Sunday, September 18, 2016
EWTN celebrated the life of Mother Angelica at this years Family Celebration in Birmingham, Alabama. Thankfully I was able to spend some time there on Saturday and Sunday attending some of the talks. This Sunday afternoon Fr. Wade Menezes and Raymond Arroyo gave some great talks on Mother Angelica's life and the work she had done with EWTN. Many converts like myself watched Mother Angelica's shows and took away from them many practical lessons on how to live the Catholic faith. Many of us are grateful for how much she has done for us by giving us a great Catholic media outlet. I think that few of us realize how much she did for us and the Church over the final 15 years of her life when she lived out of the public eye.
Raymond's talk was very interesting because he gave some insight into the contemplative life of Mother. Since most of us equate her with her television appearances it is easy for us to forget that she was a cloistered contemplative nun. Although much her public life was known for getting the network off the ground and putting solid Catholic programming together Mother spent much of her time conversing with God. In fact, in her final 15 years she spent most of that time suffering in the after affects of a stroke, where she could not speak most of the time. This is where Raymond points out that this is where Mother was actually the most effective, and in fact may have carried out her most important work. She suffered greatly during this time, yet she grew closer to Christ and spent much of the time praying for the continued success of the Network.
The lesson I learned here is that I always tend to equate "success" with doing material things, and quickly forget that we only fulfill our part by doing God's will. This can only be done first by much prayer no matter what state or situation He has given to us. It is human nature to always be thinking that when our situation becomes ideal we will then do something. It is easy to say "When I retire I will pray more" or "When I get around to it I will learn more about my faith." We sometimes overlook the fact that prayer and contemplation is expected of us no matter where we may be in our life. Our job or other affairs often distract us from our participation in the prayer life of the Church. Mother Angelica has taught us to be courageous in our faith by engaging both the physical and the spiritual. It was actually her spiritual life that allowed her to build EWTN. When Mother was not able to continue being physically involved with EWTN she humbly accepted her physically debilitated state and sought to continue her efforts in the manner and situation God put her in. Although her efforts were no longer visible, God was doing amazing things behind the scenes. So we too must do our part no matter what situation we may find ourselves. Before we are truly able to do the will of God, we must first of all be men and women of prayer. I give thanks to God for that little Italian nun who with great tenacity taught us how to love God and seek to carry out His will. Mother did her part and then some. What about you?
EWTN will soon be airing all of the talks that were held at the Family Celebration this weekend. Grab a copy of Raymond's new book to read about Mother's final years.
Thursday, September 1, 2016
The Five Marvels of the Incarnation
By Denis the Carthusian
The writings of Denis the Carthusian are among my favorite writings to read. It is one of the books I chose to keep with me during my move to Alabama. It was no small task for me to pick five small plastic containers of books to remain with me, while the rest of library went into storage. Denis’ Spiritual Writings were one of the books that made it into one of my bins. Denis was born at the very beginning of the 1400s, and was one of the most popular spiritual writers of his time. In section 48 of the book he writes on the Incarnation of Christ, and he speaks of some of the marvels of the Incarnation. It is through Christ's Incarnation that we are able to enter into the beatific vision in eternity, which was closed off prior. There are five of these "marvels" Denis presents and I wanted to post them up here for anyone who wants to contemplate them. I think they are worth meditating on for spiritual enrichment. Each one of them are so rich and deep that you can meditate on them for some time.
“The first marvel is that despite the infinite distance and disproportion between the uncreated and uncircumscribed Word of God and uncircumscribed humanity, the two came together in one Person.” This is certainly something to ponder that a God who is so far above us bridged this insurmountable gap.
“The second marvel is that out of two natures complete in act and essence, a single person emerges.” As we know, Christ has a human nature and a divine nature, but is a divine person. Yet, neither of his two natures are diminished in any way, as Denis says here, they are complete in their act and essence.
“The third marvel is that human nature in Christ maintained its own proper actions and passions, although it subsisted not in a human, created person but in a divine person.” Here we see that in Christ even though He has a true human nature, it was united not in a created person as a normal human being, but in a divine person.
“The fourth marvel is an eternal, unchangeable and perfect Person, is truly generated in time, and without any change in Himself, or any assimilation of something new into His own nature.” This mystery has always been hard for us to understand. Christ took on His human nature in time through His Incarnation yet remains unchanged in His Person.
“The fifth marvel is that a Virgin conceived and bore a child without the loss of virginity; a thing that never happened before.” Here we see the importance of Marian devotion being attached to Christ’s Incarnation. Indeed it was a miracle that she conceived Our Lord and was a Virgin before, during and after the birth of Jesus Christ.
I have written articles on apathy and how it is probably the most spiritually dead state we can be in. Apathy, or what is also known as lukewarmness is what Scripture warns us about in Revelation 3:16 "But because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold, not hot, I will begin to vomit thee out of my mouth.” As I said in an earlier article, those who think they can just meander about being “good” enough, are a large portion who will find themselves in hell. It will not be just the Hitlers and Stalins who find themselves there.
There is more to be said on this subject which is of the utmost importance. The loss of souls due to apathy will not only be the loss of souls of those who practice it, but those who will be left cold to the faith due to their apathy. An apathetic Church leaves souls unconverted. We can see the results of an apathetic Church in our own time and culture. We have let the death peddlers assault society without any resistance. We have let the horrors of humanity such as abortion, contraception, euthanasia, sodomy, murder, greed, corruption, and list goes on, take over our because those in the Church have grown lukewarm.
This lukewarmness brings with it the greatest chastisements, including being left to our own devices. It is no secret as to why western civilization is being hurled into moral chaos. It is because we have become apathetic to God and have turned our backs on everything that made our civilization great. The family has self-destructed on the drug of apathy. Our people have put personal luxury and pride above human life and the family. The myth of overpopulation is still going on unopposed and the lies concerning women’s healthcare is not being exposed for the fraud that it is. When error and evil goes unopposed it is a sure sign of an apathetic Church.
In order for the culture to change, we must win the hearts and minds of the people, and that can only be done by the flame of divine charity, a faith that burns bright. This includes not only the bishops, priests and religious, who should be preaching the truth and defending the Church’s teachings, but also the laity in the pew. We also have to do our part. There are many more of us than there are clergy so we bear a large burden as well. What can we do as laity to help turn the tide of apathy? I will give a list of seven things that we can do that will aid us in accomplishing our part.
1. We must live a life of holiness- This means we must stay in a state of grace and grow in supernatural virtue. The army cannot be effective without supernatural grace. St Catherine of Sienna once wrote, “what a dangerous thing is sin in the soul!... So let us wake up from this sleep of senseless apathy!”
2. We need to frequent the Sacraments- In order to accomplish the first goal, we must go to confession and receive Holy Communion regularly. We should make it to confession at least twice a month if not weekly. We should try and make it the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass as often as we can in addition to our Sunday obligation. Through these Sacraments we receive great strength to persevere in our heavenly mission.
3. We need to persevere in prayer and meditation- In order to remain close to God we need to spend at least 15 to 30 minutes a day in prayer. Praying a minimum of one decade of the Rosary along with meditation and other prayers should be a minimum. Be creative in using time throughout the day to pray, such as when you drive, or in between chores, etc. Take a minute a pray the Angelus or other prayers during the day. When possible, go before the Blessed Sacrament in prayer and meditation.
4. We must love the truth and hate sin. Charity is the mechanism that embraces the love of truth. Charity is the love of God in us. As we stand in the midst of the battle for souls only the love of truth arms us for battle. Like-wise this same charity gives us a hate for sin. We cannot continue to act as if people promoting sin as virtue is OK. True charity consists in admonishing the sinner so they can change their lives. This is often one of the most difficult things for Catholics to do in the midst of such harsh opposition. We must however keep our gaze on Christ so that we may have the courage to do this. St Catherine of Sienna said it best, “When we remember the holy cross we come to love virtue and hate vice.”
5. We must study our faith- In order for us to be equipped mentally it is good that we spend some time in the study of our faith. There are many avenues open to us in our day. We can listen to talks online, watch Catholic programming such as EWTN and YouTube videos. There are also thousands of good books to read. I would suggest reading the Catholic classics to begin. There is also no substitute for reading Sacred Scripture, both for theological knowledge as well as nourishment for the soul.
6. Have a strong devotion to Our Blessed Mother and the Saints- Devotion to Our Lady is not an option for a true Christian. Everyone who loves the Son, Christ, also in turn loves His mother. Our Lord has given us His Holy Mother and all of the Saints a task in aiding us here in the battle for souls. This is a divine family which we are a part of. This is something the heretic is never able to comprehend, falsely accusing us of idolatry. This of course is due to their adulterous abandonment of Christ’s Church. Let us have great devotion to Our Lady and the Saints to which God Himself has given us as heavenly helpers to rescue souls.
7. Stand up for the truth- We must remember that a soul on fire for Christ will never remain silent when opposed with evil opposition. This of course must always be accompanied by the virtue of prudence, and the gift of charity, but we have remained silent long enough. First we must fraternally correct those in the Church who are opposed to her teachings. We cannot remain silent to those in the Church who regularly support abortion, sodomy or contraception for example. We need to make our voices heard to both laity and clergy who insult Christ and His Church by promoting evil. It is not enough at times for us just to hold on to our faith in secret, there comes a time when God calls us to be lions for the faith. If we are going to stop the destruction of civilization and the mass destruction of souls, the Church must take the first step in opposition to the anti-life organizations. This can only be done if we have holy people in the Church who love the truth she proclaims. Those traitors in the Church must be corrected in charity, so that we can begin to rebuild the Church, and henceforth civilization. Again, a great deal of prudence is needed and we must act according to God's will and not our own. We can start in our own families where have the authority to correct. When speaking to others in our parish, we need to act in charity and always proclaim the teaching of Christ when given the appropriate opportunity. We as the laity however do have the right to be given the proper teaching of the faith, and we need to do a better job of being vigilant in this matter.
These seven things should put us on the path to overcoming apathy in the Church. This must be our first and foremost duty as Catholics. Although we can indeed have an impact on the world around us, we can be much more effective if we are able to first strengthen the Church and awake it from its apathetic state. Then as a Church we can be effective in fighting the evils of our day. The longer we remain apathetic, the worse the chastisements will be, and the harder it will be for us to restore the faith in society.