ONLY GOD IS RIGHTEOUS

INTRODUCTION

Not too long ago someone asked me to help explain the meaning of “righteousness.”  So here goes.  Is righteousness achievable? I remember the quote from Jesus “Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.”  Now I knew that was impossible because I know I am not God and never will be.  I also knew Jesus would never ask me to do the impossible.  Jesus had to mean be the best/perfect person I can be according to my Creator’s design.  That is hard enough and only the grace of God can move that forward.

Another thought I had was, darn why did I have to be born a Catholic?  Many Protestant denominations have the belief “Once saved Always Saved!”  That’s pretty cool, accept Jesus as my Lord and Savior and that’s it because Jesus saved me once and for all.

Now that didn’t sound right to me.  I never heard Jesus say anything like that.  All the way back in the book of Genesis, Adam and Eve were friends with God, had a good relationship, and walked together in the cool of the evening.  Adam and Eve, our first parents were saved, for a time

But along comes the devil and all hell breaks out! “Now the snake was the most cunning* of all the wild animals that the LORD God had made. He asked the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You shall not eat from any of the trees in the garden’?”The woman answered the snake: “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden; it is only about the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden that God said, ‘You shall not eat it or even touch it, or else you will die.’”But the snake said to the woman: “You certainly will not die Genesis 3 1-4

In our very first homeland, Eden, the Father of Lies told our ancestors a bold face lie.  Adam and Eve died spiritually, expulsion from God’s presence, and ultimately died physically. So has anything changed since that time.  Well, yes, Jesus was born, died, rose, and ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of the Father. Did Jesus make a difference? Yes of course, He is our Redeemer.  Without Jesus, there would be no chance of being saved and sharing all eternity with the Most Holy Trinity.

But did Jesus give us a free pass no matter what we did.  I think not…Jesus’ words not mine, “Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide, and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and many are those who enter by it. For the gate is small,and the way is narrow that leads to life, and few are those who find it,”Matthew 7:13-14  

CATHOLIC COMMENTARY

WHAT IS RIGHTEOUSNESS

Righteousness is the state of moral perfection required by God to enter heaven. It is contrasted with wickedness, the conduct of the one who, out of gross self-centeredness, neither reveres God nor respects man. The Bible describes the righteous person as just or right, holding to God and trusting in Him.

When we say that God is just, we are saying that He always does what is right. The word just and the word righteous are identical in both the Old Testament and the New Testament. Sometimes the translators render the original word ‘just’ and other times ‘righteous.’ But whichever word they use, it means essentially the same thing. It has to do with God’s actions. They are always right and fair

God’s righteousness was to be seen in His every dealing with the nation Israel: Then Samuel said to the people, “It is the LORD who appointed Moses and Aaron and who brought your fathers up from the land of Egypt. 7 So now, take your stand, that I may plead with you before the LORD concerning all the righteous acts of the LORD which He did for you and your fathers” (2 Samuel 12:6-7).

God is not interested in a legalistic keeping of the Law, as though one might make himself righteous by so doing. God is interested in men seeking to know the heart of God and pleasing Him by doing that in which He delights and that which He does.

God always acts righteously; His every action is consistent with His character. God is always consistently “Godly.” God is not measured by the standard of righteousness; God sets the standard of righteousness.

The Bible clearly states that human beings cannot achieve righteousness through their own efforts: “Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin.” (Romans 3:20).

The law, or the Ten Commandments, shows us how far we fall short of God’s standards. The only solution to that dilemma is God’s plan of salvation. The Law and the Prophets bear witness to righteousness but one cannot achieve righteousness through the Law.  The Law rather points out how short we fall from righteousness and in need of a Redeemer, Jesus Christ.  For, all have sinned. We are justified by God’s grace “as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. Romans 3:21-26

THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF CHRIST

People receive righteousness through faith in Jesus Christ as Savior. Christ, the sinless Son of God, took humanity’s sin upon himself and became the willing, perfect sacrifice, suffering the punishment mankind deserved. God the Father accepted Jesus’ sacrifice, through which human beings can become justified.

The Old Testament tells us that because of the sin of Adam, we, his descendants, have inherited his sinful nature. God set up a system in Old Testament times where people sacrificed animals to atone for their sins. The shedding of blood was required. When Jesus entered the world, things changed. His crucifixion and resurrection satisfied God’s justice. Christ’s shed blood covers our sins.

The Old and New Testament leave no doubt in our minds whether the Lord Jesus was righteous. The prophet Isaiah spoke of the coming Messiah as the “Righteous One” who would “justify the many” (Isaiah 53:11). Jeremiah spoke of Him as the “righteous Branch” (Jeremiah 23:5). When Jesus was baptized, it was to “fulfill all righteousness” (Matthew 3:15). Both Pilate’s wife (Matthew 27:19) and the soldier at the foot of the cross (Luke 23:47) acknowledged His righteousness at the very moment when men were condemning Him.

If righteousness and justice are the heart of the Old Testament Law, they are also at the heart of the dispute between Jesus and the scribes and Pharisees. At the very outset of His earthly ministry, Jesus set out to contrast His interpretation of the Old Testament teaching on righteousness with that of the scribes and Pharisees. In reality, Jesus did not offer a “new” interpretation of righteousness or of the Law; rather He sought to reestablish the proper understanding of righteousness as taught in the Law and the Prophets.

