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Archive for the ‘07 Observations’ Category

For hurting daughters

In 07 Observations on 2015/12/29 at 12:00 AM

What I am writing you now is crucial for your peace of soul.

The way to heal the wounds our mothers inflicted on us is through forgiving them for causing these severe wounds.

It is difficult to forgive, but if we wish to receive our Lord’s forgiveness, we must forgive our mothers in particular.

Forgiveness is an act of the will. It is one of the most difficult things to do, but it must be done if we want mercy for ourselves and peace of soul. We will receive mercy as we mete it out.

We must be humble and remember our own faults, failings and sins. We have need for mercy and this personal need for mercy can lead us to compassionately forgive the hurts our mothers inflicted on us by their faults, failings and sins. Christ endured the sufferings we inflicted on him by our faults, failings and sins…and He who is mercy Himself, forgives us when we are sorry for our sins and ask for His forgiveness. His forgiveness enables us to be merciful towards our mothers and forgive them.

We actually are acting for our own good by forgiving them. The more we recognize our need for mercy, the easier it will for be merciful to our mothers. Your mother is in great distress as mine was as she approached the end of her earthly life.

Nothing beats the consolation of forgiving them; it brings a peace, calm and serenity to the soul, freeing us from the cancer of anger, resentment that so distress our souls.

Time does not heal anything. Only God can heal hearts. It is God’s mercy towards us that must impel us to forgive.

Pray the Our Father aloud to your mother, stressing “forgives us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”

Praying for both of you,

Christ, Our Model

In 07 Observations on 2015/12/20 at 12:00 AM

God sent His Son to assume our human nature in order for us to return to Him who created us. The eternal Son of God came that we would approach Him without fear and come close to Him. Jesus came as a true human being to set an example for us. He is our Model, our guide, our Goal, OUR GOD. You think that you are seeking God; however, be assured that it is He who is seeking you. He sent His Son to call you. The Divine Christ Child brings us the happiness we long for and soothes our soul. Look at the Christ with the heart’s eyes.  Ponder and dwell on God’s gift to you: His only-begotten Son. With the birth of Christ, a new era began for mankind, and for us.

Greet Him who came to give real meaning to our existence. While He came for all men, He came specifically for you. Accept the Christ-child into your heart. With child-like simplicity, receive the gift of the Christ-child and adore Him. Give Him the only gift he wants: Yourself.

The axial of history is the birth of Christ. His Incarnation shows us the image of our merciful Father who wished us redeemed; He gives us gifts we could never have imagined. The greatest of these is that we can know Him because He choose to reveal Himself to us. There is no way we could have merited  this gift because of our human condition, but God compassionately took on our human nature in order to transform us and take on His likeness.  We now have a God-given dignity. The meaning of Christ’s birth is not about then, but about now, about the linkage of your life to Christ.

Look at His life; The WHO who is important in our lives is Jesus Christ.  Are you living the way God wants you to or are you going your own way? To follow Christ involves developing a deep, personal friendship with God, which is continually nurtured and growing.  Aim to do what is acceptable in God’s eyes, what pleases Him. Let Christ paint His image on you by living according to His words. Let Christ live in you.

God has gifted us with the means to know, love and serve Him, which, will enable Him guide our minds, wills and hearts. Emptying ourselves permits Christ to imprint Himself in our hearts, living for, and by Him,  imitating Him. Christ is the Truth that transforms lives. Christ is the key, the reality of our life.  Faith in Christ must be the cornerstone of our spiritual edifice.

Being Christlike means not only believing in Christ as true God and true man, but demonstrating this belief to other by your words and behavior. Faith is accepting Jesus Christ and as Redeemer along with your  surrender of your will to His by living for Him, including the possibility of being martyred for fidelity to Him.  Out of sheer love, God is merciful towards us even when we have ignored Him. He heals us when we surrender ourselves into His hands.He gives us with His grace. How can we repay God for all His mercies? He rejoices when we return to Him.We are in His debt for everything.

Our lives are a time of preparation – a time to remove from our lives whatever hinders our relationship with our Creator. Examine you motives, actions and heart to know how you are faring in the journey. God sent His Son to redeem you. Accept Him, your Redeemer, or explain to yourself what holds you back from the great value that is God’s gift of His Son. See that your soul is always prepared to receive Him, by correcting yourself and getting rid of whatever baggage hinders you journey.

