Category: Spirituality & Spiritual Warfare

Suffering makes us seek the light.

tumblr_mhsjx81rbq1qcwhbgo1_500Suffering, little sufferings, big sufferings – it makes us seek the light. In larger sufferings, we of course throw our hands up, hit our knees, and pray. We find ourselves lost for any control or even effort – so we beg God for his assistance. We should be begging for mercy – but more often than not it a pleading for help.

It is the little sufferings where we often forget to seek God, and yet it is precisely those times that we should most easily seek Him. If we are lost in little ways, it is so conceited and full of ourselves if we think we can find the path, alone – without light. Shouldn’t we most want to ask God for the little favors since they are so little?

Saint Lucy is an important saint to our family. We are fiercely devoted to her, and she has often found much favor for us. I think God wants us to learn from the Saints – ways to love Him the way they did. With Lucy it was unwavering devotion – blind devotion. Yet, her name, she was the light – in her blindness, and devotion – it is then that we can most see God.

Saint Lucy – let us know that it is always darkest before the dawn, but that once we find the light and the light appears let us not forget the night. Let that night, the darkness remain in us just enough to keep us close to the light.

Saint Lucy – Ora Pro Nobis.

“It was fitting that Christ should be tempted.”

As someone drawn to Dominican spirituality, and as a Thomist, I read “Meditations for Lent” every spring. It is a perfect Lenten reflection and meditation book.

This past Sunday, we heard at Mass (in the N.O.) the desert temptation of Christ. On text64enTuesday, Aquinas’ meditation is entitled:

It was fitting that Christ should be tempted.

As Aquinas explains, Christ willed himself to be tempted. Giving the reason that he may better assist us against our own temptations. Just as the suffering of Christ (which Aquinas deals with in subsequent meditations) allows Him to better minister to us in our own suffering, the resistance of temptations does the same.

Aquinas quotes St. Gregory:

That our Redeemer, who had come to earth to be killed, should will to be tempted was not unworthy of him. It was indeed but just that he should overcome our temptations by his own, in the same way that he had come to overcome our death by his death.”

He further explains that another reason is to show that no man, should think himself safe and free from temptation. It is here I want to really direct our attention. It isn’t the temptation itself, something Christ proves we will all face, that is the sin – it is the succumbing and capitulation to the sin.

St. Thomas Aquinas  Ora Pro Nobis
St. Thomas Aquinas
Ora Pro Nobis

Aquinas doesn’t leave us unaided though, for he says that along with these instructions, Christ also showed us how to overcome the temptation.

Let us resist that which plagues our souls this Lent, and let us resist those temptations that will surely visit us in our deserts.

“You will be hated by all because of MY name”

The Pope’s comments on the France terrorist attacks, are well — interesting. I am sure lots  will be said about it, but someone asked my thoughts.

I have many, but this is what I feel comfortable posting:

11_08_19_WYD_02

“You will be hated by all because of my name, but whoever endures to the end will be saved.” -Matthew 10:22

 

Vandalism at Holy Family Cathedral in Anchorage

Long time, no blog – but unfortuantely I come bearing bad news.

Holy Family Cathedral in Anchorage, Alaska was pretty badly vanalized the other day. I frequented the Cathedral whenever we went up, and it is overseen by the AMAZING Dominican priests.

altarvandI will try and update as more information comes out, but for now you can check some of the O.P.’s facebook pages:

He took a video walk-through of the vandalism. While some may say that this isn’t a big deal, or turn this and make it into an opportunity to speak to what the Church or the Cathedral could/should do differently – that distracts from the fact that someone had intent in their heart to do this. It wasn’t the first time something happened either. This is an ongoing problem, and the worst part is this is a church/parish that does more than almost any other parish I have ever seen to give back to the community.

Please keep them in your prayers.

Help if you can…

These types of tragedies are part of the world, one to which we do not belong but must spend our time, and so the suffering is real and excruciating at times.lewis

Dear friends,

Many of you know Sean and Becca Lewis from UD, CUA and WCC. I’m sad to tell you that two of their daughters, Emma and Olivia, passed away today.