Thus, Jesus repeatedly used the formula, “You have heard it said. . .” (“This is what the scribes and Pharisees teach.…”), “But I say to you.…” “For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:20).

It was clear that if the scribes and Pharisees could not produce enough righteousness on their own, no one could. The standard of righteousness the Law held forth was even higher than that of the scribes and Pharisees. No one was righteous enough to get into heaven. What a shock to the self-righteous who thought they had box office seats in the kingdom.

If sin is the manifestation of our unrighteousness and we can be saved only through a righteousness not our own—the righteousness of Christ—then the ultimate sin is self-righteousness. Jesus did not reject sinners who came to Him for mercy and salvation; He rejected those who were too righteous (in their own eyes) to need grace. Jesus came to save sinners and not to save those righteous in their own eyes. No one is too lost to save; there are only those too good to save. In the Gospels, those who thought themselves most righteous were the ones condemned by our Lord as wicked and unrighteous.

We have no ability to achieve righteousness in and of ourselves. But Christians possess the righteousness of Christ, because “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21). On the cross, Jesus exchanged our sin for His perfect righteousness so that we can one day stand before God and He will see not our sin, but the holy righteousness of the Lord Jesus.

THE CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH

1992 Justification has been merited for us by the Passion of Christ who offered himself on the cross as a living victim, holy and pleasing to God, and whose blood has become the instrument of atonement for the sins of all men. Justification is conferred in Baptism, the sacrament of faith. It conforms us to the righteousness of God, who makes us inwardly just by the power of his mercy. Its purpose is the glory of God and of Christ, and the gift of eternal life:

GRACE

1997 Grace is a participation in the life of God. It introduces us into the intimacy of Trinitarian life: by Baptism the Christian participates in the grace of Christ, the Head of his Body. As an “adopted son” he can henceforth call God “Father,” in union with the only Son. He receives the life of the Spirit who breathes charity into him and who forms the Church.

1999 The grace of Christ is the gratuitous gift that God makes to us of his own life, infused by the Holy Spirit into our soul to heal it of sin and to sanctify it.

MERIT

2008 The merit of man before God in the Christian life arises from the fact that God has freely chosen to associate man with the work of his grace….

2009 ….The merits of our good works are gifts of the divine goodness. “Grace has gone before us; now we are given what is due. . . . Our merits are God’s gifts.” We can have merit in God’s sight only because of God’s free plan to associate man with the work of his grace. Merit is to be ascribed in the first place to the grace of God, and secondly to man’s collaboration. Man’s merit is due to God.

 SUMMARY

Only God is righteous.  Only the righteous enter heaven.   Jesus, God’s only begotten Son, on Calvary took on our sins in exchange for justifying us that we may be welcomed into heaven one day.  Nothing impure or imperfect enters heaven.  Praise Jesus Christ for exchanging his righteousness for our sins and iniquity!

CONCLUDING PRAYER

Heavenly Father, after earth’s exile, I hope to go and enjoy you in the fatherland…In the evening of this life, I shall appear before you with empty hands, for I do not ask you, Lord, to count my works. All our justice is blemished in your eyes. I wish, then, to be clothed in your own justice and to receive from your love the eternal possession of yourself.

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PENTECOST SUNDAY JUNE 4, 2017

BE SURE TO WEAR RED TO MASS!

PRAYER TO HOLY SPIRIT (ST. AUGUSTINE)

Breathe into me, Holy Spirit, that my thoughts may all be holy. Move in me, Holy Spirit that my work, too, may be holy. Attract my heart, Holy Spirit, that I may love only what is holy. Strengthen me, Holy Spirit, that I may defend all that is holy. Protect me, Holy Spirit, that I may always be holy.

CATECHESIS ON HOLY SPIRIT

When the time for Pentecost was fulfilled, they were all in one place together. And suddenly there came from the sky a noise like a strong driving wind, and it filled the entire house in which they were. Then there appeared to them tongues as of fire, which parted and came to rest on each one of them. And they were all filled with the holy Spirit…” Acts 2:1-3

In the First Creation Story in Genesis 1:2 “the Spirit of God was moving over the face of deep waters,” bringing order out of chaos.  In the Second Creation Story, Genesis 2:7, “The Lord God formed man from the dust of the land and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life and man became a living being.”

In addition to the Creation stories we find other references in the Old Testament to the Holy Spirit. In Exodus 13:15, God dried up the waters by sending a dry wind, once the waters were parted the Israelites escaped the Egyptians on dry land.

The Spirit inspired Joseph’s dreams in Egypt.  The Spirit spoke at the anointing of David by Samuel.  And the great prophets, Ezekiel, Jeremiah, and Isaiah prophesied that the Spirit would renew and restore the chosen people if only they would repent and turn back to God.

In the New Testament, the Holy Spirit overshadowed Mary and the Word became flesh.  “The Holy Spirit shall come upon you and therefore the Holy Being, Who shall be born of you, shall be called the Son of God.”  (Lk. 1:35)

Before Jesus ascended into heaven, he promised his disciples that he would pray to his Father that the Holy Spirit be given to them. (John 14:10)  Jesus promised (John 14:26) “The Spirit will teach you all things and bring to your mind whatever I have said to you.” 

