Friday, December 19, 2014

Emmanuel: by Loreena McKennitt

Hans Urs von Balthasar: Love Alone

“The first thing that must strike a non-Christian about a Christian’s faith is that it is all too daring. It is too beautiful to be true: The mystery of being, unveiled as absolute love, coming down to wash the feet and the souls of its creatures; a love that assumes the whole burden of our guilt and hate, that accepts the accusations that shower down, the disbelief that veils God again when he has revealed himself, all the scorn and contempt that nails down his incomprehensible movement of self-abasement—all this, absolute love accepts in order to excuse his creature before himself and before the world.”   
                  (Hans Urs von Balthasar, Love Alone)

Where are you going?

Don Bosco: "Be brave...!"

"Be brave and try to detach your heart from worldly things. Do your utmost to banish darkness from your mind and come to understand what true, selfless piety is. Through confession, endeavor to purify your heart of anything which may still taint it. Enliven your faith, which is essential to understand and achieve piety."

~Don Bosco

Thursday, December 18, 2014

In the Bleak Midwinter by Gloucester Cathedral Choir


I found this great Advent classic at the Anchoress site!

How to Deal with Past Sins

The following comes from Word on Fire:

How do we look back on past sins not as sins committed, but as sins confessed and forgiven? Fr. Damian Ference explains today using Peter as an example, showing how although he knew he was a great sinner, he also knew that Jesus loved him completely, as he was – a sinner.

We all know that Peter was the first pope. What we often forget is that Peter was also a terrible sinner. I can think of at least five times in the Gospels where Peter messed up, but the time that he denied Jesus was the absolute worst.

Saint Matthew tells us that it was a maid that first approached Peter in the courtyard – a maid, by the way, should not be able to intimidate a man that the Lord called “The Rock.” The maid recognized Peter as a friend of Jesus, but Peter denied knowing him. Second, another girl – not a woman, but a girl – saw Peter and said, “This man was with Jesus the Nazarene.” Again, Peter denied it. The third time St. Matthew tells us that it was a bystander who recognized Peter as a friend of Jesus by his speech. And once more, Peter denied knowing Jesus.

That’s about as bad as it gets. Just when your best friend needs you most, you deny even knowing him. And it’s not as if those questioning him were all that intimidating – a maid, a girl, and a random bystander – three people who wouldn’t seem to be much of a threat to a future pope. And Peter knew it. Saint Matthew tells us that upon the cock’s crow, “Peter went out and began to weep bitterly.” If I was him, I probably would have puked too.

Earlier that night Peter promised Jesus that his faith would never be shaken, but there it was, a crumbled mess. And there he was, the one that Jesus had handpicked to be the fearless leader of the apostles, off in the corner weeping like a baby. How pathetic.

Of course we know that there is more to the story. After Jesus suffers, dies, and rises from the dead he has another encounter with Peter. This time it’s on the beach where St. John tells us that Jesus invites the disciples to breakfast. It’s also the place where Jesus asks Peter if he loves him – three times. Three times Peter responds that he loves Jesus, and in doing so, Peter experiences Jesus’ love, forgiveness, healing and mercy. Jesus makes all things new, and in that moment, he makes Peter new too.

But a question remains. How in the world can Peter ever forget that terrible moment in the courtyard when he committed the worst of sins by denying that he even knew Jesus? Surely if we know about his terrible and cowardly act two thousand years later, people also knew well about it back then. And I’m sure that some even reminded him of it from time to time, saying, “Come on man, you’re the coward who denied even knowing Jesus, and now you’re telling me that I should believe in him? Please.” How in the world did Peter ever forget his terrible sin and move forward?

Here’s the truth: Peter never forgot the fact that he denied Jesus. That cowardly act was something that he could never take back. What’s done is done once it’s done. Peter couldn’t go back in time and make things right again. So what happened? How did Peter do it? How did the worst coward turn into one of the most courageous men in Christianity, eventually requesting to be crucified upside down because he thought himself unworthy to die in the same manner as his Lord Jesus?

What happened to Peter was that although he knew he was a great sinner, he also knew that Jesus loved him completely, as he was – a sinner. To paraphrase St. John Vianney, Peter knew that his sins were but a grain of sand in the ocean of God’s great mercy. It was the merciful love of Jesus that recreated Peter and that made him new. Peter couldn’t do anything about his sins other than confess them, but Jesus could. And he did. Peter denied Jesus three times, so in his love, Jesus offered Peter and opportunity to tell Jesus that he loved him – three times. And with that Peter was forgiven and made new. From that point on, whenever Peter thought back about the time he denied Jesus, he didn’t think about it as sin committed, but sin confessed and forgiven. 


Read the rest here.

Real Life Catholic

Ten Reasons You Should Get to Confession This Weekend

The following comes Simcha Fisher at NCR:

1. You need to.  You have a mortal sin on your soul, and it’s killing you.  You know you want to live. So go to confession.

