Saturday, November 17, 2012

Devotion for today: Blessed Jose Sanchez del Rio, persecuted for his faith

The Stunning Story of Blessed Jose Sanchez del Rio featured in “For Greater Glory” (

By TFP Student Action  Blessed Jose Sanchez del Rio 
Blessed Jose Sanchez del Rio

In 1927, Catholic Mexico was immersed in a violent storm of religious persecution. The President of Mexico at that time was a despot named Plutarco Calles.  His hatred for the Church had no limits. He killed priests and burned churches. 
In legitimate self defense, countless Catholics took up arms to defend their Faith.  Whenever they charged into battle, the Cristeros, as they were called, shouted:
 "Viva Cristo Rey!" "Long live Christ the King!"  Young Jose Joins the Cristeros.
Many Catholics shed their blood in this conflict.  Many were martyred. And Blessed Jose Luis Sanchez del Rio was among them.  From a young age he had a great love and enthusiasm for the Blessed Sacrament, and encouraged his friends to have more devotion to Our Lord and Our Lady of Guadalupe.  Whenever Jose heard of the glorious battles of the Cristeros, which his two brothers were engaged in, his desire to join the holy army only intensified.  Finally, Jose wrote a letter to one of the Cristero Generals, Prudencio Mendoza, pleading to be allowed to fight. The general acquiesced.
Capture and Imprisonment In a certain battle, Jose was rushing to bring a fellow soldier a new supply of ammo.  Just then, he caught sight of the General whose horse had been shot dead.  On foot, without a horse, the General was extremely vulnerable.  Making a sacrifice that might cost him his life, Jose freely gave the general his own horse.  Moments later, he was caught by the federalists and locked up in a church sacristy that had been turned into a prison.  One of the guards had put a number of expensive fighting roosters inside the church for safekeeping.  This sacrilege troubled young Jose. He said: "This is not a barnyard! This is a place for God!"  He soon caught all the prized roosters and snapped their necks.
The enemies of Christ the King soon decided to kill him.

Holy Boldness in Defense of the Faith 

On the way to execution, soldiers struck him savagely with sharp machetes.  With every blow, the young boy cried out,
 "Viva Cristo Rey!"  When he got to the cemetery, he was bleeding heavily.  His torturers had also cut off the soles of his feet and forced him to walk on salt.  The boy screamed with pain but would not give in.  As the road was nothing but rocks and dirt, the stones where he had walked were soaked in his blood.  The soldiers said:  "If you shout, ‘Death to Christ the King’, we will spare your life."  He only answered: "Long live Christ the King! Long live Our Lady of Guadalupe!"
The commander ordered the soldiers to bayonet Jose.  They pierced his body.   But with every stab he only shouted louder and louder: "Viva Cristo Rey!"  The commander was so enraged that he pulled out his pistol and on February 10, 1928 killed Blessed Jose on the spot.  There was no trial.

Blessed Jose is an outstanding example of faith and courage for all Catholic young men — for you— who wish to be faithful to Christ.  He was declared a martyr and was beatified by Pope Benedict XVI on November 20, 2005. Blessed Jose, pray for us!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Devotion for today: the desire for God lies deep within the human heart

Today we will take time to read the encouraging words of Pope Benedict XVI on the value of faith.

Scripture for meditation: Matthew 5:13-16
You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trodden under foot by men. You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hid. Nor do men light a lamp and put it under a bushel, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

 The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches us: 1816: The disciple of Christ must not only keep the faith and live on it, but also profess it, confidently bear witness to it, and spread it. “All however must be prepared to confess Christ before men and to follow him along the way of the Cross, amidst the persecutions which the Church never lacks.” (Lumen Gentium). Service of and witness to the faith are necessary for salvation: “So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven; but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 10:32-33)