Through the Holy Spirit, our faith is awakened.  We are inspired to know Jesus and the One who sent Him.  The Holy Spirit stirs up in us repentance for sin and conversion.   Until the end of time, the Spirit guides, protects, and inspires the Church and its members.

The gifts of the Holy Spirit received on Pentecost by the disciples were foretold by the prophet Isaiah 11:2-4 The gifts of the Holy Spirit are perfected in Jesus, the perfect Davidic King.

But a shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse, and from his roots a bud shall blossom.  The spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him:  a spirit of wisdom and of understanding, A spirit of counsel and of strength, a spirit of knowledge and of fear of the LORD, (Isaiah 11:2)

On Pentecost Sunday, when the Holy Spirit descended upon the Apostles, they were granted the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Those gifts helped them to fulfill their mission to preach the Gospel to all nations.

For us, too, those gifts help us to live a fuller Christian life.  We first receive the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit in the Sacrament of Baptism when we received sanctifying grace, a share in divine life and heirs to heaven.  This sanctifying grace and gifts of the Holy Spirit is emboldened in other sacraments such as Confirmation, the Eucharist and Sacrament of Reconciliation..

GIFTS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT

Wisdom is the perfection of faith. As Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J., notes in his Modern Catholic Dictionary, “Where faith is a simple knowledge of the articles of Christian belief, wisdom goes on to a certain divine penetration of the truths themselves.” Through wisdom, we judge the things of the world in light of the highest end of man—the contemplation of God.

Understanding differs from wisdom in that wisdom is the desire to contemplate the things of God, while understanding allows us, as Fr. John A. Hardon writes in his Modern Catholic Dictionary, to “penetrate to the very core of revealed truths. Such certitude moves beyond faith, which “merely assents to what God has revealed.”

Counsel, is the perfection of the cardinal virtue of prudence Like prudence, counsel allows us to judge rightly what we should do in a particular circumstance. It goes beyond prudence, though, in allowing such judgments to be made promptly. We respond to the promptings of the Holy Spirit as if by instinct.

Fortitude is the virtue that allows us to overcome fear and to remain steady in our will in the face of obstacles. Fortitude is not foolhardiness or rashness.  Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J., notes in his Modern Catholic Dictionary, fortitude is the “curbing of recklessness.” Putting our bodies or lives in danger when it is not necessary is not fortitude but foolishness. , Fortitude is the virtue that helps us to stand up for what is right, even when others say that Christian belief or moral action is “outdated

Knowledge, like wisdom, knowledge perfects the theological virtue of faith. The aims of knowledge and wisdom are different, however. Whereas wisdom helps us to penetrate divine truth and prepares us to judge all things according to that truth, knowledge gives us that ability to judge. Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J., writes in his Modern Catholic Dictionary, “The object of this gift is the whole spectrum of created things insofar as they lead one to God.” Father Hardon notes, “it enables those who have the gift to discern easily and effectively between the impulses of temptation and the inspirations of grace.”

Piety perfects religion, which, as Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J., notes in his Modern Catholic Dictionary, is “The moral virtue by which a person is disposed to render to God the worship and service he deserves.” Far from being a drudgery, worship should be an act of love, and piety is the instinctive affection for God that makes us desire to render worship to Him, just as we voluntarily honor our parents.  Piety draws us to Mass; it prompts us to pray, even when we may not feel like doing so.

Fear of the Lord confirms the theological virtue of hope. We often think of hope and fear as mutually exclusive, but the fear of the Lord is the desire not to offend Him, and the certainty that He will give us the grace necessary to keep from doing so. It is that certainty that gives us hope. The fear of the Lord is like the respect we have for our parents. We do not wish to offend them, but we also do not live in fear of them, in the sense of being frightened.

CATHOLIC COMMENTARY

Through the Holy Spirit, our faith is awakened!  We are inspired to know Jesus and the One who sent Him.  The Holy Spirit stirs up in us repentance for sin and conversion. And ’til the end of time, the Spirit guides, protects, and inspires the Church and its members. If Christ is the head of the Church, as He most certainly is, the Holy Spirit is the soul and inspiration (breath) of the Church.

REFLECTION

How do we interact with the Holy Spirit… pray for inspiration…what prayers do I say, am I aware of the his assistance… do I call on it, before reading scripture, before making difficult decisions, for protection against temptation,… how can my relationship to the Spirit assist me to overcome tendencies in pride, anger, lust, greed, envy, excess, and laziness…do we ever thank the Holy Spirit for his assistance.???

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POPE FRANCIS AND PRESIDENT TRUMP

CATHOLIC COMMENTARY ON THE NEWS

A SLAP IN THE FACE OF ALL PRACTICING CATHOLICS AND OUR HOLY FATHER 

Just in time for his upcoming meeting with Pope Francis, May 24, President Trump has officially announced his intention to nominate Calista Gingrich as Ambassador to the Holy See.

With all the controversy surrounding marriage and divorce that the Vatican has been dealing with, this is only going to add to the “muddy waters” and add resentment to those who have legitimate concerns with Church teaching and practices when it comes to marriage, divorce, remarriage, and annulments….

Calista Gingrich is a life-long Catholic. She is Newt Gingrich’s third wife, married in private ceremony to Newt in 2000 after he divorced his second wife, Marianne.  Newt had divorced his first wife, Jackie, when she was dying with cancer.  He divorced his second wife Marianne soon after she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis’ because he was going to run for president and thought Calista would get him there.

