31 May 2008

Whole Burnt Offering

The real me is
he's also fearful

A visionary that
often doubts

See my determination
Now I hide

Living with
and deceit

I look like I
have it
but I'm also
The pieces seem
to contradict
but this is
the whole me

I bring it to You

Not dressed up in
Sunday best



I bring it to You

Triumph and failure

I place them on
a pile of stones

will You
send down fire
to consume them?

**Maronite Icon of St. Elias

29 May 2008

Hanging out with Jesus

One of the gifts God gave to us through Holy Mother Church is the Lectionary. These are the daily Scripture Readings used in the Mass (Western) and Divine Liturgy (Eastern).
If you went to Mass every day for three years in any Roman Catholic Church you would hear practically the entire Bible! The Eastern Lectionary goes through the entire New Testament (minus Revelation) every year with some Old Testament readings during certain seasons.

What's the reading for the day? Most parishes will print the daily readings in the bulletin, but since we're on the internet here, they're just a click away. So, save them to your favorites and join over a billion Christians in contemplation of God's word.

Since my spirituality type is Augustinian (See post 16 Feb 08) I often read Scripture using the four steps of the Lectio Divina: listen to what God says in scripture; reflect prayerfully and apply it to today; respond to God's word with personal feelings; remain quiet and stay open to new insights.

But sometimes I just try to put myself in the Gospel story: what are the sounds, the smells, the people. I experience time with Jesus, but without any insight or profound revelation. Has this ever happened to you?

Or maybe when you pray, it doesn't seem like anything is happening. No tingles, no thunder, no visions or words of wisdom.

Guess what? That's okay!

When you spend time with your best friend do you always talk about profound things? Do you spend time together just to "get something" out of it?

Of course not.

Just hanging out together is what's important. So it is when we spend time meditating on God's word, praying, attending church services, or adoring Jesus in the Eucharist. It says, "I love you and want to be with you."

27 May 2008

The "Real" Mary for Evangelicals

When they think of the incarnation, many [Evangelical] students initially think of Mary as a kind of vessel for the life of the Son. They reduce the issue to that of a “rent-a-womb” lease. However, this quickly dissolves once they begin to come to terms with a real incarnation in which the eternal Son of God assumes real human nature in the womb of Mary. At that point, the debate about Mary as Theotokos catches fire and the race is on to come to terms with the early christological debates. (From the Forward to Mary for Evangelicals by Tim Perry)

Finally, Evangelicals are waking up to the Blessed Virgin and her importance. I recommend Tim Perry's book to any non-Catholic readers who want a Sola Scriptura portrait of Mary.

Another book that can help Evangelicals understand Mary is The Real Mary by Scot McKnight. After introducing you to the "Biblical" Mary, he does a fair job explaining what Catholics and Orthodox believe and why.

I especially liked his declaration that it is okay for Evangelicals to call Mary Theotokos, or Mother of God:

We Protestants can, and rightfully should, stand with the whole Church on the importance of what the Council of Ephesus decided. If "Mother of God" means "God-bearer" as the one who gave birth to the human Jesus who, as a single person was the God-man, then we can also stand together with Roman Catholics in affirming Mary as the "Mother of God".

McKnight also says it is alright to conclude that Mary was Ever-Virgin (Martin Luther and John Calvin agreed) :

What perpetual virginity teaches about Mary is that her task was so holy and her womb was so sanctified by the grace of God that Joseph concluded, out of reverence for what God had done, that he simply would not 'invade' what was holy.

As Mary herself prophesied, all generations will call her blessed--I don't think she meant just Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, and a few Anglicans!

18 May 2008

Think About Mary

One of the toughest hurdles for Protestants looking at the Catholic Church is the reverence shown to the Blessed Virgin Mary. They say, "She's in the background--the Bible hardly talks about her."

Sure, we don't know much about her day to day life because she always points to her Son. Many scholars say that the only reason for not including the Protoevangelium of James in the canon of Scripture was not that the content or the authorship in question, but that the emphasis of the New Testament was Christ and the Church.

But we do know more about Mary by using our minds. If you think about who Jesus is and how that effects His mother, then a clearer image appears. For example, Jesus is the Bread from Heaven (Manna)--Manna was one of the things kept in the Ark of the Covenant--therefore since Mary carried the Bread from Heaven in her womb she can be called the Ark of the Covenant!

Another example: the prophets said that the Messiah would enter through the Eastern Gate and no other would enter after Him. Therefore Mary can be called the Eastern Gate and her status as ever-virgin is upheld.

