these were serious sins, but that I had confessed them with humility. Then he absolved me. I walked out of that confessional feeling as if the detritus of a thousand years had been lifted off me.

The Catholic Church is in the forgiveness business. It is in the following Jesus business. The Catholic Church is also in the eternal life business.

The media waxes eloquent about the ways that Pope Francis is supposedly “changing” the Church to make it more relevant. They should check their sources. Pope Francis has not and will not change one word of the consistent 2,000 year moral teachings of the Catholic Church.

That’s because Pope Francis is Peter, not Christ. Peter was a follower and Pope Francis is a follower. The Holy Father is the head follower of a billion other followers scattered around this planet. He — and we — follow a Risen Lord Who is the Way that leads to eternal life. Pope Francis follows Christ, and he is leading us in following Christ. He points the way to the Way, the Truth and Life.

The Catholic Church has always been the foremost agency that provides for the poor, educates the ignorant and heals the sick in any community in which it finds itself. These days in which we live have seen an outright attack on human life and human dignity in the guise of abortion, embryonic stem cell research, euthanasia, surrogacy, egg harvesting, sex trafficking, gay marriage and other moral innovations that ultimately lead to the disfigurement of the human.

Of course, the Catholic Church will stand against these things. To do otherwise would be to deny the Gospels, the prophets, and ultimately, to deny Christ Himself.

As for relevance, the media needs to think a bit more deeply. The Catholic Church is a highway to heaven. All any of us has to do is to believe and love Jesus and follow the Catholic Church and we can be assured that we are doing the right thing and are on the way to eternal life.

Is there something more “relevant” than that?

The Catholic Church is the highway to eternal life. It is the purveyor of the full witness of the Gospels, the whole Gospels, which include justice, mercy and hope for the darkest hours of our existence.

The media’s off the cuff and inaccurate analyses offer us nothing except Christian baiting bits of inaccurate and ignorant nonsense.

Christian baiters cherry pick facts and distort reality to justify their hatred of Christianity. Without severe editing of reality, their Christian bashing tropes fall over under the weight of their own lies.

Christian bashing is hate propaganda. I don’t think this particular headline is representative of everything the New York Post publishes on the subject. But it is soft Christian bashing that feeds hard Christian bashing.

There are lots of people who make their livings attacking Christianity. Hatred of Christians and Christianity is all they do.

Day after day, they write and publish blog posts that yammer at bias and bigotry against Christians and Christianity. They must spend their days combing the internet for anything they can use to attack Christians. They waste their talents on writing the filth of hatred, bigotry and discrimination.

They are to be pitied, not attacked. They have gone after the stone of death and abandoned the bread of life. It is up to us Christians to lead them to a better way, to redeem both them and this sick culture, by converting it and them, one person at a time.

The Catholic Church is the way to find the Way that leads to eternal life. I thank God for leading me to it.

From the New York Post:

Pope Francis will send an army of globe-trotting priests — his “missionaries of mercy” — to absolve women who’ve had abortions, in the latest Vatican bid to catch up with modern times.

The effort, which includes reaching out to doctors and nurses who’ve performed abortions, will commence in the Holy Year of Mercy, which Francis has declared will be celebrated between Dec. 8, 2015, and Nov. 20, 2016.

Archbishop Rino Fisichella, the head of the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization, announced the bold initiative and said the church should always be in the absolution business.

“The missionaries of mercy are priests sent out by the Holy Father . . . as a tangible sign of how a priest should be a man of pardon, close to everyone,” Fisichella said.

Vatican officials walked a tightrope on Thursday, celebrating forgiveness but standing firm that abortion is still very much against church teachings.

“There are a number of clergy with the ability to pardon abortions already, it is not that rare,” said the Rev. Federico Lombardi, a Vatican spokesman.

Church hard-liners warned that stepped-up efforts to forgive those involved in abortions could “cause confusion” among Catholics.

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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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Go Look in the Mirror. That is the Only God You’ll Ever See.

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by EvelynGiggles https://www.flickr.com/photos/evelynishere/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by EvelynGiggles https://www.flickr.com/photos/evelynishere/

Decades ago, not long after my conversion, I had a discussion with an atheist friend of mine.

