Tag Archive: attacks


 

It has been brutal. For the past year and a half, a struggle ensued for my mind and soul. Constant spiritual warfare wore me down to the point where, on most days, I could barely hold up my head. Going to Mass became a chore. Something was seriously wrong within my soul. All this time, it seemed God was distant. Watching me, yes, but with his back turned the other way. I wandered in the desert like the weeping Israelites, praying and hoping for the streams of life.

During the worst times, I could barely pray. Nothing gave me the joy and consolation I formerly felt. Even throughout Mass, everything remained numb, dead inside. Seeing Jesus in the priest’s hands: the solution to all my ills, I begged Him for deliverance, remembering in my mind the most-dreary verse of Psalm 88: “Friend and neighbor you have taken away, my one companion is darkness.” What the melancholy King David sang thousands of years ago, I felt in my heart this day.  Asking God for His grace, I decided to snub the devil by taking up even more prayer.

Now was not the time to let up. It was time for heavy artillery. Eucharistic adoration. If the local parish didn’t have exposition, I’d go into the church, before the silent tabernacle and voice my complaints and regretfully, not enough thanksgivings. Adoring the sacred host, the Real presence of the Lord is a remedy of peace, a soothing balm on the wounded soul. When you have one foot in the grave, in front of the tabernacle is where you need to be.

Another weapon: The Divine Office. A very ancient and powerful prayer, using the Scriptures, prayed in union with the entire church. It ensures the name of God be blessed at every hour… and the devil hates that! You don’t need to pray all five in a day as monks do. Start with Vespers or Evening prayer, which is easiest. Work your way up. Try chanting, in monotone or with accompaniment. As St Augustine advises: “He who sings prays twice.”

The spirits of despair and anger had encompassed me. There seemed no place to run. Last night, I struggled through my rosary, feeling suffocated by the evil and sin which weighed down heavy. Feelings of worthlessness, weariness and stress hung over my brow. It is no consequence that during the darkest times, Mary came to me, a quiet and serene presence. There is such power in the Mother of Christ, Our Perpetual Help. She crushes the serpent’s head. Wherever a public rosary was offered, I’d try best to make it.

But I am here to proclaim that God does wondrous things, even when we’re on the brink of giving up. We are always ready to give up, but Our Lord, He never gives up on us. Frayed, at the very end of my rope, I attended the rosary and adoration service at a nearby parish in Winter Haven Florida. The priest there is known to be very nice. He once heard my confession on the spot. I asked him before the service if he had time but he was understandably busy. After the service, I approached him and told him about this spiritual warfare I’d been going through, asking for his prayers. Even before we spoke, he could tell something was up. I glanced away, explaining that I’ve been thrown into so much confusion that I wasn’t even sure if I committed sins or not. He offered to bless and then absolve me!!

Taken totally by surprise, I knelt down before him, my eyes on the white stole hanging from beneath his robes. The power to forgive sins. Next to the voice of your husband, saying “I love you,” there is no better sound than a priests voice saying “I absolve you.” To me, it’s Jesus saying “I love you.” Totally beside myself with gratitude, I kissed the priest’s stole, thanked him profusely and skipped out of the church like a giddy fool.

Finally, I knew what it felt like to be that one leper, who showing himself to the priest, found he was completely healed. My heart racing, my face aglow, I ran and told everyone nearby of God’s goodness, of the healing power Jesus Christ gives through His “other Christ’s”, how God always comes through when we least expect it, how His love endures even in darkness. And that is why I wrote this for you today.

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mother of priests

 

It was my fault. I asked for it. Yes, some years ago, I asked that the Lord would make me the spiritual mother of a priest. In His greatness, He chose first to show me exactly what that meant. You see I thought this vocation entailed nice theological discussions, gentle mentoring, sending packages with cookies, crying at ordinations, joyously partaking of the altar and assisting with advice. My vision of sunshine and roses was shattered in the month of May, 2013. God showed me a way laden with pain and sorrow, which was not a flowery image but an echo of Calvary.