Paul VI Audience Hall
Wednesday, 14 November 2012

In our catechesis for the Year of Faith, we have seen that a mysterious desire for God lies deep with the human heart. By his grace, God inspires and accompanies our efforts to know him and to find our happiness in him. Yet today, in our secularized world, faith often seems difficult to justify; we are faced with a “practical” atheism, a tendency to think and live “as if God did not exist”. Yet once God is removed from our lives, we become diminished, for our greatest human dignity consists in being created by God and called to live in communion with him. As believers, we need to offer convincing reasons for our faith and hope. We can find such reasons in the order and beauty of creation itself, which speaks of its Creator; in the longing for the infinite present in the human heart, which finds satisfaction in God alone; and in faith, which illumines and transforms our lives through our daily union with the Lord. By the witness of our living faith, may we lead others to know and love the God who reveals himself in Christ.

My thoughts: How sad it is that the love the Catholic Church has for mankind is so misconstrued today! In charity and truth, wishing nothing more than the salvation of souls, the Catholic Church presents the words of Christ and his teachings in a clear and unflappable fashion. The goal of the Church, as is the goal of Jesus Christ, is to bring everyone into the kingdom of heaven. We must, and really, must, be beacons of light in the darkness of the world today. We must not let popular sentiments sway us from bringing the truth of God’s message to everyone, not watered down, not diluted with popular sentiment, but the actual truth. Jesus does not say it is ok to accept part of him, not all, just part, and only that part which makes everyone comfortable in their attitudes toward life. He does not say that we can live for him when it is comfortable and not acknowledge him when it will make others upset about the life they have chosen to lead. He says quite clearly that if we deny him, he will deny us. Jesus doesn’t lie. Unlike so many people today, he doesn’t say one thing and mean another. He said he will deny us and he will. So be brave and be for Christ. Help to fill the longing in people’s lives with the love of God. Do not morally judge – that is God’s business – but do know that the truth will set our brothers free. Correct with love, and always with dignity and respect. God loves all his children equally. He wants them all with him in heaven. And he uses us to accomplish this. Making people right in their wrongfulness is not love or respect. It is just plain mean. It says that “I have found the way and the truth and the light, and I hope you do as well some day, but I don’t see it as my place to help you, so good luck.” God forbid if our parents had raised us with that attitude. God forbid if Christ came to deliver that message. Heaven would be an awfully lonely place. Get bold, get brave, and get going. The world needs you –NOW.

Prayer:  Psalm 42
As a deer longs for flowing streams, so my soul longs for you, O God. 2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and behold the face of God? 3 My tears have been my food day and night, while people say to me continually, "Where is your God?" 4 These things I remember, as I pour out my soul: how I went with the throng, and led them in procession to the house of God, with glad shouts and songs of thanksgiving, a multitude keeping festival. 5 Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my help 6 and my God. My soul is cast down within me; therefore I remember you from the land of Jordan and of Hermon, from Mount Mizar. 7 Deep calls to deep at the thunder of your cataracts; all your waves and your billows have gone over me. 8 By day the Lord commands his steadfast love, and at night his song is with me, a prayer to the God of my life. 9 I say to God, my rock, "Why have you forgotten me? Why must I walk about mournfully because the enemy oppresses me?" 10 As with a deadly wound in my body, my adversaries taunt me, while they say to me continually, "Where is your God?" 11 Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my help and my God.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Devotion for today: What is persecution?

Yesterday we looked at the word “falsely” in this beatitude. Today we will look at the word “persecuted”.
Scripture for meditation: Matthew 5:12-13
Blessed are you when men revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so men persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Thoughts on The Five Stages Of Religious Persecution.

