Saints have prayed prayers,
Prayers hanging over Time,
Still being answered:
“God protect Your Church.”
“God spare Your People.”
“God forgive Sin.”
“God make holy.”
“God preserve and enlighten.”
Prayers that never end
Prayers forever answered.
by Joann Nelander
I counted stars today.
As prophets and dreamers,
Glimpsing God through the darkness,
My wonder soared.
I, too, beheld
The promise of eternity,
Stretched across the eons.
Mere points of light
In a midnight sky,
Announcing Truth veiled in mystery,
Of things hidden and unseen,
Of ages long past and yet to be.
Who with me
Knows that there is more,
Lanterns hung in the heavens
Make of me their lampstand,
That Eternal Light
Might shine more brightly,
Giving voice to creation.
No dumb marvel,
Rather angelic themes,
To sing high praises
In celestial chants,
For all who turn their gaze
And loosing count,
Copyright 2012 Joann Nelander
archaeological digs to unearth the secrets of America’s first settlers. https://t.co/ahVBzi2CsN
— Jenna Lee
H/T Artist – Sr. Grace Remington, OCSO
This painting is so consoling, I just have to share it again since Advent brings us closer and closer to the precious moment of our Savior’s birth. He comes to save Fallen Man, and with such a gentle hand.
*Notice the feet in this painting.
Crayon and pencil by Sr. Grace Remington, OCSO
Copyright 2005, Sisters of the Mississippi Abbey
Here’s Father Cory Sticha on the topic:
I’ve been thinking more and more about my concerns around giving special blessings to children at Mass. There are a number of people here who are continuing to express concern because of my stance on not blessing children in the communion line. To be clear, this is a position taken not out of spite, but out of a respect for the liturgy and for the documents of the Second Vatican Council. In paragraph 22, Sacrosanctum Concilium states, “Therefore no other person, even if he be a priest, may add, remove, or change anything in the liturgy on his own authority.” A priest does not have the authority to add a blessing to the liturgy for anyone, because a priest does not have the authority to add anything to the liturgy. It doesn’t matter if other priests go beyond their authority and do it in disobedience. In my mind, it is inappropriate, and I will not. Period.”Read More:
Veterinarian’s Letter from Lewiston, Idaho to the Editor
The present Ebola crisis in the world is frightening. I have submitted the following letter to the editor of the Lewiston Morning Tribune:
Editor, Lewiston Morning Tribune:
If I wish to import a horse into the United States from Liberia or any African country other than Morocco, the horse needs to undergo a 60 day quarantine period at a USDA approved quarantine facility prior to mingling with the general population of horses in this country. Africa has a disease called African Horse Sickness that does not exist in the US; this is the way we have kept it out of this country. African Horse Sickness does not cause disease in people, only horses; our government has determined that it would be devastating to the US horse industry if it were to come here.
The United States (and virtually all other countries) require a myriad of tests and often quarantine prior to bringing in a foreign animal.
I cannot legally cross state lines in the United States with a horse or cow without a health certificate signed by a USDA accredited veterinarian stating that the animal has been inspected and found free of infectious disease. In most cases blood tests are also required. In fact I cannot legally cross the Snake River and ride my horse in Idaho without a health certificate and a negative blood test for Equine Infectious Anemia.
I’m not complaining; the United States of America, the States of Idaho and Washington, as well as the other 48 states take the health of our livestock very seriously, and we have a very good record at keeping foreign animal diseases out of our country. I am happy to do my part to maintain biosecurity in our animal population.
If I am a resident of Liberia incubating Ebola, to enter the United States all I need to do is present a valid visa, and lie when asked if I have been exposed to Ebola. Within hours (no quarantine required) I can be walking the streets of any city in the United States.
I feel very fortunate to live in a country that values our animals so highly.
David A. Rustebakke, DVM
“Earlier this month Americans United for Separation of Church and State sent out 84,000 letters to church leaders to warn them against speaking about politics from the pulpit according to IRS tax-exempt restrictions. Responses so far have not been so enthusiastic.
AU says they attempted to be “respectful” in their reminder and claim they are merely trying to protect organizations’ tax exempt status. In a blog post the group’s assistant director of communications, Simon Brown, explained that they only want churches to “follow the rules” and “stay out of partisan politics”:
“We merely want houses of worship to follow the rules, stay out of partisan politics and keep their tax exemption. And when we explain to clergy what the law requires, we do so in a respectful way.”
Despite their “respectful” tone, the church and state watchdog told The Blaze that they’ve already received about 45 fiery responses, and expect more in the days to come.
One church sent back AU’s letter with the simple statement “Drop Dead” written in marker across it. Another response was a brief letter, addressed to the executive director of the group, which concluded by asking to be removed from his mailing list and saying he could take his “solicitude regarding our legal well-being” and “shove it up your fat white a__.”
Here are two shots of the messages (via The Blaze):
ISIS Snuffs Out Ancient Christianity
by Raymond Ibrahim • November 1, 2014 at 5:00 am
In Egypt, a young Coptic Christian man, accused of blaspheming Islam for simply "liking" an Arabic-language Facebook page, was sentenced to six years in prison.
One of the intruders in Uganda was shouting, "Today we shall kill you [for converting to Christianity] — you… are not respecting our prophet’s religion." He then heard his 12-year-old-girl’s cries as the Muslim intruders were strangling her. Then they seized him.
Muslims in Germany were granted their own section of the cemetery. Now these same Islamic communities are demanding that, during Islamic funerals, Christian symbols and crosses in the cemetery be removed or covered up.
Sister Utoor Joseph (left) and Sister Miskintah, are nuns who disappeared on June 28 in Mosul, Iraq, and are believed to have been kidnapped by Islamists.
