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.
Just saw this on EWTN Live: the bishops of the USCCB have called for a simple novena, “Nine Days of Prayer, Penance and Pilgrimage” toward a culture of life. The novena will be from January 19-27, 2013. You can sign up for e-mail or text updates and get more information at the USCCB website. I think it’s a great idea. The battle we are in must be waged at the spiritual level and we need to pray together to defeat our common ancient enemy.
St. Michael the Archangel,
defend us in battle.
Be our defense against the wickedness and snares of the Devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray,
and do thou,
O Prince of the heavenly hosts,
by the power of God,
thrust into hell Satan,
and all the evil spirits,
who prowl about the world
seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.
God bless you.
Longer ago than I want to admit a reader emailed me a suggestion to add to the resource section of the blog. I didn’t forget about her suggestion, but life got crazy, all my projects have been needing my attention–and mostly not getting any attention at all–and illness of one kind or another got in the way, too. But tonight I finally began the page. Healing, Hope and Encouragement is now live on the site. It’s just a beginning but at least it has begun. My sincere thanks to the reader who sent the suggestion and my sincere apologies for taking so long. May something on the list help you or someone you know somehow somewhere sometime. And may the Lord richly bless you and yours now and always. Amen.
Healing, Hope and Encouragement is a new page in the resource section of the blog. Because we’re living in a fallen world and we’re all in need of healing and hope and no small amount of encouragement. God bless you!
[A post for the Year of Faith.] Was I surprised by what happened on Election Day? Nope. Am I depressed or in deep despair over the results? No way. I saw it coming in 2008 and I saw it coming in 2012. Do I think we have a huge and serious problem? Oh, yeah, I do. But I think our problem stems more from the fact that we live in a fallen world and the fact that we are a stiff-necked people, much like the ancient Hebrews of the Bible, than the failing of one political party or another. No, the failure was ours. We the people. More particularly, we the Catholic people.
“Praise the Lord, O my soul, in my life I will praise the Lord: I will sing to my God as long as I shall be. Put not your trust in princes: in the children of men, in whom there is no salvation” (Ps 146: 2-3, Douay-Rheims Bible).
We have forgotten who we are. We have forgotten Whom we serve. We have forgotten that we are here, not to be comfortable and in control, but to suffer, sacrifice and serve.
May God forgive us for forgetting what we are about. May we take this reproval to heart. May we repent and change our ways and be truly converted, truly turn back to our One Only Lord and Savior. May we get down on our knees this time before we are brought any lower next time…and then by force. May we remember that Yours are the heavens and the earth, O Lord, and all that exists does so by Your command.
Two ways He set before us and as for me, I still choose to serve the Lord.
Peace be with you. And, please, do not despair and do not be afraid. Put on the full armor of God and get ready, warriors. We lost one skirmish but the battle has only just barely begun!
“Finally, brethren, be strengthened in the Lord, and in the might of his power. Put you on the armour of God, that you may be able to stand against the deceits of the devil. For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood; but against principalities and power, against the rulers of the world of this darkness, against the spirits of wickedness in the high places. Therefore take unto you the armour of God, that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and to stand in all things perfect. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of justice, And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace: In all things taking the shield of faith, wherewith you may be able to extinguish all the fiery darts of the most wicked one. And take unto you the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit (which is the word of God)” (Eph 6:10-17, Douay-Rheims Bible).
(A post for the Year of Faith) Several people have asked this question: Why does the Year of Faith last 410 days instead of 365?
Answer: Part of being Catholic is learning to think with the mind of the Church. She thinks liturgically about time, which differs from the civil (as in secular, not as in polite) measuring of time. The Church measures time from one liturgical or spiritually or historically important event (historically important to the Church, that is) to another, not a mere length of 365 days that carries no meaning beyond the amount of time it takes the earth to revolve once around the sun.
Looking further I found this quote at Catholic Culture.
“The opening and closing dates of the Year of Faith carry special significance. October 11, 2012, will mark the 50th anniversary of the opening of Vatican II, and the Vatican notes that the special year should be “a propitious occasion to make Vatican Council II and the Catechism of the Catholic Church more widely and deeply known.” November 24, 2013, will be the feast of Christ the King, and the CDF underlines the importance of using the year to encourage Catholics to share the precious belief in Christ as the redeemer of the mankind.”
The dates of liturgical celebrations, even the release of documents, generally correspond to a significant date on the Church calendar or in her history. Look at a few encyclicals and other publications and you’ll see what I mean. For example, here’s what you’ll find at the end of Pope John Paul II’s encyclical, the Gospel of Life:
Given in Rome, at Saint Peter’s, on 25 March, the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord, in the year 1995, the seventeenth of my Pontificate.
I wrote in an earlier post that Pope Benedict XVI had announced that he would begin a series of weekly catechesis during the Wednesday audiences for the Year of Faith. At the time of my post I did not have the link to a source for those audiences. I found it just now in the news section at the Vatican website. Weekly General Audiences by Pope Benedict XVI. On that page you’ll also find the weekly Angelus address. Full texts.
(A post for the Year of Faith.) There are only five precepts of the Church and every Catholic should know them. Let’s take a look at them as found in the Catechism, second edition, Part 3, Section 1, Chapter 3, Article 3, starting with paragraph 2042, without the commentary, just the precepts. And notice that the subtitle of Article 3 is: The Church, Mother and Teacher. The Church is your Mother. She has something to say to you. Listen up!
- You shall attend Mass on Sundays and on holy days of obligation and rest from servile labor.
- You shall confess your sins at least once a year.
- You shall receive the sacrament of the Eucharist at least during the Easter season.
- You shall observe the days of fasting and abstinence established by the Church.
- You shall help to provide for the needs of the Church.