It is rare that a respected segment of American life would become vilified and hated overnight. The usual transformation from respect to vilification goes in stages which grow in intensity. And hereby the Church, once a respected aspect of American life, along with the Protestant denominations has become increasingly marginalized and hated by many. It may help us to review these stages of persecution since it would seem that things are going to get more difficult for the Church in the years ahead. Generally there are distinguished five basic stages of persecution.
By way of giving due credit I want to say that these stages were recalled to me by Johnette Benkovic, of Women of Grace EWTN. She spoke at a recent fundraiser here in DC for WMET 1160 AM, Our Catholic Radio Station in the Guadalupe Radio Network. She gave a wonderful talk and a summons to courage. And among the things she set forth was a sober vision of how we have come to this current place where the culture is increasingly hostile to Christians and to Catholics particularly. The stages are from her talk, the commentary is my (meaning Msgr. Pope) own.
Here then are the Five stages:
I. Stereotyping the targeted group - To stereotype means to repeat without variation, to take a quality or observation of a limited number, and generalize it of the whole group. It involves a simplified and standardized conception or view of a group based on observation of a limited sample.
And thus as the 1960s and 70s progressed Catholics and Bible-believing Christians were often caricatured in the media as Bible thumpers, simpletons, as backwards, mentally simple, haters of science, hypocrites, self-righteous, old-fashioned and so forth.
Catholics in particular were also accused of having neurotic guilt, hatred or aversion of sexuality, of being in a sexist institution, of it being stuck in the past, with too many rules, being authoritarian, of having clergy who were sexually repressed, homosexuals or pedophiles.
Basically as the stereotype goes, Catholics and Bible believing Christians are a sad, angry, boring, backward and repressed lot. To many who accept the stereotyping we are a laughable, even tragic group, caught in a superstitious past, incapable of throwing off the shackles of faith.
To be sure, not everyone engages in this stereotyping to the same degree, but here are the basic refrains of it. And the general climate of this sort of stereotyping sets the foundation for the next stage.
II. Vilifying the targeted Group for alleged crimes or misconduct, - As the stereotyping grows in intensity, Catholics and Christians,  who did not toe the line in the cultural revolution were described as, close-minded, harmful to human dignity and freedom, intolerant, hateful, bigoted, unfair, homophobic, reactionary and just plain mean and basically bad people.
The History of the Church is also described myopically as little more than bad and repressive behavior as we conducted crusades, inquisitions, and hated Galileo and all of science. Never mind that there might be a little more to the story, or that the Church founded universities, and hospitals, was the patron of the arts, and preached a Gospel that brought order and civilization to divided and barbarous time in the aftermath of the Roman Empire. Stereotyping will hear little of that, or, if it does, it will give the credit to anything or anyone but the Church and the faith….
Yet all of this has the effect of creating a self-righteous indignation toward believers and of making anti-Catholic and anti-Christian attitudes a permissible bigotry for many today.
III. Marginalizing the targeted group’s role in society - Having established the (untrue) premise that the Church and the faith is very bad, and even harmful to human dignity and freedom, the next stage seeks to relegate the role of the Church to the margins.
To many in secularized culture, religion must go. They will perhaps let us have our hymns etc. in the four walls of our churches, but the faith must be banished from the public square.
In this stage it becomes increasingly unacceptable and intolerable that anyone should mention God, pray publicly or in any way bring their Christian faith to bear on matters of public policy. Nativity sets must go, out with Christmas trees, even the colors green and red at “holiday time” are banished from many public schools.
Do not even think of mentioning Jesus or of publicly thanking him in your valedictorian address, you could very well have a Circuit Court judge forbid you under penalty of law. You can thank the Madonna, but only if you mean the singer.
The LGBT club is welcome to set up shop and pass out rainbow colored condoms at the high school, but Christians better hit the road, no Bibles or pamphlets better see the light of day anywhere in the school building…separation of Church and state you know.
IV. Criminalizing the targeted group or its works – Can someone say HHS mandate?
But prior to this egregious attempt to violate our religious liberty there have been many other times we have had to go to court to fight for our rights to openly practice our faith. Increasing litigation is being directed against the Church and other Christians for daring to live out our faith.
Some jurisdictions have sought to compel Catholic hospitals and pro-life clinics to provide information or referrals for abortion, to provide “emergency contraception” (i.e. the abortifacient known as the morning after pill), Several branches of Catholic Charities have been de-certified from doing adoption work because they will not adopt children to gay couples. The State of Connecticut sought regulate the structure, organization and running of Catholic parishes in 2009. And recently a number of Christian valedictorians in various states have suffered legal injunctions when it was discovered that they would dare to mention God and Jesus in their talk. (More HERE)
Many of these attempts to criminalize the faith have been successfully rebuffed in the courts, but the frequency of lawsuits, and the time and cost involved with fighting them is a huge burden. It is clear that attempts to criminalize Christian behavior is a growth sector in this culture and signals the beginnings and steady erosion of religious liberty.
Many indeed feel quite righteous, quite politically correct in their work to legally separate the practice of the faith from the public square.
V. Persecuting the targeted group outright - If current trends continue, Christians, especially religious leaders, may not be far from enduring heavy fines and jail.
Already in Canada and parts of Europe Catholic clergy have been arrested and charged with “hate crimes” for preaching Catholic Doctrine on homosexual activity.
In this country there are greater provisions for free speech but, as we have seen, there is a steady erosion in religious liberty and many Catholic dioceses are well familiar with having to spend long periods in courts defending basic religious liberty. The trajectory points to suffering, lawsuits, fines, desertification, and ultimately jail.
Unlikely you say? Alarmist? Well, stages one through four are pretty well in place. One may wish to whistle past the graveyard but it looks like we’re pretty well set for Stage V. You decide.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Devotion for today: Blessed are you when men revile you…

