Category Archives: Jesus Christ
“I came to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! I have a baptism with which to be baptized, and what stress I am under until it is completed! Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division! From now on five in one household will be divided, three against two and two against three; they will be divided: father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.” – Luke 12: 49-53
Being a Christian can feel lonely at times. In today’s culture you may feel ostracized by the world that just wants you to keep your mouth shut and your beliefs to yourself. Also at times, you may feel a sort of spiritual loneliness; where like David in the Psalms, you feel like God is hiding His face from you. Being a Christian is not always a walk in the park. I have personally found that one of the most painful feelings for me is wanting to share the joy I have found in Christ, but even among those closest to me, they simply do not want to hear about it. Sometimes I desperately want to be open about that part of myself with those I love who are not Catholic, but I know it will be met with silence, sarcasm, or anger. Though I still speak up in defence of the truth, I have also had to find different ways of showing that faith without words to my family and friends who do not believe or are against listening to anything that leans towards objective truth.
In our present culture, where “hate” has become the new catchphrase for anyone who stands up for objective moral truth, it is almost comical to see how much hatred the world has for authentic Christianity. Jesus warned us of the hate we would experience for loving and following Him, but He also reminds us that the world hated Him first.
The struggle can be difficult at times, yet, we know that there is victory in the struggles that we endure as Christians. The feeling of loneliness we can encounter can become redemptive. We can come to encounter Christ more deeply by offering our suffering to Him and with Him. Saint Teresa of Avila said, “Suffering is a great favor. Remember that everything soon comes to an end… and take courage. Think of how our gain is eternal.” We must take these words to heart and remember that the lives we live here are temporary.
It is of great importance to pray for the gifts of charity, humility, and patience. Charity is one of the hardest things to practice toward someone who speaks ill of you. It can be equally as hard to remain charitable when Christ or His Church is attacked. It can be much easier to get angry than to take a breath, pray for a moment, and speak respectfully to that person. Keep in mind our Blessed Lord before Pontius Pilate. He simply spoke the truth in peace.
It can be difficult to love the people who attack us, whether it be in the online sphere or among our families, friends, co-workers, etc. It is of paramount importance that we continue to love those who hurt us. This doesn’t mean that you have to be best friends, or even get along. It may even mean ending the relationship. But, we must be willing to reach out and serve them. We must remember that they deserve love and respect, even when they don’t give these things to us. Jesus loves the person who attacks us and desires for them to be united with Him for all eternity. Our job is to show that by our deeds, and then our words.
Remember you are not alone.
I remember years ago feeling very alone and wishing that I wasn’t. I was so caught up in myself that I forgot that I was never alone. I failed so many times to enter into prayer, to recall the saints, or to seek out authentic community. In hindsight, I wish I had been able to remember those painful hours Jesus wept in the garden. I forgot that on the cross, Jesus cried out, “my God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” Now, I understand that I can take consolation in the fact that not only can I offer my struggles, loneliness, and sufferings to Jesus, but that I can unite them with His suffering for the salvation of souls.
Pray for those that persecute you. Pray that their hearts may not be hardened. Pray that they may recognize the love in you as God’s love for them. Pray for them if they abandon you, or if you have to leave that relationship for reasons beyond your control. Leave it all in the hands of the Father. He will take care of His children.
We should strive to keep our hearts open to the sufferings and wretchedness of other people, and pray continually that God may grant us that spirit of compassion which is truly the spirit of God. – Saint Vincent de Paul
A few weeks back, we celebrated Corpus Christi. This solemnity is a day we remember the Body and Blood of Christ present in the Eucharist. We recall the truth that he is fully present in the consecrated host and wine and recognize them as his flesh and blood. It is an essential truth that we believe as Catholics.
At the parish I was attending on this feast day, we heard briefly in the homily of what Corpus Christi was and that the Eucharist is the true presence. This should already be known to Catholics. However, instead of teaching further, a representative of the church council was called up to give an overview for the parish about changes and additions that are going to be made to help the community. I felt like I was at a parish council meeting.