We are all one in Christ

In 07 Observations on 2015/11/06 at 12:00 AM

Your love for your neighbors needs to be shown in actions that are appropriate to their circumstances and needs. You just cannot have an attitude of love that is theoretical and abstract.

Charity towards your neighbor van be:

1. forgiving someone who has offended you or injured you in any way

2. wishing another well and praying for their needs

3. instructing someone about God

4. praying for the conversion of those who do not know God

5. giving pleasure to someone by what you say or do

6. being compassionate and consoling the hurting or grieving.

Divorce Statistics Indicate Catholic Couples Are Less Likely to Break Up

In 07 Observations on 2015/10/22 at 12:00 AM
by WAYNE LAUGESEN 
blog.adw.org 

WASHINGTON — An oft-repeated tale says Catholic marriages fare only slightly better than those among the rest of the American population — which is said to have a divorce rate of about 50%. If it were ever true, new research tells us it’s no longer the case.

“I’ve long been under the impression, without investigating the numbers, that this idea of Catholic marriages failing at about 50% is faulty,” said Bishop Michael Sheridan of Colorado Springs, Colo.

So the bishop was pleased to see data compiled by Georgetown University’s Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate that shows Catholic marriages doing well, relative to marriages in the general population. Officials of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) share his enthusiasm.

“The lower rates of divorce among Catholics compared to the overall population is an encouraging statistic that we can learn from,” said Bethany Meola, assistant director of the Secretariat of Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

The Georgetown center reported in late September that a variety of national surveys show “Catholics stand out with only 28% of the ever-married having divorced at some point.”

While 28% remains a troubling statistic, the research suggests that this figure compares favorably with the 40% divorce rate for those with no religious affiliation, 39% for Protestants and 35% for those of other religious faiths.

Overall, 26% of all American adults have divorced, whereas 20% of Catholics have done so.

When statisticians looked more closely at the data dealing with Catholics, they found that Catholics who marry people of the same faith have a lower divorce rate than Catholics who marry non-Catholics.

Among mixed marriages, Catholics who marry Protestants or non-religious spouses have a divorce rate of 49% and 48% respectively. Catholics who marry someone of an “other” non-Protestant religion, such as Judaism, have a 35% rate, while Catholics who marry Catholics have a 27% divorce rate.

Not Surprising

“Practicing Catholics, especially those who enter matrimony with a practicing Catholic, have significantly lower divorce rates,” blogged Msgr. Charles Pope, pastor of Washington’s Holy Comforter-St. Cyprian Catholic Church, after studying the new research. “Of course, it makes sense, doesn’t it? The faith lived seeks God’s help.”

Christian Meert, diocesan director of the Office of Marriage and Family Life in Colorado Springs, Colo., isn’t surprised by the numbers either.

“If they are both Catholics and practice the sacraments and pray together, they will grow through every event in their lives,” Meert told the Register. “They also have received an incredible grace through the sacrament of matrimony, a grace that helps them through the difficulties life brings.”

Though Bishop Sheridan says Catholic marriage rates must improve, he suggested that a growing number of Catholic dioceses have made progress with solid marriage-preparation standards and doctrinal teachings that forbid contraception and explain natural family planning (NFP) to engaged couples.

“From everything I have read and heard, NFP really does add to the intimacy of the husband and wife,” Bishop Sheridan explained.

“It calls the husband and wife to bring attention to the sexual relationship. I have heard a great number of testimonials about this.”

Bishop Sheridan welcomed Christian Meert and his wife, Christine Meert, into his diocese after meeting the couple about a decade ago. Together, the French immigrants founded and began running the growing business CatholicMarriagePrepOnline.com.

The interactive Internet-based curriculum has become widely used throughout the world to help Catholics discern and prepare for marriage.

“It became our program with a few tweaks and moderations, and they have marketed it internationally,” Bishop Sheridan said. “I know other bishops are paying attention to it.”

Different Approach

Meert said that, in the past, the Church’s typical approach to marriage preparation involved important instruction on practical matters of finance and communication, “even if not in an always very Christian way.”

He said many of the programs did a poor job of following up with couples and did not instruct them in important matters of the faith.

“Many of them were stuck in dealing with just communication and finances, when the duty of the Church is to catechize, evangelize these couples and help them encounter Jesus and convert,” Meert said.