Emma and Olivia were in a car wreck with Becca. Becca has no serious injuries. Sean and their middle daughter, Vivian, were not in the car. For the official statement from Wyoming Catholic College, please see their FB page:

https://www.facebook.com/WyomingCatholicCollege

I’m writing to ask you to donate to a fund for Sean and Becca. They are surrounded by your love and prayers, which will carry them far. This money will allow them to worry less about finances in the coming months. As you may know, funeral expenses alone can be $10,000-$15,000. I’m setting our goal high so we can also give them the gift of some time and resources to grieve. Please share this with anyone who may want to donate.

With love, Maureen and Nick Benes

It is our Christian duty to show love and ease the suffering of others.

Please help through Prayer, Fasting, or Alms.

For the last of these please visit: The Sean and Becca Lewis Fund

A guide to FASTING & ABSTINENCE from ‘St. Peter’s List Blog’

O’ happy fault, let us enter LENT with open hearts and penitent lips.

For some helpful explanations and reminders about FASTING and ABSTINENCE check out St. Peter’s List Blog:

Lent

The Idiot’s Guide to Fasting and Abstinence: 5 Things to Know

Thoughts on Justice & Mercy

Divine Mercy
Divine Mercy

St. Thomas Aquinas says this of MERCY:

…mercy is heartfelt sympathy for another’s distress, impelling us to succor him if we can.

Aquinas explains that MERCY is a virtue, and that it is a desire to avoid evil, and to move away from evil. Yet, I have always wondered if MERCY is required. For mercy can’t come without an understanding of JUSTICE.

Justice is a virtue as well.

So when I read about two situations of what I would call MERCY, I wonder if they are required by JUSTICE, or if they are acts of MERCY that are such because they extend beyond the JUSTICE that could be administered.

Deacon Greg Kandra wrote about both, the first being a teacher at a Catholic school who was fired for her pregnancy out of wedlock, a violation of her contract allegedly. The second, the Catholic funeral of Philip Seymour Hoffman.

ladyjusticesquareI believe both situations he describes are acts of MERCY, but if I argue that, does that mean that neither are acts of JUSTICE, but instead are MERCIFUL because they ascend JUSTICE only to transcend it?

Maybe that is how we should all seek to act. To seek out justice in our lives, and find opportunities, and the strength and mental vitality to ACT MERCIFULLY. In some cases think mercifully.

The Fight Over the Pope

Pope Francis Street

I did two things tonight I rarely do.

  1. I posted an article that I had skepticism over but thought it would be interesting to discuss, but that I knew was more “trolling” than anything.
  2. I took down a post.

Right now, there is a battle waging over the Pope, and Catholics all over the world are fighting to make him stand for their view of Catholicism. Unfortunately, what more of us should be doing is finding ways to listen to what he says, and figure out how he can lead us to fit our lives to the views and heart of Christ.

There is a bigger post lingering in my head here, but I can’t quite figure out what is happening. I think there is a lot of fear involved in the hearts of Catholics, whether they want to admit it or not, and we forget who the real enemy is.

Let us pray for the Church and for the Pope.

Prayer Request for a Dear Friend

I know my readership isn’t what it used to be, but I know that there are many devoted companions in this spiritual journey we call life. That is why I want to ask all of you to pray especially for a dear friend.

St. Michael the Archangel, 
defend us in battle. 
Be our defense against the wickedness and snares of the Devil. 
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray, 
and do thou, 
O Prince of the heavenly hosts, 
by the power of God, 
thrust into hell Satan, 
and all the evil spirits, 
who prowl about the world 
seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.

St. Michael, Defend us in battle...
St. Michael, Defend us in battle…

Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson Suspended

Duck Dynasty family: The Robertsons
Duck Dynasty family: The Robertsons

Duck Dynasty patriarch Phil Robertson has been suspened by TV network A&E for his recent comments in a GQ interview.