This friend was from the time when just about all of my friends — including me — evinced a militant disregard for things Christian.

I didn’t know it at first, but that conversion to Christ was going to change everything in my life, including my relationship with people who had been as close to me as family. One by one and despite everything I could do to avoid it, I would lose them all. Worse, the same friends that I loved, truly loved, would become my worst enemies. They would do everything they could to destroy me.

This particular friend didn’t do that. But the friendship, the easy, warm trust between us, was gone almost as soon as I began to follow Christ. I tried my best to keep my new faith low key. I did everything I could to continue to blend in with my old crowd.

But … you’ve changed, this friend said one day.

It was an accusation, and I cringed inside, not understanding this “change” that he saw, even when I was doing my best to hide it. I did not realize in that moment that he had just unwittingly given me the greatest compliment he could.

He saw Christ in me. Despite everything I could do to pretend that nothing had happened and hang onto all my old friendships, I was changed. And this man saw it.

That comment began the slow unraveling of my old life as an unbeliever. I do not mean that it began my conversion. That had already happened. It was the start of the end of previous relationships with people who lived in the world of unbelief.

I fought it. I wanted to keep these people as friends. I wanted to hold onto the good times we’d shared.

But … you’ve changed, he said. And it was true.

This change began to resound in all these relationships with my old crowd. I never preached to them. I didn’t even talk about Christ to them. But I had changed on a fundamental level, and they were like ring wraiths sniffing me out.

This particular friend was the only one to address the change directly and then to lay into me at the root of that change. He knew, without my telling him, that I was now a Christian. And he began a program of reconversion.

Once, in one of our many arguments, he spat out a couple of sentences that I will never forget.

Go look in the mirror, he said. That is the only God you will ever see.

That comment was the apex of his arguing, and the end of our togetherness as people. It wasn’t the comment itself  that did it. It was the unbridgeable gap between us.

We never formally stopped being friends, but we did stop spending time with one another. It was too fraught, too uncomfortable. We had the memory of a friendship, nothing more.

He died of a heart attack a few years later. There were jokes about his vehement unbelief in the many eulogies at his memorial service. This was a man who understood friendship. The memorial service was a crowded event, the building filled to overflowing.

I walked out, gripping my husband’s hand, hoping that in those last extremities my old friend had finally turned to God.

Did he go to hell? 

I said it aloud when we got back to the car. Was he dead, really, eternally dead and gone to hell? My passionate, crazy friend — had he doomed himself to eternal death?

My husband was silent for a moment. Then, he reached out and squeezed my hand.

Probably, he said.

I changed again after that. My friend’s death shook me out of my somnambulance. I realized that being quiet about Jesus was the cruelest thing I could do to the people around me. I called quite a number of my old friends and told them directly that I did not want them to go to hell. I pleaded with them to change.

One of them changed, began following Christ and follows Him to this day. Otherwise, those calls had no effect.

You just don’t worry about me, one of them said, summing up the reaction from all of the rest.

A few years later, someone I knew and had crossed swords with was dying of cancer. This person and I barely spoke and when we did, it was barbed.

I picked up the phone and called him. Are you right with God? I asked him.

My friend’s death has taught me that there is never a wrong time to try to tell someone about Jesus, and there is never a right time to let another person slide into eternal death while you stand politely by and say nothing.

I read a headline before I began writing this post saying that 7.5 million Americans have abandoned their faith in Christ in the last year. I didn’t read the story, but I would assume that it was based on statistics from a survey of some sort.

There are a lot of reasons for the rising apostasy, but I think that the heresy of salvation through politics is one of the primary factors.

Many Christians have become besotted with a political Christianity where voting right and joining the correct political party has replaced following Christ. They have removed Jesus from Lordship of their lives and replaced him with an angry and unthinking devotion to their political party.

The Holy Spirit will not honor this kind of fallen Christianity. This Christless Christianity without a cross will not produce the fruit of the Kingdom because it is not of the Kingdom.

Go look in the mirror. That is the only God you will ever see. 

Seven point five million Americans evidently decided to turn their backs on eternal life and plunge themselves into eternal death while we were barking at one another over whether or not the priest wears a stole when he hears confessions and is the Church too “feminized” and which political party is the right one for Christians.