“The duty is to help them learn about the teachings of the Church, the formation of conscience, the sacrament of matrimony, prayer and all that pertains to the spiritual life.”

Meert hopes the growing popularity of pre-Cana programs, which adhere strictly to Church teachings on married life, will make a difference and improve success rates of Catholic marriages.

The USCCB’s Meola credited a variety of modern diocesan marriage-preparation programs throughout the United States with strengthening Catholic marriages and lowering divorce statistics.

“One likely reason for this lower divorce rate is that the Church has been a leader in modeling the need for adequate time for marriage preparation and formation, and many high-quality marriage-preparation programs are available throughout the country,” Meola explained.

Marriage: A Lifetime Vocation

Meola said marriage-preparation courses make a difference because they instill what should be obvious but often is not among today’s young adults: Marriage is a lifelong vocation.

“It’s not a product to be bought and then discarded at one’s convenience,” Meola said. “The ‘pause’ of marriage preparation helps couples pray, discuss and reflect on the significance of what they are planning to undertake. … Hopefully, the more the good news about God’s plan for marriage can be promoted and witnessed, the more young people will be attuned and open to God’s beautiful plan for them.”

The Georgetown research also found a decrease in the rate of annulments in the United States, which accounted for a staggering 49% of worldwide annulments in 2011.

In 1990, one annulment was introduced for every 4.5 Catholic marriages. Though the United States continues to lead with this statistic, the number had dropped to one for every 6.5 marriages in 2011.

Bishop Sheridan expressed hope that the promising data indicate a strengthening of Catholic marriages, but he worries it may signify something else.

“We cannot automatically assume that a drop in annulments means marriages are doing better,” the bishop said.

“My concern is that fewer people who could potentially benefit from a decree of nullity are petitioning for it. A growing number may be unaware that it exists. I sometimes worry that divorced people are sort of looking away, going to Communion and living as if it’s just fine, and they don’t have to do anything. I think it’s a question we have to ask and begin to explore.”

Wayne Laugesen writes from Colorado.

National Catholic Register 11/14/13

The Worldview That Makes the Underclass

In 07 Observations on 2015/10/22 at 12:00 AM

The Worldview that Makes the Underclass

Anthony Daniels
Writer and Doctor

ANTHONY DANIELS, who often writes under the penname Theodore Dalrymple, is the Dietrich Weismann Fellow at the Manhattan Institute and a contributing editor of City Journal. Born in London in 1949, he qualified as a doctor in 1974 and has worked in various countries in Africa and elsewhere. From 1990 to 2005, he worked as a doctor and psychiatrist in a prison in Birmingham, England. He has written a column for the London Spectator for 14 years, and writes regularly for National Review and the Wall Street Journal. He has published more than 20 books, including Not With a Bang But a Whimper: The Politics & Culture of Decline, The New Vichy Syndrome: Why European Intellectuals Surrender to Barbarism, and Life at the Bottom: The Worldview that Makes the Underclass.

The following is adapted from a speech delivered on May 20, 2014, at a Hillsdale College National Leadership Seminar in Dearborn, Michigan.

I worked for 15 years as a doctor and psychiatrist in a general hospital in a poor area of a British city and in the prison next door, where I was on duty one night in three. The really dangerous people were in the hospital, perhaps because of the presence in the prison next door of very large uniformed men who exerted a strangely calming effect on the prisoners. In the hospital, I personally examined many thousands of patients who had attempted suicide or at least made a suicidal gesture (not quite the same thing of course). They were overwhelmingly from poor homes, and each patient told me of the lives of the three, four, or five people closest to them—and I spoke to many of those people as well. I could not, of course, have spoken to so many people, and heard about so many others, without some general impressions forming themselves in my mind. One abiding impression was of the violence of their lives, particularly that between the sexes—largely the consequence of the fluidity of relations between the sexes—and also of the devastating effect of prevalent criminality upon the quality of daily existence.

Before I did this work, I had spent a number of years working as a doctor in Africa and in other places in the Third World. I also crossed Africa by public transport, such as it was, and consequently saw much of that continent from the bottom up. These experiences also helped me in my understanding of what I was later to see in England. As Dr. Johnson put it, all judgment is comparative; or as Kipling said, “What should they know of England who only England know?” Indeed, what should anyone know of anywhere, who only that place knows?

