+JMJ+ How many times has it happened to you? You reply to someone. online or in person, stating the constant teaching of the Church on some point, and WHAM! People turn on you with a viciousness that is surprising for those who call themselves Christians. They pull a Bible verse out of their hats and beat you with it. But their interpretation is not the interpretation of 2,000 years of Christianity. It is, however, the interpretation of many who have turned their backs on the Church and her teachings and are content to make up their own “Christianity” as they go.Continue reading ““These little ones” Wherein I may rant”
Of all the things I’d hoped to do during Lent, I’ve managed only to prove to myself that I am even weaker than I already knew. But, lucky for you, I have also spent some time listening to an audio course in Spiritual Theology taught by Dr. Brant Pitre. It’s available in DVD, CD or MP3 formats. (I bought the MP3 set so I could download it immediately and have been listening to it on my iPhone in GoodReader.)
One of the earliest purchases I made after becoming attracted to the Catholic Church in the ’90s was Fr. Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange’s marvelous two-volume work, The Three Ages of the Interior Life. This was the first Christian work of its kind I had ever seen and I’m so glad I got it then in a clothbound edition. I have read and re-read Volume One, and have read Volume Two through at least once.
Why do I mention Fr. Garrigou-Lagrange’s book? Because Dr. Pitre uses it in his course! How exciting! For me, it is. (Stop looking at me like that. I know I’m a nerd. And you do, too, if you’ve even glanced at this site before. So there.) And that’s not all. Dr. Pitre uses several others that either I had in print or Kindle format, in my Verbum library or found online in PDF or other downloadable eBook formats for free. And, before you ask, of course I’ll give you links. Kind of me, yes? (Okay, my aforementioned weakness has engendered not quite enough humility in me. Yet.)
Sources used in the course include those in the list below. I’ve listed Kindle and print formats; eBook refers to various formats available mostly through the Internet Archive for free. On the course page there’s a link to a PDF outline of the course (scroll down). I strongly recommend that you download the outline even if only as a guide for your own study. What an amazing amount of teaching and work Dr. Pitre has put together for us! Btw, this is not a complete list. But if you get the free PDFs, Fr. Dubay’s Fire Within, and Fr. Garrigou-Lagrange’s books listed (PDFs or Kindle), then I reckon you’ll be fine. I also reckon you already have a good and well-worn Catholic Bible and, of course, a much dog-eared copy of the Catechism. (You do, don’t you?)
- Fr. Thomas Dubay, SM, Fire Within, Kindle, Paper
- Fr. Adolphe Tanqueray, The Spiritual Life, Hardcover, eBook
- Fr. Jordan Aumann, OP, Spiritual Theology, Kindle, Print, eBook
- Fr. Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, The Three Ages of the Interior Life, Kindle, Print Set (TAN Books & Publishers), eBook
- Fr. Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, The Three Ways of the Spiritual Life, Kindle, Print (now published as The Three Conversions in the Spiritual Life)
- St. John of the Cross, OCD, Collected Works, ICS edition (in one volume), Kindle, Print
- St. Teresa of Avila, OCD, Collected Works, ICS edition, Vol 2, Kindle, Print
- St. Thérèse of Lisieux, OCD, Story of a Soul, ICS edition, Kindle, Print
- St. Francis de Sales, Introduction to the Devout Life, Kindle, Print Translated by John K Ryan, Print TAN edition, eBook
- St. Louis de Montfort, Secret of the Rosary, Kindle, Print, eBook
- St. John Paul II, Apostolic Letter, Rosarium Virginis Mariae, Online
- St. Bonaventure, The Soul’s Journey to God (or Journey of the Mind into God), Kindle, Print, PDF
- St. Thomas Aquinas, OP, Summa Theologica (or Theologia), Kindle, PDF, Online, Print (Seriously? Wow. Go for it! All my copies are digital.)