During the Islamic State’s June invasion and consolidation of Mosul, Iraq — where Christians have been present since the first century — countless atrocities against them were committed. Accordingly, the region is now reportedly empty of Christian presence.
The Islamic State, among other acts, reinstituted the collection of jizya, the "tribute" conquered Christians (and Jews) were historically required to pay in order not to be killed in accordance with the Koran (9:29).
In one instance, three Islamic State members burst into the home of a Christian family, demanding the jizya-money. When the father of the house pleaded that he did not have the money, the intruders raped his wife and daughter in front of him. The man was reportedly so traumatized that he committed suicide. Four other Christian women were killed for not wearing the Islamic veil.”
Good morning, Jesus.
Here we are again,
At the beginning of a new day.
Can you feel me?
Here I am in Your Great Heart,
Reaching for You with my heart.
I feel Your eyes upon me.
You are perfume to my senses.
You are the touch of sweetness
I taste wafting on the breeze of Spirit.
You sound in my heart
With the beating of Yours.
Ever near, ever dear, everlasting,
Song of my soul.
Good morning, my Jesus.
Hold me here,
On the brink of eternity.
©2014 Joann Nelander
“The contemporary attacks on Christianity, moral and political, are redolent of the Decian persecutions, and yet an instinct of much of the secularist media is reluctance to report, let alone condemn beyond formulaic protocols, the beheading of Christian infants, the crucifixion of Christian teenagers, the practical genocide of Christian communities almost as old as Pentecost, and the destruction to date of 168 churches in the Middle East. Very simply, this rhetorical paralysis betrays a disdain for Judaeo-Christian civilization and its exaltation of man in the image of God with the moral demands which accrue to that. Their operative philosophy, characteristic of those who are empirically bright but morally dim, is that “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.” There is, for instance, the alliance of the inimical Pharisees and Herodians to entrap Jesus (Matt. 22:15-16). That is the logic of the asylum where very smart people are also very mad. For Christ the Living Truth, it is worse than clinical insanity: it is, using his dread word, hypocrisy.
Many European sophisticates, such as the “Cliveden Set,” promoted the Nazis. Even some prominent Jewish voters and other minorities supported them, until the Nuremburg Racial Laws of 1935. This was so because the Nazis were seen as a foil to the Bolsheviks and a means to social reconstruction. Conversely, many Western democrats over cocktails supported the Stalinists because they were perceived as the antidote to the Nazis. The U.S. ambassador to the Soviet Union, Joseph Davies, 1936-1938, wrote a book Mission to Moscow that whitewashed the blood on the walls of Stalin’s purges. In 1943, with the active cooperation of President Roosevelt, Warner Brothers made it into a film that was hailed in the New York Times by Bosley Crowther as a splendid achievement, praising the ambassador’s “Acute understanding of the Soviet system.” If the Nazis seemed an antidote to the Bolsheviks and vice versa, those unleashed bacilli nearly destroyed the world. Satan is a dangerous vaccine.
Secularists play down Islamist atrocities because they seek to eradicate the graceful moral structure that can turn brutes into saints. Heinous acts are sometimes dismissed as “workplace violence.” There even are those in high places who pretend that Islamic militants are not Islamic and foster the delusion that false gods will not demand sacrifices on their altars. These elites are like Ambassador Davies who said, “Communism holds no serious threat to the United States.” Naïve religious leaders who live off the goodwill of good people, will even say that Christians and those who oppose them share a common humane ethos, a similar concept of human rights, an embrace of pluralism, and a distinction between political and spiritual realms. Secularists who imagine good and evil as abstractions, do not consider the possibility that hatred of the holy will take its toll in reality. By ignoring the carnage committed by the twentieth century’s atheistic systems, they fit the definition of madness as the repetition of the same mistake in the expectation of a different result.
That mad kind of intelligence is offended by the precocious audacity of Winston Churchill writing in The River War at the age of twenty-five: “were it not that Christianity is sheltered in the strong arms of science, the science against which it [Islam] has vainly struggled, the civilization of modern Europe might fall, as fell the civilization of ancient Rome.” For the secularist whose religious crusade against religion does not understand the world or its history, prophecy is the only heresy, and his single defense against false prophets is feigned detachment. Indifference is the fanaticism of the faint of heart. By not taking spiritual combat seriously, and by seeking an impossible compromise with the opposite of what is good, human wars cannot be avoided. There are different kinds of war, and only prudence tempers both pugnacity and pacifism. James Russell Lowell opposed the Mexican War and approved the Civil War, but with a sane intelligence: “Compromise makes a good umbrella, but a poor roof; it is temporary expedient, often wise in party politics, almost sure to be unwise in statesmanship.”
If some unruly Presbyterians had flown airplanes into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, secularist observers would have eagerly been searching Calvin’s “Institutes” to find the roots of such misanthropy. Instead, in our present circumstance, confronting the abuse of truth and reason by the enemy of their enemy, secularists would rather sink into denial, like Ambassador Davies telling his wife, Marjorie Merriweather Post, that the gunshots coming from the Lubyanka Prison were just the sound of street repairmen. To deny the ultimate truth of Christ, who suffered for others in an inversion of the habit of carnal men to make others suffer, is to deny the economy of salvation itself. The Qu’ran (Sura 4: 157-158) says of Jesus, “they killed him not.” St. Paul says, “For many walk, of whom I have told you often (and now tell you weeping), that they are enemies of the cross of Christ” (Phil. 3:18).”
Good morning ,dear Savior.
Here I Am,
Yours, at the break of new day.
Joyously, I look to You,
You, Who smiles upon me.
I open my eyes looking for You,
You, Who have guarded Your beloved in her sleep,
And loved me as mother and father.
I have slept, secure in Your great arms,
Nestled beneath Your “Abundant Breast.”
