From Paul to Saul and Jason to John…

The idea of a person who adamantly opposes a movement and then becomes one of its strongest supporters, is a pretty benign concept to someone that understands a little about psychology.  As children of God, we all struggle against the one thing that will save us, thereby creating a cause for us to act upon.  Paul says in his letter to the Romans, and he was speaking to Christians in Rome after his conversion.  However, I believe the same contradiction existed in him from the beginning, as it does in all of us.  “For I do not do the good I want, but I do the evil I do not want.”  (Romans 7:19 NABRE)  The cause that most of us act upon is selfishness, but if we stopped to think about what really brings us happiness and joy, it is selflessness.  If we did the things that bring joy to others, rather than to ourselves, we would be truly full of joy, but too often we choose the things that would make us temporarily happy.

Paul, when he was known as Saul, went on a mission to attack the one thing that could save him, the Christian movement.  The movement that was created by God to disciple the world with people that were uniquely his own through their relationship with his son, Jesus.  In his case, as we saw in the retelling of the murder of Stephen, he was not always out front in the attack against the Christian movement, but he chose to be out front to stand up for the cause that he believed was just.  “They threw him out of the city, and began to stone him. The witnesses laid down their cloaks at the feet of a young man named Saul.”  (Acts 7:58)  In his case, he had formed his life’s mission around the destruction of a people that were in opposition to his faith.  God knew the fortitude that was won in Paul through years of training in the Jewish faith, and dramatically changed his path to bring him to a new understanding and leave the path of wickedness behind, because God knew that movement needed his unique gifts.

From Jason to John…For me, God knew the weakness and lack of obedience that had been won through years of neglect and lack of discipline, so it was a slow and deliberate conversion over the past 25 years.  I think this is the case for most Christians today, God chooses to make our conversions much more deliberate and gives us the opportunity to choose to follow at every step.  However, as I spoke with a current college age convert yesterday, I realized that the blinding conversion of Paul may be becoming more necessary to keep new disciples from getting lost in this self-obsessed culture that is so pervasive.  My conversion was not like Paul’s or Saul’s, but I can definitely see that God has been using the events in my life to make me aware that there is another mission for me that is beyond what the world would offer.  A mission that calls me by name to do a work that I would not choose for myself, but I follow because I know it is God’s will.

Saint Teresa of Avila, pray for us…

When I think about the love I felt in the church the other day, this is the love that I think of…

From a work by Saint Teresa of Avila, virgin
Let us always be mindful of Christ’s love

If Christ Jesus dwells in a man as his friend and noble leader, that man can endure all things, for Christ helps and strengthens us and never abandons us. He is a true friend. And I clearly see that if we expect to please him and receive an abundance of his graces, God desires that these graces must come to us from the hands of Christ, through his most sacred humanity, in which God takes delight.

Many, many times I have perceived this through experience. The Lord has told it to me. I have definitely seen that we must enter by this gate if we wish his Sovereign Majesty to reveal to us great and hidden mysteries. A person should desire no other path, even if he is at the summit of contemplation; on this road he walks safely. All blessings come to us through our Lord. He will teach us, for in beholding his life we find that he is the best example.

What more do we desire from such a good friend at our side? Unlike our friends in the world, he will never abandon us when we are troubled or distressed. Blessed is the one who truly loves him and always keeps him near. Let us consider the glorious Saint Paul: it seems that no other name fell from his lips than that of Jesus, because the name of Jesus was fixed and embedded in his heart. Once I had come to understand this truth, I carefully considered the lives of some of the saints, the great contemplatives, and found that they took no other path: Francis, Anthony of Padua, Bernard, Catherine of Siena. A person must walk along this path in freedom, placing himself in God’s hands. If God should desire to raise us to the position of one who is an intimate and shares his secrets, we ought to accept this gladly.

Whenever we think of Christ we should recall the love that led him to bestow on us so many graces and favours, and also the great love God showed in giving us in Christ a pledge of his love; for love calls for love in return. Let us strive to keep this always before our eyes and to rouse ourselves to love him. For if at some time the Lord should grant us the grace of impressing his love on our hearts, all will become easy for us and we shall accomplish great things quickly and without effort. (end of quote from Saint Teresa of Avila)

Question is…What will we accomplish today with the power of this great love?

Hail Mary, full of grace.  The Lord is with you.  Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus.  Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death…Amen!