On my return to England, I used to visit the homes of poor people as part of my medical duties. Bear in mind that I had returned from some of the poorest countries in the world, where—in one case—a single hen’s egg represented luxury and the people wore the cast-off clothes of Europe that had been donated by charity. When I returned to England, I was naturally inclined to think of poverty in absolute rather than in relative terms—as people not having enough to eat, having to fetch water from three miles away, and so forth. But I soon ceased to think of it in that fashion.

In the course of my duties, I would often go to patients’ homes. Everyone lived in households with a shifting cast of members, rather than in families. If there was an adult male resident, he was generally a bird of passage with a residence of his own somewhere else. He came and went as his fancy took him. To ask a child who his father was had become an almost indelicate question. Sometimes the child would reply, “Do you mean my father at the moment?” Others would simply shake their heads, being unwilling to talk about the monster who had begot them and whom they wished at all costs to forget.

I should mention a rather startling fact: By the time they are 15 or 16, twice as many children in Britain have a television as have a biological father living at home. The child may be father to the man, but the television is father to the child. Few homes were without televisions with screens as large as a cinema—sometimes more than one—and they were never turned off, so that I often felt I was examining someone in a cinema rather than in a house. But what was curious was that these homes often had no means of cooking a meal, or any evidence of a meal ever having been cooked beyond the use of a microwave, and no place at which a meal could have been eaten in a family fashion. The pattern of eating in such households was a kind of foraging in the refrigerator, as and when the mood took, with the food to be consumed sitting in front of one of the giant television screens. Not surprisingly, the members of such households were often enormously fat.

Surveys have shown that a fifth of British children do not eat a meal more than once a week with another member of their household, and many homes do not have a dining table. Needless to say, this pattern is concentrated in the lower reaches of society, where so elementary but fundamental a means of socialization is now unknown. Here I should mention in passing that in my hospital, the illegitimacy rate of the children born in it, except for those of Indian-subcontinental descent, was approaching 100 percent.

It was in the prison that I first realized I should listen carefully, not only to what people said, but to the way that they said it. I noticed, for example, that murderers who had stabbed someone always said of the fatal moment that “the knife went in.” This was an interesting locution, because it implied that it was the knife that guided the hand rather than the hand that guided the knife. It is clear that this locution serves to absolve the culprit, at least in his own mind, from his responsibility for his act. It also seeks to persuade the listener that the culprit is not really guilty, that something other than his decisions led to the death of the victim. This was so even if the victim was a man against whom the perpetrator was known to have a serious grudge, and whom he sought out at the other side of the city having carried a knife with him.

The human mind is a subtle instrument, and something more than straightforward lying was going on here. The culprit both believed what he was saying and knew perfectly well at the same time that it was nonsense. No doubt this kind of bad faith is not unique to the type of people I encountered in the hospital and the prison. In Shakespeare’s King Lear, Edmund, the evil son of the Earl of Gloucester, says:

This is the excellent foppery of the world: that when we are sick in fortune—often the surfeit of our own behaviour—we make guilty of our disasters the sun, the moon, and the stars, as if we were villains on necessity; fools by heavenly compulsion; knaves, thieves, and treachers, by spherical predominance; drunkards, liars, and adulterers, by an enforced obedience of planetary influence; and all that we are evil in, by a divine thrusting on. An admirable evasion of whoremaster man, to lay his goatish disposition to the charge of a star!
In other words, it wasn’t me.

This passage points, I think, to an eternal and universal temptation of mankind to blame those of his misfortunes that are the natural and predictable consequence of his own choices on forces or circumstances that are external to him and outside his control. Is there any one of us who has never resorted to excuses about his circumstances when he has done wrong or made a bad decision? It is a universal human tendency. But in Britain, at any rate, an entire class of persons has been created that not only indulges in this tendency, but makes it their entire world outlook—and does so with official encouragement.

Let me take as an example the case of heroin addicts. In the 1950s, heroin addiction in Britain was confined to a very small number of people, principally in bohemian circles. It has since become a mass phenomenon, the numbers of addicts having increased perhaps two thousandfold, to something like 250,000 to 300,000. And with the statistically insignificant exception of members of the popular culture elite, heroin addiction is heavily concentrated in areas of the country such as the one in which I worked.