Receive my heart
As I offer it to You, anew.
Kisses, my King.
All for You!
Copyright 2014 Joann Nelander
God bless you, as you read this. May we, who struggle here,
Laugh together in heaven. Glory to God!
Today the Prophet Isaiah and the Gospel employ the image of the Lord’s vineyard. The Lord’s vineyard is his “dream”, the plan which he nurtures with all his love, like a farmer who cares for his vineyard. Vines are plants which need much care!
God’s “dream” is his people. He planted it and nurtured it with patient and faithful love, so that it can become a holy people, a people which brings forth abundant fruits of justice.
But in both the ancient prophecy and in Jesus’s parable, God’s dream is thwarted. Isaiah says that the vine which he so loved and nurtured has yielded “wild grapes” (5:2,4); God “expected justice but saw bloodshed, righteousness, but only a cry of distress” (v7). In the Gospel, it is the farmers themselves who ruin the Lord’s plan: they fail to do their job but think only of their own interests.
In Jesus’s parable, he is addressing the chief priests and the elders of the people, in other words the “experts”, the managers. To them in a particular way God entrusted his “dream”, his people, for them to nurture, tend and protect from the animals of the field. This is the job of leaders: to nuture the vineyard with freedom, creativity and hard work.
But Jesus tells us that those farmers took over the vineyard. Out of greed and pride they want to do with it as they will, and so they prevent God from realizing his dream for the people he has chosen.
The temptation to greed is ever present. We encounter it also in the great prophecy of Ezekiel on the shepherds, which St Augustine commented upon in one his celebrated sermons which we have just reread in the Liturgy of the Hours. Greed for money and power. And to satisfy this greed, evil pastors lay intolerable burdens on the shoulders of others, which they themselves do not lift a finger to move.
We too, in the synod of bishops, are called to work for the Lord’s vineyard. Synod assemblies are not meant to discuss beautiful and clever ideas, or to see who is more intelligent… They are meant to better nuture and tend the Lord’s vineyard, to help realise his dream, his loving plan for his people. In this case the Lord is asking us to care for the family, which has been from the beginning an integral part of his loving plan for humanity.
We are all sinners and can also be tempted to “take over” the vineyard, because of that greed which is always present in us human beings. God’s dream always clashes with the hypocrisy of some of his servants. We can “thwart” God’s dream if we fail to let ourselves be guided by the Holy Spirit. The Spirit gives us that wisdom which surpasses knowledge, and enables us to work generously with authentic freedom and humble creativity.
My Synod brothers, to do a good job of nurturing and tending the vineyard, our hearts and our minds must be kept in Jesus Christ by “the peace of God which passes all understanding” (Phil 4:7). In this way our thoughts and plans will correspond to God’s dream: to form a holy people who are his own and produce the fruits of the kingdom of God.
excerpts from transcript- Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Speech at the United Nations General Assembly September 29, 2014
By granting international legitimacy to the use of human shields, the UN’s Human Rights Council has thus become a Terrorist Rights Council, and it will have repercussions. It probably already has, about the use of civilians as human shields.
It’s not just our interest. It’s not just our values that are under attack. It’s your interests and your values.
Ladies and Gentlemen, We live in a world steeped in tyranny and terror, where gays are hanged from cranes in Tehran, political prisoners are executed in Gaza, young girls are abducted en masse in Nigeria and hundreds of thousands are butchered in Syria, Libya and Iraq. Yet nearly half, nearly half of the UN Human Rights Council’s resolutions focusing on a single country have been directed against Israel, the one true democracy in the Middle East – Israel. where issues are openly debated in a boisterous parliament, where human rights are protected by independent courts and where women, gays and minorities live in a genuinely free society.
The Human Rights… (that’s an oxymoron, the UN Human Rights Council, but I’ll use it just the same), the Council’s biased treatment of Israel is only one manifestation of the return of the world’s oldest prejudices. We hear mobs today in Europe call for the gassing of Jews. We hear some national leaders compare Israel to the Nazis. This is not a function of Israel’s policies. It’s a function of diseased minds. And that disease has a name. It’s called anti-Semitism.
It is now spreading in polite society, where it masquerades as legitimate criticism of Israel. For centuries the Jewish people have been demonized with blood libels and charges of deicide. Today, the Jewish state is demonized with the apartheid libel and charges of genocide. Genocide? In what moral universe does genocide include warning the enemy’s civilian population to get out of harm’s way? Or ensuring that they receive tons, tons of humanitarian aid each day, even as thousands of rockets are being fired at us? Or setting up a field hospital to aid for their wounded? Well, I suppose it’s the same moral universe where a man who wrote a dissertation of lies about the Holocaust, and who insists on a Palestine free of Jews, Judenrein, can stand at this podium and shamelessly accuse Israel of genocide and ethnic cleansing.
In the past, outrageous lies against the Jews were the precursors to the wholesale slaughter of our people.
But no more.
Today we, the Jewish people, have the power to defend ourselves. We will defend ourselves against our enemies on the battlefield. We will expose their lies against us in the court of public opinion. Israel will continue to stand proud and unbowed.
Marquette University alumnus and U.S. journalist, James Foley, was shown being beheaded in a video released by ISIS and posted on YouTube on Tuesday, according to Fox. Foley, who was kidnapped in Syria, had been kidnapped once before while covering the civil war in Libya in 2011. Afterwards, Foley reflected with deep gratitude on the good of his Catholic university education.
After his first kidnapping, Foley wrote in a letter to Marquette University:
With Marquette, I went on some volunteer trips to South Dakota and Mississippi and learned I was a sheltered kid and the world had real problems. I came to know young people who wanted to give their hearts for others. Later I volunteered in a Milwaukee junior high school up the street from the university and was inspired to become an inner-city teacher. But Marquette was perhaps never a bigger friend to me than when I was imprisoned as a journalist.
