Our call as Christians is to convert the world. Witness to your love of Christ with your life, your words and your actions.
It’s been a while since I posted this. I think it deserves another look.
… and this one from Downey, California.
… and Market Square in Knoxville, Tennessee
The Church teaches us to love and care for the elderly, disabled, weak and helpless. It teaches us that every human life has immense value. It reminds us over and over again with a consistent voice that human life is sacred and we may not murder.
The world is doing its best to teach us to love euthanasia.
The difference, my friends, is Jesus.
I often get comments when I write about my own elderly mother, telling me that if euthanasia was legal, I would have a “solution” for my problems. Caring for an elderly parent is work. Caring for an elderly parent with dementia is hard work.
It can be painful, frightening and lonely. But it is also and always a gift. My son took Mama to her adult day care this morning. He told me later how much he enjoyed those times with Amah.
As the days dwindle down, each one of them becomes precious.
Pope Francis tells us that a society that does not take care of the elderly has no future. I would say the same thing, only differently. A society that consigns those who can not defend themselves to death because they are a “burden,” is dead already.
Every morning, I re-tweet Pope Francis’ tweet.
The Holy Father’s tweets are, without fail, a drop of sunshine. They remind us of the love and mercy of our Precious Lord. I don’t know about you, but I can use all the love and mercy I can get.
Jesus is the unfailing source of love and mercy when everything in life has been upended. When everybody else has la la la-ad right past you and your problems, you can turn to Jesus. He will give you the grace you need to deal with what’s in front of you.
Do you know who Pope Francis is?
He’s the Vicar of Christ.
Pope Francis is the Jesus-follower-in-chief. He’s the shepherd we trust to lead us home to glory. At a time when the bishops are at odds with one another over such basic Christian teachings as marriage, and when the priests are pretty much ignoring the constant bashing ordinary Christians take for following Christ, we still have the Pope. Pope Francis is the lighthouse which warns us away from the rocks and keeps us in the safe channels.
I don’t know what Catholics in places like Germany, where the bishops are following one another instead of the Gospels, would do without the Pope. I don’t know who those Catholics who are burdened with trendy priests who teach the world’s wisdom instead of God’s would have for a teacher without the Pope.
Even if a person isn’t Catholic, Pope Francis is still a beacon of pastoral love and hope. He is God’s mercy and justice, personified.
Why then, do people feel compelled to drop vile tweets on his Twitter account?
It appears for all the world like a form of virtual exhibitionism, like the sickos who walk around elementary schools with their genitals hanging out. Or maybe it’s a social form of Tourette’s Syndrome in which people are compelled to shout out obscenities due to a mental tic. I’m not a psychologist, so I don’t know the medical/mental problem involved here.
Maybe it’s just another manifestation of the current zeitgeist in which Christians are the group it’s ok to hate. Perhaps the only mental problem at work is prejudice and hatred, taking form in a deliberate attempt to affront Catholics and degrade the Holy Father as an expression of the overall ethos of Christian bashing.
I think these sewage-dumping trolls are too numerous, and some of the things they tweet too sick, to be the work of adolescents on a dare.
The interesting thing is that the filthy darkness of these tweets tends to make the Holy Father’s goodness shine even brighter. His tweets of support for the suffering, assurance of God’s love, and hope for the salvation of all humankind cast a holy light that overcomes the darkness of this trash.
If you look at it that way, the whole business of sewage-dumping on the Pope becomes analogous to what we face as Christians living in post Christian world every day. The light of Christ is hope, mercy, love, eternal life. The darkness has no light. It only offers viciousness, degradation and anger. Even the jokes that come from people in its thrall are cruel.
Why do people feel compelled to throw sewage on the Pope? I think it’s because they are, without being aware of it, doing their master’s bidding. Who hates the Pope most of all? The one who would lead all the world away from Christ. Who are his disciples in this world? Those who aid him in achieving this desire.
I think that these attacks on the Pope are just another crude manifestation of the fact that we live in a fallen world and that we are, as St Paul told us, dealing with powers and dominions that we do not fully see and do not comprehend.
2.000 years ago, a man gave his life for me, for you, for all of us. This man was the Son of God: Jesus Christ, Our Lord, Saviour and Messiah. Join the Catholic Church! http://catholicscomehome.org/ From YouTube posting.
Christian bashers are fond of creating alternate realities and then pretending that they are actual reality.