And now for the final Beatitude…

Scripture for meditation: Matthew 5:12-13
Blessed are you when men revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so men persecuted the prophets who were before you.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches: 2482: “A lie consists in speaking a falsehood with the intention of deceiving.” (St. Augustine) The Lord denounces lying as the work of the devil: “You are of your father the devil… there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks according to his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” (John 8:44) 2483: Lying is the most direct offense against the truth. To lie is to speak or act against the truth in order to lead into error someone who has the right to know the truth. By injuring man’s relation to truth and to his neighbor, a lie offends against the fundamental relation of man and of his word to the Lord. 2485: By its very nature, lying is to be condemned. It is a profanation of speech, whereas the purpose of speech is to communicate known truth to others. The deliberate intention of leading a neighbor into error by saying things contrary to the truth constitutes a failure in justice and charity. The culpability is greater when the intention of deceiving entails the risk of deadly consequences for those who are led astray. 2486: Since it violates the virtue of truthfulness, a lie does real violence to another. It affects his ability to know, which is a condition of every judgment and decision. It contains the seed of discord and all consequent evils. Lying is destructive of society; it undermines trust among men and tears apart the fabric of social relationships.
The Navarre Bible tells us: The Beatitudes are the conditions Jesus lays down for entering the Kingdom of heaven. This verse, in a way summing up the preceding ones, is an invitation to everyone to put this teaching into practice. The Christian life, then, is no easy matter, but it is worthwhile, given the reward that Jesus promises. (Four Courts Press, 1988)
My thoughts:  I recently saw the movie “For Greater Glory” about the persecution of the Catholic Church in Mexico in the 1920’s. If you have any doubts about the terror of lies and the evil which is unleashed in those who seek to destroy the Catholic Church, you won’t by the end of this movie. Lying is evil. It puts untruth into the world. Those who lie about God’s teachings and draw people to eternal damnation are held accountable by God for all the souls that were lost because of them. It is much wiser and holier to always seek the truth, live the truth and bring the truth to others. Popular opinion may go against you, and you may be the victim of those who will stop at nothing to prevent the truth from coming out, but in the end, you win. You have helped the world, not harmed it, and you shall see the face of God. Lovely!!
Prayer: Psalm 91
Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence.  He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
 You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday. A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you. You will only observe with your eyes
and see the punishment of the wicked. If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,” and you make the Most High your dwelling, no harm will overtake you, no disaster will come near your tent. For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
 You will tread on the lion and the cobra; you will trample the great lion and the serpent. “Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call on me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.”