Myself and two colleagues had been captured and were being held in a military detention center in Tripoli. Each day brought increasing worry that our moms would begin to panic. My colleague, Clare, was supposed to call her mom on her birthday, which was the day after we were captured. I had still not fully admitted to myself that my mom knew what had happened. But I kept telling Clare my mom had a strong faith.
I prayed she’d know I was OK. I prayed I could communicate through some cosmic reach of the universe to her.
I began to pray the rosary. It was what my mother and grandmother would have prayed. I said 10 Hail Marys between each Our Father. It took a long time, almost an hour to count 100 Hail Marys off on my knuckles. And it helped to keep my mind focused.
In the letter, James also recounted that, in a rare phone call home during the detention, his mother informed him that Marquette had held a prayer vigil for him, and he was later able to listen to a speech given at that vigil.
It showed tremendous heart and was just a glimpse of the efforts and prayers people were pouring forth. If nothing else, prayer was the glue that enabled my freedom, an inner freedom first and later the miracle of being released during a war in which the regime had no real incentive to free us. It didn’t make sense, but faith did.
He later returned to Marquette and gave a talk about his experience.
After resuming overseas journalism, this time in Syria, Foley was reportedly kidnapped a second time near the Turkish border on Thanksgiving Day 2012. Marquette again held a prayer service for him, attended by his paren
From The Sinner’s Guide
By Venerable Louis de Granada
The Thought of Heaven, the Third of the Four Last Things
A motive no less powerful than those we have enumerated is the thought of Heaven. This is the reward of virtue, and in it we must distinguish two things: the excellence and beauty of the abode promised us, which is no other than the empyreal heavens, and the perfection and beauty of the Sovereign King who reigns there with His elect.
But though no tongue can fully express the splendor and riches of the heavenly kingdom, we will endeavor to describe its beauty as well as our limited capacities will allow. Let us, therefore, first consider the grand end for which it was created, which will enable us to conceive some idea of its magnificence.
God created it to manifest His glory. Though “the Lord hath made all things for himself,” (Prov. 16:4) yet this is particularly true of Heaven, for it is there that His glory and power are most resplendent. We are told in Scripture that Assuerus, whose kingdom included one hundred twenty-seven provinces, gave a great feast, which lasted one hundred eighty days, for the purpose of manifesting his splendor and power. So the Sovereign King of the universe is pleased to celebrate a magnificent feast, which continues, not for one hundred eighty days only, but for all eternity, to manifest the magnificence of His bounty, His power, His riches, His goodness.
It is of this feast that the prophet speaks when he tells us, “The Lord of hosts shall make unto all people in this mountain a feast of fat things, a feast of wine, of fat things full of marrow, of wine purified from the lees.” (Is. 25:6). By this we are to understand that He will lavish upon His elect all the riches of the heavenly country and inebriate them with unutterable delights. Since this feast is prepared to manifest the greatness of God’s glory, which is infinite, what must be the magnificence of this feast and the variety and splendor of the riches He displays to the eyes of His elect?
We will better appreciate the grandeur of Heaven if we consider the infinite power and boundless riches of God Himself. His power is so great that with a single word He created this vast universe, and with a single word He could again reduce it to its original nothingness. A single expression of His will would suffice to create millions of worlds as beautiful as ours, and to destroy them in one instant.
Moreover, His power is exercised without effort or exertion; it costs Him no more to create the most sublime seraphim than to create the smallest insect. With Him, to will is to accomplish. Therefore, if the power of the King who calls us to His kingdom be so great; if such be the glory of His holy Name; if His desire to manifest and communicate this glory be so great, what must be the splendor of the abode where He wills to display, in its fullness, His divine magnificence?
Nothing can be wanting to its perfection, for its Author is the Source of all riches, all power, and all wisdom. What must be the beauty of that creation in the formation of which are combined the almighty power of the Father, the infinite wisdom of the Son, the inexhaustible goodness of the Holy Spirit?
Another consideration no less striking is that God has prepared this magnificence not only for His glory, but for the glory of His elect. “Whosoever shall glorify me, him will I glorify.” (1Kg. 2:30). “Thou hast subjected all things under his feet,” cries out the psalmist (Ps. 8:8); and this we see verified in the most striking manner among the saints. Witness Josue, whose word arrests the sun in its course, thus showing us, as the Scripture says, “God obeying the voice of man.” (Jos. 10:14). Consider the prophet Isaias bidding King Ezechias choose whether he will have the sun go forward or backward in its course, for it was in the power of God’s servant to cause either. (4Kg. 20:9).
Behold Elias closing the heavens, so that there was no rain but at his will and prayer. And not only during life, but even after death, God continues to honor the mortal remains of His elect; for do we not read in Scripture that a dead body which was thrown by highwaymen into the tomb of Eliseus was brought to life by contact with the bones of the prophet? (4Kg. 13:21). Did not God also honor in a marvelous manner the body of St. Clement? On the day that this generous defender of the Faith suffered, the sea was opened for a distance of three miles to allow the people to pass to the place of martyrdom to venerate the sacred remains. Is it not from a like motive that the Church has instituted a feast in honor of St. Peter’s chains, to show us how God wills to honor the bodies of His servants, since we are to reverence their very chains?
A still more marvelous proof of this was the power of healing the sick communicated to the shadow of the same Apostle. Oh! Admirable goodness! God confers upon His Apostle a power which He Himself did not exercise. Of St. Peter alone is this related. But if God be pleased thus to honor the saints on earth, though it is but a place of toil and labor, who can tell the glory which He has reserved for them in His kingdom, where He wills to honor them, and through them to glorify Himself?
