SPIRITUAL WORK OF MERCY COMFORT THE SORROWFUL

THE GOOD SAMARITAN

“Go and do likewise”

There are a tremendous number of people who suffer from sorrow and grief in our world today, so there is a tremendous need for Christians to “Comfort the Sorrowful.”.

“Jesus wept”,(John 11: 35). When Jesus heard the news of the passing of his friend Lazarus, He was overcome with sorrow and wept. It was a practical way of showing his sympathy and empathy. Jesus was human in every way but for sin.  He suffered and wept and continues to suffer and weep with us today in His human nature.  Now, that He has ascended into Heaven, He has commissioned us to comfort the sorrowful by being His Face to those in need here on earth.

Jesus conducted a ministry of presence with those who were grieving a death. He went to be with mourners. When the widow of Nain lost her only son, he went to her and “he was moved with pity for her” (Lk 7:13). When the daughter of Jairus died, Jesus went to the home of her parents who were weeping and mourning (Lk 8:51). When Martha and Mary lost their brother, Lazarus, Jesus went to Bethany to be with them, and he wept with them (Jn 11:35).

God encourages us in our role as caregiver. St. Paul says in 2 Corinthians 1:3-5, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion who encourages us in our every affliction, so that we may be able to encourage those who are in any affliction with the encouragement with which we ourselves are encouraged by God.  For as Christ’s sufferings overflow to us, so through Christ does our encouragement also overflow.”

Who are some of our neighbors who long to be comforted?

  • People who are widowed and others who grieve at the loss of their loved ones.
  • Orphaned children or parents who lost their child through sickness or accident.
  • Victims of physical, emotional or other abuse.
  • Others who suffer guilt and remorse due to sin and negligence.
  • And others who have suffered financial or other loss of cherished things in life.
  • Sorrow comes as the result of many other things including, betrayal by a friend, the end of a valued relationship, feeling alone, or the losses associated with aging — just to name a few.

Empathy is preferred over sympathy. Empathy is putting into action our feelings of sympathy. There is no particular way of empathizing or comforting people who are in need.  Sometimes it is our presence alone.  One thing we must not say is we know how they feel.  We can never know how another person feels. Every situation is unique to that person.

People who are suffering often have a lot more wisdom about their situations than we or they realize. Often our simply listening well is what’s needed for them to discover that wisdom. If we do not know what to say, it is better to say nothing at all. Speak with gestures. Smile. Offer a hug. Or give simple, sincere encouragement: “I love you.” “I’m praying for you.”

A comforter is totally present mentally and focused completely on the other. It is best not to interrupt or change the subject. Ask follow-up questions. Take time.  Be patient. Treat them with reverence. We are the face, the voice and the love of God when we comfort the sorrowful.

Suffering and sorrow are tough enough, but they can seem almost interminable and overwhelming when we have to do them alone. Having someone there to bear the load can be a blessing. At the same time, sometimes it can be an added stress if we stay too long or push too hard; Space and time are also essential for healing.

 

Pray a lot—We can’t fix everything.  Sometimes it may feel we can’t fix very much at all. There are many people and situations that we must simply hand over to God.

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CATHOLIC DIOCESE OF JEFFERSON CITY MISSOURI OPENS UP A CAN OF WORMS!

Religious liberty, as we already know, is under attack daily.  Our Catholic faith in particular is under severe attack by progressives that push the LGBT agenda through the courts and secular legislation.

Recently, in the city of St. Louis, Missouri, an ordinance was passed against discrimination in housing and employment of anyone who had had an abortion or supported abortion.  Under this ordinance, Our Lady’s Inn a sanctuary for homeless and pregnant women would have to take in women who intended abortion and thus be complicit in this grave matter of offering support for abortion.   Our Lady’s Inn, a Catholic charity of 35 years, could not refuse to hire anyone for their staff who supported abortion.  This could also mean a teacher in Catholic School who had had an abortion and talked about it could file suit if she was dismissed.

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of St. Louis and other Catholic organizations filed suit Monday against the city, seeking to overturn this new ordinance that adds people’s “reproductive health decisions” to the list of things for which it’s illegal to discriminate in employment and housing.