Callista testified in 1999 as part of Gingrich’s divorce proceedings that the couple began a six-year affair in 1993 while Newt was still married to his second wife, Marianne. Newt converted to Catholicism in 2009 and afterwards his two previous marriages were annulled.

Why is it always controversy with this President???  I don’t know and you probably don’t know either. But I am sure we all could think of many, many nominees to represent our country to the Vatican that would make better sense and be more respectful. WHY CALISTA GINGRICH???

PRAY FOR THE PRESIDENT, PRAY FOR THE USA!!!

Remember this is the same President that remarked last summer after Pope Francis said, “Christians don’t build walls; they build bridges!” That the Pope was disgraceful! (inferring he wasn’t Christian)

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FOLLOW UP FATIMA ANNIVERSARY IGNORING BLESSED MOTHER WARNINGS AT FATIMA

Last week I posted a blog on the 100 year anniversary of Mary’s appearances to three shepherd children and ultimately to the world at large in the “miracle of the sun.”  Appropriately at the homily in my parish I heard the call to pray for peace.  But what I missed was praying for reparation for sin and conversion of sinners so I thought I would do my own plea in today’s blog.

The context of the Fatima messages was that the world was on the cusp of the Great War.  Of course today, there is fighting and bloodshed all over the world, threats of terrorism, and a possible madman initiating nuclear conflagration but I want to take the Fatima message closer to our daily lives, prayer for conversion of sinners.

We have seen in history now the outcome of two great wars as people ignored Mary’s message.  She definitely gave instructions on praying for peace and warning of the consequences.  But she also implored the children to pray for souls that they repent and be saved, so many were going to hell.  Yes, hell that word you rarely hear from the pulpit today.

In fact, at her June 13 apparition Mary requested that the children add a simple phrase after each mystery: “O my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell. Lead all souls to heaven, especially those who are most in need of Thy mercy.” Mary showed the children a vision of hell. The children saw the suffering of those detained there.

Today, I want to address the explosion of sin since Fatima and how necessary it is that we pray not only for the Holy Souls in purgatory but those still living that might be in grave danger of losing their immortal souls for all eternity.

In 1917, the same year when Our Lady appeared to the three children, the Communist Revolution was taking place; atheism was replacing religion. Prior to 1917 Western Civilization had already begun to drift away from the light of the Gospel.  The Reformation, French Revolution, the Enlightenment were already instrumental in ushering in secularism.

But as bad as things were in the world, the real test for the Church would come fifty years later during the Sexual Revolution of the 1960s. It is interesting to note that the eruption of this revolution occurred exactly 50 years after the Fatima apparitions when in 1967, “The Summer of Love” saw 100,000 people converged in the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood of San Francisco. This total lack of sexual and social inhibition became a defining moment of the 1960s, causing numerous ‘ordinary citizens’ to begin questioning everything and anything about them, especially authority.

Similar to that of the Reformation in 1517, scores of Catholics would leave the Church. Priestly and religious vocations would dry up. Mass attendance would sharply decline. Catholic clergy and laity would no longer be on the same page in terms of belief and behavior. And as for many Catholic church-goers their morals and lifestyle would prove to be comparable to non-Catholics.

At this same time of the explosion of the sexual revolution, the 1965 case of Griswold v. Connecticut that the Supreme Court would strike down state laws prohibiting contraception. In 1968, Pope Paul VI would intervene with the famous encyclical, Humanae Vitae, but in Confessionals around the world, there was confusion, priests were  instructing penitents to allow their conscience to override the teachings of the Church regarding the pill.

This had ramifications that would extend beyond contraception, in that Catholics would now find an open door to let their conscience override any of the teachings of the Church. Today we may call them cafeteria Catholics who pick and choose what they want to believe.

Humanae Vitae, almost 40 years ago, while not written as a prophetic work has become one.  Pope Paul VI predicted that marriages and society would suffer if the use of contraception became widespread.

Pope Paul VI made four rather general “prophecies” about what would happen if the Church’s teaching on contraception were ignored: Infidelity and moral decline Note  increase in the number of divorces, abortion, cohabitation, out-of-wedlock pregnancies, and venereal diseases; Lost Respect for Women  to “the point of considering her as a mere instrument of selfish enjoyment,  ie. Pornography; Abuse of Power give those public authorities without any moral compass a dangerous weapon ie. Force third World Countries into forced sterilization programs; Unlimited Dominion contraception would lead man to think he has unlimited dominion over his body ie. abortion, euthanasia, gender identity, abuse of organ transplants We seek to adjust the body to our desires rather than adjusting ourselves to its needs.

In 1973, Roe v. Wade would legalize abortion in all states. In the very same year, on the anniversary of the Miracle of the Sun, on October 13, 1973, Our Lady of Akita, in an approved apparition in Japan,, said, “The work of the devil will infiltrate even into the Church…the Church will be full of those who accept compromises and the demon will press many priests and consecrated souls to leave the service of the Lord.”

This is exactly what happened as modernism crept in the years following the Council of Vatican II, The heresy of Modernism holds that the Church must move with the cultural trends and changes of the times.