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Devotion for today: Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake

This week we will continue with our study of the beatitudes.

Scripture for meditation: Matthew 5:10
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church states: 2100: Outward sacrifice, to be genuine, must be the expression of spiritual sacrifice. “The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit…” (St. Augustine). The prophets of the Old Covenant often denounced sacrifices that were not from the heart or not coupled with love of neighbor. Jesus recalls the words of the prophet Hosea: “I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.” The only perfect sacrifice is the one that Christ offered on the cross as a total offering to the Father’s love and for our salvation. By uniting ourselves with his sacrifice we can make our lives a sacrifice to God.

This commentary is found on the website Finally, “blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake” addresses our addiction to personal honor, to being well thought-of. “Many people who are not terribly attracted to wealth, pleasure, or power are held captive by their desire for the approval of others,” Fr Barron observes. To be “persecuted for righteousness’ sake”, by contrast, is to face mockery and dishonor for the sake of the crucified Christ. And it is this crucified Christ who best exemplifies what he teaches in the beatitudes: Thomas Aquinas said that if you want to see the perfect exemplification of the beatitudes, you should look to Christ crucified. The saint specified this observation as follows: if you want beatitude (happiness), despise what Jesus despised on the cross and love what he loved on the cross. On the cross, Jesus despised the four worldly addictions of wealth, pleasure, power and honor, as he was stripped naked; suffered physical, mental and spiritual agony; rendered helpless and powerless; and exposed to the ultimate of dishonor through suffering the death of a common criminal. What did Jesus love on the cross? “The will of his Father.” And loving the will and mission of his Father to the end, he was able to live out the beatitudes to the full, with what he loved and what he despised on the cross being “in a strange balance”: Poor in spirit, meek, mourning, and persecuted, he was able to be pure of heart, to seek righteousness utterly, to become the ultimate peacemaker, and to be the perfect conduit of the divine mercy to the world. Though it is supremely paradoxical to say so, the crucified Jesus is the man of beatitude, a truly happy man.

(Fr Robert Barron has an interesting analysis of the Beatitudes in his book Catholicism: A Journey to the Heart of Faith.).

My thoughts: We are blessed (happy) when we are persecuted for trying to be holy – to do the Father’s will. This means without compromise, even if it costs us the four worldly treasures mentioned in the above commentary. We cannot be saying one thing, doing another, and believing a third. The only acceptable sacrifice is the one that comes from a pure heart, and that sacrifice will cost us much. Martyrdom today is usually not bloody, but painful nonetheless. Try defending the Church’s position on many socially acceptable topics, and you will know what it is like to be on the cross with Christ. Jesus knew we would go through this. He showed us how to do it: obediently, mercifully, lovingly, no matter what the cost. Let us always stay true to Christ and not to a world which denies Him. The kingdom of heaven is ours, and that is a reward worth suffering for.

Prayer:  How great You are!
O God, the more I know You the less I can comprehend You, but this “non-comprehension” lets me realize how great You are! And it is this impossibility of comprehending You which enflames my heart anew for You (Diary of Saint Faustina, 57).

Monday, November 12, 2012

Devotion for today: Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God

Scripture for mediation: Matthew 5:9
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us: 2305: Earthly peace is the image and fruit of the peace of Christ, the messianic “Prince of Peace.” By the blood of his Cross, “in his own person he killed the hostility,” he reconciled men with God and made his Church the sacrament of the unity of the human race and of its union with God. “He is our peace.” He has declared: “Blessed are the peacemakers.”