Throughout Church history mystics have contemplated how the life, death, resurrection, and divinity of Christ affected the Blessed Virgin. Reading through these will boggle your mind! You can't help but fall in love with her and repeat the inspired words of St. Elizabeth "Blessed art thou among women!"

I highly recommend a book called "The 100 Names of Mary" by Fr. Anthony Chiffolo. It goes through many of her titles and includes background and prayers for each. Some are ancient, some are more recent aparitions like Our Lady of Lourdes.

Below is a lengthy list of titles from the Western "Litany of Loretto" and the Eastern "Akathist". Many are Biblical terms from the Old Testament. You'll also notice that most point to her relationship with Christ, her Son.

Theotokos (Mother of God), Virgin of virgins, Mother of Christ, Mother of divine grace, Mother most pure, Mother most chaste, Mother inviolate, Mother undefiled, Mother most amiable, Mother most admirable, Our Lady of good counsel, Mother of our Creator, Mother of our Redeemer, Virgin most prudent, Virgin most venerable, Virgin most renowned, Virgin most powerful, Virgin most merciful, Virgin most faithful, Mirror of justice, Seat of wisdom, Cause of our joy, Spritual vessel, Vessel of honor, Singular vessel of devotion, Mystical rose, Tower of David, Tower of ivory, House of gold, Ark of the covenant, Gate of Heaven, Morning Star, Health of the sick, Refuge of sinners, Comforter of the afflicted, Help of Christians, Queen of Angels, Queen of Patriarchs, Queen of Prophets, Queen of Apostles, Queen of Martyrs, Queen of Confessors, Queen of Virgins, Queen of all Saints, Queen conceived without original sin, Queen of the most holy Rosary, Queen of peace.

Her through whom Joy shines forth; Her through whom the curse disappears; Restoration of the Fallen Adam; Redemption of the Tears of Eve; Peak above the reach of human thought; Depth even beyond the sight of angels; Her who has become a Kingly Throne; Her who carries Him Who Carries All; Star who manifest the Sun; Womb of the Divine Incarnation; Her through whom creation is renewed; Her through whom the Creator became a Babe; Hidden Sense of the Ineffable Plan; Belief in Silence That Must Be; Forecast of the Marvels of Christ; Fountainhead of truths concerning Him; Celestial Ladder, by whom God came down; Bridge leading earthly ones to heaven; Wonder, ever-thrilling to the angels; Wound, ever-hurting to the demons; Her who gave birth to Light ineffably; Her who told no one how it was done; Her who surpassed the wisdom of the wise; Her who enlighten faithful minds; Bride without bridegroom--Maiden ever-pure; Tendril whose Bud shall not wilt; Soil whose Fruit shall not perish; Tender of mankind's loving Tender; Gardener of the Gardener of Life; Earth who yielded abundant mercies; Table full-laden with appeasement; Her who greened anew the pastures of delight; Her who prepared a haven for the souls; Acceptable Incense of Prayer; Expiation of the whole universe; Favor of God to mortal men; Trust of mortals before God; Mother of Lamb and Shepherd; Fold of rational sheep; Protection against unseen foes; Key to the Doors of Paradise; The Unsilenced Voice of the Apostles; The Undaunted Might of Martyrs; Steadfast Foundation of Faith; Shining Emblem of Grace; Mother of the Star Without Setting; Radiance of the Mystical Day; She who quenched the flame of error; Light of those who search the Trinity; She who unthroned the Enemy of Men; She who showed forth Christ the Lord, Lover of Mankind; She who cleansed us from the stain of pagan worship; She who saved us from the mire of evil deeds; She who made cease the cult of fire; She who dispelled the flames of Passion; She who guides the faithful toward wisdom; Delight of all the Nations; Downfall of the Demons; She who crushed the error of deceit; Sea who drowned the symbolic Pharaoh; Rock who quenched those who thirst for Life; Shelter of the World, wider than the clouds; Handmaid of holy delight; Land of the promised good; She who flow with milk and honey; Blossom of Incorruption; Crown of Self-mastery; Fruitful Tree from whom believers feed; Shady Glen where many are sheltered; She who has born the Guide of the Lost; Source of Life to the captives' Release; She who unsettled even the Just Judge; Indulgence of many who have fallen; Stole for those who lack freedom to speak; Tenderness who exceed all desire; Space of the Spaceless God; Gate of the Sublime Mystery; Message unsure to men without faith; Glory most certain to those who believe; Sacred Chariot of the One above the Cherubim; Perfect Dwelling of the One above the Seraphim; She who reconciled opposites; She who combined maidenhood and motherhood; She through whom transgression was erased; She through whom Paradise was opened; Key to the Kingdom of Christ; Hope for the Ages of Bliss; Container of God's Wisdom; Treasury of His Providence; Reproof of foolish philosophers; Confusion of speechless wise men; She perplexed the inquisitive minds; Retriever from the Abyss of Ignorance; Lamplight of Knowledge to many; Ship for those who seek Salvation; Harbor for the Sailors of Life; Pillar of Virginity; Gateway of Salvation; Principle of the New Creation; Dispenser of God's bounties; She who bore the Sower of Chastity; Holy Chamber of virginal wedlock; She who joins the faithful with God; Bridesmaid of holy souls; Beam of the Mystical Son; Radiance of the Light without setting; Lightning-Flash that brightens the souls; Thunder-Clap that strikes down the foes; She who raised the many-lighted Star; She who opened the many-coursed Stream; She who traced the living Model of the Pool; Flowing Water that cleanses the conscience; Holy Vessel overflowing with joy; Fragrance of the sweetness of Christ; Life of the Mystical Banquet; Tabernacle of God the Word; Holy One, more holy than the saints; Ark that the Spirit has gilded; Inexhaustible Treasure of Life; Precious Crown of rightful authorities; Sacred Glory of reverent priests; Unshakable Tower of the Church; Unbreachable Wall of the Kingdom; Her through whom the trophies are raised; Her through whom the enemies are routed.