Heroin addiction has been presented by officialdom as a bona fide disease that strikes people like, shall we say, rheumatoid arthritis. In the United States, the National Institute on Drug Abuse defines addiction quite baldly as a chronic relapsing brain disease—and nothing else. I hesitate to say it, but this seems to me straightforwardly a lie, told to willing dupes in order to raise funds from the federal government.

Be that as it may, the impression has been assiduously created and peddled among the addicts that they are the helpless victims of something that is beyond their own control, which means that they need the technical assistance of what amounts to a substantial bureaucratic apparatus in order to overcome it. When heroin addicts just sentenced to imprisonment arrived, they said to me, “I would give up, doctor, if only I had the help.” What they meant by this was that they would give up heroin if some cure existed that could be administered to them that would by itself, without any resolution on their part, change their behavior. In this desire they appeared sincere—but at the same time they knew that such a cure did not exist, nor would most of them have agreed to take it if it did exist.

In fact, the whole basis of the supposed treatment for their supposed disease is rooted in lies and misconceptions. For example, research has shown that most addicts spend at least 18 months taking heroin intermittently before they become addicted. Nor are they ignorant while they take it intermittently of heroin’s addictive properties. In other words, they show considerable determination in becoming addicts: It is something, for whatever reason, that they want to become. It is something they do, rather than something that happens to them. Research has shown also that heroin addicts lead very busy lives one way or another—so busy, in fact, that there is no reason why they could not make an honest living if they so wished. Indeed, this has been known for a long time, for in the 1920s and 30s in America, morphine addicts for the most part made an honest living.

Withdrawal from opiates, the fearfulness of which, reiterated in film and book, is often given as one of the main reasons for not abandoning the habit, is in fact a pretty trivial condition, certainly by comparison with illnesses which most of us have experienced, or by comparison with withdrawal from other drugs. I have never heard an alcoholic say, for example, that he fears to give up alcohol because of delirium tremens—a genuinely dangerous medical condition, unlike withdrawal from heroin. Research has shown that medical treatment is not necessary for heroin addicts to abandon their habit and that many thousands do so without any medical intervention whatsoever.

In Britain at least, heroin addicts do not become criminals because they are addicted (and can raise funds to buy their drugs only by crime); those who take heroin and indulge in criminal behavior have almost always indulged in extensive criminal behavior before they were ever addicted. Criminality is a better predictor of addiction than is addiction of criminality.

In other words, all the bases upon which heroin addiction is treated as if it is something that happens to people rather than something that people do are false, and easily shown to be false. This is so whatever the latest neuro-scientific research may supposedly show.

I have taken the example of heroin addiction as emblematic of what, with some trepidation, I may call the dialectical relationship between the worldview of those at the bottom of society and the complementary worldview of what one might call the salvationist bureaucracy of the government. In the old Soviet Union there was a joke in which the workers would say to the party bosses, “We pretend to work and you pretend to pay us.” In the case of the heroin addicts, they might say, “We pretend to be ill, and you pretend to cure us.”

One of the possible dangers or consequences of such a charade is that it creates a state of dishonest dependency on the part of the addicts. They wait for salvation as Estragon and Vladimir wait for Godot in Samuel Beckett’s play; they wait for something that will never arrive, and that at least in some part of their mind they know will never arrive—but that officialdom persists in telling them will arrive someday.

Dishonest passivity and dependence combined with harmful activity becomes a pattern of life, and not just among drug addicts. I remember going into a single mother’s house one day. The house was owned by the local council; her rent was paid, and virtually everything that she owned, or that she and her children consumed, was paid for from public funds. I noticed that her back garden, which could have been pretty had she cared for it, was like a noxious rubbish heap. Why, I asked her, do you not clear it up for your children to play in? “I’ve asked the council many times to do it,” she replied. The council owned the property; it was therefore its duty to clear up the rubbish that she, the tenant, had allowed to accumulate there—and this despite what she knew to be the case, that the council would never do so! Better the rubbish should remain there than that she do what she considered to be the council’s duty. At the same time she knew perfectly well that she was capable of clearing the rubbish and had ample time to do so.

This is surely a very curious but destructive state of mind, and one that some politicians have unfortunately made it their interest to promote by promising secular salvation from relative poverty by means of redistribution. Whether by design or not, the state in England has smashed up all forms of social solidarity that are independent of it. This is not an English problem alone: In France the word solidarité, solidarity, has come to mean high taxation for redistribution by state officials to other parts of the population, which of course are neither grateful for the subventions nor find them sufficient to meet their dreams, and which are, in fact, partly responsible for their need for them in the first place. And not surprisingly, some of the money sticks to the hands of the redistributionist bureaucracy.