- Dom Jean-Baptiste Chautard, OCSO, The Soul of the Apostolate, Kindle, Print
- The Holy Bible. I highly recommend the RSV-CE or RSV-SCE*
- The Catechism of the Catholic Church (online free, Kindle or paperback under $10)
*The RSV is available in two different Catholic editions, the RSV-CE (Catholic Edition) and the RSV-SCE (Second Catholic Edition). I use both because I like the SCE but the CE is available in interlinear format in my Verbum software. Can I read the interlinear Biblical Hebrew or Greek? Heck, no. But I like to explore and learn so I do use it. A little. I hope to learn to use it more as time goes on.
Another form of the RSV for Catholics is the Ignatius Study Bible RSV-SCE, but is only complete through the New Testament as of this writing. You can buy the NT in separate booklets or the whole NT in paperback, hardback or leatherbound. (Several books of the Old Testament are available now in booklet format, but I don’t know when the entire OT study edition will be available.) This is such a great study help because it’s the work of Scott Hahn and Curtis Mitch.
I used to think of a desert as a flat sandy place with some dunes thrown in because when I thought desert, I thought Sahara. But I know now that a desert is not flat but uneven, always changing, hard to move through. There may be mountains, valleys, canyons that sneak up on you. There may be no rain. There may be rain so sudden and violent that riverbeds that seem dry from ancient times suddenly become raging torrents. Rocks may be sharp as razors. Snakes may be waiting to strike. Scorpions waiting to sting. A devil waiting to tempt.
A devil is always waiting to tempt. The devil himself was waiting for Christ; for someone as weak and insignificant as myself, there is probably only a minor demon. Maybe only a minor minor minor demon. Maybe I don’t even rate a demon of low estate but am left to my own weakness and weaknessses.
Easter will mark the beginning of my nineteenth year as a Catholic. There have been ups and downs. I have felt close to the Lord, I have felt, if not far away, then not as close. I have been faithful in my prayer life, I have let my prayer life slip, and that slipping has made itself known in every aspect of my life. I have felt strong, and I have been brought face to face with what weakness really means and with the realization that, indeed and contrary to what I had always secretly believed, I am a mere mortal, after all. (Okay, I know our souls are immortal. I just mean, I used to think I’d live forever. In this life. I was indestructible. I’d always be young, never sick, always strong, never weak. Ya know?)
So what do I plan to do for Lent? Nothing heroic, as you will see.
What will I do for Lent?
I plan to pray daily, using ONE of the numerous devotionals I’ve collected. And pray the rosary and the chaplet of Divine Mercy. All readers of and visitors to the blog and all Twitter contacts are included in my prayers. Even those whose names I do not know; the One Who needs to know knows who you all are already.
I’ve already cut down on the amount I eat, elimnated much I don’t need, and will be following the Church’s guidelines for fasting. But there are other appetites: the internet and social media. I won’t be interacting on social media during Lent (I will pass along prayer requests), though I plan to post at the blog, and those posts will be tweeted automatically.
And I will be choosing a charity or a cause and will set aside or donate money each week for that cause. I may choose a different cause or charity each week. That’s something to ponder on and pray about.
Looking up at the desert hills,
knowing danger lurks in this place,
listening for the Voice not easily heard,
feeding my soul upon His Word,
praying to meet Him face to Face,
bending my will to what He wills.
Ash Wednesday 2015
In honor of fathers everywhere I’d like to offer something beautiful and profound to you. So I’m going to post something from Scott Hahn’s book, Understanding the Our Father.  It’s more beautiful and profound than anything I can write and I really want to share it with you. Happy Father’s Day! May your day be richly blessed, and the rest of your days also! :)
The “Our” of Power
This is why Tradition tells us we must go beyond our earthly experiences and memories of fatherhood when we pray, “Our Father.” For though He is a provider, begetter, and protector, God is more unlike than like any human father, patriarch, or paternal figure. The Catechism puts it this way: “God our Father transcends the categories of the created world. To impose our own ideas in this area ‘upon him’ would be to fabricate idols to adore or pull down. To pray to the Father is to enter into his mystery as he is and as the Son has revealed him to us” (no. 2779).
How has Jesus, God the Son, revealed the Father to us? As “[o]ur Father who art in heaven” (Mt. 6:9). By adding that prepositional phrase “in heaven,” Jesus emphasizes the difference in God’s fatherhood. The Father to Whom we pray is not an earthly father. He is “above” us; He is the One we profess in the creed as “Father Almighty”—that is, all powerful. Though we are weak, limited, and prone to mistakes, nothing is impossible for God (cf. Lk. 1:37).