Ora pro nobis sancta Dei Genitrix. Ut digni efficiamur promissionibus Christi.

17 May 2008

God's Love in the History of Salvation

Our Heavenly Father has been watching over us throughout all of history, saving us from destruction over and over again. He longs to onvince us of His pasionate love for each one of us, that relentless mercy which calls--and enables--us to share His own divine life, that fiery outpouring of love by which the Father eternally begets the Son in the Holy Spirit. Only an infinite, raging love such as appears among the Blessed Trinity can explain the mysteries of human sin and salvation.

Let's face it, we humans really don't want God to love us that much. It's simply too demanding. Obedience is one thing, but this sort of love clearly calls for more than keeping commandments. It calls for nothing less than total self-donation. That might not be a difficult job for the three infinite Persons of the Trinity, but for creatures like us, such love is a summons to martyrdom. This invitation requires much more suffering and self-denial than simply giving up chocolate for Lent. It demands nothing less than a constant dying to self.

~Scott Hahn, from "A Father Who Keeps His Promises" (1998 Servant)

**Wow! If you want an amazing book that explores God's Covenantal Love throughout Scripture, this is it! DST

16 May 2008


Wow! This week has been one of great joy in the middle of trials! My only way through it has been to listen for the voice of the Holy Spirit and obey. The word "docile" keeps coming up this week.
“For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.” (Rom. 8:14 RSV) I'm learning to place myself in the hands of Father God, like a child abandons himself to his father’s care.

I'm also learning that the Lord gives AND He takes away. It's easy to trust Him when He gives good things and takes away bad things. But what about when He allows bad things, and takes away what we love the most? What if God said, "Your sanctification requires that you suffer through cancer. Do you trust me?" Or, "Do you love me enough to let me take your children away?"

A true love for God is a martyrs love that responds with a willingness to give up what we hold dearest. That may be wealth (the rich young ruler), Status/learning (Nicodemus), the family business (Andrew & Peter), etc.

I went to the Charismatic prayer group at Holy Apostles Catholic Church in Colorado Spings on Wednesday night. It was so great to be with 100+ spirit-filled folks in community. The first song we sang was the Matt Redman song "Blessed Be Your Name". I've listened to the version by Tree 63 for years, but while singing it in the midst of loss meant something new. I broke down when we got to the verse, "Blessed be your name/On the road marked with suffering/Though there's pain in the offering/Blessed be your name."

Since my current ordeal hit heavy two months ago, I haven't really cried about it, but the Holy Spirit gave me that gift of tears. I couldn't speak or sing. I just wept, holding my rosary and letting Love wash over me.

The song came on the radio while I was driving home and I almost had to pull off the road!

God lights the way, even in darkness.