Father Raniero Cantalamessa tells us: Peace is a gift…. But God himself, and not man, is the true and supreme "peacemaker." It is for this reason that those who work for peace are called "sons of God." They resemble God, imitate him, they do what he does…. Scripture speaks of the "peace of God" (Philippians 4:7) and more often of the "God of peace" (Romans 15:32). Here peace does not mean what God does or gives, but also what God is. Peace is what reigns in God….The one who has best celebrated this divine Peace that comes from beyond history, was Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite. Peace is for him one of the "names of God" just as "love" is. Even of Christ it is said that he "is" himself our peace (Ephesians 2:14-17). When he says, "My peace I give to you," he transmits that which he is. There is an inseparable link between peace (gift from above) and the Holy Spirit; it's not without reason that both are represented symbolically with a dove. In the afternoon on Easter Jesus gave, in practically the same instant to his disciples, peace and the Holy Spirit: "Peace be with you!”... He blew over them and said to them "Receive the Holy Spirit" (John 20: 21-22). Peace, says St. Paul, is a "fruit of the Spirit" (Galatians 5:22).  It is then understood what it means to be a peacemaker. It is not about inventing or creating peace but of transmitting it, letting in the peace of God and of Christ "that transcends all understanding." "Grace and peace from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ" (Romans 1:7)….
We must not, nor can we be, the origin but only the channel of peace. The prayer attributed to St. Francis of Assisi expresses this perfectly: "Lord, make me a channel of your peace."
But what is the peace of which we speak? The definition of peace proposed by Augustine has become classic: "Peace is the tranquility of order." Taking this definition, St. Thomas says that in man there exist three types of order: order with oneself, with God, and with our neighbor, and, in consequence, there exist three forms of peace: interior peace, by which man is at peace with himself; the peace whereby man is at peace with God, submitting himself fully to God's dispositions; and the peace relative to one's neighbor, by which we live in peace with all men." In the Bible, however, shalom, peace, says more than simply tranquility of order. It also means well-being, repose, security, success, glory. Indeed, sometimes it means the totality of the messianic goods and is synonymous with salvation and goodness: "How beautiful are the feet of the messenger of good news on the mountains, he who announces peace, the messenger of goodness and of salvation" (Isaiah 52:7). The new covenant is called a "covenant of peace" (Ezekiel 37:26) and the Gospel is called the "Gospel of peace" (Ephesians 6:15), as if the word "peace" summarized the whole content of the covenant and the Gospel. The condition for being a channel of peace is being in union with its source, which is the will of God. "In his will is our peace," says a soul in Dante's purgatory. The secret to interior peace is total and ever renewed abandonment to the will of God…. The apostolic preaching is rich with practical indications about what makes for and what is an obstacle to peace. One of the better known passages is that of the Letter of James: "For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every foul practice. But the wisdom from above is first of all pure, then peaceable, gentle, compliant, full of mercy and good fruits, without inconstancy or insincerity. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace for those who cultivate peace" (James 3:16-18). From this very personal sphere must begin every effort to bring about peace. Peace is like the wake of a great ship that expands toward the infinite but begins as a point, and the point in this case is the heart of man. John Paul II's message for the World Day of Peace in 1984 bore the title: "Peace is Born in a New Heart."

 My thoughts: The beatitudes are very surprising when you begin to unpack them. Here we find our misconception of peace turned on its head. Peace is not “making nice” with everyone we meet, avoiding confrontation and letting others exist in their wrongful ways. It is also not fake, just being kind and doing nice things for our own personal reasons. Peace is first of all finding God, asking Him into our lives and letting His will be our will. It is secondly the ability to channel that peace, which is God, into the world. Peace which is God’s peace reflects His being, and not the beings who claim to know more about life than He does. Lastly, God’s peace is pure. It has no selfish or sinful motive. Think about it: your child is a reflection of you. To be God’s child, we must reflect Him. If we want to be called a child of God, we must be willing to bring His peace, and only His peace, into the world.