Tales of the supernatural had to be removed. They didn’t fit with the modern world. Doctrines about devils and angels, heaven and hell had to be quietly excised from the faith because they were primitive and medieval and incredible to modern folk. i.e. the Eucharist is a symbol not the Real Prescence; Religion is man-made; Miracles we know don’t really happen, the loaves and fishes story is just about people sharing their hidden largesse. 

Have you noticed in your parish or schools dropping of devotions, removal of pictures and images, reducing sacramental opportunities, all signs of the times in Today’s Catholic Church.

I acknowledge I am old but I remember my Catholic school with crucifixes in the classroom, statues of Mary on every floor and daily mass before starting school. 

(I want to thank Fr. Dwight Longenecker’s website for much of the above history of consequences since the time of Fatima apparitions Click here: Fr Dwight Longenecker)

CATHOLIC COMMENTARY

The unfortunate reality is that the modern campaign of militant secular indoctrination (rejecting the supernatural) with so many modernized Christians ignoring the reality of grace, it is no wonder that evil is thriving in our day.

This is not the only time Christians have had to fight back.  First century Christians had their own set of problems. This is our time now. We have as many idols today as the first Christians if not more.  The idols of wealth, sexual pleasure outside marriage, fame and fortune.

Whether we like it or not this is our time to be defenders of the faith, witnesses to the faith, instruments of God in the world as we find it.  We pray in the Our Father, thy kingdom come, and God says back to us okay but you have to help!

I ask our Church leaders to stop trying to fit in, stop accommodating evil, and speak truth to power.  Our faith, the faith given by Jesus Christ is so rich, so abundant, so real.  Give it to us, untarnished, PLEASE!

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FATIMA APPARITIONS 100 YEAR ANNIVERSARY MAY 13, 2017

 

COMMENTARY ON FATIMA APPARITIONS

May 13 will mark 100 years since the Fatima apparitions.  It is an opportunity to reflect deeply again upon their message.  The Angel of Peace appeared three times to the shepherd children, Lucia, Jacinta and Francisco, beginning in the spring of 1916 in Fatima, Portugal.  These visitations prepared the way for the six apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima the following year.

The message of Fatima may be lost sometimes in the mysterious and the spectacular: But the main message is as relavant today as it was 100 years ago. The entreaties of Our Blessed Virgin Mary concern our day to day activities as we sojourn to our eternal home.  Yet, the main entreaties from Heaven concerned our day-to-day earthly activities and how these will forge our path to our eternal destiny.

The everlasting consequence of unrepented mortal sin is Hell; knowing this, we should live our lives according to the laws of God, not according to latest trends in secular society.  Remember our intended home by God is with him for all eternity. This world is temporary and transitional. The central message of Fatima was an urgent plea to stay on the narrow path to Heaven.

In each of the six apparitions, Mary instructed the children to pray the Rosary every day, especially for peace in the world and an end to war. During the apparition on July 13, Mary encouraged the children to make sacrifices for sinners. Mary requested that the children add a simple phrase after each mystery: “O my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fire of hell. Lead all souls to heaven, especially those who are most in need.” Mary showed the children a vision of hell. The children saw the suffering of those detained there

You have seen hell where the souls of poor sinners go. To save them, God wishes to establish in the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart. If what I say to you is done, many souls will be saved and there will be peace. 

The Virgin Mary also asked us to make reparation through the “First Five Saturdays” devotion.  Our Lady promised Sister Lucia, “to assist at the hour of death with the graces necessary for salvation” those who will practice this devotion of Confession, Eucharist, recitation of the Rosary, and meditation upon its mysteries.

Fatima calls us to conversion, and a daily turning away from sin.  Mary requested at all six appearances for us to pray the Rosary, every day.  She told the children that our prayers can help save souls, “Pray, pray very much, and make sacrifices for sinners; for many souls go to hell, because there are none to sacrifice themselves and to pray for them.”  Are we doing our part?

What occurred on Oct. 13, 1917, the final public apparition, validated the apparitions in the eyes of many. At the designated time, the Mary revealed herself as Our Lady of the Rosary. Afterward, as she began to ascend back to heaven, St. Joseph appeared with the Christ Child and Mary. Then Jesus appeared with Our Lady of Sorrows and lastly Our Lady of Mount Carmel. And then the great solar miracle happened,

Nearly 70,000 people witnessed this miracle, when it seemed the sun was plunging toward the earth, only to return to the sky. Not everyone reported the same thing; some present claimed they saw the sun dance around the heavens; others said the sun zoomed toward Earth  For the onlookers, this confirmed what the Fatima children claimed. The whole event took about 10 minutes.

Now, on this 100th anniversary of Fatima, we are reminded again to contemplate its message and embrace its devotions.  As faithful disciples, we are called to be holy, and to be intercessors for each other.  Fatima was a wake-up call.  In the midst of a passing world, we need to get right with eternal things: penance, Confession, the Eucharist, prayer, especially the Rosary.  Our Lady of Fatima renews this call again, to stay on the narrow path to Heaven.

THE FATIMA CHILDREN LUCIA, JACINTA AND FRANCISCO

Pope Francis will use his upcoming visit to the Portuguese shrine at Fatima to canonize two Portuguese shepherd children who say they saw visions of the Virgin Mary 100 years ago. Francis signed off on the miracle needed to make siblings Francisco and Jacinta Marto saints

The Marto siblings say the Virgin Mary appeared to them and their cousin six times above an olive tree in 1917 and told them three secrets. The brother and sister died of pneumonia two years later, at the ages of 9 and 11.

