The Definition Of A Gentlemen (A Few Words For Wednesday)

"Portrait Miniature of John Henry Newman" by William Charles Ross - Newman: https://archive.org/stream/newmanfran00barruoft#page/64/mode/2up. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Portrait_Miniature_of_John_Henry_Newman.jpg#/media/File:Portrait_Miniature_of_John_Henry_Newman.jpg

“Portrait Miniature of John Henry Newman” by William Charles Ross  Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

While I was on vacation, I started thumbing through a book my wife picked up for me at our public library’s used book sale. Edited by a Fr. Raphael H. Gross, of the Missionaries of the Precious Blood, the somewhat uninspiring title of the tome is, A Century of the Catholic Essay.

I have no idea how pastoral Fr. Raphael was, or how good his homilies were, etc., but as an editor, well, let’s just say that I haven’t been able to put the book down yet.

Out of copyright, and out of print, I intend to share a number of his selections from the collection in this space. Let’s start with a succinct essay from Catholic convert, and recently canonized saint, John Henry Newman. [Read more...]

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To Become Fully Human (A Work In Progress)

 

Vitruvian Man, by Leonardo DaVinci.

Vitruvian Man, by Leonardo DaVinci.

A few thoughts as we endure a day of penance in remembrance of the lives of the unborn sacrificed on the altar of convenience. Thoughts that inevitably revolve around commemorating Jesus’s triumph over death, and His becoming what we are to become if we truly follow him.

A friend of mine asked me once, “If you could be any animal, what animal would you choose to be?” I didn’t think about my answer very long.

In the past, before I was a Catholic, I would probably have just lept to the first thing that popped into my head. An eagle, or a tiger, or some other fearsome predator, you know, one that is lethal and smart, such as these. [Read more...]

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James Foley’s Last Letter: Prayers, Family, and Love

 

Throughout my Marine Corps career, I wrote many letters home to my family. I served long before the advent of social media, so the letter writing kits available at the PX were what I used to write home with. I’d write my mom and dad, let them know how I was doing, etc.

Later, after I got married, the letters were to my wife. And then to my wife and my children. [Read more...]

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Because What You Expect Holiness To Be Is Often Wrong…

Like at my house after dinner, but without the habits…

Have you ever noticed how when you haven’t experienced something before, be it a person, a place, or a thing, your idea of what that experience would be like, and how it actually turned out to be, didn’t always jive? In fact it’s probably not much of a stretch to say that usually what you expected, and what you actually experienced, were as different from each other as night is to day. [Read more...]

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Joe Six-Packs’ Public Comment on the HHS Mandate, Part Deux

 

It’s like déjà vu, all over again. Another year, another Joe Six-Pack penned public comment to the flagrantly unconstitutional HHS Mandate. You can comment too, and every little bit helps, dear reader. [Read more...]

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Scripture Quote of the Week…

From St. Paul’s letter to the Romans (13:8,10),

Avoid getting into debt, except the debt of mutual love. If you love your fellow men you have carried out your obligations. Love is the one thing that cannot hurt your neighbor; that is why it is the answer to every one of the commandments.

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To Become Technically and Tactically Proficient

One of the characteristics of the Catholic Church that appealed to me right away was that not only does the Church teach the importance of strategy, but she also recognizes the importance of tactics. And like the Marine Corps, the Church Militant produces field manuals teaching and relating the effective use of both strategy and tactics. All of which are based on her actual experience gained in fighting, and winning,  spiritual wars. [Read more...]

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Quote of the Week: Christian Bale

On being roughed up while attempting to visit the blind, imprisoned, pro-life activist named Chen Guangcheng, [Read more...]

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Because the Reality of Our Fallenness Isn’t Pretty-UPDATED

David Brooks explains it pretty well in his Op-Ed in New York Times from a few days ago,

People are really good at self-deception. We attend to the facts we like and suppress the ones we don’t. We inflate our own virtues and predict we will behave more nobly than we actually do… [Read more...]

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For Stuff My Abba Macarius Says About Discerning True Christians


A while back, I introduced everyone to my patron, St. Macarius the Great. He has some great homilies that help to prepare Christians for the trials and tribulations that we will encounter along this narrow path. What’s that? You don’t need to hear anything from a desert father about the inner struggle in the life of the Christian? Don’t delude yourself.