Now we see the breaking story in the diocese of Jefferson City MO in anticipation of enrolling transgender students has put together a handbook for administrators and teachers on how to approach enrolling and accepting transgender students into their Catholic schools. We ask the Diocese of Jefferson City Missouri to step up and reject their new proposed hand book for handling transgender children and children of same sex couples in their schools.

In this handbook is a glossary of terms to better equip teachers in understanding those in the world that identify as gay,  transgender, same sex couples that may wish to enroll their children.  As the Catholic Diocese of Jefferson City works to accommodate the dysfunctional consequences of a secular world embedded in moral relativism, my question is who gets short changed here?  I am afraid it is parents and children who are serious about practicing their faith that will be badly served with propaganda that will confuse and distort orthodox Catholic Teaching of the Magisterium of the Catholic Church..

Click here: Breaking News! Jefferson City Diocese Paving Way for Transgender Students | Courageous Priest

We, Catholics, know Jesus was counter cultural and so are we followers of Jesus are as well.  Catholic Church teaching condemns abortion, contraception, divorce and remarriage, same sex marriage and gender identity theory. The Bishops of the Church must give bold leadership in rejecting themes of this world that are destructive to individuals as well as families, the core reflection of the Most Holy Trinity, love in relationship!

SCRIPTURE

“…do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is good and acceptable…. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good.” Romans 12:2, 9

“Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world — the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life — is not of the Father but is of the world.” 1 John 2:15-17

“Friendship with the world is enmity to God.” James 4:4

“Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; …. Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight!” Isaiah 5:20-2

God created man in His own image,

 in the image of God He created him;

male and female He created them (Gen. 1:27)

CATHOLIC CHURCH TEACHING

POPE EMIRITUS BENEDICT XVI 2012

In an address to the Roman Curia on Thursday, December 21, 2012, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI exposed the social danger of gender theory. They deny their nature and decide that it is not something previously given to them, but that they make it for themselves. According to the biblical creation account, being created by God as male and female is ordained by God and pertains to the essence of the human creature.

POLISH BISHOPS EXPOSE DANGERS OF GENDER MOVEMENT 2014

The Gender Identity Movement insists upon recognition in the civil law of the State a new found, manufactured right to choose one’s gender. The proponents insist upon civil laws which accommodate, fund, and enforce this new right. According to this ideology, humans can freely determine whether they want to be men or women and freely choose their sexual orientation. Attempts to form different types of relations seriously weaken marriage as a community created by a man and a woman and the family built on marriage.

JOY OF LOVE (Amoris laetitia) 2016 POPE FRANCIS ENCYCLICAL

In Pope Francis’ encyclical “Joy of Love” he says this about transgender theory,  “Yet another challenge is posed by the var­ious forms of an ideology of gender that “de­nies the difference and reciprocity in nature of a man and a woman and envisages a society without sexual differences, thereby eliminating the anthropological basis of the family. This ideology leads to educational programs and legislative enactments that promote a personal identity and emotional intimacy radically separat­ed from the biological difference between male and female.”

CATHOLIC COMMENTARY

Public school K-12 textbooks are already normalizing gender theory—in the same ways that Pope Francis has decried as an example of the educational policies of Hitler—but in a federalized educational system that has reached into the Common Core classrooms of even Catholic schools, parents will have little say in the matter.

Proponents of gender identity theory say they are the vanguard of a new civil rights movement. If critics are not vigilant in their opposition, the gender revolutionaries will march through the culture leaving many ruined lives in their wake.

This new handbook in Jefferson City Catholic schools also neglects the important Catholic principle of “scandal.” See Catechism, 2284-2287. “Scandal is an attitude or behavior which leads another to do evil.” “Scandal is a grave offence if by deed OR OMISSION another is deliberately led into a grave offense.” “

They are guilty of scandal who establish laws or social structures leading to the decline of morals and the corruption of religious practice.” “Anyone who uses the power at his disposal in such a way that it leads others to do wrong becomes guilty of scandal and responsible for the evil that he has directly or indirectly encouraged.”