The Holy Scriptures teach us also with what liberality God rewards the services we render Him. We are told that when Abraham was about to sacrifice his son in obedience to God’s command, an angel of the Lord appeared to him and said, “By my own self have I sworn, saith the Lord: because thou hast done this thing, and hast not spared thy only begotten son for my sake, I will bless thee, and I will multiply thy seed as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is by the sea shore; thy seed shall possess the gates of their enemies. And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because thou hast obeyed my voice.” (Gen. 22:16-18). Was not this a reward befitting such a Master? God is sovereign in His rewards, as well as in His punishments.
We read also that David, reflecting one night that while he dwelt in a house of cedar, the Ark of the Covenant was kept in a poor tent, resolved to build it a more fitting habitation; and the next day the Lord sent the prophet Nathan to promise, in His name, the following magnificent reward: Because thou hast thought of building me a house, I swear to thee that I will build one for thee and thy posterity which shall have no end, nor will I ever remove my mercies from it. (Cf. 2Kg. 7). We see how faithfully His promise was fulfilled, for the kingdom of Israel was governed by the princes of the house of David until the coming of the Messias, who from that time has reigned, and shall reign for all eternity.
Heaven, then, is that superabundant reward which the faithful will receive for their good works. It is the manifestation of the Divine munificence, and of its greatness and glory we ought to have a lively appreciation. Another consideration which will help us to form some idea of the eternal beatitude promised us is the price which God, who is so liberal, required for it. After we had forfeited Heaven by sin, God, who is so rich and magnificent in His rewards, would restore it to us only at the price of the Blood of His Divine Son. The death of Christ, therefore, gave us life; His sorrows won for us eternal joy; and, that we might enter into the ranks of the celestial choirs, He bore the ignominy of crucifixion between two thieves.
Who, then, can sufficiently value that happiness to obtain which God shed the last drop of His Blood, was bound with ignominious fetters, overwhelmed with outrages, bruised with blows, and nailed to a cross? But besides all these, God asks on our part all that can be required of man. He tells us that we must take up our cross and follow Him; that if our right eye offend us we must pluck it out; that we must renounce father and mother, and every creature that is an obstacle to the Divine will. And after we have faithfully complied with His commands, the Sovereign Remunerator still tells us that the enjoyment of Heaven is a gratuitous gift. “I am Alpha and Omega; the beginning and the end,” He says by the mouth of St. John (Apoc. 21:6); “to him that thirsteth, I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely.”
Since God so liberally bestows His gifts upon the sinner as well as the just in this life, what must be the inexhaustible riches reserved for the just in the life to come? If He be so bountiful in His gratuitous gifts, how munificent will He be in His rewards?
It may further help us to conceive a faint image of this eternal glory to consider the nobility and grandeur of the empyreal Heaven, our future country. It is called in Scripture the land of the living, in contrast, doubtless, to our sad country, which may truly be called the land of the dying. But if, in this land of death inhabited by mortal beings, so much beauty and perfection are found, what must be the splendor and magnificence of that heavenly country whose inhabitants will live forever?
Cast your eyes over the world and behold the wonders and beauties with which it is filled. Observe the immensity of the blue vault of heaven; the dazzling splendor of the sun; the soft radiance of the moon and stars; the verdant beauty of the earth, with its treasures of precious metals and brilliant gems; the rich plumage of the birds; the grandeur of the mountains; the smiling beauty of the valleys; the limpid freshness of the streams; the majesty of the great rivers; the vastness of the sea, with all the wonders it contains; the beauty of the deep lakes, those eyes of the earth, reflecting on their placid bosoms the starry splendor of the heavens; the flower-enameled fields, which seem a counterpart of the starlit firmament above them. If in this land of exile we behold so much beauty to enrapture our soul, what must be the spectacle which awaits us in the haven of eternal rest?
Compare the inhabitants of the two countries, if you would have a still stronger proof of the superiority and finite grandeur of the heavenly country. This earth is the land of death; Heaven is the land of immortality. Ours is the habitation of sinners, Heaven the habitation of the just. Ours is a place of penance, an arena of combat; Heaven is the land of triumph, the throne of the victor, the “city of God.” “Glorious things are said of thee, O city of God.” (Ps. 86:3). Immeasurable is thy greatness, incomparable the beauty of thy structure. Infinite thy price; most noble thy inhabitants, sublime thy employments; most rich art thou in all good, and no evil can penetrate thy sacred walls. Great is thy Author, high the end for which thou wast created, and most noble the blessed citizens who dwell in thee.
All that we have hitherto said relates only to the accidental glory of the saints. They possess another glory incomparably superior, which theologians call the essential glory. This is the vision and possession of God Himself. For St. Augustine tells us that the reward of virtue will be God Himself, the Author of all virtue, whom we will untiringly contemplate, love, and praise for all eternity. (City of God, 22, 30). What reward could be greater than this? It is not Heaven, or earth, or any created perfection, but God, the Source of all beauty and all perfection. The blessed inhabitants of Heaven will enjoy in Him all good, each according to the degree of glory he has merited. For since God is the Author of every good that we behold in creatures, it follows that He possesses in Himself all perfection, all goodness, in an infinite degree. He possesses them, because otherwise He could not have bestowed them on creatures. He possesses them in an infinite degree, because as His Being is infinite, so also are His attributes and His perfections.
God, then, will be our sovereign beatitude and the fulfillment of all our desires. In Him we will find the perfections of all creatures exalted and transfigured. In Him we will enjoy the beauty of all the seasons – the balmy freshness of spring, the rich beauty of summer, the luxurious abundance of autumn, and the calm repose of winter. In a word, all that can delight the senses and enrapture the soul will be ours in Heaven. “In God,” says St. Bernard, “our understandings will be filled with the plenitude of light; our wills with an abundance of peace; and our memories with the joys of eternity. In this abode of all perfection, the wisdom of Solomon will appear but ignorance; the beauty of Absolom deformity; the strength of Samson weakness; the longest life of man a brief mortality; the wealth of kings but indigence.”