There. Now that wasn’t so bad, was it? Only five precepts and they’re brief, too. Blessedly. (Heh. A little Church humor. Very little. Ahem.)
Now why do you suppose the Church wants you to attend Mass on Sundays or to confess and receive the Eucharist at least once a year? Because, like any good mother, she just wants you to drop in once in a while so she can see your face before she forgets what you look like? Well, maybe. But mostly to keep you spiritually alive! Read these words in paragraph 2041 right before the list of precepts.
“The precepts of the Church are set in the context of a moral life bound to and nourished by liturgical life. The obligatory character of these positive laws decreed by the pastoral authorities is meant to guarantee to the faithful the very necessary minimum in the spirit of prayer and moral effort, in the growth in love of God and neighbor…”
You see, to keep alive spiritually you must attend Mass every Sunday, confess and receive the Eucharist at least once a year. (Notice that you can attend Mass without receiving. This is important. If you’re not in a state of grace, you should not even think about presenting yourself for Communion. But you still must attend Mass!) You must also observe the days of fasting and abstaining, and help provide for the needs of the Church. This is the bare minimum for your interior, spiritual self to stay alive. If you are not meeting this bare minimum in your life, you may be in danger of dying spiritually. And if all you do is the bare minimum, then you’ll be barely alive spiritually, too.
When someone says, “Oh, I’m not religious at all but I’m very spiritual,” I have to say, “Oh, really?” Because I know that person is probably not spiritual at all. Most of the people who say things like that to me only concern themselves with things of the world and the body and the body’s appetites. They don’t go to church, don’t see why they should; don’t mortify their appetites, again, they don’t see why they should; they don’t practice self-control; they don’t confess their sins and they don’t receive the Eucharist. And, of course, they don’t give anything to their church because they don’t even have a church. Because…they’re “spiritual, not religious!”
Oy ve! Tell me how they can be spiritual! What do they even mean when they say it? Do they mean they believe in spirits? What kind of spirits? Spirits of good or spirits of evil? Do they mean that they practice spiritualism? Play with Ouija boards? (And why does that word end in an “a” instead of an “i” or an “ie” or “ee” or something? I never hear anyone pronounce it “Wee-ja”, it’s always “Wee-jee” board.)
Oh, they’re very spiritual. So spiritual that they will go to almost any lengths to avoid suffering. Mortification? Why, they’re mortified at the thought of it! And not in a good way!
Christ said that He is the Vine and we are the branches. If we cut ourselves off from the Vine, we will shrivel and dry up. If we cut ourselves off from the Eucharist, we have no life in us. If we turn away from the ordinary means of grace in the sacraments, how do we expect to receive grace? If we don’t mortify our appetites, how do we expect to preserve or increase in grace? If we don’t confess our sins after sinning, how do we expect to get back into a state of grace so we can continue to grow and have a real and not imaginary spiritual life?
And that, I think, is all too often the problem: People imagine that they are spiritual and that they have a spiritual life when they don’t know the first thing about spirituality at all.
So stop imagining that you’re a very spiritual person and go to confession and get into a state of grace and get to Mass and and control your appetites and stay in the Vine and really be spiritual! Because your Momma says so. Momma Church, that is!
The full text of paragraphs on the precepts can be found online, paragraphs 2041 – 2043.
Vine passage from Gospel of John 15:5:
“I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned.”
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.
Recently I found three really interesting pages that I want to share with you: Catholic Cross Reference, Online Catholic Library and a page on the Church Fathers at the St Paul Center for Biblical Theology. I added the first two to the main Resource page because they cover so much ground it’s hard to categorize them any further without adding them to every page in that section (and the thought of doing that makes me break out in hives). I added the St Paul Center page to the new Church Fathers page which I added earlier today here on Catholic Heart and Mind. :)
- Catholic Cross Reference: Catholic Study Tools by Jeffrey Pinyan. This resource is developing into something marvelous. And hard to categorize since it already has a Catechism of the Catholic Church Search Engine, a Summa Theologiae Search Engine, a Church Fathers Search Engine, and there are plans for more in the works. Also see Read the Catechism in a Year, a project of Jeffrey Pinyan (CatechismAPI) and Matthew Warner (Flocknote).
- Online Catholic Library: Looks like a really long and really good list of links to a lot of really good Catholic material. Audio, articles, books, documents, theology, spirituality–Looks like if it’s Catholic, it’s on their list. :)
- Church Fathers resource page at the St Paul Center for Biblical Theology. This is the group founded by Dr. Scott Hahn (he’s the Founder, President and Chairman of the Board). From the SPCBT Mission Statement:
The St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology is a non-profit research and educational institute that promotes life-transforming Scripture study in the Catholic tradition. The Center serves clergy and laity, students and scholars, with research and study tools — from books and publications to multimedia and on-line programming.
Our goal is to be a teacher of teachers. We want to raise up a new generation of priests who are fluent in the Bible and lay people who are biblically literate. For us, this means more than helping people to know their way around the Bible. It means equipping them to enter into the heart of the living Word of God and to be transformed and renewed by this encounter.
We read the Bible from the heart of the Church, in light of the Church’s Liturgy and living Tradition. In this way, we hope to help people experience the heart-to-heart encounter that Jesus’ disciples experienced on that first Easter night, when they knew Him in the breaking of the bread: “Did not our hearts burn within us while He talked to us…while He opened to us the Scriptures?” (see Luke 24:13-37)
One of the things non-Catholics (and even some Catholics) are surprised to discover is how Catholic the Early Church was. (Hint: VERY.) And nothing makes this point better than reading the writings of the Early Church Fathers. I just added a list of resources that will help introduce you to the Fathers. It’s by no means an exhaustive list but, hey, it’s a start. :) I’ll add more to it as time goes on, as I’m doing with all the resource pages.