It is time for the Catholic Diocese of Jefferson City Missouri to step up and stop cooperating with evil and speak Truth to power!  Our Catholic children already poorly catechized are at great risk of following man made laws and propaganda than following God’s Law!   The commandments are not rules or limitations on our freedom but God’s  guidelines for a happy life in this world and eternal life in the next!

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NOTE:  The Catholic Church does not condemn homosexuals.  It condemns homosexual acts the same way it condemns heterosexual acts outside of marriage. The Church seeks to enable every person to live out the universal call to holiness. Persons with a homosexual inclination ought to receive every aid and encouragement to embrace this “universal call to holiness,” personally and fully.

Catechism of the Catholic Church 2357- 2359 … “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.”They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved….. Every sign of unjust discrimination (of homosexuals) should be avoided…. Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection.

 

CORPORAL WORK OF MERCY SHELTER THE HOMELESS

We think of shelter as a basic requirement of life, but many people simply don’t have a roof over their heads or a safe place to live.  For many of us, the line between our homes and being homeless is a thin one that can disappear with the death of a spouse, the loss of a job or an illness.

Do we make a conscious effort to see each homeless person as a human being worthy of dignity and  acknowledgement.  In big cities we train ourselves to look away from those who make us uncomfortable.  But eye contact and a “good morning” to someone who is homeless can make both of us feel a little more human.

How do we feel about immigrants who come to our shores for safety?  Down through history, there have always been a certain number of people who were homeless and harborless.  We as Christians need to treat the immigrants with respect and according to their human dignity, as we would want to be treated ourselves.

What about homeless shelters in our areas?  Are there ways I can assist?  What support, supplies or donations can we offer them?  For the many children in homeless shelters, do I have toys I can donate?  Most children in shelters have few possessions of their own and a book or game could be a great gift.

“The Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head” (Mt 8:20).  Jesus Christ, the incarnate Son of God, was born in a borrowed manger, had no fixed address once he began his public ministry, and was buried in another man’s grave.  It is quite an irony: He, who made the universe, became a homeless person.

The plight of millions of refugees driven from their homes by war may seem far away from our nation, but homelessness is also right on our doorstep. There is a danger that, like the rich man in the parable, we no longer see the Lazarus we practically have to step over.

We encounter every day those, like the Son of Man, who have nowhere to lay their head.  Some of them suffer from serious mental illness and are beyond the help of any but those with professional training.  But a kind word, and some spare change, can brighten their day. When in doubt, it is better to err on the side of charity.

CATHOLIC COMMENTARY

This corporal work of mercy forces us to open our eyes to the misery of those who, for a variety of reasons, have no place they can call home.  We often show more empathy for stray dogs or cats than human beings.

This work of mercy also invites to ask ourselves how hospitable we are.  The Letter to the Hebrews urges us, “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares” (Heb 13:2).  Jesus comes to us in disguises.  Remember his last judgment discourse in Matthew 23, “Whatever you do to one of these least of my brethren, you do to me.”

Jesus, Son of God, is the fullest revelation of God.  But it is not only the New Testament that talks about hospitable and charitable behavior to our neighbor.  Jesus’ message of love everyone, treat everyone as you wish to be treated is certainly foretold in the Old Testament.

Numerous passages in the Old Testament show how visitors are to be treated: “You shall not oppress or afflict a resident alien, for you were once aliens residing in the land of Egypt Exodus “When an alien resides with you in your land, you shall love the alien as yourself; for you too were once aliens in the land of EgyptLeviticus 19:33-34.  And Proverbs: “Whoever gives to the poor will not want, but he who hides his eyes will get many a curse.” Proverbs 28:27

And “home” is not just a house.  How about the lonely, the alienated, the disaffected, the outsider? Can’t this corporal work of mercy extend to more than those with a house to call their own!

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BASIC CATHOLIC DEFINITIONS THAT EVERY CATHOLIC SHOULD KNOW

We see below how these terms relate to the Creed we profess as Catholics

I believe in God the Father Almighty….