Without divulging the events of the past month,  I will tell you that after pleading so long, it was finally shown to me the requirements needed to be the spiritual mother of a priest. The mother of a priest lives in uncertainty, trusting everything to God who sees beyond the human realm. She is not Pollyanna- but Mary who hears a prophecy of arrows, tends a poor and bruised child, hated from birth, walks with him to the rugged cross and sees him buried in the cold tomb. She who would be mother to a priest must feel the pains of the mother of Christ. She must lose him for three days, find him in the temple, declaring independence from earthly things, must watch him be scorned, rejected and despised, stripped of everything so that he even cries “My God why hast thou forsaken me?”

Priesthood is a bloody, painful affair, fraught with dark nights, the sweat of Gethsemane, the agony of Calvary. Brave enough, a man must give himself up, but as Christ died completely, in body, soul and spirit, upon the cross, so a man must utterly die. More sorrowful still, the mother of that man who must witness it all.

In a short time, compared to the whole span of life, I relived Mary’s seven sorrows. I lost something that was cherished immensely and buried it in the earth. I said goodbye to my dreams and desires, to my complacence and happiness. In turn however, I gained a trust in God, a closeness to Blessed Mary and a promise of future resurrection. We live the gloom of Good Friday and wait through the emptiness of Holy Saturday so we may rejoice at Easter Sunday. It is always darkest before dawn and so the darkest eve of despair gives way to glorious, golden sunrise.

I also know now that the devil ruthlessly attacks those destined for the seminary door, before they have even stepped foot in it. God taught me how to put up defense, asking for the shelter of his angels. The fragile, sheet-metal casing of my heart, He hammered into shining, iron armor. With the ore of my soft, pampered hands, He chiseled a broadsword. And with that sword I will slash the devil. I will not forget but fight, my every prayer forming a fortress for our future priests. The sorrowful mother is wounded- and allows herself to be so. She lets the serpent bite at her heel so she may savor even more the moment when he is crushed. She endures crucifixion so her face may shine even more radiantly at the resurrection.

And when the mother of a priest kneels before the altar, wearied by that battle, the copious blood of Christ washes over her. The sweet, Eucharistic chalice is balm to her wounds, polish upon her sword, fire within her heart and the pledge of forsworn victory.

 

Mary, Mother of Sorrows, Companion at the Cross, Ewe of God’s Lamb, Light of Confessors, Queen of Apostles, Mother of Priests,  pray for us.

Dear, Life Magazine and editors of Life Magazine:

I recently bought and read your “Pope Francis” issue of Life Magazine, Volume 13. No. 8 March 29, 2013. It was full of beautiful photographs and packed with information that was fairly free of bias. I commend you for giving the historical facts about Catholicism being Christianity’s oldest branch, the excavation of St. Peter’s tomb and the myth of Pope Joan. However your gloss over the Crusades was one-sided, viewing them more as a campaign for material gain than a defensive maneuver to protect Christian pilgrims.

Your coverage of past popes and their lives was meaningful. It keenly followed the history of Catholicism up to the present day. Your connecting the dots from antiquity to this modern day was very engaging.  Most people do not realize how old the Catholic Church is and that its roots lie in Biblical times, starting from the apostles. Thank you for showing us this!

Now I must share some criticism. On the section about Pope Benedict XVI, a flash of bias came out strongly. Your treatment of him was harsh, implying he was a cold figure of the “old church” with his outdated bans on birth-control and gay-marriage. Worst of all, you said he did nothing to stop child abuse.

Allow me to make my first point that Pope Benedict’s stance on moral issues is no different from any other pope’s. Both John Paul II and even the darling John XXIII spoke against gay-marriage and birth-control. Pope Francis has already and will continue to do the same, going to uphold what the Catholic Church has taught for 2,000 years. It’s absurd to think otherwise and reflects a very poor understanding of Catholicism. The problem is precisely that you don’t understand the Catholic Church. You even state: “The Catholic Church is older than democracy”. Yet you seek to impose modern, democratic values on it?

The Church doesn’t need to get with the times, it is beyond the times. Archbishop Fulton Sheen once said: “If the Church should marry the modern age, she would find herself a widow”. Don’t you get it? Catholicism came before this era and will be here after. It is something bigger than us- because it came from Someone bigger than us. Instead of criticizing Catholic leaders for not catering to modern whims, your publications should appreciate their perseverance, ancient tradition and sticking to principles laid down by Jesus Christ – not the majority vote.

