25 November 2007

Confessions of a smart ass

"When the right and opportune moment comes for speaking, say something that will edify. "
~Thomas a' Kempis, Imitation of Christ

It's so easy for me to insult people or make crude comments. Often easier than thanking or complimenting them. I've become more conscious of this bad attitude and will be making an effort to bless rather than curse. I work in a garage with auto mechanics who say some rathings, and I'll admit that I can keep up with them. Through prayer and watchfulness I will make a change.

Jesus, you said that it is what comes out of a man that defiles him. Lord, I am a man of unclean lips living in the midst of an unclean people. My tongue is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison, capable of nullifying the good that I do. Help me to keep my tongue free from evil and my lips from speaking deceit. Help me to guard my ways, Lest I sin with my tongue. You said that the lips of the righteous feed many--help me to provide a feast not a dung heap. Amen

07 November 2007

Charismatic Musings

My brother Art mentioned in an email that there are so many wackos out there throwing the term "Charismatic" around. Regardless, "I'll take the advice of someone who believes in the presence and power of the Holy Spirit over someone who relegates Him to centuries past any day!" Thank you bro for the springboard of today's rant...

Many so-called "Charismatics" blame the Holy Spirit for their heresies and shenanigans. Churches leave their denominations to be independent and new movements start when self-proclaimed "prophets" lead their followers into schism.

Now for the irony... when the Charismatic Renewal started in the Catholic Church it brought people closer into communion. We see a deeper devotion to the Eucharist (ordinary bread and wine transformed into the Body and Blood of Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit) and the Virgin Mary (the "spouse" of the Holy Spirit). A new understanding of the Saints (those sanctified by the Holy Spirit) developed. And a greater love of Scripture (inspired by the Holy Spirit) and Holy Tradition (also inspired by the Holy Spirit).

In her wisdom the Church embraced and encouraged this movement of the Spirit. Thirty years later, the Catholic Church has more Pentecostal/Charismatics than any other church! It makes sense considering her birth on the day of Pentecost and our Lord's promise to preserve the Church by the Holy Spirit.

What does a Church with two millenia of tradition have to offer the Spirit-filled Christian?

* STABILITY.--One is not tossed to and fro by every wind of doctine since the Magisterium helps discern the wheat from the chaff.

* ACCOUNTABLITY--If anyone starts getting whacky, there's someone in authority who can straighten things out.

* HISTORY--Two-thousand years of spiritual writings by Saints who surrendered all to Jesus

* SACRAMENTS--Through Baptism and Confirmation we are joined to Christ through the action of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Eucharist transforms us and Reconciliation restores us.

I am thankful for my Pentecostal upbringing which taught me to be open to the work of the Holy Spirit. I am also thankful for the 12 years I spent as an Orthodox Christian learning the importance of Sacraments and Saints. And I praise God every day that the Holy Spirit brought me to the Holy Catholic Church where I can pray in Spirit AND in truth.

06 November 2007

Humility is a Greater Gift than Miracles

The Author Himself of all miracles and mighty works, when He called His disciples to learn His teaching, clearly showed what those true and specially chosen followers ought chiefly to learn from Him, saying: “Come and learn of Me,” not chiefly to cast out devils by the power of heaven, not to cleanse the lepers, not to give sight to the blind, not to raise the dead: for even though I do these things by some of My servants, yet man’s estate cannot insert itself into the praises of God, nor can a minister and servant gather hereby any portion for himself there where is the glory of Deity alone. But do ye, says He, learn this of Me, “for I am meek and lowly of heart.”

For this it is which it is possible for all men generally to learn and practice, but the working of miracles and signs is not always necessary, nor good for all, nor granted to all. Humility therefore is the mistress of all virtues, it is the surest foundation of the heavenly building, it is the special and splendid gift of the Saviour. For he can perform all the miracles which Christ wrought, without danger of being puffed up, who follows the gentle Lord not in the grandeur of His miracles, but in the virtues of patience and humility. But he who aims at commanding unclean spirits, or bestowing gifts of healing, or showing some wonderful miracle to the people, even though when he is showing off he invokes the name of Christ, yet he is far from Christ, because in his pride of heart he does not follow his humble Teacher.

For when He was returning to the Father, He prepared, so to speak, His will and left this to His disciples: “A new commandment,” said He, “give I unto you that ye love one another; as I have loved you, so do ye also love one another:” and at once He subjoined: “By this shall all men know that ye are My disciples, if ye have love to one another.” He says not: “if ye do signs and miracles in the same way,” but “if ye have love to one another;” and this it is certain that none but the meek and humble can keep.