To make things more awkward, the children that had received first communion the week before were invited back with their families in their outfits so that they could be congratulated again. They were told to stand up and be congratulated by the parish, where all the members applauded. Our attention was turned to ourselves, where our focus should have been directed to Jesus. In the words of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, “Wherever applause breaks out in the liturgy because of some human achievement, it is a sure sign that the essence of liturgy has totally disappeared and been replaced by a kind of religious entertainment.”
What happened that weekend at the parish I was at made me think of the feeling of being upstaged at a celebration that was meant for you. You invite all your loved ones to celebrate. You provide food and drink. You make sure to spend time generously with all that come. Then, people begin to turn all their attention to the television. I can imagine the hurt, and the feeling of being old news or of being unimportant.
On Corpus Christi, we are reminded of Christ’s sacrifice for us. We are reminded of the last supper, the passion, the death, and resurrection. All those things we celebrate any given Sunday, but Corpus Christi is devoted to recalling the very gift of Christ present in the Eucharist and its sacredness.
Sadly, so many of us treat the Eucharist and the act of receiving communion as a right and not as a gift and privilege. At times we can forget the significance of the Mass and the sacrifice that takes place, and we simply go through the motions without reverence to the person we have received.
We should all reflect daily on the gift of the Eucharist. And lets be real here: it should humble us immensely. After we receive the Eucharist, we should be quiet. We should silence our hearts and minds and just thank Jesus for being with us. We should beg for the grace we need to be better people, and offer our hearts to him and our lives as homage.
Pray for our parishes, for the body of Christ and her members, that we may all recognize the precious gift of the Eucharist. Let us call each other to love him better, especially in the Blessed Sacrament.
This past weekend, I had the absolute honor and pleasure of attending the Ordination to the Priesthood of one of my great friends, Fr. Stephen Marsh. He was ordained this weekend with three other men. Though it was a long journey, Fr. Steve has finally arrived, and this new chapter in his life has only just begun.
While being at his Ordination Mass, I was overcome with such gratefulness for our Priests and awe for their sacred office and how God is present to us in them. However I was also saddened to know that they are so often taken for granted, and that many Priests do and have grown cold.
When we look at Salvation History, we see throughout it the great lengths that God has taken to give us this gift of Salvation, to show us his unconditional love for us, as well has His mercy and justice. We see this in a big way in scripture with the levitical priests, who offered sacrifices on our behalf. We also see this through God giving the Israelites the Manna in the desert to nourish them.
With the death and resurrection of our Lord, this did not end. It changed. With our Priests, they offer the one unbloody sacrifice of our Lord on the cross, made present at the altar, for us and with us, at Mass. This was commanded by our Lord Himself that it be done. Jesus offers Himself to the Father and also nourishes us in the Eucharist, as he is the new Manna, the Bread of the Angels. He is present in the Eucharist in His Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity.
What a great responsibility and gift our Priests have been given, being entrusted with this sacred duty of offering us the Sacraments, without which we would not be saved. It brings me to tears, this fact that Our God loves us so deeply, so that He deigned to make real to us now, make available to us now, through his Priests, our salvation. When we sin, and put this salvation at risk, with a firm resolution to never sin again, and a good confession, we can return to our Lord. What great mercy!
St. Francis de Sales said “O my child, bethink you that just as the bee, having gathered heaven’s dew and earth’s sweetest juices from amid the flowers, carries it to her hive; so the Priest, having taken the Saviour, God’s Own Son, Who came down from Heaven, the Son of Mary, Who sprang up as earth’s choicest flower, from the Altar, feeds you with that Bread of Sweetness and of all delight.’
We need to remember this gift always, and pray always for our Priests, that they remain good and holy, and always advancing in virtue. St. John Chrysostom said that “If priests sin, all the people are led to sin. Hence every one must render an account of his own sins; but the priests are also responsible for the sins of others.” What a great and divine duty our Priests have.