Why, then, O man, will you seek straws in Egypt? Why will you drink troubled waters from broken cisterns, when inexhaustible treasures, and the fountain of living water springing up into eternal life, await you in Heaven? Why will you seek vain and sensual satisfactions from creatures, when unalterable happiness may be yours? If your heart craves joy, raise it to the contemplation of that Good which contains in Itself all joys. If you are in love with this created life, consider the eternal life which awaits you above. If the beauty of creatures attracts you, live that you may one day possess the Source of all beauty, in whom are life; and strength, and glory, and immortality, and the fullness of all our desires. If you find happiness in friendship and the society of generous hearts, consider the noble beings with whom you will be united by the tenderest ties for all eternity. If your ambition seeks wealth and honors, make the treasures and the glory of Heaven the end of all your efforts. Finally, if you desire freedom from all evil and rest from all labor, in Heaven alone can your desires be gratified.
God, in the Old Law, ordained that children should be circumcised on the eighth day after birth, teaching us thereby that, on the day of the general resurrection which will follow the short space of this life, He will cut off the miseries and sufferings of those who, for love of Him, have circumcised their hearts by cutting off all the sinful affections and pleasures of this world. Now, who can conceive a happier existence than this, which is exempt from every sorrow and every infirmity?
“In Heaven,” says St. Augustine, “we shall cease to feel the trials of want or sickness. Pride or envy will never enter there. The necessity of eating or drinking will there be unknown. The desire for honors will never disturb our calm repose. Death will no longer reach body or soul, united as they will be with the Source of all life, which they will enjoy throughout a blessed immortality.” (Soliloq., 35). Consider, moreover, the glory and happiness of living in the company of the angels, contemplating the beauty of these sublime spirits; admiring the resplendent virtue of the saints, and the rewards with which the obedience of the patriarchs and the hope of the prophets have been crowned; the brilliant diadems of the martyrs, dyed with their own blood; and the dazzling whiteness of the robes with which the virgins are adorned.
But what tongue can describe the beauty and the majesty of the Sovereign Monarch who reigns in their midst? “If by daily enduring fresh torments,” says St. Augustine (Manual., 15), “and even suffering for a time the pains of Hell, we were permitted for one day to contemplate this King in all His glory and enjoy the society of His elect, surely it would be a happiness cheaply purchased.”
What, then, can we say of the happiness of possessing these joys for all eternity? Conceive, if you can, the ravishing harmony of the celestial voices chanting the words heard by St. John: “Benediction, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, honor, and power, and strength to our God for ever and ever. Amen.” (Apoc. 7:12). If the harmony of these voices will cause us such happiness, how we will rejoice at the unity that we will behold between soul and body! And this concord will be still more marked between angels and men, whilst between God and men the union will be so close that we can form no adequate idea of it. What glory, then, will it be for the creature to find himself seated at the banquet of the King of kings, partaking of His table-that is, of His honor and His glory! Oh! Enduring peace of Heaven! Oh! Unalterable joy! Oh! Entrancing harmonies! Oh! Torrents of celestial delight, why are ye not ever present to the minds of those who labor and combat on earth?
HOLY SATURDAY – The body of Jesus is in the tomb but His soul is among the dead to announce the kingdom. The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear it will Live (John 5:25). Consider what it must have been like for the dead in Limbo ( the "hell" of the Apostles’ Creed) to awaken to the voice of Jesus! Meanwhile The Disciples, heartbroken at the death of Jesus, observed the Jewish Sabbath in sorrow. They had forgotten the promise of Jesus that He would rise. We cannot forget His promise. We cannot forget.
We spend this day in quite reflection, weeping at the tomb of our Lord. Fasting and abstinence are recommended, but are not of obligation.
This night in our parish after sundown, at 8:30 pm, we gather for the Great Easter Vigil where we will experience Jesus rising from the dead. (Our Lord rose from the dead during this most blessed of nights, for the Gospels tell us that the faithful women went to the tomb very early in the morning, while it was still dark, and the tomb was already empty. That is why the Great Mass of Easter takes place at night.) We gather in darkness and light the Easter fire which reminds us that Jesus is light in the darkness. He is the light of the world. We attentively listen to Bible stories describing God’s saving work of the past. Suddenly, the church lights are lit and the Gloria is sung as we celebrate the moment of Christ’s resurrection. He Lives! As a Church we sing Alleluia for the first time in forty days. In the joy of the resurrection we then celebrate the Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist for our Catechumens who have prepared many months for this night. Do everything you can to be present on this evening and invite friends and family to join. Our Vigil ushers in an Easter joy that never ends!
Of course the Easter Vigil fulfills the Sunday obligation – it is THE Great Mass of Easter (in fact, until the 5th century, it was the only Mass of Easter.)
Yes, the Easter Vigil is long (in our parish, about two and a half hours), but it is very beautiful. We keep it "moving right along", and it has beautiful music.
A blessed and joyful celebration of Easter to you all!
Msgr. Douglas A. Raun
St. Thomas Aquinas Parish
1502 Sara, Rio Rancho, NM
Blood Moon: Should we separate scientific and spiritual interpretation?
Happy Passover. Also, happy Blood Moon lunar eclipse day! The first in a set of four consecutive total “blood moon” eclipses visible from the United States. Don’t worry, a blood moon eclipse is fairly normal from a scientific standpoint. View the story below from USA Today to see all the buzz about this particular set of events:
I am bringing this blood moon topic up in my blog in order to address an issue I see recurring throughout the media, science, and even religious or spiritual conversation. Often these topics are brought up this way:
“such and such pastor/spiritual leader/religious enthusiast said this..”