Think back over the past 9-10 years regarding scandals among the priesthood. Or better yet, look back just recently and there have been any number of implosions across the spectrum of those who profess to be good and holy Christians. I don’t have to name names, now, do I? Scandal is no stranger to the Church.
The fact of the matter is, the path of Christianity is treacherous and full of temptations, and risks of failure. As John C.H. Wu counseled yesterday, when you fall down, you have to get back up. No one is safe and as the saying goes, “There but for the grace of God, go I.” There is no dearth of scandal among members of the faithful.

But often times, we go looking for earthly heroes and alleged paragons of virtue whom we think we can follow with confidence anyway, when we should just stick with Christ. If we need additional models of Christian behavior, we should just stick with the saints, whom are our brethren in the Church Triumphant, and whose behaviors point us back to Christ anyway.

Below, my patron has a few important words on sifting the posuers from the pure at heart.

Homily XXXVIII: 
Great exactness and intelligence is required to discern true Christians, and who these are.

Many who appear to be righteous are taken for Christians. It is a task for skilled men and experts to try whether such men have really the stamp and image of the King, lest perchance they should be counterfeits of the works of skilled men, and skilled men wonder at them and criticize them. But people who are not skilled cannot test deceitful workers, for they too wear the shape of monks and Christians. For the false apostles also suffered for Christ, and they also preached the kingdom of heaven. That is why the apostle says In perils more abundant, in afflictions above measure, in prisons more abundant, wishing to show that he had suffered more than they.

Gold is easily found; but pearls and precious stones which do for a king’s diadem are seldom found, for many times none that will do are found. So Christians also are built up into the crown of Christ, that those souls may be made partakers with the saints. Glory to Him who so loved that soul, suffered for it, and raised it up from the dead. But as a veil was put over the face of Moses, that the people might not gaze upon his face, so now a veil lies upon your heart, that you may not behold the glory of God. When this is taken away, then He shines forth and manifests Himself to Christians, to those who love Him and seek Him in truth, as He says, I will manifest Myself to him, and will make My abode with him.

Let us endeavor then to come to Christ, who cannot lie, that we may obtain the promise, and the new covenant, which the Lord has made new through His cross and death, having burst the gates of hell and sin and brought out the faithful souls, and given them the Comforter within, and brought them into His kingdom. Let us reign then with Him, even we, in Jerusalem, His city, in the heavenly church, in the choir of the holy angels. The brethren who have been long time exercised and tried, these can succour the less experienced, and feel for them.

For some who had made themselves sure, and had been mightily worked upon by grace of God, have found their members so sanctified that they reckoned that concupiscence does not occur in Christianity, but that they had acquired a sober and chaste mind, and that from henceforth the inward man was raised aloft to divine and heavenly things, so that they really imagined such an one to have come already to the perfect measures. And when the man imagined that he was already near the calm haven, billows rose up against him, so that he found himself again in the middle of the ocean, and was carried where sea was sky and death was ready. Thus sin entered after all, and wrought all manner of evil concupiscence.

And again a certain class of persons having some grace vouchsafed to them, and having received a drop, so to speak, out of the whole deep sea, find it hour by hour, and day by day, such a work of wonder, that the man who is under its influence is amazed and astounded at the strange, surprising operation of God, to think that he should be given such wisdom. After this, grace enlightens him, guides him, gives him peace, makes him good in every way, being itself divine and heavenly, so that in comparison with that man kings and potentates, wise men and nobles are esteemed as least and worthless.

After a time and season things change, so that of a truth such a man esteems himself a greater sinner than all others; and again at another season sees himself like a great colossal king, or a king’s powerful friend; again at another season sees himself weak and a beggar. Then the mind falls into perplexity, why things should be thus and then thus. Because Satan in his hatred of the good suggests evil things to those who attain virtue, and strives to overthrow them. That is his occupation.

But do not submit to him, while you work at the righteousness that is accomplished in the inner man, where stands the judgment seat of Christ, together with His undefined sanctuary, that the testimony of your conscience may glory in the cross of Christ, who has purged your conscience from dead works, that you may serve God with your spirit, that you may know what you worship, according to Him who said, We worship that which we know. Obey God who guides you. Let your soul have communion with Christ, as bride with bridegroom. For this mystery is great, it says; but I speak concerning Christ and the blameless soul.

To Him be the glory for ever. Amen.

Thank you. And Abba Macarius? Please pray for us.

More wisdom from Abba Macarius can be found on the YIMCatholic Bookshelf.

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