Let me tell you something. If Jesus Christ is truly the Lord of your life, it does not matter which political party you are in or whether or not the mass or church service you attend is sufficiently to your liking.

It does not matter because wherever you are, you will do His will. If people aren’t looking at you accusingly and saying You’ve changed, then something is wrong with your relationship with Christ.

If you fit comfortably in this world, then you are not going to fit comfortably in heaven. If you sit idly by and watch people trot themselves off to eternal hell and do nothing, say nothing to stop them, then you are the most cruel of people.

Let me turn my friend’s comment around. When you look in the mirror, do you see your God?

Sin is one thing. We all sin. This is why we have confession. But if you are one of those many people who are trying to cut your faith to fit your politics, if you are trying to shear the teachings of Christ down to slip them nicely into the folder where you keep your political handouts, then you are, no matter how often you go to Church or how much you proclaim yourself a Christian, in rebellion against God.

If you do not accept the Lordship of Christ in all matters, then you are not following Christ. If you do accept the Lordship of Christ, then it does not matter where you are or what people you associate with, you will be His witness in that place.

Bearing witness to the Gospel with our lives is the universal Christian vocation.

But it doesn’t end there.

We are also called to bear witness to Christ with our words.

Ask yourself this: Have people abandoned the Church because of you? Have you driven them away with your peculiar and particular insistence on a vengeful reliance on your version of what a Christian should be? Has your unbending self-righteousness made them feel that the Church is the last place on earth they would go for love and forgiveness?

Or …

Have people come to Christ because of you? Have they felt safe to tell you of their failings, to share their doubts, to trust you with their darkest secrets? Have they experienced the love of Christ in you and begun to follow Him because you allowed yourself to be a conduit of His grace in their lives?

What fruit have you born with your followership of Christ?

When you stand before God, will lost souls point at you in accusation and say He or she never told me about Jesus.

Or worse, will they say, He or she was so angry and so self-righteous that I thought their Jesus was the devil?

How many souls will point to you and say He or she was the spark that led me to Christ?

The answer to those questions begins with another one. When you look in the mirror, do you see a beloved child of God who can trust His love to forgive their sins? Do you see a sinner who does not need to be afraid before God; someone who is forgiven and who is grateful for that forgiveness?

Or …

Do you look in the mirror and see the true lord of your life and the only god you will ever know?

 

 

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If You Get Real with God. He Will Get Real with You.

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by pcstratman https://www.flickr.com/photos/32495192@N07/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by pcstratman https://www.flickr.com/photos/32495192@N07/

Corrie ten Boom called it dying grace.

St Paul referred to it as “the peace that passes all understanding.”

I have described it as a bell jar that was over me, protecting me.

It is the grace of God, and it comes to us when we need it to do His will.

There are many caveats about this grace, none of which I’ve read in books, but which I’ve learned by walking with Christ.

First, you don’t get this grace when you don’t need it. Dying grace is for the dying. The peace that passes all understanding is for times when you’re in such deep trouble that peace of any sort would confound. The bell jar was for a time when I was being attacked while trying to pass pro life legislation.

The elements I’ve observed about this big-time, empowering grace are that (1) It is not given just because you ask for it, because, say, the hot water tank broke and flooded the floor, (2) It is given when you need it and (3) It is given when you need it to do His will, and (4) You can count on it on those times.

Dying grace comes to the dying; not those who are twenty years from dying and hypering themselves into a panic over what will happen one day.

The peace that passes all understanding comes when you are faced with that which cannot be borne without the grace of God.

The bell jar came to me — unbidden, I might add — when I was gritting my teeth to bull dog my way through doing His will, no matter what.

Dying grace/the peace that passes all understanding/the bell jar are a function of the deepest humility there is: When you are on your knees before the cross with the full knowledge of your unworthiness.

If you want to follow Jesus, you need to be ready to find yourself in situations where you need this grace. Because they will come.

How do you get ready for situations where you face anger, gossip, slander, loss of livelihood, even death, attacks, and unfathomable terror as the price of your faithfulness to the Lord?

The Bible tells us quite clearly how we do this. The message is repeated all through it.

You reject burnt offerings, a broken and contrite heart you will accept. King David prayed that when he was lost in sin. We pray the same words every Lent.

But do we “get” what the words are telling us?

Jesus told the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector who went to pray. The Pharisee in the story stands for every holier-than-thou-sure-of-their-own-righteousness person in the world today. The tax collector stands in for the drug dealers, corporatists, rapists, murderers, adulterers, Christian bashers, abortionists, pornographers, bribe-taking officials — the in-your-face sinners among us.

The Pharisee stood before God and pointed to the tax collector. I thank you that I am not like that sinner, he prayed. The tax collector bowed down before God in misery because of his remorse for his sins and prayed Have mercy on me, a sinner. 

Jesus made it clear that the tax collector, not the Pharisee, went home that day justified before God.

You reject burnt offerings which means, among other things, all the good works we are so proud of and the goodness we see in ourselves. A broken and contrite heart you will accept, meaning, among other things, genuine sorrow for the things we’ve done to hurt other people.

When we get to heaven, I think the biggest surprise may be who else shows up. There is a universal (as in, I do it too) impulse to justify and understand our own sins while condemning without mercy those of other people. But if you stand before God, clothed in the garments of your own self-annointed righteousness, the Scriptures tell us that you will be clothed in filthy rags rather than heavenly garments.

Twenty-one Christians died proclaiming their faith in Christ on a beach in Libya a couple of weeks ago. Christians live the hell of violent persecution throughout that region of the world. Christian girls are sold into sex slavery, which, in my opinion, is a much deeper and more hideous martyrdom than the one those men suffered on the beach. If I had to chose, I would chose the beach over sex slavery any day.

How do they keep their faith? How do they find the grace to proclaim Jesus in those circumstances? How does a parent whose daughter has been taken, whose son has been beheaded, find the grace to continue their walk with Christ?

The answer is, they don’t. That grace comes from God. We don’t create it or deserve it. It is given to us, like eternal life, out of His love for us.

But what of those who stumble? What of those who recant their faith and “convert” to Islam to save their lives? What of those who wet their pants in terror and cry for their mamas? What of those who fall into the alone of being helpless in the hands of human monsters and crack apart, unable to pull themselves back from the horror?

Does God stop loving them?

Are we called to punish them?

The answers are no, and no.

There is another grace that comes to believers, and it is the grace of forgiveness. It isn’t so flashy as dying grace/the peace that passes all understanding/bell jar grace. But it is the their forerunner.

If you want grace that will see you through you personal apocalypse, you have to begin by living the graces of ordinary life. Perhaps the first and foremost grace we should consider in this Lenten season is the grace of forgiveness.

Lent is not just about going to confession and getting yourself cleaned up from your sins. It is not just about no meat on Fridays and “doing” the stations of the cross. Lent is also, and most painfully for just about all of us, about forgiving.

Look into your hearts this Lent, and if there is someone who is like a running sore in your life, someone who has wronged you and hurt you and who perhaps continues to hurt you, take a moment and pray for them. Ask God to be merciful to them and take care of them. You will be amazed what this will do for you. You pray for them, and God gives to you, as well.

If you want dying grace/the peace that passes all understanding/bell jar grace when you need it, you have to do the little things now. If you cannot do them in love, then do them in obedience.

Practice forgiveness this Lent. Even if you don’t show up for the Stations and you forget and eat chicken salad instead of tuna salad on Friday, remember to pray for those who persecute you and use you unjustly. Ask God to take the beam of resentment, self-righteousness and self-pity out of your eye. Do that instead of obsessing over whether or not you hit your head on the cabinet and took the Lord’s name in vain.

Get real with God. If you do that, believe me, He will get real with you.

 

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Do You Qualify to Attend the Father Dan Stoning Party?

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Artforthegloryofgod by Sharon's photo stream https://www.flickr.com/photos/4thglryofgod/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Artforthegloryofgod by Sharon’s photo stream https://www.flickr.com/photos/4thglryofgod/

Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other because Jesus Christ has also forgiven you. St Paul

My goodness we’re all perfect and holy.

We’re also fragile. Oh, so fragile.