In these alternate realities, Christianity is dying from the earth. In the real world, Christianity is dynamic and growing. Estimates are that there will be around 3 billion Christians on this planet by 2050.
Another Christian bashing fantasy is that Christianity in general and the Catholic Church in particular are not “relevant” to the modern world. This is another example of Christian bashers deliberately ignoring not only reality, but their own behavior.
Let’s start with the Christian bashers themselves. Who do they attack? Is it Muslims? Pagans? Satanists?
They go after Christians and Christianity and they love to hate on the Catholic Church. Day and night, night and day, they rant and rave like a bunch of torch-carrying Nazis at a rally about the supposed horrors of Christianity and the Catholic Church. They make searching for embarrassing things that individual Christians or Catholics do, and then implying that this is the behavior of all 2 billion Christians, their bigoted business day and night.
They will go to just about any lengths to drive Catholics off discussion boards and use those boards for their own purposes. They flatter and cajole the weak-as-branch-water Christians who simp when they are stroked. Then they try to use these silly people as weapons against other Christians. It appears that they get up every morning and flick on their computers to begin their daily mission of hate, bigotry and cultivation of prejudice.
If Christianity isn’t relevant to these people, they’re behavior makes even less sense than it does now. I would posit that Christianity, in particular Catholicism, is the most relevant fact of their lives. Without hatred of Christians and the Catholic Church, they would no longer have any reason to write their gutter blogs. Without hatred of Christians and the Catholic Church, how would they feel special?
These people are more focused on the Catholic Church than Pope Francis. In fact, they are a lot more focused on the Catholic Church than Pope Francis, since Pope Francis is actually focused on Jesus Christ.
Relevant? These folks who claim that the Catholic Church is not relevant deny their claims by how they live their lives. They are obsessed, and not in a good sense, with the Catholic Church. It may be the only relevance in their sick little lives.
Now, let’s look at government leaders here in America. If the Catholic Church is irrelevant to President Obama, why did he tarnish the legacy of his own presidency by attacking the First Amendment as a means of attacking the Church? All he had to do was keep his word and live up to the promises he made to the American people and Congress when he was lobbying to pass the Affordable Health Care Act.
But no. He compromised his own place in history by going off on a battle to limit the First Amendment to activities inside church sanctuaries. He went after the basic freedoms of all Americans in order to attack one specific group of Americans: The Catholic Church.
Why? I’m not going to venture into the subterranean channels of President Obama’s mind. I have no idea what lies there. Besides, it doesn’t matter. All that matters with any public official is what they do with the power we give them. Why they do what they do is their problem.
The point for the purpose of this post is simply that the Catholic Church is way past “relevant” to President Obama. This meretricious war he’s engaged in against the First Amendment is the behavior of man who is willing to bet everything on an attempt to force the Catholic Church to bend its knee and kiss Caesar’s ring.
There appear to be few things more “relevant” to president Obama than the Catholic Church.
Now, let’s look at the Catholic bashers of the right and left sides of the political spectrum. I lump them together because, after long years in public office in which I have been thoroughly and repeatedly attacked by both sides, I see no difference between them. Right and left wing nuts are the same.
The reason that both right and left wing nuts attack the Catholic Church is the reason that they do everything: Power. Far from being “irrelevant,” the Catholic Church is a powerhouse of political persuasion. Literally millions of people will place their loyalty to the Catholic Church above loyalty to the R and the D.
Witness the 2014 elections. For the first time, a majority of Catholics voted R. Why? I think the answer to that is obvious. President Obama and his attacks on their Church made the decision for them. Their loyalty was to their Church, not their party.
That, my friends, is power. The power to inspire people to change their long-held behavior, simply out of loyalty, is political power with a capitol P.
The problem for the Rs is that the Catholic Church does not trim the Gospels down to a couple of issues and ignore or even attack all the rest of what Jesus taught. Contrary to what President Obama implied, the Catholic Church expects a lot more of government officials than that they just vote against abortion and gay marriage.
Rank and file wing nuts of both political persuasions, which is to say people like you and me, are just a blinded file of nameless nothings to the people who run the two political parties. They are numbers on a sheet. They were recruited by careful use of “wedge issues,” push polls and profiling. It’s a numbers game.