Holy Trinity: The mystery of one God in Three Persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Angel: A spiritual, personal and immortal creature, with intelligence and free will, who glorifies God without ceasing and who serves God as a messenger of his saving plan.

In Jesus Christ our Lord conceived by the Holy Spirit born of the Virgin Mary….

Incarnation: When the Son of God assumed human nature and became man.

Immaculate Conception: The conception of the Virgin Mary, who through the anticipated merits won by Jesus Christ through his death and resurrection, was preserved  from original sin.

Transubstantiation: When, in the consecration of the bread and wine, there occurs the change of the entire substance of the bread into the Body of Christ, and the entire substance of the wine into the Blood of Christ.

I believe in the Holy Catholic Church…

Doctrine: A revealed teaching of Christ that is irreversible.

Dogma. Doctrine taught by the Church to be believed by all the faithful as part of divine revelation. All dogmas, therefore, are formally revealed truths and promulgated as such by the Church. Moreover, their acceptance by the faithful must be proposed as necessary for salvation.

Real Presence. Council of Trent in 1551 declared that “in the sacrament of the most holy Holy Eucharist is contained truly, really, and substantially the body and blood, together with the soul and divinity, of our Lord Jesus Christ, and consequently the whole Christ” Hence Christ is present truly or actually and not only symbolically.

Magisterium. The Church’s teaching authority, vested in the bishops, as successors of the Apostles, under the Roman Pontiff, as successor of St. Peter.

Encyclical. A papal document treating of matters related to the general welfare of the Church, sent by the Pope to the bishops. Although of themselves not infallible, encyclicals may (and generally do) contain pronouncements on faith and morals that are de facto infallible because they express the ordinary teaching of the Church

Infallibility. Freedom from error in teaching the universal Church in matters of faith or morals.  The source of the infallibility is the supernatural assistance of the Holy Spirit, who protects the supreme teacher of the Church from error. The condition of the infallibility is that the Pope speaks ex cathedra, that is:  he have the intention of declaring something unchangeably true; and he speak as shepherd and teacher of all the faithful with the full weight of his apostolic authority.

The communion of saints…

Mystical Body Of Christ.  The Term “Body,” When Referring To The Church, Derives Its meaning from the analogy used by St. Paul, where he speaks of Christians: “You are the Body of Christ, (I Corinthians 12:27), The Church is called Mystical because she is a mystery, which God revealed to be true and  must be accepted on faith and without full comprehension of the mind.

I believe in the forgiveness of sins…

Sanctifying grace: Grace that heals our wounded human nature and gives us a share in the divine life of the Trinity. A habitual and supernatural gift that perfects and makes us holy.

Actual grace: Temporary supernatural intervention by God to enlighten the mind or strengthen the will to perform supernatural actions that lead to heaven.

Sin: Any intentional thought, word, deed or omission that violates God’s law.

Original sin: The sin by which the first humans disobeyed God, resulting in the loss of original holiness. Also,the fallen state of human nature that affects every person.

Concupiscence: An inclination to sin, due to original sin, which remains even after baptism.

Mortal sin: Grave infraction of the law of God that destroys divine life (sanctifying grace) in the soul of the sinner. For sin to be mortal, it must involve grave matter, full knowledge of the evil of the act, and deliberate consent of the will.

Venial sin: Sin that diminishes and wounds but does not destroy the divine life (sanctifying grace) in the soul of the sinner.

I believe in the resurrection of the body and life everlating

Heaven: Complete and eternal happiness with God and all the blessed.

Purgatory: Temporary state after death whereby souls who die in a state of sanctifying grace are purified from sin and its effects and are made ready for eternal life with God.

Hell: State of definitive self-exclusion from communion with God and the blessed; unending misery reserved for those who freely choose not to repent of mortal sin before death.

NOTE: Thanks to Our Sunday Visitor and Fr. John Hardon for these brief definitions

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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!   

 

 

CATHOLIC VIEW ON THE DEATH PENALTY

Today’s blog is on Capital Punishment.  Some will certainly ask with so much going on Holy Week why the death penalty.  Well a lot has been going on in my readings and exposure to news that said I need to address this topic.