A&E says the following to industry-mag Entertainment Weekly:

 “We are extremely disappointed to have read Phil Robertson’s comments in GQ, which are based on his own personal beliefs and are not reflected in the seriesDuck Dynasty. His personal views in no way reflect those of A+E Networks, who have always been strong supporters and champions of the LGBT community. The network has placed Phil under hiatus from filming indefinitely.”

Legal analysis aside, what is interesting is that A&E is suspending a man from a show about him and his family for – being himself.

Here is what he said that is being quoted everywhere as the “hateful” and “anti-gay” comments:

“It seems like, to me, a vagina—as a man—would be more desirable than a man’s anus. That’s just me. I’m just thinking: There’s more there! She’s got more to offer. I mean, come on, dudes! You know what I’m saying? But hey, sin: It’s not logical, my man. It’s just not logical.”

People can interpret things in many ways, so I leave you the reader to interpret that how you will. Phil said it and really he believes it.

The question is: is it “anti-gay” or “hateful”?

But the big quote that is getting Phil in all the turmoil here is this one:

“Everything is blurred on what’s right and what’s wrong,” he says. “Sin becomes fine.”

What, in your mind, is sinful?

“Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men,” he says. Then he paraphrases Corinthians: “Don’t be deceived. Neither the adulterers, the idolaters, the male prostitutes, the homosexual offenders, the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers, the swindlers—they won’t inherit the kingdom of God. Don’t deceive yourself. It’s not right.”

The accusation is that Phil is being hateful for believing, and then stating, that homosexuality is a sin.

So at what point does belief and expression of those beliefs turn to “hate”? I do believe there is a line somewhere that this happens, but what is it exactly?

Here is a quote from the same article that not as many folks are quoting:

“You put in your article that the Robertson family really believes strongly that if the human race loved each other and they loved God, we would just be better off. We ought to just be repentant, turn to God, and let’s get on with it, and everything will turn around.”

 

 UPDATE: 

Rod Dreher has a take that makes some decent points.

 

Ross Douthat, Conservative Catholics, and Pope Francis

Ross Douthat, conservative and Catholic columnist for the New York Times, labeled his Sunday

Ross Douthat, NYTimes
Ross Douthat, NYTimes

piece this week: “The Pope and the Right.” Now before you go off, read it, and come back either elated or steaming mad, let’s remember one important thing: columnists get paid to make people read them. The more novel, inflamatory, aggressive, or shocking something is – often the better.1

Douthat though isn’t being too much of anything, instead he is simply stating the obvious. He is addressing the elephant in the room, or in some cases, the uncomfortable conversation that many Catholics are having.2 The topic he addresses is one that strikes close to home – how do conservatives (either politically or theological ones, if that is possible) reconcile the pontificate – so far – of Pope Francis?

His most interesting points though, in my opinion, are made when he attempts to give three arguments for why a seemingly “liberal” Pope can actually be reconciled with American conservative principles. His three premises are (in my own summarized form):

  1. Capitalism, or free market ideals, has a better track record than socialist societies at lifting the poor and marginalized out of poverty and maintaining free society.
  2. Solidarity and Subsidiarity are key components to Catholic social teaching – a la the philosophical pillars of such teaching.
  3. Welfare states (i.e. socialist and liberal states) have produced rather toxic social and cultural policies that fly in the face of Catholic doctrine and social teaching. (e.g. low birth rates, charitable roadblocks, and religious persecution.)

The money paragraph though isn’t one where Douthat doubles-down on American conservative principles, or attempts to contort the Pope’s actions and most recent Exhortation to fit the GOP platform. Instead he challenges “conservative” Catholics, such as myself, to reexamine how we interact with the world – socially and politically – and find a way to fit our politics to our faith, and not the other way around. 

As Douthat puts it:

This Catholic case for limited government, however, is not a case for the Ayn Randian temptation inherent to a capitalism-friendly politics. There is no Catholic warrant for valorizing entrepreneurs at the expense of ordinary workers, or for dismissing all regulation as unnecessary and all redistribution as immoral.