In the rooms where the decisions are made, which is to say in the rooms of the money men who control the parties, no one is committed to pro life, pro choice, or gay marriage. They want control of government monies and lawmaking powers. They may have opinions about those issues, but their first concern is simply how the issues help them take control of the government. Their real goals are government pork barrel, using government to destroy their competitors, both domestic and foreign, and enacting policies that will allow them to seize public monies and use government power for their own ends.
The Catholic Church is a troublesome factor in this real life game of thrones, simply because it will not be controlled by these power brokers. While a good many denominations have abandoned the Gospels to deify either the right or the left, the Catholic Church keeps on following the whole Gospels of Christ.
An entity that inspires such loyalty of so many people, that will not fall into the carefully hewn lines of right and left political manipulation, is not just relevant in today’s political world; it is the last serious challenge to the hegemony of the power brokers behind the R and the D.
Contrary to the bizarre little tropes created by Catholic bashers, the Catholic Church is relevant to today’s world in a way that no other entity is relevant. The reason it is being attacked from all sides is because the Catholic Church is that sign of contradiction to the world of darkness that every Christian should be.
My purpose in writing Public Catholic is to encourage, empower and equip individual Christians to become signs of contradiction themselves. I do not care if you are an R or a D. I am not trying to get you to change parties. I’m not interested in telling you how to vote.
I want you to fall in love with Jesus. I want you to commit yourself to Him. I want you to become a change agent for Christ, wherever you are.
This world needs conversion, and you and I are the ones God has placed here in this time and place to do the converting. But we cannot do that if we are so enthralled with the R and the D that we trim our faith to fit their machinations.
The Catholic Church shows us the Way that leads to eternal life. There is nothing more relevant than that.
The Catholic Church teaches us how to apply the Gospels of Christ to our daily lives, our culture and our world. There is nothing more relevant than that.
The Catholic Church is hated, feared, bashed and attacked by purveyors of nihilism, death and corporatism everywhere. That is because they know but lie to avoid admitting that the Catholic Church is absolutely, completely and everlastingly relevant to this dying world.
The Catholic Church is as relevant as Jesus Christ, and He is the only relevance there is.
Our Passover Lamb lies in the grave.
The stone rolls over the entrance and settles with a hollow thunk. The seal is placed over it and the guards take up their watch.
Inside the tomb, Jesus’ body lies broken, dirty and cold in the silent nothingness of death. Blood congeals on the corpse’ forehead, back, wrists, ankles and chest. The limbs stiffen and this dead thing that once was a man becomes a figment of a living person. It is matter now, with no life inside it; a hard, silent piece of dead meat. Decomposition and rot begin.
This is death; raw, unyielding, and seemingly forever. It is the end of every living thing.
Death brings our dreams and accomplishments to dust. It puts a period at the end of our adventures and hopes and tosses them on the waste bin of what doesn’t matter any more. Death conquers all.
Or so it seems.
I am the Way. Jesus told his disciples. I am the Way, the Truth and the Life.
Today, humanity’s Passover Lamb lies in the grave. The perfect and complete sacrifice, the true lamb without blemish, has shed His blood for us. His shed blood is the blood of the lamb on the lintel posts of the doors to our lives.
If we wear the blood of the Passover Lamb, the angel of unending death will pass us by. If we are not marked with the blood of the Lamb, the angel of death will mow us down with his eternal scythe.
Jesus lies in the tomb today. In our place.
On this second day of the Divine Mercy Novena, He asks us to “bring me the souls of priests and religious.”
No matter when Jesus comes again, we are all in the last days of our own lives. In these last days of our lives, when, as Yeats said, “the center does not hold,” we need leadership from our priests and religious.
“Without vision, the people perish,” the Bible says. Fearful functionaries and self-congratulators cannot lead us in these times. Our priests and religious need the Divine Mercy of Our Lord.
As do we all.
Please take time to pray the Divine Mercy Novena with us. Pray that God will send us holy priests and religious.
“Today bring to Me the Souls of Priests and Religious,
and immerse them in My unfathomable mercy. It was they who gave me strength to endure My bitter Passion. Through them as through channels My mercy flows out upon mankind.”
Most Merciful Jesus, from whom comes all that is good, increase Your grace in men and women consecrated to Your service,* that they may perform worthy works of mercy; and that all who see them may glorify the Father of Mercy who is in heaven.
Eternal Father, turn Your merciful gaze upon the company of chosen ones in Your vineyard — upon the souls of priests and religious; and endow them with the strength of Your blessing. For the love of the Heart of Your Son in which they are enfolded, impart to them Your power and light, that they may be able to guide others in the way of salvation and with one voice sing praise to Your boundless mercy for ages without end. Amen.