God’s power, then, sets His fatherhood apart from any fatherhood we have known or imagined. His “fatherhood and power shed light on one another” (Catechism, no. 270). Unlike earthly fathers, He always has the best intentions for His children, and He always has the ability to carry them out. Jesus wanted us to know this, so that we could always approach our heavenly Father with childlike trust and confidence: “[W]hatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith” (Mt. 21:22).
The Catechism teaches that “God reveals his fatherly omnipotence by the way he takes care of our needs” (no. 270). We know God as Father because, over a lifetime of prayer, we experience His care for us. We come to see for ourselves that He is mighty, and that He will deny us nothing that is good for us. 
From Heir to Paternity
Earthly fatherhood sometimes reflects these characteristics, as do those offices that assume fatherly roles in society: the priesthood, for example, and the government. Yet earthly fathers can perfect their fatherhood only by purifying themselves of earthly motives—such as greed, envy, pride, and the desire to control. They can become true fathers only by conforming themselves to the image of their heavenly Father, and that Image is His firstborn Son, Jesus Christ.
In governing, in parenting, or in priesthood, we come to exercise a more perfect fatherly role as we “grow up” in the Family of God: “[W]e are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ” (Rom. 8:16–17). This process is a divine corrective to the world’s distorted notions of patriarchy and hierarchy.
An ancient Christian writer, Dionysius the Areopagite, described hierarchy as something that originates in heaven, where divine light passes through the angels and the saints as if all were transparent.2 God’s gifts, then, are passed from one person to the next, undiluted. Those who are closest to God—and so higher in the hierarchy—serve those who are lower. At each stage, they give as God gives, keeping nothing to themselves.
Notice, here, how spiritual goods differ from material goods. If I have sole ownership of something—say, a sport coat or a tie—someone else can’t own it and use it at the same time. The higher goods, however, are spiritual; and spiritual goods—such as faith, hope, love, liturgy, the merits of the saints—can be shared and owned completely by all. That’s how the hierarchy works with the angels and saints in heaven.
For this sharing to take place “on earth as it is in heaven” requires the perfection of earthly fatherhood, which can take place only if we earnestly pray, “Our Father who art in heaven.” God is the primordial Father, “of whom all paternity in heaven and earth is named” (Eph. 3:15, Douay Rheims Version). He is the eternal model by which all human fathers must be measured. 
 Get a copy of Understanding the Our Father at Amazon (Kindle or print) or for Verbum. Also excellent is Hahn’s A Father Who Keeps His Promises. Get it at Amazon (Kindle or print) or for Verbum. (I’ll add the Verbum links later, their site is down right now. Oy.)
 Hahn, S. (2002). Understanding “Our Father”: Biblical Reflections on the Lord’s Prayer, pp. 14–15. Steubenville, OH: Emmaus Road Publishing.
 Ibid., pp. 15–16.
Just taking a break from NaNoWriMo to say a quick howdy, y’all. Howdy, ya’ll! :D
The writing is going well, I’m really loving it. Yes, it’s work, yes, the dogs are driving me crazy. Yes, I’ve had to deal with home maintenance and “improvement” and “handy” men. Yes, it makes me wanna say ARGH and GROAN and other things not quite so nice. Oy! But the writing is coming along and I really am enjoying it. And only partly because I’m doing NaNo on a 13″ MacBook Air with backlit keyboard but that certainly does help. ;)
Okay, diving back into the story now or I may dive into my bed instead. Oh, that is tempting. To sleep, perchance to dream, to dream some NaNoWriMo scenes, aye, that’s the stuff! ;)
Oh, my word count! Promised an update, didn’t I? Drum roll, please! Word count on the sixth day of noveling insanity is (envelope, please): 11,908 exceedingly excellent and oh-so-exquisite words! Woohoo! Yeah, that’s what I’m talkin’ about! Well, yes, it is what I’m talking about, of course it is. This is a word count update, after all. (Okay, perhaps I don’t need that third pot of coffee after all. Ahem. But I do have two pies in the kitchen. What am I thinking, I can’t eat pie this late at night! But…it’s pie! Is it ever really too late for pie?)