And this is where Francis’s vision should matter to American Catholics who usually cast ballots for Republican politicians. The pope’s words shouldn’t inspire them to convert en masse to liberalism, or to worry that the throne of Peter has been seized by a Marxist anti-pope. But they should encourage a much greater integration of Catholic and conservative ideas than we’ve seen since “compassionate conservatism” collapsed, and inspire Catholics to ask more — often much more — of the Republican Party, on a range of policy issues.

Flannery O'Connor on Ayn Rand.
Flannery O’Connor on Ayn Rand.

Now, I dont want to spend a lot of time in this post on it, but the link talking about ‘compassionate conservatism’ is interesting and ultimately goes to the larger issue I plan to discuss. Yet, I intend to set that discussion up with this post. So for now, I will leave it at this: Douthat seems to say that what is important for Catholics -specifically American conservative Catholics, in light of Pope Francis, is that we find a way to push for policies that cling to Catholic teaching, but hold fast to conservative principles. The latter not for their own sake, but because our faith animates those principles in our culture.

Pope Francis, love manifested in action.
Pope Francis, love manifested in action.

We should not spend the time of Pope Francis hidden away in Mass3 praying for patience and that God’s will be done. While we want those things, of course, it is that there is so much more we can do – and should do.

While many liberal Catholics4 made plenty of fuss during the Pontificate of Benedict XVI about the direction of the Church, the cry for conservatives to “do what they did” or “follow our own advice” is a false premise. Douthat calls this the “Loyal Opposition” argument. He rejects it, and so do I. It is instead our time to continue with vigilance and fortitude. We spent formative years solidifying our faith, now it is time to solidify the world around us – to animate the social teachings and political policies with our hearts grounded in the teachings of the Church.

  1. Case in point, a recent NYT shocking front picture. []
  2. Some of these conversations are private and dare not reach the narthexes and church basements of our parishes. []
  3. in the usus antiquior of course… []
  4. For the record, I am not a fan of using political terminology to explain theological philosophy, it makes sense in this post. []

War on Religion

Reports say that the U.S. spied on Pope Francis and others during the most recent Papal Conclave.
Reports say that the U.S. spied on Pope Francis and others during the most recent Papal Conclave.

Is nothing sacred?

From the UK Telegraph:

The National Security Agency spied on the future Pope Francis before and during the Vatican conclave at which he was chosen to succeed Benedict XVI, it was claimed on Wednesday.

The American spy agency monitored telephone calls made to and from the residence in Rome where the then Archbishop Jorge Mario Bergoglio stayed during the conclave, the secret election at which cardinals chose him as pontiff on March 13.

The claims were made by Panorama, an Italian weekly news magazine, which said that the NSA monitored the telephone calls of many bishops and cardinals at the Vatican in the lead-up to the conclave, which was held amid tight security in the Sistine Chapel.

The information gleaned was then reportedly divided into four categories — “leadership intentions”, “threats to financial system”, “foreign policy objectives” and “human rights”.

At that time, Benedict XVI was Pope, suggesting that the Vatican may also have been monitored during the last few weeks of his papacy.

There are so many things to say about this. Things are out of control in our country, that is for certain, but this takes things to a whole new level and actually prompts more questions than there are good answers.

Just remember, we battle not flesh and blood, but powers and principalities.

St. Michael, defend us in battle.

Believing in the Devil: Justice Antonin Scalia & Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson

Recently two articles came out where the person being interviewed affirms the belief in spiritual warfare. In fact both men boldly declare their belief that the devil is real, and that what we battle against isn’t simply the human condition but evil.

The first, an interview of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia in the New York Magazine. Justice Scalia is known for being one of the more approachable members of the Court, but this interview is quite candid even for his standards. The interview is long, but a worthwhile read.1

Justice Antonin Scalia believes in the devil.
Justice Antonin Scalia believes in the devil.

Here is the section on the Devil. [BOLD is writer Jennifer Senior; regular typeface is Justice Scalia]

You believe in heaven and hell?
Oh, of course I do. Don’t you believe in heaven and hell?

No.
Oh, my.

Does that mean I’m not going?
[Laughing.] Unfortunately not!

Wait, to heaven or hell? 
It doesn’t mean you’re not going to hell, just because you don’t believe in it. That’s Catholic doctrine! Everyone is going one place or the other.