First, not long ago, I read a letter to the editor in local news paper from a frustrated Catholic that was complaining about the attention those on death row were getting while we should be addressing abortion and euthanasia.  Well, certainly our Church addresses those issues emphatically and I have addressed them in past blogs.

This is not the first time I have encountered this kind of opinion.  A decade or so ago, my wife and I gave talks in Catholic parishes regarding the death penalty entitled “Forgive us Our Trespasses” Often we would meet with resistance by Pro Life people who would ask what about abortion…

My reply would be similar to the late Cardinal of Chicago, Cardinal Bernardin, “To be Pro-Life is to respect all life.  Life is a “seamless garment” that must be defended against many assaults be they: abortion, nuclear weapons, the death penalty, euthanasia, poverty, or racism.”

HEADLINES

GOVERNOR ASA HUTCHINSON OF ARKANSAS ORDERED EIGHT EXECUTIONS IN 10 DAYS

Another event that led me to today’s blog is the announcement by Governor Asa Hutchison of Arkansas that they will be executing 8 inmates in 10 days this month.  Governor Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas has ordered eight executions in 10 days, a conveyor belt of killing dispensed at a clip not seen in the US for at least half a century. The executions are set to take place by lethal injection at a rate of two a day over four separate days beginning April 17.

Finally and most importantly, on GOOD FRIDAY this Holy Week, we remember Our Savior executed for our sins. From his execution site on Calvary, Jesus said, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.”  Jesus offered us forgiveness not vengeance as a means of mending the fabric of society and making us whole again.

The death penalty cannot build community, cannot restore what was lost, or make us “whole” again. In fact the death penalty only tears a greater rift in the fabric of society, and only offers up more violence as a solution to an already wounded and grieving world.

PERSONAL EXPERIENCE IN PRISON MINISTRY

Back in the 90’s, when my wife and I became involved in prison ministry it brought us to death row and face to face with death row inmates, among the lowest of the dead, the least of our brethren.  We were surprised that they were not “horned monsters” but human beings who regretfully had done a terrible deed but in most other ways just like us. We prayed with them, laughed with them, and wept with them and kept vigil with their families at their executions.

We have spent time with Mothers of murdered children and Mothers of death row inmates. We have stood outside the razor wire of the killing fields of Potosi in candlelight vigil, huddled in below freezing temperature, surrounded by parents, children, nephews and nieces, brothers and sisters of the condemned prisoner, waiting in prayerful vigil, under the dark of the moon, until a guard comes over the hill and tells us, “you can go home now, the process is over,” as hot candle wax drips on our stone cold hands.

Is this what we mean by Justice, equal pain and suffering and equal violence? Must innocent family members of the condemned suffer the loss of their loved ones.  They love their child no less than the victim’s parents.

That’s what the death penalty does, you know.  That’s what an “eye for an eye” does.  It makes the whole world blind.  We all suffer, we are all diminished by a society that deliberately kills in cold blood and shows no respect for the sacredness of all human life even a human life that once did a terrible thing.

Not all family members of victims of violence demand the “closure” of an execution.  But even when family members argue with the state and prosecutors not to go for the death penalty they are ignored too.

Just a few words about the argument of closure…Some will say we still need the death penalty for closure for family members of the victim.  Of course family members of murder victims deserve closure if you mean healing and the assistance to move on with their lives.    As family members of victims experience grief, anger, and depression, it is essential that we reach out as individuals and faith communities to offer consolation and support.

When a death sentence is in the mix, it only prolongs and intensifies the pain and suffering and halts the grieving process in its tracks.   The focus is on killing the killer not the loss of their loved one. And  less than 1% of homicides result in a death sentence.  So what about so called closure for those family members…

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH

2267 REVISED CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (September 8, 1997)

“…traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude recourse to the death penalty if this is the only possible way of effectively defending human lives against an unjust aggressor.

“…the case in which the execution of an offender is an absolute necessity are “very rare,” if not practically non-existent.”