St. John Paul II beatified them in Fatima on May 13, 2000, the same day the Vatican revealed the third and final secret purportedly told to them. The Vatican said in 2000 that the third secret foretold the 1981 assassination attempt on John Paul.

NOTE: Lucia became a Carmelite nun and lived 97 years.  She died February 13, 2005. The cause for her beatification was opened by Pope Benedict XVI in 2008.  The cause for beatification is now before Pope Francis.

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CATHOLIC COMMENTARY ON GIRL SCOUTS OF AMERICA

GOOD SHEPHERD STEPS UP TO PROTECT HIS FLOCK!!!!

ARCHDIOCESE OF KANSAS CITY ENDING TIES WITH GIRL SCOUTS

Archbishop Joseph Naumann has asked his pastors to transition away from the Girl Scouts of America toward chartering American Heritage Girls troops. In a statement May 2, Archbishop Naumann wrote in part:

The decision to end our relationship with Girl Scouting was not an easy one. Over a period of many years, our Archdiocesan Youth Ministry staff spent hundreds of hours researching concerns regarding the policies of both the International and the National Girl Scouting organizations. In addition, they have spent hundreds of hours in dialogue with Scouts, parents, pastors, and national Girl Scouting representatives regarding our concerns with disturbing content in materials and resources developed and promulgated by the national organization.

Our greatest responsibility as a church is to the children and young people in our care. We have a limited time and number of opportunities to impact the formation of our young people. It is essential that all youth programs at our parishes affirm virtues and values consistent with our Catholic faith.To follow Jesus and his Gospel will often require us to be counter-cultural. With the promotion by Girl Scouts USA (GSUSA) of programs and materials reflective of many of the troubling trends in our secular culture, they are no longer a compatible partner in helping us form young women with the virtues and values of the Gospel.

The national organization, for example, contributes more than a million dollars each year to the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGS), an organization tied to International Planned Parenthood and its advocacy for legislation that includes both contraception and abortion as preventive health care for women.

Margaret Sanger, Betty Friedan and Gloria Steinem are frequently held up in materials as role models for young Scouts. These as well as many other “role models” in the GSUSA’s new manuals and web content not only do not reflect our Catholic worldview but stand in stark opposition to what we believe.

American Heritage Girls, a program based on Christian values, we believe is a much better fit for our parishes. I encourage you to read more about the American Heritage Girl program by going to its website, www.americanheritagegirls.org.

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SPIRITUAL WORK OF MERCY COUNSEL THE DOUBTFUL

We find this work of mercy throughout the New Testament, particularly in Saint Paul’s epistles. Generally speaking, each of Saint Paul’s letters aim at “counseling the doubtful,” for he gives sound wisdom and advice to Christians on the road to Salvation.  See St. Paul Letter to the Romans copied below.

Are you unaware that we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were indeed buried with him through baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might live in newness of life” (Romans 6:3-4)

For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.” (Romans 8:2-6)

The Church has never had a problem with doubt, provided it is rightly ordered doubt. The gospel, after all, was forged in a crucible of doubt. John the Baptist doubted both Jesus and himself, asking, “Are you he who is to come, or shall we look for another?” (Mt 11:3). And it will be noted that Jesus did not, in the slightest, rebuke the honest doubts that had formed to cloud John’s thoughts as he sat in prison awaiting execution

“Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. And blessed is he who takes no offense at me.” (Mt 11:4-6) Jesus did not dismiss John the Baptist as a weakling who lacked true faith but to praise him to the crowds:

Jesus began to speak to the crowds concerning John: This is he of whom it is written, ‘Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, who shall prepare thy way before thee.’ Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has risen no one greater than John the Baptist.” (Mt 11:7-11)

The overwhelming majority of us experience doubt from time to time. It may be doubt about God: His existence or goodness. It may be doubt about Jesus Christ. It may be doubt about the Church, or the Bible, or some aspect of Church teaching.  Sometimes doubts can arise from real and reasonable questions. If the Church is guided by the Spirit, why did bishops let the priest scandal happen???

It is emphatically ours to question, long and hard, until we’ve gotten some sort of answer and come to some sort of resolution. “It is,” says Proverbs 25:2, “the glory of God to conceal a matter. It is the glory of kings to search a matter out.” We are to worship God with our minds as well as our hearts.

Doubting may be perverted by excusing ourselves too lightly for not following Jesus, when we prefer the “darkness” to the “light” The problem is not lack of information but we might not like what Jesus and His Church are saying to us; it is a refusal to embrace what is very often obvious. When such a perverted will persists in doubt, it can becomes acute; it can destroy a soul completely.

Spiritual Directors are a great service to the soul, clearing the constant fog that clouds our judgments. God often uses spiritual directors to speak to us and is why they are so important in life’s major decisions. Sadly, as lay people, we often cannot find a priest due to lack of training in such a skill as spiritual direction and the shortage of priests.. Persevere in your prayers to receive the direction and enlightenment you need.

If you are counseling others, be cautious, that is a very tender soul. Don’t try to be a hero if you genuinely can’t help. The Church has a lot of resources to draw on, especially the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Odds are very good that whatever doubt a person is struggling with has already been chewed over in minute detail by somebody else somewhere in the Church. Learn how to find information starting with the Catechism.