By a mixture of ideology and fiscal and social policies, the family has been systematically fractured and destroyed in England, at least in the lowest part of the society that, unfortunately, needs family solidarity the most. There are even, according to some researchers, fiscal and welfare incentives for parents at the lower economic reaches of society not to stay together.

Certainly the notions of dependence and independence have changed. I remember a population that was terrified of falling into dependence on the state, because such dependence, apart from being unpleasant in itself, signified personal failure and humiliation. But there has been an astonishing gestalt switch in my lifetime. Independence has now come to mean independence of the people to whom one is related and dependence on the state. Mothers would say to me that they were pleased to be independent, by which they meant independent of the fathers of their children—usually more than one—who in general were violent swine. Of course, the mothers knew them to be violent swine before they had children by them, but the question of whether a man would be a suitable father is no longer a question because there are no fathers: At best, though often also at worst, there are only stepfathers. The state would provide. In the new dispensation the state, as well as television, is father to the child.

A small change in locution illustrates a change in the character and conceptions of a people. When I started out as a doctor in the mid-1970s, those who received state benefits would say, “I receive my check on Friday.” Now people who receive such benefits say, “I get paid on Friday.” This is an important change. To have said that they received their check on Friday was a neutral way of putting it; to say that they get paid on Friday is to imply that they are receiving money in return for something. But what can that something be, since they do not appear to do anything of economic value to anyone else? It can only be existence itself: They are being paid to continue to exist, existence itself being their work.

It has been said that the lamentable state of affairs I have described has been brought about by the decline, inevitable as we now see it, of the kind of industry that once employed millions of unskilled workers, whose wages, though low by today’s standards, were nevertheless sufficient to sustain a stable, though again by today’s standards not rich, society. And I do not think that this view can be altogether dismissed. But it is far from the whole story. One of the curious features of England in the recent past is that it has consistently maintained very high levels of state-subsidized idleness while importing almost equivalent numbers of foreigners to do unskilled work.

Let me here interject something about the intellectual and moral corruption wrought by the state in recent years—and I don’t know whether it applies to America. The governments of Britain, of both political parties, managed to lessen the official rate of unemployment by the simple expedient of shifting people from the ranks of the unemployed to the ranks of the sick. This happened on such a huge scale that, by 2006—a year of economic boom, remember—the British welfare state had achieved the remarkable feat of producing more invalids than the First World War. But it is known that the majority of those invalids had no real disease. This feat, then, could have been achieved only by the willing corruption of the unemployed themselves—relieved from the necessity to seek work and relieved to have a slightly higher subvention—but also of the doctors who provided them with official certificates that they knew to be bogus. And the government was only too happy, for propaganda purposes, to connive at such large-scale fraud. One begins to see what Confucius meant when he said, 2,500 years ago, that the first thing to do to restore a state to health was to rectify the names—in other words, to call things by their right names rather than by euphemisms.

There are three reasons that I can think of why we imported foreign labor to do unskilled work while maintaining large numbers of unemployed people. The first is that we had destroyed all economic incentive for the latter to work. The second is that the foreigners were better in any case, because their character had not been rotted; they were often better educated—it is difficult to plumb the shallows of the British state educational system for children of the poorest homes—and had a much better work ethic. And the third was the rigidity of the housing market that made it so difficult for people to move around once they had been granted the local privilege of subsidized housing.

I will leave you with an anecdote. As Mao Tse-tung might have put it, one anecdote is worth a thousand abstractions.

I had been asked by the courts to examine a young woman, aged 18, who was accused of having attacked and injured her 90-year-old great-grandmother, with whom she lived, while under the influence of alcohol and cannabis. She had broken her great-grandmother’s femur, but fortunately it did not prove fatal. (Incidentally, the homicide rate, it is said, would be five times higher than it is if we used the same medical techniques as were used in 1960.) I asked the young woman in the course of my examination whether her mother had ever been in trouble with the police.

“Yes,” she replied.

“What for?” I asked.

“Well, she was on the social,” she said—“on the social” in English argot means receiving welfare payments—“and she was working.”