Click here: Life Matters: A Catholic Response to the Death Penalty  United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

As Catholics, we believe and put our hope in a merciful and loving God. Almighty God spoke this bottom line in the Old Testament,I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. Choose life, then, that you and your descendants may live” Deuteronomy 30:19

Our faith and hope is in the mercy of God who says to us, “Blessed are the merciful for they shall be shown mercy (Mt 5:7) and “I desire mercy, not sacrifices” (Mt 9:13). As Christians we are called to oppose the culture of death by witnessing to something greater and more perfect: a gospel of life, hope and mercy.

The deepest message of our Faith is that we are all brothers and sisters, made in the image and likeness of God.  Conscious of our own brokenness and need for redemption. Our Lord calls us to imitate him more perfectly by witnessing to the inherent dignity of every human being, including those whose actions have been despicable.

Remember how God treated the first murderer, Cain, with mercy.  He put a mark on Cain lest anyone harm him. “If anyone kills Cain, Cain shall be avenged sevenfold.  The Lord put a mark on Cain, lest anyone should kill him on sight.” (Genesis 4:15)

But God does not leave the crime unpunished. He tells Cain that he will not be able to grow crops and that he will be a fugitive and wanderer on the earth. Although Cain is spared execution, justice requires that he live the rest of his earthly life alone and outcast, but with time to reflect on his crime, to perhaps feel remorse and at last seek forgiveness and reconciliation with God.

Our role then is to reconcile what seems irreconcilable, to love and respect the human dignity of the murder victim and the death row inmate and show compassion and support to the suffering and grieving families of both. The death penalty is not about who deserves to die but who deserves to kill. 

MERCY MITIGATES JUDGMENT!

SPECIAL NOTE

AMNESTY PETITION

Arkansas hasn’t had an execution in 12 years, so why the sudden rush? Simple: their lethal injection drugs are about to expire.  Arkansas has exactly eight doses left of a crucial drug used to perform lethal injections, and it’s set to expire at the end of April. So the governor scheduled eight executions packed into a ten day period — with two executions per day.

Rushing through executions on a conveyor belt simply because of an expiration date damages the dignity of all involved and gives a sickening image of Arkansas’ justice system. Rapid executions increase the risk of human error, and the drug they are rushing to use has already been shown to make prisoners die in agony.

Click below to go to Amnesty website to sign petition to halt the rush to execute!

Click here: Take Action Now – Amnesty International USA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CATHOLIC COMMENTARY ON REDEMPTIVE SUFFERING

Everyone suffers.  No need to go in search of a “cross” to bear with Jesus.  Most likely you already carry one especially designed for you.  Will you drag it behind in bitterness and stubbornness only making it more unbearable or will you pick it up and stumble forward in hope of a glorious future one day!

What are we going to do with this suffering, some suffering from chronic illness for decades, some entering into old age maladies, some suffering the premature loss of a loved one. I do know this much from experience, obsessing about it won’t make it go away but only make matters worse by adding stress that likely will diminish the health of my body and mind even more.

There must be some good to be gained because the God that permits suffering since the Fall wills only our good Our God is good and merciful, His mercy endures forever!

Jesus Christ accomplished our redemption once and for all by suffering torture and crucifixion for our sins, Jesus our Redeemer suffered in place of man and for man. Every man has his own share in the Redemption. Each man is also called to share in that suffering through which the Redemption was accomplished.

Redemptive suffering is offering oneself as a holocaust; to suffer the very fires of hell in order for others to obtain heaven. It takes on our sins, the sins of others, acting as a kind of sponge absorbing the evil all around them.  St. Paul writes that we are “heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if only we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him” (Rom 8:17).

This form of suffering is so powerful–because love is so powerful–that its arms can span the entire world and has the potential to affect countless souls. Redemptive suffering does not have to take on extreme forms as we might expect. But rather, any suffering, if offered with love, can be given redemptive value, even something as mundane as a toothache.

WHAT DOES THE BIBLE HAVE TO SAY ABOUT SUFFERING?

Isaiah 53:3-12

He was despised and forsaken of men…Surely our griefs He Himself bore, And our sorrows He carried; Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken…pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities… And by His scourging we are healed.