15 May 2008

Lava quod est sordidum

Come Holy Ghost, come wash me all over, soul and body, spirit and flesh, for I am all over sordid and unclean. Wash me with those waters which flowed forth from our Savior's side upon the Cross. Wash me with that milk wherewith the dove in the Canticles was whitened, compared to the Bridegroom's eyes. Wash me in wine, or in the blood of grapes, as Juda, by his father's prophecy, was to wash his garments. Wash me in the blood, in the Blood of the Lamb, as those in the Apocolypse did wash and make white their stoles. Baptize and wash me finally in fire, in that divine fire--in Spiritu Sancto et igne--that I may be truly tried from the dross I have by sin contracted. Cleanse me from all my known and from all my hidden sins. Wash me from the many negligences and ignorances of my life. Wash me from all that filth which hath dyed my soul as red as scarlet, till it appear as white as wool, till it become as white as snow, that, being freed from all stain or blemish, it may without shame appear before Thy face, and gaze its fill on Thee with an endless and unglutted satiety, world without end. Amen.
~Rev. Richard Johnson, Suppliant of the Holy Ghost
**The "Cross of the Renewal" is available from ICCRS

14 May 2008

Rosary @ Holy Spirit Church

My favorite place to pray is Holy Ghost Catholic Church in downtown Denver. I found myself around the corner from it and decided to pop in yesterday to honor Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament. The Lord even left a parking meter with 30 minutes on it across the street (a miracle for mid-day downtown).

When I walked in about twenty people were reciting the rosary. I found a pew and knealt down with my beads. As each mystery was announced I felt a stronger wave of grace fall over me. Each "Our Father" seemed like a step up from my troubles.
Then the priest announced the sending of the Spirit on Pentecost as the next mystery. A wave of love washed over me--a peace that told me everything would be alright if I remained obedient to His leading.

"Veni Sancte Spiritus" I whispered, basking in His presence.
Another blessing at Holy Ghost Church is that they expose the Eucharist for adoration. Jesus was there entrhoned--Body, Soul, and Divinity--disguised as a round host of bread, waiting for me to spend time with Him.

Next I thanked the Blessed Virgin for her willingness to trust God and become the Eastern Gate through which the Lord came. For being the Ark of the Covenant. For being the Tabernacle that carried Christ through the wilderness. Her womb became more spacious than the heavens. And I thanked her for giving flesh to God, so He could give that flesh to me as spiritual food.
What a blessing to recieve so much just because I chose to spend a little time with God. Look at all He gives us: Himself in the Eucharist, Himself in the Holy Spirit, the Virgin Mary and the Saints as intercessors, and the Church to be a spiritual hospital!

13 May 2008

Domina nostra Sanctissimi Sacramenti

Our Lady of the Most Blessed Sacrament, Pray for us!

Today is the feast of the Virgin Mary under this amazing title. It reminds us that she gave her flesh to Jesus, who gives His flesh to us as spiritual food in the Holy Eucharist.

St. Peter Julian Eymard, founder of the Blessed Sacrament Fathers (SSS), wrote:

If we belong to the Son, we belong to the Mother; if we adore the Son, we ought to honor the Mother: therefore we are obliged...to give very special honor to the Blessed Virgin under the title of Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament.

Hail, Mary, of whom was born Jesus Eucharistic!

11 May 2008

Mary on Pentecost

I've mentioned before Mary's title "Spouse of the Holy Spirit" in a previous post. The Blessed Mother had an intimate relationship with the Spirit of God.

On the day of Pentecost, which the Church celebrates today, she was certainly the first to recognize the sound of that rushing wind. I imagine the disciples turning to her, "Is this the Paraclete our Lord promised?" then the flame appeared and she spoke in tongues.

Yes, Mary was a tongue-talking Charismatic!

She is not just the Spouse of the Holy Spirit, but the Mother of the Church.
Happy Mother's Day!

10 May 2008

Perfect Pitch

A trained musician can hear a chord played and recognize the individual notes. They can hear a "C" for instance. It is rare to be born with "Perfect Pitch", the ability to identify the frequency or musical name of a specific tone, so it must be learned.

This came to mind when I was reading "In the School of the Holy Spirit" by Fr. Jaques Philippe of the Community of the Beatitudes. The Book explains how to hear the voice of the Holy Spirit and be obedient to the will of God.

When we become intimate with the Holy Spirit, and learn to recognize His voice, it is recognized in the noise of life. It takes time and practice to train our hearts to discern the vibration of the Spirit.

I recommend picking up this little book if you want more details on how to listen.

09 May 2008

What God Says About Mary

What was the first New Testament utterance inspired by the Holy Spirit?

"Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb." (Luke 1:42)

St. Elizabeth "was filled with the Holy Ghost", John the Baptist leaped for joy in her womb at the sound of Mary's voice. (Luke 1:41)

That's why I love the Rosary. The words honoring Mary are from God through the Archangel and St. Elizabeth. The mysteries meditated upon are events from the life of Jesus and Mary.

Formal prayers are not meant to become dull, monotonous recitations. They should be prayed from the heart and energized by the Holy Spirit.

Praying the Rosary is repeating what God says about Mary.