“What happened?” I asked. “She had to stop working.”

She said this as if it was so obvious that my question must be that of a mental defective. Work is for pocket money, the public dole is the means by which one lives.

That, ladies and gentlemen, is the view from the bottom, at least in Britain: but it is a view that has been inculcated and promoted from the top.
“Reprinted by permission from Imprimis, a publication of Hillsdale College.

Fiat

In 07 Observations on 2015/10/09 at 12:00 AM

The source of grace is Christ Himself, incarnated into our human nature having received His body though His mother by the action of the Holy Spirit.

There is no one on earth who was closer to Him who gave us spiritual life than His mother.

Hear and follow her two instructions she has given you: Let it be done to me according to His will and Do whatever He tells you.

Ask Mary to form Jesus in you so that you become like her Son.

Become Who We Are

In 07 Observations on 2015/08/21 at 12:00 AM

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By FATHER DWIGHT LONGENECKER 10/30/2013  

In ministering as a Catholic priest, I sometimes get the impression that Catholics are more interested in the minimum than the maximum.

What I mean is that too many Catholics seem to have heard that what is required to be a good Catholic is to go to Mass once a week and confession once a year. That’s it.

Therefore, they do their duty. They check the boxes. They complete the test. They reckon they’ve done just enough to stay out of hell, that God will forgive them the rest, and they’ll coast into heaven having done what’s required.

They seem, to me, like the high-school kid who was told by his teacher that his term paper needed to be five pages long with footnotes, so he turns in a mediocre effort that is five pages of mush with a few footnotes.

This isn’t what a term paper is for. The term paper is a set part of the coursework so the student will not just learn how to write a five-page paper, but also learn something in the process. The term paper was a means to an end. It was not an end in itself.

So it is with the practice of the Catholic faith. The rules and regulations of the Catholic faith — going to Mass each Sunday and confession once a year, the precepts of the Church and the Ten Commandments — these strictures and structures are a means to an end, not an end in themselves.

They are the rules for the game of sainthood. They are the map for the journey.

The game and the journey are far greater. The destination of the journey and the goal of the game is sanctity. To put it plainly: All of us are supposed to become saints.

Our hearts should burn with the words of St. Thérèse of Lisieux: “You must be a whole saint or no saint at all!”

Once we have entered into the body of Christ through baptism, our destiny is total sanctity. In the Eastern Church, they call this theosis. It means becoming transformed into the full image of Christ.

In St. Paul’s words to the Ephesians, it means “growing up into the full humanity of Jesus.” A saint is not simply a person who is more pious than anyone else. A saint is a person who has become more himself than anyone else.

A saint is an ordinary person who has been made complete and whole and has become the fully alive person God created him to be.

I get the feeling, however, that most Catholics find such an idea to be excessive or extreme. It is as if they are saying to God, “You know, I’m not such a great person. I’m not ambitious. I know you are preparing all those mansions in heaven. Well, I’ll be content with a little shed down in the lower gardens. That’s all right for me. Just as long as I squeeze through the pearly gates, I’ll be fine.”

God has much greater things prepared for us than we can ever dare to hope or imagine. He wants nothing less than our total transformation. He created us to be shining stars in the heavens — brilliant examples of his complete, creative love. He wants us to enjoy the fullness of life in Christ, and many seem content with just getting by.

One of the reasons we celebrate All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day one day after the other is a reminder that all souls are called to be saints. We pray for the repose of the souls of our loved ones on All Souls’ Day, but why do we do this?

Saying that we pray “for their repose” makes it sounds passive. Are we simply praying that they will rest in peace? There is more to it than that. We are also praying that God will continue his work of grace in their lives and bring them to the full state of holiness and sanctity for which they were created.

Purgatory is not simply a place of rest. When we die, if we are not in mortal sin, we do not simply go to a retirement home in the sky. Purgatory is not a place of hammocks on the beach, where we can finally put up our feet and have a well-deserved rest.

Purgatory is the place where we finish the work we have left undone on this earth. In purgatory, our remaining weakness, cowardice, lust, greed and selfishness are burned away. Purgatory is a place of progress, not simply a place of peace.

When we pray for our loved ones on All Souls’ Day and throughout the month of November, we should be praying in an active way, not only that they will find peace, but that they will grow up into the full stature of Christ Jesus and rapidly rid themselves of every weight that holds them back — so they might become the radiant images of Christ they were created to be.