It’s still Lent…

What have you done for your eternal soul lately?

Are you just walking through Babylon expecting the world to stop being evil?

Are you willing to be the change that you are expecting to see?  (Pope Francis did and he is willing to admit his faults, are we?)

For the Feast of Saint John Bosco, let’s revisit this question, “Does it matter what I watch on TV?”

This is the reading from Philippians for today’s Mass for Saint John Bosco…

Brothers and sisters:
Rejoice in the Lord always.
I shall say it again: rejoice!
Your kindness should be known to all.
The Lord is near.
Have no anxiety at all, but in everything,
by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving,
make your requests known to God.
Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding
will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, brothers and sisters,
whatever is true, whatever is honorable,
whatever is just, whatever is pure,
whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious,
if there is any excellence
and if there is anything worthy of praise,
think about these things.
Keep on doing what you have learned and received
and heard and seen in me.
Then the God of peace will be with you.

Are we standing up for what we believe?

I guess I could just answer, “No!” and go back to preparing my mind for college football Saturday, but I want to make sure I get down a few points to share with our youth group tomorrow. In hearing the gospel message yesterday, and then again today, I am left with the impression that God is expecting us to stand up for what we believe. Does that mean we have to be instrumental in changing hearts and minds around important issues like abortion, euthanasia and freedom of religion? No, it just means that, as sinners, we need to recognize that we are broken and stop being so distracted that we are not lifting those important issues up to God in prayer, so that God knows our hearts are not conformed to this world’s lies.  There are also some issues that get to the heart of what led to our complacent attitude toward these huge problems in our culture today. I talk about the virtue of chastity a lot with our youth, because along with purity, it is these two virtues, that stand in direct opposition to the vices of lust and immorality that are so accepted in our culture today.

Many people could say that lust and immorality is the default position of humanity, and it always has been and always will be, why fight it?  As for the question of what it always will be, I will defer to God’s omnipotent word for that one, and say that I know that although God is going to raise His faithful people on the last day, like Jesus, Mary, and some of the early prophets of his chosen people, and he will not be raising our lust and immorality along with our bodies. Jesus says that we will not marry or be married in heaven(Matthew 22:30), and Saint Paul said that the purpose for a Christian to be married, who is united to Jesus in building up His kingdom, is to not give in to lust(1 Corinthians 7:1-7). If we will not be married in heaven, than it goes without saying that we will not be tempted to lust either.  Therefore, if we are using this life on earth, as God has instructed us to, in His word, to prepare for eternity in heaven, shouldn’t we be cultivating the virtues that will be useful in heaven and not giving in to the vices that are only temporary?

If we are giving in to the vices, then we should be going to confession for the times that we are guilty of mortal sin. If we have been graced by God to root the sin out of our life, or we know he is in the process of doing so, shouldn’t we be admonishing the other sinners to repentance?  It is not like we have to look that far to find the sin, just drive west on Main Street through downtown Springfield and you will pass three or four strip clubs in six blocks, on your way to the largest abortion mill I have ever seen, that is just across the river in Glenwood. It is a 40,000 square foot facility that thye say is built for administrating the reproductive “Health” and “Education” of our county. It has two operating rooms on the back side of the facility that were built for the sole purpose of murdering babies in the womb.

The gospel reading at Mass on Friday morning was about interpreting the “Present” time, because of the signs that we see in the world. At first, I couldn’t see the call to action in my life until Father Jaspers read it out loud at Mass, and as I heard it read, I realized that it was talking about how we will be judged for not standing up for the things that we know are wrong in our world today. You may not be called to participate in the 40 day for life campaign that is ending in a week or so, by showing up there, in the front or back of the building, and taking some time to pray for an end to abortion. If you are Christian, then you are definitely called to pray in some way that God will deliver the women that are caught in the lies of Satan, and are being told that they have no option but abortion.  We all know someone who is probably caught up in the same sort of lies that are telling them to act like animals in their sex lives, and see women and men objects for the purpose of their own gratification, or maybe it is us, and we should be praying for God to give us a heart that loves purity, and the grace to overcome the sins of lust and immorality.

1 Thessalonians 5:4-5

You are not in the dark, brothers, that the day should catch you off guard, like a thief. No, all of you are children of light and of the day. We belong neither to darkness nor to night.