08 May 2008

The Importance of Hierarchy

My brother Art has a blog that focuses on miracles and the work of the Holy Spirit from a Pentecostal/Charismatic Evangelical point of view. He encourages all Christians to open themselves to the work of the Spirit and seek a deeper Christian life. Through his postings I became aware of something going down in Florida that they call "The Lakeland Healing Outpouring" centered around a young preacher named Todd Bentley.

I decided to watch some of the shenanigans on TV. On the surface it looked like an amateur version of the typical Pentecostal preacher. But after ten minutes my heart was grieved for the thousands who flock to see him. Something wasn't right.

I won't go into a critique of Todd and his wacked out theology that even established Charismatics bring into question. The internet is buzzing with attacks and defense of what is going on. But I had a few thoughts from a Catholic Charismatic viewpoint that I wanted to get out.

1. Even if all the established Charismatic Protestant ministers declared Todd Bentley a heretic, false prophet, fraud, etc. they couldn't do anything about it. He's untouchable as long as people follow him.

2. Regardless of error in doctrine the excuse is "But look at the healings". Truth is subjective to his followers.

By contrast, if Todd Bentley was a Catholic lay preacher at a healing service, any teaching that deviated from 2000 years of Apostolic teaching would be corrected. His actions would be under the authority of a priest, the local bishop, and so on. His choice would be to bring the ministry in line with revealed truth or excommunicate himself from Mother Church.

In the early days of the Charismatic Renewal in the Catholic Church there was some wierdness. The Church hierarchy stepped in and straightened their course. A true mark that something is from the Holy Spirit is obedience and humility. That is exactly how they reacted. As a result after 40 years if you were to count the Charismatics in the Catholic Church they would outnumber any Pentecostal denomination, even the Assemblies of God!

If you are a Catholic in need of healing, don't waste your time in Florida, check local parishes for the next Healing Mass, or find your local Charismatic prayer group.

07 May 2008

May is Mary's Month

I've been so busy with my new job that I forgot to post the monthly dedication and prayer intentions.

In the Roman Catholic Church May is dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary.

When she gave birth to the Son of God she was, in a certain sense, the first to worship his presence among men. Together with Joseph she took the Divine Child to the temple to offer him to God according to the prescriptions of the law. Even then, through the words of Simeon, God had revealed to her that the sword of sorrow would pierce her heart, when her Son became the sign of contradiction 'for the fall and rising of many!' (Lk 2:34). This was the announcement of Mary's participation in the saving work of Christ, Priest and Victim, which was to be accomplished on Golgotha.
~Pope John Paul the Great

The Holy Father's Prayer Intentions for May

Human Dignity: That Christians may use literature, art, and mass media to create a culture which defends and promotes the values of the human person.

Mary’s guidance: That the Virgin Mary, Star of evangelization and Queen of the Apostles, may still guide missionaries with maternal affection, just as she accompanied the Apostles in the early stages of the Church.

01 May 2008

Christ has Ascended...From Earth to Heaven!

By going up again into heaven from which you had descended, you did not leave us orphans, O Lord. Show to all your people the works of your power, that your Spirit may come down up on us and bring peace to the world, O Lord and Lover of us all.
(Eastern Hymn, Tone 1)

What was the last thing Jesus said to His disciples?

"Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover."

So then, after the Lord had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God. (Mark 16:14-19)

"Show to all Your people the works of Your power," the Eastern Christian hymn asks. Jesus promised this power after the coming of the Holy Spirit. Some gifts and authority were given directly to the Apostles and their successors, but here we see the last thing that Jesus said: "...these signs will follow those who believe: In My Name..."

He who believes and is baptized will be saved, AND signs will follow. St. Cyril of Jerusalem told his fourth century catechumens:

But if you approach [baptism] with faith, though men minister in what is seen, the Holy Spirit bestows that which is unseen. You are coming to a great trial, to a great muster in that one hour, which if you throw away, your disaster is irretrievable; but if you be counted worthy of the grace, your soul will be enlightened, you will receive a power which you had not, you will receive weapons terrible to the evil spirits; and if you cast not away your arms, but keep the Seal upon your soul, no evil spirit will approach you; for he will be subdued; for verily by the Spirit of God are the evil spirits cast out.

If you believe, you shall not only receive remission of sins, but also do things which pass man’s power. And may you be worthy of the gift of prophecy also! For you shall receive grace according to the measure of your capacity and not of my words; for I may possibly speak of but small things, yet you may receive greater; since faith is a large affair.
We are not orphans. We are more than conquerers!

P.S. Don't forget, today is the beginning of the Pentecost Novena!