And lest you think that I’ve yammered on all this time and not said one thing about Catholicism on this supposedly Catholic blog, lemme lay this on ya: Jeff Cavins has been posting a series of short videos for the Year of Faith entitled, “The Rabbi-Disciple Relationship. There will be 5 parts, 3 are up so far as of tonight. View them on the Catholic Year of Faith website or sign up on that site to receive the videos in your email inbox. These are quite good. Highly recommended! Good night, y’all! Peace!
Want to do something special during this Year of Faith? Want to help bring souls to Christ? Join The Four Men Prayer Groups, also known as God’s Marines. This world is a battlefield between the forces of good and evil and God’s Marines pledge to leave no soul behind on that field. Watch the video below. Get more information and sign up today at The Four Men.
I was listening to “At Home with Jim and Joy” (Pinto) yesterday on Catholic radio and, as usual, I heard something that really stuck with me. Joy said, “Filter your words through the Word of God.” I don’t know about you, but that would filter out a lot of my own words, both spoken and unspoken. I’ve been studying Scripture on and off for a long time, but I need to be praying the Word. Time to get back to praying the Daily Office. And attending Daily Mass. Lord knows (yes, He really does!), I need His help! Thank you for these wise words, Joy!
Updated Nov 1 2012 to add link to Audiences. Pope Benedict XVI announced a new series of weekly catechesis during the Wednesday audiences for the Year of Faith. Below I’ve posted the first paragraph of the announcement. Read the rest of the story at the National Catholic Register or at Rome Reports. Link to weekly General Audiences, texts in full. Short video below.
From Pope Benedict XVI’s Weekly Audience, St Peter’s Square, October 17 2012
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Today I will introduce the new cycle of catechesis, which will be developed throughout the Year of Faith that has just started and interrupt – for this period – the cycle dedicated to the school of prayer. With the Apostolic Letter Porta Fidei I chose this special year, so that the Church would renew its enthusiasm to believe in Jesus Christ, the only Saviour of the world, revive the joy of walking on the path that He has shown us, and witnesses in a concrete way the transforming power of the faith.
Read the rest of the story at the National Catholic Register or at Rome Reports.
The election grows nearer but I still hear some Catholics say that they have not yet decided who to vote for. So I put together a short page of resources to help you vote your Catholic conscience. Sadly, many have not yet formed their consciences, and many Catholics do not even know what that means. The Vote page will help you begin. First, start learning your faith (this is the Year of Faith, after all)! Then live it. Everywhere. Yes, in the voting booth, too. If we don’t do everything as Catholic Christians, then our faith is so much wind, as in, hot air.
Resources to Help You Form and Vote Your Catholic Conscience so you can LIVE your faith.
I plan to write more about this at some point but right now I’m linking to the USCCB‘s Fortnight 4 Freedom site. My current novel-in-progress focuses on this very issue of freedom and faith, and the writing has taken over my blog time and pretty much the rest of my life. (After much struggle and a long dry period, having the writing take over my life, at least part of it, is a good thing and I am loving it.)
“The fourteen days from June 21—the vigil of the Feasts of St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More—to July 4, Independence Day, are dedicated to this “fortnight for freedom”—a great hymn of prayer for our country. Our liturgical calendar celebrates a series of great martyrs who remained faithful in the face of persecution by political power—St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More, St. John the Baptist, SS. Peter and Paul, and the First Martyrs of the Church of Rome. Culminating on Independence Day, this special period of prayer, study, catechesis, and public action will emphasize both our Christian and American heritage of liberty. Dioceses and parishes around the country have scheduled special events that support a great national campaign of teaching and witness for religious liberty.”
For information, bulletin inserts, web graphics, pdf’s and more: http://www.fortnight4freedom.org
As of March 5 the ACLJ is reported to have denied the rumors that Pastor Youcef had been hanged. Now that was a few days ago. Does anybody have a reliable update? And I’m keeping him in my prayers and especially remembering him in my Daily Offering and at Daily Mass. Please keep this courageous and faithful pastor in your prayers, too, as well as all others who are persecuted for faith in Christ Jesus. Amen.