Luke 9:22

“The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed and be raised up on the third day.”

Letter of St. Paul to Collosians 1:24

Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking* in the afflictions of Christ on behalf of his body, which is the church,

NOTE (There is nothing lacking in Jesus’ atonement for sin; all that is lacking is our willful participation in the redemptive act)

I Peter 4:13

But rejoice to the extent that you share in the sufferings of Christ, so that when his glory is revealed you may also rejoice exultantly

Revelation 2:10

Do not be afraid of anything that you are going to suffer…. Remain faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.

WHAT DOES THE CATHOLIC CHURCH HAVE TO SAY ABOUT SUFFERING?

CCC 618 The cross is the unique sacrifice of Christ, the “one mediator between God and men”. But because in his incarnate divine person he has in some way united himself to every man, “the possibility of being made partners, in a way known to God, in the paschal mystery” is offered to all men. He calls his disciples to “take up [their] cross and follow [him]”, for “Christ also suffered for [us], leaving [us] an example so that [we] should follow in his steps.”In fact Jesus desires to associate with his redeeming sacrifice those who were to be its first beneficiaries

We live in a world that flees from suffering. Since the time of our youth, we have been raised to view suffering as an impediment to happiness. We are taught to believe that the less we suffer, the happier we will be. For many people, suffering is viewed as an evil without value, and thus any means should be taken to avoid even a common cold.

Yet, in the writings of the saints, we find an entirely different reality; that it is precisely suffering that strengthens us, humbles us, and forges us into saints. We all want to be saints, Right!  God made us to know him, serve him, and love him in this world and be happy forever with him in the next!

In fact, the saints teach us that suffering is of such great merit, that it is greater than external works such as preaching, writing, or even working miracles; “You will save more souls through prayer and suffering than will a missionary through his teachings and sermons alone.” (Jesus to Saint Faustina).

To illustrate this point, a demon once lamented to Saint John Vianney that hell had lost 80,000 souls due to his prayers and sacrifices alone. Saint John Vianney did not need to travel the world and preach. He was a simple parish priest of a remote village. And yet, he was able to save 80,000 souls through a solitary life of prayer and sacrifice.

As Our Lady told the world at Fatima; “Many souls go to hell because there is no one to sacrifice themselves and pray for them.”  This is what it means to share in a “common priesthood” of Christ.

WHAT SAINTS SAY ABOUT SUFFERING?

Saint Therese of Lisieux, Story of a Soul, p.27

“I understood that to become a saint one had to suffer much, seek out always the most perfect thing to do, and forget self. I understood, too, that there are many degrees of perfection and each soul was free to respond to the advances of the Our Lord, to do little or much for Him…My God I choose all!’ I do not want to be a saint by halves. I’m not afraid to suffer for You. I fear only one thing: to keep my own will; so take it, for I choose all that You will!”

Jesus to Saint Faustina

“For the sake of your love, I withhold the just chastisements, which mankind has deserved. A single act of pure love pleases Me more than a thousand imperfect prayers. One of your sighs of love atones for many offenses with which the godless overwhelm Me. The smallest act of virtue has unlimited value in My eyes because of your great love for Me.

St. John of the Cross

The road is narrow. He who wishes to travel it more easily must cast off all things and use the cross as his cane. In other words, he must be truly resolved to suffer willingly for the love of God in all things.

Padre Pio

“O what precious moments these are. It is a happiness that the Lord gives me to relish almost always in moments of affliction. At these moments [of affliction], more than ever…I desire nothing other than to love and to suffer. Yes my father, even in the midst of so much suffering I am happy because it seems as if my heart is beating with Jesus’ heart.”

I will conclude these brief reflections with a prayer of St. Faustina: … Jesus, do not leave me alone in suffering. You know, Lord, how weak I am….I am nothingness itself…I am an infant, Lord, so I cannot get along by myself….Do not lessen any of my sufferings, only give me strength to bear them. Do with me as You please, Lord, only give me the grace to be able to love You in every event and circumstance. Lord, do not lessen my cup of bitterness, only give me strength that I may be able to drink it all.”

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