“but SCIENTISTS disagree saying this….”
Is this how we should come at these topics? I don’t think so. To me, science should explain phenomena. How often do blood moons occur? Can we predict them? What is the astronomical significance if there is any?
Science does not explain causation, purpose, or belief. Yes, there will be a blood moon tonight. Yes, it coincides with Passover. Scientists (and others) should not belittle any religious or spiritual significance to the interesting correlation between the two. Perhaps a scientist is atheist/agnostic/non-Judeo-Christian. His or her INTERPRETATION of these events would be thus:
“These events may be happening at the same time, but this is merely coincidence and means nothing”
OK, but a Jewish or Christian person might INTERPRET it this way:
“These correlating events have spiritual meaning to me. God allowed for this to happen as a reminder to us to look to Him in these times.”
My point is that scientific explanation does not need produce an interpretation that is purely void of God or spirituality. Who is the scientist to say there is no God, or that God didn’t know about this simply because we can explain astronomical phenomena? Explanation is not causation and does not eliminate the possibility of a being who understood or allowed these things to happen.
Interpretation of scientific events CAN have spiritual meaning to individuals. Scientists, can’t you allow for this type of thinking? Oh no, you can’t. That’s why I am a scientist who hides her opinions in an anonymous blog.
Here is one of my personal angel stories:
Years ago my husband and I were in a movie theater engrossed in the movie, when suddenly I was inspired to pray, so I did. The feeling was so unexpected and strong, I stopped watching the screen, closed my eyes and turned my attention to prayer as I felt directed to do. Then I had peace and wondered what that was all about.
When we returned home, my, then teenaged, daughter couldn’t wait to tell us what had happened. She said she was comfortably seated in an easy chair in the family room, reading a book. Then phone rang, so she reluctantly got out of the chair to answer it. As soon as she was out of the chair, a large and heavy sound unit that had been on the highest shelf in a built in bookcase, fell onto the every spot she had occupied just seconds before.
The light came on for me and I immediately understood why I was prodded to pray. My daughter and I remember this incident with thanksgiving to the angels to this day!
©2013 Joann Nelander
Lord, make of me a place of roses,
A gathering of saints,
A palace of Your glory,
Alive with the radiant splendor
Of Your Holy Spirit.
Give me that sincere and true humility,
That clears my ground
Of briars, weeds and thistle,
That rakes away debris
And furrows my field crosswise
To welcome the rains
And receive the seed
Of love and deeds as new growth
Sprouting joy and fruit aplenty.
Come here to my happy garden
To take Your rest,
Lay aside Your Cross
And bring forth the Sun
To shine on all.
© 2014 Joann Nelander
R.J. Moeller graduated from Taylor University in 2005 with a degree in business and is currently a…Read more about RJ Moeller
It’s been a few weeks since I last posted something in my “Bible & Economics” series, but I think a return to the topic is well served by the verses from II Thessalonians I’ve selected to delve in to today. This passage, more than perhaps any other in all of the New Testament, is responsible for directing a younger version of the R.J. Moeller that blogs before you today on a path leading sharply away from conventional modern thinking on the topics of welfare, wealth redistribution and the seemingly inescapable “social justice.” (By the way, is there “social truth” or “social patience”?)
From II Thessalonians 3:6-12:
Now we command you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from any brother who is walking in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that you received from us. For you yourselves know how you ought to imitate us, because we were not idle when we were with you, nor did we eat anyone’s bread without paying for it, but with toil and labor we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you. It was not because we do not have that right, but to give you in ourselves an example to imitate. For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat. For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies. Now such persons we command and encourage in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living.
A simple, straight-forward reading of this text is a clear and present danger to advocates of a welfare state, but especially to those who also claim allegiance to the body of Christ and his word. However, in a sinful, fallen world—one wrought with hypocrisies, guilt, past societal sins, etc.—“simple” and “straight-forward” are luxuries the thoughtful believer can rarely enjoy, at least not when entering the contentious fray of the public square with their theological convictions in tow (as they most definitely should).
So let me quickly give my brief exegetical overview of the passage above, and then connect a few dots between what Paul wrote and some of the appropriate conclusions one ought to be able to draw in terms of public policy debates.
Now there are some who try to deflect the very real importance of these verses to a Christian’s attitude about how best to help the poor by saying that the “idlers” Paul is calling out are simply misguided believers who are under the impression Christ’s return was imminent. This is a distinction without a difference. Being lazy on a nuclear submarine with the key that launches Armageddon might be different in form, but is no different in substance than an idle Dairy Queen worker who procrastinates sweeping up the sprinkles his portly manager asked him to take care of the previous day.
Habitual idleness is a matter of the heart. (Believe me, I know first-hand.)
Refusing to work or provide for your family because you’re convinced Jesus is returning over the upcoming three-day weekend is, according to scripture, just as much of a sin as an able-bodied human being refusing to work or provide for their family because some well-intentioned bureaucrat is intent on giving them money they didn’t earn.
Right off the bat in verse 6, Paul exhorts the church body to “keep away from” anyone who is living an idle, lazy life and remains needlessly dependent on others. Pretty harsh, no? Not very “social” of him, right? I’ll even admit that nearly every time I read these words, I wince a little. All of the “But what about…” exceptions and exemptions start piling up on my conscience.
But if we’re serious about scripture, we know that scripture is serious about sin. Idleness and making yourself a prolonged and unnecessary burden on someone else, is a sin. There’s no way around that. The Greek translation for the phrase “in idleness” translates to “in an undisciplined, irresponsible or disorderly manner.” Keep that definition in mind for later.