As for ourselves, there is a beautiful prayer in the funeral service: “That God might help us to use aright the time that is left to us here on earth.”

The work of becoming a saint is easier here than it is in purgatory. All of us still have plenty of work to do as we cooperate with God’s grace in the great adventure of sanctity. This work requires a courageous and joyful spirit. It requires discipline and the spirit of the warrior.

Again, we hear the call of little St. Thérèse, who said to her novices, “Sanctity: It must be won at the point of a sword!”

Father Dwight Longenecker’s latest book, The Romance of Religion, will be published in February 2014 by Thomas Nelson. Visit his blog, browse his books and be in touch at DwightLongenecker.com.

 Originally appeared in National Catholic Record 10/30/13

Assumption

In 07 Observations on 2015/08/14 at 12:00 AM

“The psychologist Carl Jung made the startling statement that Pius XII’s 1954 definition of the dogma of the Assumption of Mary, body and soul into heaven was “the most extraordinarily religious event since the Protestant Reformation.’ Jung was a Protestant but was appalled by the overemphasis of the merely rational in the Christian West of his day. The West had had become all too masculine, he said, and Nazism was the logical result of the overemphasis on masculine power, practicality, hard efficiency, scientific knowledge and quick results that can be priced! He regarded the Assumption of the prayerful Virgin to a very special place beside God as a healing symbol for a society sick with ‘practical’ masculinity.”

Late Have I Loved You Echoes

In 07 Observations on 2015/07/17 at 12:00 AM

“Late have I loved you, O Beauty so ancient and so new; late have I loved you!  For behold you were within me, and I outside; and I sought you outside….You were with me and I was not with you.  I was kept from you by those things….You called and cried to me and broke open my deafness: and you sent forth your beams and shone upon me and chased away my blindness.  (St. Augustine CONFESSIONS, 10, 27-38)

Echoed down centuries, Francis Thompson in THE HOUND OF HEAVEN:

I fled Him, down the night and down the days;

I fled Him, down the arches of the years;

I fled Him, down the labyrinthine ways

           Of my own mind; and in the midst of tears

I hid from Him, and under running laughter.

           Up vistaed hopes I sped;

            And shot, precipitate,

Adown Titanic glens of chasmed fears,

From those strong Feet that followed, followed after

           But with unhurrying chase,

           And unperturbed pace,

   Deliberate speed, majestic instancy,

          They beat-and a Voice beat

          More instant than the Feet-

             “All things betray thee, who betrayest Me.”

Christ, today and always, is not far away.  If we forget him, he does not forget us.  He is the Way, and that road to join him is always open.  We must leave our self-centeredness and enter into the new dimension of his risen and ascended love.

SOJOURN IN THE LAND OF THE BIBLE

In 07 Observations on 2015/03/06 at 12:00 AM

 

“You will be my witnesses both in Jerusalem…and to the end of the earth.” Acts 1:8

Center for Biblical Formation: Notre Dame de Sion in Jerusalem

The center for Biblical Formation was established at Ecce Homo in the Old City in 1982 in response to an expressed need of clergy, religious and lay persons desiring to study scripture in the Land. Programs are offered in English, Spanish and French.

“And now our feet are standing within your gates, O Jerusalem.” Psalm 122:2

Study the Origins of Your Faith
Be Enriched By A Unique Experience
Reflect on the Meaning of Discipleship
Further Your Knowledge of the Scriptures
Explore the Religious, Cultural, Historical, Political Context of the Land Witness the Living Faith of Jews, Christians and Muslims

PROGRAMS:

Passover & Easter Programs: March 10—April 6, 2015 & March 8—April 4, 2016
This program will celebrate both of these feasts of freedom and study them from the prospective of the Christian tradition it provides

Rediscover Jesus In The Land: Luke: June 2—29, 2015 & Matthew: June 1—28, 2016
This program is especially for teachers and preachers so that they combine a serious study of the gospel with excursions to the places significant

In The Footsteps Of Jesus: September 7—October 4, 2015 & September 27—October 24, 2016 This program pays attention to the first century setting and narrative style of Mark

For information regarding fees, programs and volunteer opportunities, check the website or send an email

http://www.biblicalformation.org biblprog@netvision.net.il

 

Sisters of Sion Dynamic Movement of the Spirit #36