Prayer:  Prayer of St. Teresa of Avila
"Let nothing disturb you, nothing frighten you. Everything is passing, only God remains. Patience overcomes everything. Nothing is lacking to those who have God. God alone suffices." 

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Devotion for today: be exemplary Christians

This excerpt is from an Address of his Eminence Cardinal Ivan Dias on the occasion of the Anglican Conference of Lambeth, Tuesday, July 22, 2008:

…The missionary mandate thus makes us enter into the very heart of God, who wills all men, women and children to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the Truth…The theme of evangelization must be considered in the wider context of the spiritual combat which began in the Garden of Eden with the fall of our first parents, in the wake of fierce hostilities between God and the rebel angels. If this context is ignored in favor of a myopic world-vision, Christ’s salvation will be conveniently dismissed as irrelevant. The spiritual combat, described in the Books of Genesis and Revelation, has continued unabated down the ages. St. Paul described it in very vivid terms: “We are not contending against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Eph 6:12).

This combat rages fiercely even today, aided and abetted by well-known secret sects, satanic groups and New Age movements, to mention but a few, and reveals many ugly heads of the hideous anti-God monster: among them are notoriously secularism, which seeks to build a Godless society; spiritual indifference, which is insensitive to transcendental values; and relativism, which is contrary to the permanent tenets of the Gospel. All of these seek to efface any reference to God or to things supernatural, and to supplant it with mundane values and behavior patterns which purposely ignore the transcendental and the divine. Far from satisfying the deep yearnings of the human heart, they foster a culture of death, be it physical or moral, spiritual or psychological.

Examples of this culture are abortions on demand (or the slaughter of innocent unborn children), divorces (which kill sacred marriage bonds blessed by God), materialism and moral aberrations (which suffocate the joy of living and lead often to profound psychic depression), economic, social and political injustices (which crush human rights), violence, suicides, murders, and the like, all of which abound today and militate against the mind of Christ, who came that “all may have life, and have it in abundance” (John 10:10).

…This mosaic of religious and cultural- “isms” is now complicated by a deep questioning about man’s identity and purpose in life, rising from the human and social, as well as the physical sciences. While this soul-searching questioning about human life and purpose could be an appropriate context for the proclamation of the Gospel, many answers being proposed in our post-modern world have become disconnected from authoritative sources of moral reasoning, ignoring the transcendental dimension of life and seeking to make God irrelevant….

In the first Christian era, the pagans were attracted to the Christian faith because of the way Christians behaved, and they remarked: “See how they love each other.” This Christian witness is well described in the Letter to Diognetus, written by a Christian apologist in the second century. I deem it wise to quote some excerpts of this Letter, which would make many a Christian pastor to think and some even to blush.

“The difference between Christians and the rest of mankind is not a matter of nationality, or language or customs. Christians do not live apart in separate cities of their own, speak any special dialect, nor practice any eccentric way of life. The doctrine they profess is not the invention of busy human minds and brains, nor are they adherents of this or that school of human thought. They pass their lives in whatever township… each man’s lot has determined, and conform to ordinary local usage in their clothing, diet, and other habits. Nevertheless, the organization of their community does exhibit some features that are remarkable, and even surprising. For instance, though they are residents at home in their own countries, their behavior there is more like that of transients; they take their full part as citizens, but they also submit to anything and everything as if they were aliens. For them, any foreign country is a motherland, and any motherland is a foreign country.

“To put it briefly, the relation of Christian to the world is that of a soul to the body. As the soul is diffused through every part of the body, so are Christians through all the cities of the world…. Such is the high post of duty in which God has placed them, and it is their moral duty not to shrink from it”….

This is, in short, what Christian witness is all about, and what the world needs today…. The world today needs Christian apologists, not apologizers; it needs persons like John Henry Cardinal Newman, G.K. Chesterton, C.S.Lewis, Hilaire Belloc and others, who brilliantly expose the beauty of the Christian faith without blushing or compromise….


Can we add our names to the above list?