2.  You don’t need to.  Oh, really, you don’t need to?  You don’t need to have your soul refreshed, your courage strengthened, your dusty, crusty, venial sin-chapped hide soothed with the sweet balm of forgiveness?  You don’t need to hear one more time that the Almighty Son of God came down from Heaven, was born, suffered, died, and rose again so that you, personally, could be saved?  No thanks, you don’t neeeeed any of that right now?  Really?  Go to confession.

3. Your kids need to see you do it.  You can talk all you want about receiving the sacraments, but if you don’t do it, chances are they won’t do it when they grow up.  So go to confession.

4. Your spouse needs to see you do it.  In the words of Anthony Esolen,
Look in the mirror. Take a long, slow, excruciating look in the mirror. See your faults for what they are. See all the petty selfishness and cowardice and spitefulness and pride and envy. Then think that there's somebody on earth who is silly enough to love you. And when you are exercised about your spouse's faults, just repeat these words three times: "You're no peach either." Works wonders.
  Go on, peachy.  Let your spouse know you’ve looked in the mirror.  Go to confession.

5. You might die soon.  Honest to goodness, it could happen!  All it takes is for some distracted lady driving a huge 15-passenger van to get whacked in the side of the head with an apple core while she’s driving in the roundabout and BAM, you’re gone.  Get it in now, while you can still walk and talk, because it may be your last chance.  Go to confession!

6. It’s the beginning of the school year.  Whether you’re homeschooling or sending the kids off, or if you’re a teacher, or maybe you’re a student yourself, or maybe you’re the unlucky son of a gun who stocks the back-to-school shelves at Staples, and you feel like you’re going to strangle the next inconsiderate slob who thinks it’s funny to rearrange all the Flair pens – you need to turn things around.  The start of something new is always a good time to get a clean slate.  So go to confession.

7. You spent the whole day glued to your computer yesterday, reading everything you can about Syria and Miley Cyrus, and now you have a wretched, empty sensation between your ears.  All the world is sad and dreary, and you can’t think of any particular reason why you should even bother to get up tomorrow.  Confession restores hope.  Go to confession.

8. You’ve been doing great lately.  You pray a lot, you’ve been patient and kind, you’re making all kinds of progress in your career, and your personal life is blooming.  Confession gives glory to God.  Go to confession!

9. You’re not really sure that God is listening to you anyway.  You don’t bear him any particular ill will, but He doesn’t seem to have anything to do with you, and vice versa.  Confession makes a connection with God.  Go see Him in confession.

10. What, nine reasons aren’t enough for you?  Now you’re just looking for excuses. It's only Thursday; you can totally figure out how to get it into your schedule.  Go to confession.  Go!

O Come, O Come Emmanuel by Mary Anne Muglia

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Your Soul Finds Rest in God

The following comes from the Catholic Exchange:

We all suffer in this world more or less, either from anxiety of mind, or sorrow of heart, or pain of body. And nevertheless we all long for rest; we seek it eagerly; and we wear ourselves out all our lives in this search without ever attaining the ob­ject of our desires.
Where is rest to be found? Where shall we seek it? This is a most interesting question if ever there was one.
Some men, in fact the greater number, seek their rest in the enjoyment of the riches, pleasures, and honors of this life. What care do they not take to secure these things for themselves, to preserve them, to increase them, and to accumulate them?
Do they really find rest in these things? No. How would rest be found in these perishing things, which cannot even sat­isfy the passion that desired them; in things that have no proportion with the wants of the human heart, that leave it always empty, always devoured by a still more ardent thirst; in things that are always being disputed and envied and torn furiously by one person from another? What rest and stability can be found in things that are change itself? If the foundation on which we build our rest is always moving, is it not a necessary consequence that we must experience the same agitation?
Let everyone consult himself; experience is the most posi­tive of proofs. What man ever tasted rest in the midst of the greatest treasures, the liveliest pleasures, the most flattering honors? Rest is not in these things: everyone knows this; and yet it is in these things that man persists in seeking it. Men ex­haust themselves in desires, in projects, in enterprises, and they never succeed in finding a single moment of rest. If they would only consult their reason, it would tell them that in this way they can never find rest. What blindness! What folly!
Others establish their rest in themselves, and in doing this, they think they are much wiser than those who seek it in exte­rior things. But are they really wise? Is man made to be suffi­cient for himself? Can he find in himself the principle of his rest? His ideas change every day; his heart is in a perpetual state of unrest; he is constantly imagining new systems of hap­piness, and he finds this happiness nowhere. If he is alone, he is devoured with weariness. If he is in company, however se­lect and agreeable it may be, it soon becomes tiresome to him; his reflections exhaust and torment him. Study and reading may amuse him and distract him for a time, but they cannot fill up the void in his heart. This is the kind of rest that human wisdom promises to its followers and for which it invites them to give up everything else, to isolate themselves, and to concentrate their attention on themselves. It is a deceitful rest, which is not exempt from the most violent agitations and which is at least as hard for man to bear as the tumult of his passions!

Fr. Benedict Groeschel on Isolation And Today's Culture

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Blessed Mother Teresa on Prayer

“Prayer is not asking. Prayer is putting oneself in the hands of God, at His disposition, and listening to His voice in the depth of our hearts.” 


                           Blessed Mother Teresa

Monday, December 15, 2014

I Will Wait by Mumford and Sons

Rest in God

The following comes from the Catholic Exchange:


We all suffer in this world more or less, either from anxiety of mind, or sorrow of heart, or pain of body. And nevertheless we all long for rest; we seek it eagerly; and we wear ourselves out all our lives in this search without ever attaining the ob­ject of our desires.
Where is rest to be found? Where shall we seek it? This is a most interesting question if ever there was one.
Some men, in fact the greater number, seek their rest in the enjoyment of the riches, pleasures, and honors of this life. What care do they not take to secure these things for themselves, to preserve them, to increase them, and to accumulate them?
Do they really find rest in these things? No. How would rest be found in these perishing things, which cannot even sat­isfy the passion that desired them; in things that have no proportion with the wants of the human heart, that leave it always empty, always devoured by a still more ardent thirst; in things that are always being disputed and envied and torn furiously by one person from another? What rest and stability can be found in things that are change itself? If the foundation on which we build our rest is always moving, is it not a necessary consequence that we must experience the same agitation?
Let everyone consult himself; experience is the most posi­tive of proofs. What man ever tasted rest in the midst of the greatest treasures, the liveliest pleasures, the most flattering honors? Rest is not in these things: everyone knows this; and yet it is in these things that man persists in seeking it. Men ex­haust themselves in desires, in projects, in enterprises, and they never succeed in finding a single moment of rest. If they would only consult their reason, it would tell them that in this way they can never find rest. What blindness! What folly!
Others establish their rest in themselves, and in doing this, they think they are much wiser than those who seek it in exte­rior things. But are they really wise? Is man made to be suffi­cient for himself? Can he find in himself the principle of his rest? His ideas change every day; his heart is in a perpetual state of unrest; he is constantly imagining new systems of hap­piness, and he finds this happiness nowhere. If he is alone, he is devoured with weariness. If he is in company, however se­lect and agreeable it may be, it soon becomes tiresome to him; his reflections exhaust and torment him. Study and reading may amuse him and distract him for a time, but they cannot fill up the void in his heart. This is the kind of rest that human wisdom promises to its followers and for which it invites them to give up everything else, to isolate themselves, and to concentrate their attention on themselves. It is a deceitful rest, which is not exempt from the most violent agitations and which is at least as hard for man to bear as the tumult of his passions!
Where, then, is rest to be found, if we can find it neither in the good things of this world nor in ourselves?
It is to be found in God, and in God alone. Jesus Christ came into the world to teach us this truth, and it is the greatest lesson that He has given us. But how few there are who profit by it!
“Thou hast made us for Thyself,” cries St. Augustine, “and our heart finds no rest until it reposes in Thee.” This truth is the first principle of all morality; reason, religion, and experience all unite in proving it to us.

Pope John XXIII on Advent

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Redeemed by Big Daddy Weave

That's My King!


That's My King! from Albert Martin on Vimeo.

Saint of the day: John of the Cross


Today we remember a great mystic in the Church! Saint John of the Cross (24 June 1542-–14 December 1591) was a major figure of the Counter-Reformation, a Spanish mystic, and Carmelite friar and priest, born at Fontiveros, a small village near Ávila, Spain.

The following comes from the Catholic Online Site:

Born in Spain in 1542, John learned the importance of self-sacrificing love from his parents. His father gave up wealth, status, and comfort when he married a weaver's daughter and was disowned by his noble family. After his father died, his mother kept the destitute family together as they wandered homeless in search of work. These were the examples of sacrifice that John followed with his own great love -- God.

When the family finally found work, John still went hungry in the middle of the wealthiest city in Spain. At fourteen, John took a job caring for hospital patients who suffered from incurable diseases and madness. It was out of this poverty and suffering, that John learned to search for beauty and happiness not in the world, but in God.

After John joined the Carmelite order, Saint Teresa of Avila asked him to help her reform movement. John supported her belief that the order should return to its life of prayer. But many Carmelites felt threatened by this reform, and some members of John's own order kidnapped him. He was locked in a cell six feet by ten feet and beaten three times a week by the monks. There was only one tiny window high up near the ceiling. Yet in that unbearable dark, cold, and desolation, his love and faith were like fire and light. He had nothing left but God -- and God brought John his greatest joys in that tiny cell.

After nine months, John escaped by unscrewing the lock on his door and creeping past the guard. Taking only the mystical poetry he had written in his cell, he climbed out a window using a rope made of stirps of blankets. With no idea where he was, he followed a dog to civilization. He hid from pursuers in a convent infirmary where he read his poetry to the nuns. From then on his life was devoted to sharing and explaining his experience of God's love.

His life of poverty and persecution could have produced a bitter cynic. Instead it gave birth to a compassionate mystic, who lived by the beliefs that "Who has ever seen people persuaded to love God by harshness?" and "Where there is no love, put love -- and you will find love."

John left us many books of practical advice on spiritual growth and prayer that are just as relevant today as they were then.