But you don’t have to be a Catholic to get into heaven? Or believe in it? 
Of course not!

Oh. So you don’t know where I’m going. Thank God.
I don’t know where you’re going. I don’t even know whether Judas Iscariot is in hell. I mean, that’s what the pope meant when he said, “Who am I to judge?” He may have recanted and had severe penance just before he died. Who knows?

Can we talk about your drafting process—
[Leans in, stage-whispers.] I even believe in the Devil.

You do?
Of course! Yeah, he’s a real person. Hey, c’mon, that’s standard Catholic doctrine! Every Catholic believes that.

Every Catholic believes this? There’s a wide variety of Catholics out there …
If you are faithful to Catholic dogma, that is certainly a large part of it.

Have you seen evidence of the Devil lately?
You know, it is curious. In the Gospels, the Devil is doing all sorts of things. He’s making pigs run off cliffs, he’s possessing people and whatnot. And that doesn’t happen very much anymore.

No.
It’s because he’s smart.

So what’s he doing now?
What he’s doing now is getting people not to believe in him or in God. He’s much more successful that way.

That has really painful implications for atheists. Are you sure that’s the ­Devil’s work?
I didn’t say atheists are the Devil’s work.

Well, you’re saying the Devil is ­persuading people to not believe in God. Couldn’t there be other reasons to not believe?
Well, there certainly can be other reasons. But it certainly favors the Devil’s desires. I mean, c’mon, that’s the explanation for why there’s not demonic possession all over the place. That always puzzled me. What happened to the Devil, you know? He used to be all over the place. He used to be all over the New Testament.

Right.
What happened to him?

He just got wilier.
He got wilier.

Isn’t it terribly frightening to believe in the Devil?
You’re looking at me as though I’m weird. My God! Are you so out of touch with most of America, most of which believes in the Devil? I mean, Jesus Christ believed in the Devil! It’s in the Gospels! You travel in circles that are so, so removed from mainstream America that you are appalled that anybody would believe in the Devil! Most of mankind has believed in the Devil, for all of history. Many more intelligent people than you or me have believed in the Devil.

I hope you weren’t sensing contempt from me. It wasn’t your belief that surprised me so much as how boldly you expressed it.
I was offended by that. I really was.

I’m sorry to have offended you! 
Have you read The Screwtape Letters?

Yes, I have.
So, there you are. That’s a great book. It really is, just as a study of human nature.

This conversation is such a summation of truth and reality, as it relates to this issue and our culture. When Justice Scalia points out that the Devil is smart, by making people disbelieve in him and in God it reminds me of the saying, “the greatest trick the devil ever pulled is convincing the world he doesn’t exist.”

Then, when he explains that throughout most of history, even some of the smartest and most learned people believed in the existence of the devil, you can sense his dismay and disbelief that the author is, as he puts it, “so out of touch” that she is surprised by his belief. In fact, it “offends” him.

Similarly, Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty shares the belief that the devil does indeed exist and that we are wrapped up in a battle of good and evil.

Phil Robertson, of Duck  Dynasty, believes in the devil and spiritual warfare.
Phil Robertson, of Duck Dynasty, believes in the devil and spiritual warfare.

In a recent interview, Phil says:

You gotta remember, it’s spiritual warfare. I mean, you’ve got people with no moral compass. It ain’t there. So what I tell people is be patient.

They’re the ones, they own the network and we’re filming the show.

We signed the contract with them, ok, and it’s a workhouse, but what people have to understand is, the people of God have to understand, you’ve just got to be patient. You don’t turn that ship quickly. It’s a big ship. A lot of depravity and a lot of heathen and a lot of the evil one. He is entrenched in the United States.

He speaks about it in a very matter-of-fact way. To him, the idea that this is a battle not of flesh and blood, but against powers and principalities is a reality. Just like it is for Justice Scalia.

Two very different men, in very distant parts of culture and society, but they share a common set of core beliefs about good and evil, and the reality of the devil.

  1. There is also a section where the Justice addresses the most recent comments by the pope. []