The American Center for Law and Justice’s sources in Iran confirmed Saturday that Iranian pastor Youcef Nadarkhani is in fact alive, and rumors that he was to be executed over the weekend were false.
Photos surfaced on the Internet Saturday, allegedly showing a blindfolded Nadarkhani facing execution by hanging. These photos are outdated and false, the ACLJ reported Saturday.
Although Nadarkhani is still alive, the ACLJ does still believe that Iranian courts have issued an execution order. In the past, Iran has not informed the public of an execution, oftentimes dropping the prisoner’s executed body on the family’s doorstep.
I’ve been a Catholic for nearly sixteen years now and I still remember that first Lenten season as a very special and wonderful time in my life. I was received into Holy Mother Church at the Easter Vigil of 1996 and I still get tears in my eyes when I remember it. I loved the Church then. I love her more now. And I love Christ. There was a time when I thought I’d never be able to say that, and that I would never want to say that. But I fell in love with the Church and the Church led me to the Lord. I can truly say now what I said wanting to mean it all those years ago: I want Christ to draw me closer, ever closer to Him. I want to sit at the foot of the Cross and gaze upon Him, upon His beauty, in the sanctuary.
My heart is full of joy and consolations tonight. Ever since I made the commitment to return to Daily Mass, God has been pouring such grace and so many graces into my soul that I can hardly bear it. Grace upon grace upon grace, many consolations. He has deepened my ongoing conversion, He has shown me so many things, taught me so much. At every turn He has shown me something new or has revealed a depth I had not suspected was there. He has led me to places, I’ve been there at exactly the right moment and I know His hand guided me. Oh, when I listen to Him, when I let Him lead me, it is truly marvelous what He will do. He is teaching me, showing me how to become, how to be, a true disciple.
I have so much to learn. Such a long way to go. So many obstacles to remove, barriers to loving Him the way He wants me to love. So far to go…
I know it’s Lent, a time of penance and entering into the sorrowful mysteries of Christ’s Passion. I know I’m supposed to be making a retreat with the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius, and we’re supposed to be meditating upon those sorrowful mysteries and focusing on them, trying to really enter into them and not feel too much joy right now so that we can feel that joy at Easter with all the more intensity. But at this moment my heart is so full of joy that I cannot keep it from welling up within me and overflowing and bubbling out all over the place.
And yet at the same time I am aware of so much suffering around me. I’ve been praying at two different abortion mills during Lent (during the 40 Days for Life Spring campaign and at another mill in town that is a year-round vigil site) and so far I’ve only missed three days. I’ve talked with so many people and they’ve shared their stories with me. Stories of opportunities lost and lives lost and dreams turned into nightmares… My heart suffers and breaks along with theirs. And when I hear their stories of turning around, of changed hearts and minds, love wells up within me and I know this must sound sentimental or “emo” or silly to some, but it’s much more than that.
I feel this same love when people don’t agree with me and even look down on me for being religious, being Catholic, being any sort of Christian at all. For being pro-life. For leaving Buddhism to become Catholic. “How could you?!” They think I’ve taken a giant step backward. I know I’ve made a quantum leap forward. If Buddhism helped me grow more compassionate than I already was and gave me insight into myself and others, Catholicism has expanded my heart and mind to such a degree that the world now seems a completely different place than the one I knew before. And every day when I hear the readings at Mass it is as if the Lord were speaking directly to me and every word seems to come straight from the mouth of God. It has all come alive for me. The studying has become living, living has become studying, and I don’t even know if I’ll be able to sleep tonight because the Lord has shown me so much that I feel like I’m on fire.
I hope you’re having a good and fruitful Lent as you prepare for the celebration of Easter. May the Lord richly bless your Lenten efforts and pour out upon you the riches of His grace and give you peace. Amen.
And, Joe, if you’re out there, I haven’t forgotten our conversation or what I said I’d do. I will post what I can as soon as I can. And even though you told me you don’t pray, know that I do and I’m asking for blessings and graces for you, too. Peace be with you.