Verses 7-9 are Paul’s reminder that he hasn’t simply preached against things like idleness and being a burden on others, but has modeled for the good people of Thessalonica the appropriate way to live. Paul was a minister of the gospel, and therefore was entitled to living off of the charity that came from other believers. But he feared that a lifetime of such dependency would weaken his witness, and, I don’t think it is unfair to infer, his character.
Verse 10 is the big one: “For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat.” Paul did not teach this difficult practice of the Christian life from afar, but said it face-to-face. Christian friends don’t enjoy confronting friends. Christian parents don’t delight in having to withhold certain things from their beloved children. Confronting people with difficult subject matter is made no less daunting by how true the subject matter is. It stinks. No way around it.
by Edward Pentin Wednesday
Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi has strongly criticised an article on Pope Francis that appears in the latest edition of Rolling Stone magazine.
Although he acknowledged that the Holy Father’s appearance on the publication’s front cover shows a diverse interest in the Pope, the Jesuit spokesman denounced the article’s negative portrayal of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s pontificate, saying the piece disqualifies itself as serious journalism.
“Unfortunately, the article disqualifies itself, falling into the usual mistake of a superficial journalism, which in order to highlight the positive aspects of Pope Francis, thinks it should describe in a negative way the pontificate of Pope Benedict, and does so with a surprising crudeness,” Fr. Lombardi said in a statement.
In the piece titled "Pope Francis: The Times They Are A-Changin’", author Mark Binelli calls Benedict’s papacy “disastrous” and goes so far as to attack the former pontiff’s appearance and character. He also describes Benedict’s acclaimed apostolic exhortation Sacramentum Caritatis as “wonky” but without explaining further.
A conversation with Project Rachel’s Vicki Thorn.
BY SUE ELLEN BROWDER 01/22/2014
Vicki Thorn, founder of Project Rachel.
As crowds of impassioned pro-lifers gather once again on Jan. 22 for the annual March for Life in Washington, Pope Francis has said more should be done in reaching out to women who’ve had abortions.
Vicki Thorn, founder of the post-abortion apostolate Project Rachel, recently spoke to Register correspondent Sue Ellen Browder about why abortion is still such a hot-button emotional issue and how Catholics can help pour “oil on the wounds” of abortion in our culture today.
As the March for Life unfolds once again, what’s the
From Jewish Passover to Christian Eucharist: The Story of the Todah
Scholars have often wondered how the practice of Christian Eucharist could have arisen from the Lord’s Supper, which occurred in the context of the Jewish Passover. Since Passover occurs only once a year, how is it that the Christians got the notion that they could celebrate Jesus’ sacrificial meal weekly, if not daily?
The Last Supper
The answer is found in the ancient Israelite sacrifice called the todah.
While most people have heard of Old Testament sacrifices such as the holocaust offering or burnt offering, those who have heard of the todah sacrifice are as rare as lotto winners. Today\’s ignorance concerning the todah, however, should not imply that it was unimportant to the Jews. Far from it. The todah was one of the most significant sacrifices of the Jews.
Indeed, an old Rabbinic teaching says: \"In the coming Messianic age all sacrifices will cease, but the thank offering [todah] will never cease.\"(1) What is it about this sacrifice that makes it stand alone in such a way that it would outlast all other sacrifices after the redemption of the Messiah?
A todah sacrifice would be offered by someone whose life had been delivered from great peril, such as disease or the sword. The redeemed person would show his gratitude to God by gathering his closest friends and family for a todah sacrificial meal. The lamb would be sacrificed in the Temple and the bread for the meal would be consecrated the moment the lamb was sacrificed. The bread and meat, along with wine, would constitute the elements of the sacred todah meal, which would be accompanied by prayers and songs of thanksgiving, such as Psalm 116.
What does the word \"todah\" mean? It is Hebrew for \"thanksgiving,\" although it also connotes a confession of praise in addition to gratitude. For example, Leah gave thanks to God when she bore her fourth son, and so she named him yehudah — or Judah — which is the verbal form of todah — to give thanks.
There are many examples in the Old Testament of people offering todah — thanks — to God. Jonah, while in the belly of the whale, vows to offer up a todah sacrifice in the Temple if he is delivered (cf. Jon. 2:3-10). King Hezekiah offers up a todah hymn upon recovering from a life-threatening illness (cf. Is. 38). However, the best example of todah sacrifice and song is found in the life of King David.
\”O\” Antiphons, a Family Prayer
O Wisdom of our God Most High,
guiding creation with power and love:
come to teach us the path of knowledge!
O Leader of the House of Israel,
giver of the Law to Moses on Sinai:
come to rescue us with your mighty power!
O Root of Jesse’s stem,
sign of God’s love for all his people:
come to save us without delay!
O Key of David,
opening the gates of God’s eternal Kingdom:
come and free the prisoners of darkness!
O Radiant Dawn,
splendor of eternal light, sun of justice:
come and shine on those who dwell in darkness and in the
shadow of death.
O King of all nations and keystone of the Church:
come and save man, whom you formed from the dust!
O Emmanuel, our King and Giver of Law:
come to save us, Lord our God!
Reciting or singing the â€œO Antiphonsâ€ have been part of our liturgical tradition since the very early Church. We, at Divineoffice.org made our mission to perpetuate this ancient tradition, to inspire families to gather in prayer and people around the word to join a community of prayer.
Let us remember that, in the Middle Ages, it became traditional to ring the great bells of the church each evening when the â€œOâ€ Antiphones were being sung. Honoring this beautiful catholic tradition, this evening, at Vespers time, gather your loved ones and let us all pray, with one voice, to our Lord Jesus Christ who is to come.: