Thursday, March 22, 2018

Pope Benedict Stations - The Third Station

The Third Station: Jesus Falls the First Time

Pope Benedict: “Man has fallen, and he continues to fall: often he becomes a caricature of himself, no longer the image of God, but a mockery of the Creator. Is not the man who, on the way from Jerusalem to Jericho, fell among robbers who stripped him and left him half-dead and bleeding beside the road, the image of humanity par excellence? Jesus’ fall beneath the Cross is not just the fall of the man Jesus, exhausted from his scourging. There is a more profound meaning in this fall, as Paul tells us in the Letter to the Philippians: “though he was in the form of God, he did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men… He humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a Cross” (Philippians 2:6-8). In Jesus’ fall beneath the weight of the Cross, the meaning of his whole life is seen: his voluntary abasement, which lifts us up from the depths of our pride. The nature of our pride is also revealed: it is that arrogance which makes us want to be liberated from God and left alone to ourselves, the arrogance which makes us think that we do not need his eternal love, but can be the masters of our own lives. In this rebellion against truth, in this attempt to be our own god, creator and judge, we fall headlong and plunge into self-destruction. The humility of Jesus is the surmounting of our pride; by his abasement he lifts us up. Let us allow him to lift us up. Let us strip away our sense of self-sufficiency, our false illusions of independence, and learn from him, the One who humbled himself, to discover our true greatness by bending low before God and before our downtrodden brothers and sisters.”

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Pope Benedict Stations - The Second Station

The second station: “Jesus is given His Cross”.
Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI: "Jesus, condemned as an imposter king, is mocked, but this very mockery lays bare a painful truth. How often are the symbols of power, borne by the great ones of this world, an affront to truth, to justice and to the dignity of man! How many times are their pomps and their lofty words nothing but grandiose lies, a parody of their solemn obligation to serve the common good! It is because Jesus is mocked and wears the crown of suffering that he appears as the true King. His scepter is justice (cf. Psalm 45:7). The price of justice in this world is suffering: Jesus, the true King, does not reign through violence, but through a love which suffers for us and with us. He takes up the Cross, our cross, the burden of being human, the burden of the world. And so he goes before us and points out to us the way which leads to true life."

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Pope Benedict Stations - First Station

Over the next 14 days, I’ll be sharing a station each day.

The reflections are from BEAUTIFUL meditations written by now Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

First station: Jesus is condemned to death.

“The Judge of the world, who will come again to judge us all, stands there, dishonored and defenseless before the earthly judge. Pilate is not utterly evil. He knows that the condemned man is innocent, and he looks for a way to free him. But his heart is divided. And in the end he lets his own position, his own self-interest, prevail over what is right. Nor are the men who are shouting and demanding the death of Jesus utterly evil. Many of them, on the day of Pentecost, will feel “cut to the heart” (Acts 2:37), when Peter will say to them: “Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God … you crucified and killed by the hands of those outside the law” (Acts 2:22ff.). But at that moment they are caught up in the crowd. They are shouting because everyone else is shouting, and they are shouting the same thing that everyone else is shouting. And in this way, justice is trampled underfoot by weakness, cowardice and fear of the dictate of the ruling mind-set. The quiet voice of conscience is drowned out by the cries of the crowd. Evil draws its power from indecision and concern for what other people think." - Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, 2005

Monday, March 19, 2018

Local mega-church

Picked up a flyer from a local mega church

They have a team of people come to your home to tell you what is expected of those who join their church

to rephrase: "we have church laws, a catechism, a hierarchy, and we don't think that it is by Scripture alone"

Parishioner, former Lutheran pastor, on his journey to Catholicism

As I said below, the audio got destroyed from my homily this weekend.  In lieu of that, here's a presentation a parishioner gave on his journey from being a Lutheran pastor to joining the Catholic Church

Your NCAA bracket, like your Lent, is destroyed!

Homily audio was completely unusable this weekend do to wifi interference

gist: Everyone's NCAA basketball brackets are shredded. Places offer new opportunities to enter new brackets (Sweet Sixteen brackets) the following weekend.

Most people's Lenten promises are shredded. We face two weeks left of Lent. Begin again. Make these final two weeks of Lent the best final two weeks of Lent you've ever had. Double down on your prayer. Did you promise 10 minutes? Do 20. Did you give up candy? Give up soda too!

We see in the Gospel today a theme throughout Holy Week - Jesus shows us His human will is pulling him in a different direction from His Father's Will. He will repeat this in the garden and on the Cross.

Our will often does the same thing. We know the Father's Will but we are pulled in another direction. RESIST! FIGHT BACK! Deny yourself these final two weeks of Lent and come to Easter resurrected with Christ!

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Father, the person with the mental illness that sits in the back of Church smells bad

Every Catholic parish has people in it who are battling and living with mental illness.  I have a person at one of my parishes who is that way.  This person spiraled into some form of mental illness when her mother died, long before I arrived to the parish.  She has no family and no one else to turn to, and it is likely that she had some kind of serious breakdown when she lost her mother who was also her last true friend.

She says inappropriate things to people at times as she moves from one place to the next around town.  She's been thrown out of McDonald's and the hospital and so forth.  She can certainly be a nuisance, but with some firm love, and repeating instructions to her over and over, she understands that she's not to be up and talking with people while she's at Church, nor is she to greet people at the door.

We've done some pretty awesome stuff at the parish to help her out, and it has been pretty amazing to see a lot of parishioners pitch in to help.  She was going to be evicted from her home, but we were able to stave that off by going over and cleaning out her house which had years of trash in it.  We were able to get her into government housing, and she's doing a lot better.

So yesterday a parishioner came to me and said "Father, some parishioners have told me to tell you that ________ still smells bad at Mass"

And here's the point of all this: my response: "Tell those parishioners to invite her out to dinner"

Mental illnesses are certainly assisted by counseling and medication, but I'm convinced that a lot of the struggles out there that people have with mental illness would be cured, or at least greatly improved by love.  By people inviting others out to a meal, by visiting them, by talking to them.  "Hey _______, how are you?"  Those kinds of simple things.

If you take _______ out to dinner, will she say something inappropriate?  Maybe.  But every show and movie you watch says something inappropriate too.  Who cares that she might say something inappropriate?

We need a lot more people caring for each other, and a lot less people who see other people who are struggling and just call the cops, the government, or tell their priest to do something about it.

But a Samaritan traveler who came upon him was moved with compassion at the sight.  He approached the victim, poured oil and wine over his wounds and bandaged them. Then he lifted him up on his own animal, took him to an inn and cared for him.  The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper with the instruction, ‘Take care of him. If you spend more than what I have given you, I shall repay you on my way back.’  Which of these three, in your opinion, was neighbor to the robbers’ victim?”  He answered, “The one who treated him with mercy.” Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”  

Sunday, March 4, 2018

"Well, we have to do SOMEthing for invalidly married couples!"

In the "Communion for those in invalid marriages debate" the most detached-from-reality statement is: "We have to do SOMEthing for them"

The logical restatement of that claim is "we are currently doing nothing for invalidly married couples"

But in my parishes (and probably every other parish in the world) they can:

Participate in Bible studies
Join and pray with us at Mass
Hear the Word of God proclaimed and preached
Participate in religious ed
Receive charitable assistance
Receive individual or couple counseling from the pastor
Pray in our unlocked churches throughout the day
Participate in our social activities
Go on our parish retreats
Join us for processions
Pray with us during our communal rosaries
Pray with us during our hours of adoration

and about 14,000 other things

Any bishop or priest who says we aren't currently doing anything for couples in invalid marriages has been away from parish life for too long and needs to be reminded of what is happening on the ground

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

BEAUTIFUL Words from Pope Benedict - Poet, Doctor of the Church

"We climb up the mountain of time, bearing with us the instruments of our own death. At first the goal is far distant. We do not think of it; the present is enough: the morning on the mountain, the song of the birds, the sun's brightness. We feel we do not need to know about our destination, since the way itself is enough. But the longer it grows, the more unavoidable the question becomes: Where is it going? What does it all mean? We look with apprehension at the signs of death that, up to now, we had not noticed, and the fear rises within us that perhaps the whole of life is only a variation of death; that we have been deceived and that life is actually not a gift but an imposition. 

Then the strange reply, “God will provide”, sounds more like an excuse than an explanation. Where this view predominates, where talk of “God” is no longer believable, humor dies. In such a case man has nothing to laugh about anymore; all that is left is cruel sarcasm or that rage against God and the world with which we are all acquainted. But the person who has seen the Lamb—Christ on the Cross—knows that God has provided... 

All we can see is - like Isaac - the Lamb - the crucified Christ - is in fact our glimpse of Heaven, of what God has eternally provided for us.  In this Lamb we actually do glimpse Heaven, and we see God's gentleness, which is neither indifference nor weakness but power of the highest order.  It is in this way, and only thus, that we see the mysteries of creation and catch a little of the songs of the angels - indeed, we can try to join with them, somewhat, in singing the Alleluia of Easter Day.  Because we see the Lamb, we can laugh and give thanks; from him we also realize what adoration is."

From a homily for Easter, published in "Images of Hope" by Ignatius Press

Protestant Youtuber Converts to Catholicism

Welcome to the Catholic Church!