Allow me to make my second point. A majority of child-abuse cases occurred before Pope Benedict XVI’s pontificate. Some date back from the 60’s and 70’s before he was even ordained a priest! May I also elaborate on the fact that our own American society does little to stop the exploitation and abuse of children that happens in our schools, by their relatives or human traffickers. In fact, a child is more likely to be molested at school or at home than in a Catholic Church. Where is our accountability? Why don’t we take responsibility for producing a culture where children are prepared for sexual activity at increasingly younger ages? We cannot even live up to the rigorous standards we apply to the Catholic Church.

Moreso, the measures Benedict XVI implemented to protect future abuse and his changes to discipline in the Vatican went completely unmentioned. To be honest, it looked like you couldn’t find the answers and looked for someone to blame.

Lastly, more detail was given to Pope Benedict XVI’s shortcomings than to his brilliance as a theologian and burning love for his faith. As I said, you regarded him as more “cold, old church” than a man who wanted to set things right. Could he have done better? Yes. We all can do better.

Pope Benedict XVI was a shining example of Christian discipleship who made others fall in love with Christ. It was sad you couldn’t see this beneath the scapegoating. Your criticism of previous popes such as Pius XII and of the College of Cardinals was more fair. Why couldn’t you be fair to Benedict XVI? The man was old, weary and beaten down by years of the media basically crucifying him. Beneath all the power, you should have seen a human being. I figured you could have treated him more kindly is all.

You may not all be Christian, maybe none of you are, but I believe you can learn a thing or two from Christ when he said: “The measure by which you judge others will be measures unto you.”

Sincerely,

Rachel Gohlman.

 

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Overall rating :6 out of 10 (slightly above average but still pretty average)

Denying Christ’s promise in Matthew 16:18, lack of trust in God.

 

And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”

–  Matthew 16:18

 

But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.”  – 1 Timothy 3:15

“I solemnly tell you that whatever you as a Church bind on earth will in Heaven be held as bound, and whatever you loose on earth will in Heaven be held to be loosed.”   – Matthew 18:18

Lo, I am with you always even unto the end of the world.”

–  Matthew 28:20

 

Some try to discredit the Catholic Church by citing its instances of corruption and failure to uphold the truths it teaches. But, they go even further saying the corruption and failure had been so bad, God removed His favor from the established Church and inspired Martin Luther’s Reform.

Based on Scripture alone, one of Luther’s favorite ideas, this belief can be reduced to a lack of trust in God Himself.  In Matthew’s Gospel, we find first mention of “the church” when Jesus blesses his apostle, Peter and promises to build His Church- then promises it will be protected from the very powers of hell.

If one understands this Scripture, Jesus by His grace and omnipotence, vows to build the Church, protect it from demonic powers and preserve it. For how long?: “Unto the end of the world.” Jesus says he will be with his people, the church “always” not- “until the 1500’s when your clergy goes corrupt and I get sick of you.”

The Body of Christ like other bodies heals from its injuries. If Jesus stayed with his own apostles despite their sins, ignorance and faults, didn’t he remain with their successors despite their corruption, cruelty and foolishness? Moreover, the entire Church was never corrupt. Indeed throughout history, great, holy people rose up and sparked renewal. In the Old Testament, God said He will spare Sodom if: “ten righteous men are found.” Even during darkest periods such as The Crusades and Inquisition, Catholicism certainly had more than ten righteous men!

God does not abandon his children because they sin. No, He endures with compassion and mercy. The Body of Christ is always going to have tares among the wheat and Jesus Christ, its Head, will suffer those tares for the wheat’s sake.

Those who say God left the Catholic Church for the Reformation forget another important point: breaking something won’t fix it.  Now, the Reformation began on noble and honest ideals but actually resulted in so much chaos, infighting and division, Martin Luther himself lamented over it. Soon after Luther’s momentous break from Roman Catholicism, people in his own congregation squabbled and left for any of the various churches that suddenly appeared throughout Europe.

The mark of Christ’s church was, is and always will be unity. This unity endured all the attacks hell could bring against it and that is why Catholicism still stands, not because of powerful bishops, cunning popes or zealous saints. No, it’s here because Christ promised.

Exaltation of Scripture.