* In the original text, Saint Faustina uses the pronoun “us” since she was offering this prayer as a consecrated religious sister. The wording adapted here is intended to make the prayer suitable for universal use.
Go to mass tonight if you can. You will be blessed.
If you’re sick or you have to work or for some other reason you cannot go, try to take a moment to think on Jesus. You may be so busy or in such a problem that finding time for worship or contemplation of any sort is difficult. On the other hand, you may be flat on your back with nothing but time, dripping slowly by.
Here are 5 ways you can do Holy Thursday if you are shut in from illness or shut out because of other imperatives.
For those with time, pray the Rosary. Pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet. If you are sick, offer up your pains for conversions.
If you are pushing through a day with no rest stops, pray the Jesus Prayer: Lord Jesus Christ, son of the Living God, have mercy on me, a sinner.
Or, pray a Hail Mary.
Or, just stop for a moment and think about Gethsemane and say “Thank you Jesus.”
If you are in your own, personal, Gethsemane today, ponder what He faced there and remember that God understands what you are going through. He knows with the knowing of having been there Himself.
2. Read the Bible. Read the transfiguration (Mark, chapter 9) or the Last Supper (Mark 14) or the story of Gethsemane (Mark 14.) Read Psalm 22.
Better yet, read them all.
When you read, ponder for a moment the power of this story. I could write many thousands of words discussing these Scripture readings and never touch their full meaning. This is the promise of our redemption, the New Covenant which fulfills that of the Old Testament, and the all-too-human suffering of abandonment and The Alone.
Read it and pray over it. Put yourself there, in the disciples’ sandals, with Jesus as He prayed to let this cup pass from Him. Let God show you the understanding of it that you need for today.
3. Watch something edifying on tv. So much of what we see in the media at this time of year is a thinly-disguised attack on the faith through bogus scholarship presented as an “investigation” into the “real Jesus” or “what really happened.”
The simple fact is that these are deconstructions of Scripture based on little more than the fantasies of the “scholars” who put them forward. Most of the time, if you backcheck these “experts” you will find that they are people with an agenda, usually having to do with their dislike of the Church’s stand on things such as gay marriage and abortion.
They are attacking Christianity because Christianity poses a barrier to the universal acceptance of their viewpoints. However, they are not doing this in a forthright and honest way. They are using phony “scholarship” and an anti-Christian media to unfairly and inaccurately bash Christianity in hopes of weakening its ability to oppose them in the marketplace of ideas.
I had all but given up on tv.
Then, I found some edifying videos on Amazon Prime; lives of the saints, Church history, inspiring stories of faithful Christian witness. I suggest you seek them out and watch them. I’ve looked for similar things on Netflix and couldn’t find them. If you find good ones in other venues, please share them here.
4. Sing or play music. I’ve been under the weather for the past three weeks, and I haven’t felt up to playing my piano. That’s a huge deprivation for me. I’m going to change that today, at least for a while, and tap out a hymn or two. I have lots of Christian music of all genres on my iPhone. I play that and sing along in my rusty voice.
Music is worship with wings, especially, playing the piano. If you pick the guitar or bow the fiddle or pound the ivories, make a joyful noise to the Lord. If you don’t play an instrument, or don’t have access to one, sing a hymn, and if all else fails, just listen to Christian music for a while in your car or at your house.
5. Talk about Jesus with your Christian friends. I don’t mean making a speech or trying to convert someone. I mean just talking about the events of this week 2,000 years ago with a fellow Christian.
Don’t try to be profound. Just fellowship by talking about Our Lord with another Christian.
I know there are many other ways to “do” Holy Thursday if you can’t get to mass. I also know that even if you do go to mass, these are also important things to do.
A Christian can never engage in too much prayer, Scripture, and private worship in the guise of watching good Christian entertainment, making a joyful noise unto the Lord and talking about Him with other people who love Him.
Build yourself up in Christ today, step by step, brick by brick.
This is Holy Thursday. No matter your circumstance, you can find a moment and a means to love Him today. It will be your blessing if you do.
Indiana’s governor is at the center of a firestorm because he signed a religious freedom law.
I am aware that any Catholic blogger, especially a Catholic blogger who writes about politics, should be all over this.
But I’m not going to do it. Not this week.