We need to make choices daily and every moment. Choices we make either make us or destroy us. We are not always able to make good choices by ourselves. We need wise guides who are spiritually mature, emotionally stronger and intellectually wiser. They could be our parents, teachers, priests and religious and elders who have gone through life before us.

Pray daily for the direction you need.  Don’t forget about the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth, Comforter, Counselor, and Advocate!!!

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DIVINE MERCY SUNDAY

CELEBRATE THE FEAST OF DIVINE MERCY APRIL 23

THE FIRST SUNDAY AFTER EASTER

BY DOING THE FOLLOWING:

Worthily receive Holy Communion on the day of the Feast. (One must be in the state of grace, that is, without mortal sin, at the time of reception of Holy Communion.)

Sincerely repent of all sins and go to Confession. (Confession can be up to 20 days before Mercy Sunday.) Ask the Lord on Mercy Sunday for His promise of complete forgiveness of sins and punishment.

Venerate the Image of Divine Mercy. (To venerate a sacred image or statue simply means to perform some act or make some gesture of deep religious respect toward it because of the person whom it represents-in this case, our Most Merciful Savior.)

Be merciful to others through actions, words and prayers, and complete at least one deed of mercy for someone today.

In the year 2000, after many years of study by the Catholic Church, Pope John Paul II, officially established this Feast of Divine Mercy and named it Divine Mercy Sunday (First Sunday after Easter). He died on the very vigil day of this feast and was beatified on May 1, 2011, on that same feast!  John Paul II was canonized a Saint on April 27, 2014 on the same feast day, Divine Mercy Sunday!

THE GREAT PROMISE OF THIS DAY:  THE SOUL THAT WILL GO TO CONFESSION AND RECEIVE HOLY COMMUNION SHALL OBTAIN COMPLETE FORGIVENESS OF SINS AND PUNISHMENT ON THIS VERY SPECIAL FEAST.

Please note: sacrament of confession does not have to be on Divine Mercy Sunday but to receive benefits soul must be in state of grace. This is done by going to confession near the time of Mercy Sunday.

The revelations given to St. Faustina are private revelations.  As with most approved private revelations, much is simply the repetition in a new way of already existing truths of the Catholic Faith. Private revelations often refer to things in Public Revelation at the time of Jesus which must be believed but private revelations of themselves need not be believed and depend entirely on the credibility of the witness, Sister Faustina.

In the 1930’s Our Lord Jesus requested through Saint Faustina Kowalska that a Feast of Mercy be established and solemnly celebrated in His Church on the First Sunday after Easter every year. The Lord said that this feast would be the “last hope of salvation.” Later on in His visions to Sr. Faustina, Jesus revealed the Divine Image and asked to have it painted and venerated as the icon of His Divine Mercy. This image seen in pictures and holy cards has become a vessel to remind us of God’s greatest attribute, His Mercy.

In speaking of the feast of Divine Mercy, Jesus said to Sr. Faustina: “On that day the very depths of My tender mercy are open. I pour out a whole ocean of graces upon those souls who approach the fount of My mercy, the last hope of salvation, before I come again as the Just Judge.   Let no soul fear to draw near to Me, even though its sins be as scarlet. My mercy is so great that no mind, be it of man or of angel, will be able to fathom it throughout all eternity.”

In Saint Faustina’s diary, she recorded that Jesus also indicated that He Himself is there in the confessional. Jesus told her, “When you approach the confessional, know this, that I Myself am waiting there for you. I am only hidden by the priest, but I Myself act in your soul. Here the misery of the soul meets the God of mercy…Tell souls If their trust is great, there is no limit to My generosity.” (1602)

Jesus knew that people would really need to hear these words of re-assurance today, so He went on to say “Come with faith to the feet of My representative…and make your confession before Me. Never analyze what sort of a priest that I am making use of; open your soul in confession as you would to Me, and I will fill it with My light.” (1725)

Many feel that their sins are unforgivable but, Jesus said, “Were a soul like a decaying corpse, so that from a human standpoint, there would be no hope of restoration and everything would already be lost, it is not so with God. The miracle of Divine Mercy restores that soul in full. “Tell aching mankind to snuggle close to My merciful Heart, and I will fill it with peace.”  (1074) “There is no misery that could be a match for My mercy.” (1273)

NOTE (Numbers in parentheses above refer to Diary of St. Faustina, a book readily available and highly recommended)

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CORPORAL WORK OF MERCY CLOTHE THE NAKED

INTRODUCTION

The corporal works of mercy consist especially in feeding the hungry sheltering the homeless, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and imprisoned and burying the dead.  The spiritual and corporal works of mercy are charitable actions by which we come to the aid of our neighbor in his spiritual and bodily needs..

Everyone is obliged to perform works of mercy, according to his own ability and the need of his neighbor. It is important to remember that ordinary deeds done every day to relieve the corporal and/or spiritual needs of others are true works of mercy, if done in the name of Christ. Remember it is also Christ we are ministering to. “Whatever you do to one of these…you do to me!” (Matthew 25:40)

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH

  1. The works of mercy are charitable actions by which we come to the aid of our neighbor in his spiritual and bodily necessities. Instructing, advising, consoling, comforting are spiritual works of mercy, as are forgiving and bearing wrongs patiently. The corporal works of mercy consist especially in feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and imprisoned, and burying the dead. Among all these, giving alms to the poor is one of the chief witnesses to fraternal charity: it is also a work of justice pleasing to God.