 

And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.”

– John 1:14

 

So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”

–   Romans 10:17

 

Many opponents of Catholicism, particularly from Protestant groups, have a strange habit of exalting Scripture declaring it as the only authority for believers. Whenever reading “the Word of God” they think written pages forgetting that the Word of God existed before any language or text. An odd exclusion of any teaching source besides printed, bound Bibles causes misunderstanding of God’s nature and ignorance of history.

After the death of Christ, the apostles did not carry around Bibles or even scrolls.  They preached orally and spread the faith by word-of-mouth.

Moreso, when reading “Scripture” these people assume a fully-competed Old and New Testament. The New Testament is a product of the Church. In the 4th century, all the New Testament Gospels and letters were gathered, decided upon by council and put into the Bible we have now. Moreover, dangerous assumption that the only Word of God is written Scripture contradicts what history tells us about Christians.  Throughout early centuries, a majority of Christians were illiterate. Few if any possessed written Bibles. They learned the Gospel in churches, hearing it read aloud and seeing it pictured in stained-glass.

Absurdly, some pastors go so far as to claim God’s only communication with believers is via written Scripture. If this is true, then Christians for centuries have been hopelessly lost in darkness- even the apostles themselves.

God’s Word is a Being, transcendent, beyond paper and letters. His Spirit communicates with believers everywhere.  Whether people are illiterate, blind, handicapped, lost in the wilderness or without a Bible, God still speaks. Christ’s sacrifice and the merits thereof bring salvation- not Scripture. Helpful, wondrous and invaluable as it is, Scripture doesn’t teach everything, it can’t deliberate in church councils or suffer martyrdom.

From a Living God, the Living Word, grace, salvation and mercy comes.

Anti-clericalism.

 

Listen, my sons, to a father’s instruction; pay attention and gain understanding.”   – Proverbs 4:1

Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation.”  – Hebrews 13:7

 

Let me tell you about a facebook experience I had:

 

Now all those who are familiar with “Cardinal Fratelli” are going to laugh.

I went into a group simply called “The Bible”, under the name and profile picture of “Cardinal Fratelli” and posted something about how we must obey God instead of the modern age. Immediately, several people responded accusing poor Fratelli of wanting to control people and one even praised Martin Luther for breaking away from the “tyranny” of the Catholic Church. The next week, I posted the same exact thing as myself with my own picture and several other people responded, congratulating me for my godly insight! They hated Cardinal Fratelli not because of what I had him say but because of what he looked like: A Catholic priest.

The priestly hierarchy of Catholicism is often subject to attack.  Opponents believe the church should be egalitarian, congregational and individualistic. They despise any vestige of power in the church, dislike priests – especially bishops, and tend to struggle with authority.

However, the New Testament itself speaks of ministerial offices in God’s church; elders who teach, deacons who serve and bishops who rule. In fact, the bishop’s office is usually described as not only magisterial but governmental. They are called “guardians of the flock.”

Certainly, the Apostle Peter advises church elders not to “Lord over the flock”. Indeed, a bishop who belittles or subordinates others abuses his authority and doesn’t please God. However, the existence of ecclesiastical hierarchy isn’t based on subjection. It’s not there to enslave or demean anyone but rather is for edification, unified teaching and doctrinal preservation.

Under bishops, the Church defined a majority of Christian doctrines which are taken for granted. The human and divine nature of Christ, His deity, the Trinity and the New Testament Canon itself are gifts from this conciliar, hierarchal church. Without such a foundation, Christian teaching becomes flimsy sinking back into the past.

Why the objection?

People who have anti-clerical tendencies usually misjudge the clergy’s role, struggle with obeying authority-figures or perhaps suffered past-mistreatment by a priest. Many scowl at ministries being off-limits to others, elaborate priestly vestments or respect shown towards a bishop. Some fail to realize that in God’s eyes, they are just as important and loved. The Bible is correct when describing all people’s equality before Christ. When misinterpreted, this teaching means something entirely different; a church-society without defined roles.

Samewise, Scripture teaches that not all share the same ministries or gifts. Being in the Body of Christ does not mean everybody gets elected bishop, no, rather everyone has unique offerings. When these gifts are used properly, Christ’s mission is fully realized.