Wherefore our predecessors never reckoned those as good monks or free from the fault of vainglory, who professed themselves exorcists among men, and proclaimed with boastful ostentation among admiring crowds the grace which they had either obtained or which they claimed. But in vain, for “he who trusteth in lies feedeth the winds: and the same runneth after birds that fly away.”For without doubt that will happen to them which we find in Proverbs: “As the winds and clouds and rain are very clear so are these who boast of a fictitious gift.”

And so if any one does any of these things in our presence, he ought to meet with commendation from us not from admiration of his miracles, but from the beauty of his life, nor should we ask whether the devils are subject to him, but whether he possesses those features of love which the Apostle describes.

~ St. John Cassian: Second conference of Abbot Nesteros on divine gifts, chapter 7

The Necessity of Faith in Healing

The manifold wisdom of God grants with manifold and inscrutable kindness salvation to men; and imparts to each one according to his capacity the grace of His bounty, so that He wills to grant His healing not according to the uniform power of His Majesty but according to the measure of the faith in which He finds each one, or as He Himself has imparted it to each one.

For when one believed that for the cure of his leprosy the will of Christ alone was sufficient He healed him by the simple consent of His will, saying: “I will, be thou clean.” When another prayed that He would come and raise his dead daughter by laying His hands on her, He entered his house as he had hoped, and granted what was asked of Him. When another believed that what was essential for his salvation depended on His command, and answered: “Speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed,” He restored to their former strength the limbs that were relaxed, by the power of a word, saying: “Go thy way, and as thou hast believed so be it unto thee.” To others hoping for restoration from the touch of His hem, He granted rich gifts of healing. To some, when asked, He bestowed remedies for their diseases. To others He afforded the means of healing unasked: others He urged on to hope, saying: “Willest thou to be made whole?” to others when they were without hope He brought help spontaneously. The desires of some He searched out before satisfying their wants, saying: “What will ye that I should do for you?” To another who knew not the way to obtain what he desired, He showed it in His kindness, saying: “If thou believest thou shalt see the glory of God.” Among some so richly did He pour forth the mighty works of His cures that of them the Evangelist says: “And He healed all their sick.” But among others the unfathomable depth of Christ’s beneficence was so stopped up, that it was said: “And Jesus could do there no mighty works because of their unbelief.”

And so the bounty of God is actually shaped according to the capacity of man’s faith, so that to one it is said: “According to thy faith be it unto thee:” and to another: “Go thy way, and as thou hast believed so be it unto thee;” to another “Be it unto thee according as thou wilt,” and again to another: “Thy faith hath made thee whole.”

~ St. John Cassian: Conference of Abbot Chæremon. on the protection of God

Stilling the soul

I have stilled my soul, hushed it like a weaned child.
Like a weaned child on its mother's lap, so is my soul within me.
Psalm 131:2
No one can deny the anxieties of modern life. Now, add to that a mood disorder such as bipolar. Then, mix in 5 kids with mood disorders and you pretty much understand my life.
The prophet King David, my patron saint, was also an intense guy with a lot on his mind and kids with issues. When frustrated I can see him sitting down with his harp and singing to the Lord.
I've been trying this strategy lately by singing some simple prayers: "Jubilate Deo" (Be Joyful in God) and "Dona Nobis Pacem" (Give us peace).
This is just one strategy for stilling the soul. Like a child on its mother's lap, sing a lullaby.

05 November 2007

The Holy Spirit

He is called the Spirit of God, the Spirit of Christ, the Mind of Christ, the Spirit of The Lord, and Himself The Lord, the Spirit of Adoption, of Truth, of Liberty; the Spirit of Wisdom, of Understanding, of Counsel, of Might, of Knowledge, of Godliness, of the Fear of God. For He is the Maker of all these, filling all with His Essence, containing all things, filling the world in His Essence, yet incapable of being comprehended in His power by the world; good, upright, princely, by nature not by adoption; sanctifying, not sanctified; measuring, not measured; shared, not sharing; filling, not filled; containing, not contained; inherited, glorified, reckoned with the Father and the Son; held out as a threat; the Finger of God; fire like God; to manifest, as I take it, His consubstantiality); the Creator-Spirit, Who by Baptism and by Resurrection creates anew; the Spirit That knoweth all things, That teacheth, That bloweth where and to what extent He listeth; That guideth, talketh, sendeth forth, separateth, is angry or tempted; That revealeth, illumineth, quickeneth, or rather is the very Light and Life; That maketh Temples; That deifieth; That perfecteth so as even to anticipate Baptism, yet after Baptism to be sought as a separate gift; That doeth all things that God doeth; divided into fiery tongues; dividing gifts; making Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors, and Teachers; understanding manifold, clear, piercing, undefiled, unhindered, which is the same thing as Most wise and varied in His actions; and making all things clear and plain; and of independent power, unchangeable, Almighty, all-seeing, penetrating all spirits that are intelligent, pure, most subtle (the Angel Hosts I think); and also all prophetic spirits and apostolic in the same manner and not in the same places; for they lived in different places; thus showing that He is uncircumscript.
~ St. Gregory Nazianzen, Fifth Theologiacal Oration