CATHOLIC COMMENTARY

CORPORAL WORK OF MERCY CLOTHE THE NAKED

We can clean out closets and donate the extras. But isn’t there something more?  Can we simplify our lives and our wardrobes?  How many pairs of shoes do I own?  Can’t I donate more than my excess?  Can I winnow down my wardrobe to basics and donate more just than out-of-date and outgrown clothing?

It’s not just about giving unwanted things away but about owning less and offering support to those who don’t have enough. In times past, there may have been many people who only possessed the clothes on their backs, and those might have been so threadbare and worn out that the person might have been virtually naked.

Although times have changed, and there are few people (in the western world at least) who are so desperately impoverished, this Corporal Work of Mercy is still important and applicable today:  how many people today are impoverished, in need of better clothing, in need of appropriately warm clothing for the winter, etc.?

Could we be more mindful of the material needs of our brothers and sisters?  Remember:  it is not charity to give our trashy clothing, or dirty clothing, to the poor.  Let’s give them clothing that is clean, in good condition, and befits their dignity as children of God. Jesus challenges us to be much more active when he said to the sheep on his right, “[I was] naked, and you covered me” (Matthew 25:36).  God wants us to be active in our works of mercy and to touch the lives of individual people.

One of the most famous modern-day examples who “clothed” the naked was Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta. Each morning she would go out into the streets to find men and women too sick to care for themselves. After carrying them back to the hospice, Mother Teresa would bathe, clothe and feed them. She believed everyone deserves to be treated with great dignity and actively helped the poor in her community for the rest of her life.

Mother Teresa would often say,“Stay where you are. Find your own Calcutta. Find the sick, the suffering and the lonely right there where you are — in your own homes and in your own families, in your workplaces and in your schools. … You can find Calcutta all over the world, if you have the eyes to see. Everywhere, wherever you go, you find people who are unwanted, unloved, uncared for, just rejected by society — completely forgotten, completely left alone.”

When we search out the “naked” of our local community, we shouldn’t only be looking for those without clothes. We should also look for those who are rejected, alone, and forgotten. They too are “naked,” without friends or family, stripped of all meaningful human relationships.

They often feel invisible and think that no one cares about them. It is our duty as Christians to comfort, console and “clothe” them. We may not have to give them actual clothes, but we certainly can give them our love, time and presence.

Jesus said to St. Faustina: “… I demand from you deeds of mercy, which are to arise out of love for Me. You are to show mercy to your neighbors always and everywhere. You must not shrink from this or try to excuse or absolve yourself from it” (Diary of St. Faustina, 742

 

HE HAS RISEN!

 

HE HAS RISEN!!!

We have completed Lent, a time of reflection, taking stock of our spiritual condition, and pruning the tree a bit so to speak.  Easter is kind of the be all and end all of our Christian faith.  On Easter it is confirmed that Jesus is the Son of God and Savior of the world. The empty tomb is convincing evidence but Jesus’ many appearances after His Resurrection seals the deal!

On the cross he defeated sin by taking all sin upon Himself and offering them all up in His Human and Divine Nature in atonement and reparation for our personal sins.  The Gates of Paradise closed in Eden are now opened.

Had I been the only sinner on earth, Jesus would have still submitted to the will of the Father.  Jesus, most assuredly died for me and you that we might be released from the slavery of sin.  Oh, death, where is thy sting!

 He is risen…He is alive…He goes before us….do not be afraid…go quickly and tell all the good news…Jesus Christ is risen…He died that our sins may be forgiven…now He calls us to follow him to heaven…the risen Lord is not gone…He remains with us in the sacraments…in our faith…in our prayers…for those who follow Jesus…the same fate awaits us…a glorious resurrection of our bodies on the last day…eyes have not seen…ears have not heard what await those who love Jesus…

All through His public ministry, Jesus deals with the effects of death and a death-obsessed culture: violence, hatred, egotism, exclusion, false prophets, religious leaders who do not nourish their faith communities. The final enemy Jesus must face down is death through His own death, a death on the cross.

Jesus told his followers and us through the Scripture many, many, times “Do not Be Afraid.”  Jesus goes into the kingdom of death and brings to that dark place the light of God.  Jesus brings the power of God, and with this power he breaks the hold that death has over us. The Resurrection of Jesus is the declaration of victory over this terrible power. The power of death has been overthrown. HALLELUJAH!   

According to Bishop Robert Barron, “Jesus descended to the dead where He addressed them, “I command you: Awake, sleeper, I have not made you to be held a prisoner in the underworld. Arise from the dead; I am the life of the dead. (to Adam and Eve) Arise, O man, work of my hands, arise, you who were fashioned in my image. Rise, let us go hence; for you in me and I in you, together we are one undivided person.

For you, I your God became your son; for you, I the Master took on your form; that of slave; for you…Look at the spittle on my face, which I received because of you, in order to restore you to that first divine inbreathing at creation. See the blows on my cheeks, which I accepted in order to refashion your distorted form to my own image…Arise, let us go hence. The enemy brought you out of the land of paradise; I will reinstate you, no longer in paradise, but on the throne of heaven.


THE LORD IS RISEN, HALLELUJAH!