I went off-line for the Sabbath and when I come back, what do I find? A veritable meltdown of comments both here and on Facebook declaiming that, since I plan — and yes I do plan to do this — to

Accept Father Dan Letourneua and his new bride as my brother and sister in Christ and,

I absolutely wish them all the best and,

I hope that they have a long, holy, happy marriage with a great, big Catholic family,

I am … what? … failing at my job of hating sinners to death????

Let me tell you something folks, it is a fortunate thing that you are not God, because if you were, every single person on this earth would go straight to flaming hell for lack of forgiveness.

And frankly, I find the cries of how badly Father Dan has “hurt” the people of his parish to be a bit … ummm … what’s that word? Oh yes, the word is ridiculous.

The people of this parish are supposed to be irreparably hurt because they found out that priests are human beings who commit sins? They didn’t know this?

Father Dan did not rape a child. Father Dan did not use a woman as a concubine for years and refuse to marry her while he went around ripping off the priesthood. Father Dan fell in love and sneaked around and got married outside the Church. Then he spent a few months running and hiding and living a double life. The good people at St Joe’s found out that their priest had a big, fat secret life.

Is that a sin?

Yes.

Is it our place to stone him for this? I don’t think so, or at least not most of us. There may be exceptions.

Here are the people who are qualified to attend the Father Dan Stoning Party:

1. Those people who never did anything stupid, sneaky, foolish or wrong because of falling in love

AND

2. Those who also never told a lie

AND

3. Those who also never tried to hide their sins

AND

4. Those who also never spent months and years in fear that something they’d done would be found out

AND

5. Those who also never went to a priest in confession expecting mercy and forgiveness and got mercy and forgiveness.

If you can tick off all these things, then you might have cause to go at Father Dan. However, you will be sinning — you know sin, like what Father Dan did — if you do.

There’s that Jesus guy and His admonitions about forgiveness, etc. You remember those words “forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us?” Or, how about, “by what measure you judge, that measure shall be used to judge you?”

Think carefully before you pick up those stones, grab that hammer, erect that cross for Father Dan. The execution you’re planning may be your own.

How many of the people at St Joseph’s Old Cathedral in downtown Oklahoma City have gone to Father Dan in confession and received mercy and forgiveness from him? How many people at all the parishes where he’s been have gone to him in times of trouble or hurt and received support, love, mercy?

Now, the shoe is on the other foot. We have a priest who has sinned and then lied about it and got caught in his lie.

Let those holier-than-thous who never sinned go at him.

Everybody else needs to get real.

 

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Martin Luther King, Jr. What He said Matters Today.

We March With Selma cph 3c35695

Photosource: Wikimedia Commons. United States Library of Congress. http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/cph.3c35695

 

Martin Luther King, Jr, spoke from the heart of the Gospels. He did what we must do: He challenged satanic evil with the love of Christ.

To take the brickbats of vicious attackers who know no rules except the ones they write to cripple their opponents is the Christian fate. We are facing it today. Christianity is under attack from many directions.

But we only have to look back a few decades to see the Gospel walking, marching, to victory.

Today is Martin Luther King Day. Let’s consider a few of the wise things this great man said in light of our own challenges as Christians in a post Christian world. Taken from The Quotations Page, and Brainy Quote.

 

I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear. 

In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends. 

Fath is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase. 

Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’

We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this we are less prone to hate our enemies. 

Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle.

Nonviolence means avoiding not only external physical violence but also internal violence of spirit. You not only refuse to shoot a man, but you refuse to hate him. 

The first question which the priest and the Levite asked was: ‘If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?’ But … the good Samaritan reversed the question: ‘If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?’

Rarely do we find men who winningly engage in hard solid thinking There is an almost universal quest for easy answers and half-baked solutions Nothing pains some people more than having to think. 

Nonviolence is a powerful and just weapon, which cuts without wounding and ennobles the man who wields it. It is a sword that heals. 

Never forget that everything Hitler did in Germany was legal. 

If we are to go forward, we must go back and rediscover those precious values — that all reality rests on moral foundations and that all reality has spiritual control. 

The hottest place in hell is reserved for those who remain neutral in times of great moral conflict. 

A nation or civilization that continues to produce soft-minded men purchases its own spiritual death on the installment plan. 

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