This is Holy Week, and I need the time with Christ. I think a lot of other people do, too. Sad to say, this issue, and its many ramifications, is not going to go away. Religious freedom is under attack in this country.
I could easily write a strong post about this, as well as the outrageous attempt at intrusion into Church governance that is occurring in San Francisco.
However, this is Holy Week.
I write this blog for one reason: To contribute to the work of equipping Christians to stand for Christ at the intersection of public life and faith. However, I understand something that I’ve seen a lot of Christian culture warriors forget: This is not about changing the culture to our viewpoint. It is about faithfulness to Christ.
We must take time to be with Jesus. That means, among other things, deep prayer on a daily basis, reading the Scriptures every day, and mass as often as you can get there. It also means relaxing a bit and trusting Him.
I’ll say this again: This is Holy Week.
This is the week when God showed all the world for all time the depth, width and breadth of His love for us.
We are in a serious struggle to retain religious freedom in this country. The reason we are in this struggle is not because we have failed at power politics — although by every objective criteria, we have failed.
We are in the situation of fighting for religious freedom in a culture that engages in Christian bashing because we have failed in our mission to be the light. While we were blasting away at our enemies with the full-tilt ugliness of power politics, we forgot that our first call is to bring people to Christ.
Redemption is not won at the ballot box. Redemption was won once and for all by Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ at the cross.
This is Holy Week, when each of us should be thinking on that Cross. We should consider, for at least one week, the miracle of our salvation. We need to ponder and appreciate the unfathomable mercy of a God who poured out His life’s blood in an agony of public shame, humiliation and torture that we might be washed clean by that blood and given eternal life.
It is no accident that this final Passover on Calvary took place at the time of year when the first Passover is celebrated. In Egypt, the Israelites slaughtered a perfect lamb and then marked their doorways with the blood of the lamb so that the angel of death might pass them by. Scripture tells us that it was “the Lord’s Passover.”
When Jesus approached John the Baptist at the Jordan, John announced Him by saying, “Behold, the Lamb of God.” This was a clear prophecy of Jesus’ Passion. It was also a public testimony that Jesus was the Messiah, the Son of God.
Jesus is our Passover from death to life. He is the perfect lamb whose blood redeems all humanity with one perfect atoning sacrifice. If we are marked with His blood, the angel of death will pass us by.
Jesus died that we might have eternal life. That is how much He loves us. It demonstrates as nothing else can the depth of His mercy towards us.
This is Holy Week. We need to think on these things, to take time apart from the yelling and carrying on of political fighting and pray for guidance and strength in how we proceed in the days ahead. Because we are not called to leadership in the broader world. We can called to followership in the Kingdom of God.
We need to go to the cross and kneel there in the dirt and blood of our own sinfulness and be converted to an ever deepening life of following Him, wherever that leads, whatever it costs.
We are going to be called to much more than ballot box Christianity. We have a harder task before us than political activism. We must convert the culture for Christ, and we must do it one person at a time.
This is Holy Week.
Take time to worship, pray, meditate and recommit to the fight ahead. Consider the viciousness of the attacks the Governor of Indiana is suffering and understand who is behind them. You are not part of that dark army. Turn your back on replying with equal viciousness.
Go to the cross and fit yourself for this battle by believing that this Jesus who is dying there is Lord of all creation. Understand that even though He is God, the God, He will not force us to follow Him. We, like Mary when the Angel Gabriel stood before her, must give our fiat to His grace and His dominion over our lives.
Give Him your will. Decide to do what He wants from now on instead of following your own understanding. Do the holy thing, even when it’s not the smart thing as the world reckons smartness. Enlist in the Lord’s army for real.
We need to be far more holy than any of us have been up to now. We need to become true disciples.
We can only do that if we follow Him without question. Trust and obey, the old hymns says. There is only one way to be happy in Jesus, and that is to trust and obey.
Scripture tells us that if we draw near to God, He will draw near to us.
Draw near to God this week. Therein is our strength and our power. We will not win this fight if we battle for our own selves and our goals. Forty years of political fighting that has left us with dust and ashes is proof of that.
We will only succeed in our call to convert the culture if we yield up ourselves and become part of that great army of the cross. Our message is salvation paid for by the incomprehensible price of the death of God.
That is our faith. It is who we are. It is who we must be if we are to be pleasing to Him. Before we convert the culture, we must first be converted ourselves.