01 November 2007


A door is open'd in Heaven to-day, and I get me a vision all fair,
A throne with the Lamb in the midst is seen, in His beauty beyond compare,
And a sea of glass, and a rainbow arch, and a throng in vestments of white,
Who prostrate fall and their Sanctus lift where the seven lamps of Fire shed their light.

"What!" cries the World, "Do you really think that the glory of Heaven is like this?
O fools, to believe that worship and song will fill up your measure of bliss:
Better gifts I bestow, the love of the world, ambition's reward and renown."
O World, thy rewards will be wanting there, thy pomp, and thy perishing crown.

See! Angel-borne censers are flinging the smoke of incense up to the Throne,
Powers, Principalities veiling their face from glories to mortals unknown;
And the City four-square, rings forth with the shout, "Worthy the Lamb that was slain."
The City of peace, where, tears wip'd away, there is no more sorrow or pain.

"What!" rails the Flesh, "Do you really think that the joy of your Heaven will be found
In vestments and lights, prostrations and forms, and prayers in a wearisome round?
I have better delights than these for mine, pride of life, and lust of the eyes."
O Flesh, pride and lust will have no place there, nor the serpent in angel's guise.

Her gates are of pearl, and her city gold, her foundations of precious stone,
Nor ray of the sun, nor of silver moon for light in her borders is shown;
And the cry goes up like the thunder's peal, or the sound of the waters' force,
As the nine-fold ranks of the Angel-choir, sweetest antiphons sing in course.

"What!" sneers the Fiend, "Do you really think that your Heaven is a temple of praise,
Where Intellect falls at visions of God, through ages of infinite days?
Man worship thyself, thou, greater than He, be throned in a temple as well."
O Fiend, thy dark form is never seen there, nor one of thy legions of hell.

Ah ! the World, I suppose, is worldly wise, and the Flesh to the flesh is true,
And the Devil stands well to the gates of Hell, lest his victims grow too few;
Foolish and weak, superstitious, misled; thus these three in their pride condemn,
But I turn me once more to the open door of the New Jerusalem.

~ William Chatterton Dix
"A Vision of All Saints & Other Poems", 1871

Free Cardinal Suenen E-Books

The Cardinal Suenens Center in Theology and Church Life at John Carrol University in Cleveland has the writings of that great patron of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal in PDF format. Entire books including A New Pentecost, Essays on Renewal, Ways of the Spirit, and more.


Prayer for the Eastern Orthodox

O Immaculate Virgin Mary, we your servants, and sons of the Holy Roman Catholic Church, full of confidence in your powerful protection, humbly ask that you would implore of the Holy Ghost, by the honor and glory of His eternal procession from the Father and the Son, the abundance of His gifts for our brethren of the Eastern Orthodox Church, that, enlightened by His vivifying grace, they may re-enter into the bosom of the Catholic Church, under the infallible guidance of her supreme pastor and teacher the Sovereign Roman Pontiff; and thus, sincerely re-united to us by the indissoluble bonds of the same faith and the same charity, they may, with us, glorify , by the practice of good works, the most august Trinity, and at the same time honour thee, O Virgin Theotokos, full of grace, now and through all ages. Amen.
(conclude with three Hail Marys)

This is my slightly modified version of the obviously pre-Vatican II prayer found in The Raccolta by Ambrose St. John, 1877. Here's the original "Prayer for the Conversion of the Greek Schismatics":

O Immaculate Virgin Mary, we thy servants, and sons of the Holy Roman Catholic Church, full of confidence in thy powerful protection, humbly beseech thee that thou wouldst deign to implore of the Holy Ghost, by the honour and glory of His eternal procession from the Father and the Son, the abundance of His gifts for our seperated brethren, the Greek schismatics, that, enlightened by His vivifying grace, they may re-enter into the bosom of the Catholic Church, under the infallible guidance of her supreme pastor and teacher the Sovereign Roman Pontiff; and thus, sincerely re-united to us by the indissoluble bonds of the same faith and the same charity, they may, with us, glorify , by the practice of good works, the most august Trinity, and at the same time honour thee, O Virgin Mother of God, full of grace, now and through all ages. Amen. (conclude with Ave Maria thrice)