Please keep the newly Ordained Priests in your prayers, as well as all of our current Bishops, Cardinals, and Priests, that the love of God and His Church in those who have grown cold may blaze bigger than ever before, and for the rest, that their love for God and His Church would continue to strengthen and grow. May we always be grateful for our Priests, as without them, we would not have this great gift of Salvation available to us.
Have you ever asked yourself, “Why can’t anything just go right for once?” I know I have felt that way more times than I can count. I remember asking that question the loudest, while stuck on the side of the freeway in the middle of Maryland. I was on a road trip from Canada, and my car’s alternator had died. I had done everything in my power before making the trip to ensure that everything was good. I did not expect this. As myself and three friends sat in the car, calling the tow truck company, I remember looking at the dome light of the car as it slowly faded to black and saying those very words, “Why can’t anything just go right for once?”
That was the day of my engagement to the most beautiful woman in the world. I had wanted that day to be perfect. Yet, from the moment I woke up that day, I encountered struggle after struggle, from losing my toothbrush to losing my wallet. The only thing that seemed to go right was the engagement itself. Now here I stand, over four years later, married to that same beautiful woman but the struggles continue- why?
Reading through the lives of the Saints, you will see a common theme: struggle. As Secular Discalced Carmelites, my community is just finishing up reading the Letters of St. Teresa of Jesus (Avila), our Foundress. As we have been reading her letters, I realized that this great Doctor of the Church had two major constants in her life: God’s passionate love and struggles. That is not to say she did not experience success and different favours, but it was not without a constant battle simultaneously. Every time she went to try to found a community she’d be hit with another major pitfall, whether it be apprehension from clergy or personal illness. Nothing went without a hitch for her it seemed. But, her struggles were not the end of the story.
The same goes for Team Orthodoxy’s beloved Patron, St. Peter Julian Eymard. St. Peter Julian was a man of failed dreams. Even his best friend betrayed him in the process of founding the community. Every time St. Peter Julian set out to create a worthy throne for Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament, he’d be hit with a huge pitfall; he’d lose the house, the Bishop revoked his support, etc. Whatever good St. Peter Julian wanted to accomplish was 99.9% of the time met with a battle.
The Saints and above all our Blessed Lord who they emulate, truly personify this basic truth: Good will always require a battle. Recently, the Catholic Church has been encountering this battle too. The recent Synod on the Family shows how true this is. How easy was it for the wayward Cardinals and Bishops to get their corrupted version of Relatio document into the hands of the media? Yet, the more faithful and orthodox Bishops and Cardinals struggled to get this fixed. But, the damage has been done. We see faithful clergy like Cardinal Burke seemingly being “demoted” for whatever reason, and attacked by his brother Bishops and Cardinals for his faithfulness to Christ and His Teachings. Yet, the spineless Cardinals who only care about themselves seem to sit in the lap of luxury. This is not a new thing. This has been happening not just for 2,000 years, but all of salvation history. From Cain and Abel to Jesus, to Pope Francis, those who seek good will always be met with a battle.
The current world hates a struggle. Everything seems to be employed in the service of comfort and ease. Make it faster, quicker, smarter. The easier it makes our life, the better. That is the general sentiment. Yet, as Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI said, “The world promises you comfort, but you were not made for comfort. You were made for greatness.” Yet, what does it take to achieve greatness?
Push into the struggle.
Winter is on our heels here in Canada, and with that comes lots and lots of snow and ice. If you’ve read Dante’s Inferno, you know that the final ring of Hell, where the devil lives, is actually bitter cold. It is not filled with flames, but ice. Pretty much, the only difference between there and my home town is that the Devil is not trapped here, forever gnawing on the brain matter of Judas Iscariot. I HATE the cold. Anyways, I digress. One thing they tell us all in “Driver’s Ed” as we prepare to get our driver’s licence is that if you hit a patch of ice and you start to lose control of your car, turn into the spin. It seems counter-intuitive to do it, but it actually helps you regain control of the vehicle instead of making the situation worse. The knee-jerk reaction is to pull away. This, however, only serves to create a greater loss of control. Why am I telling you this?
The point that I am making is simply this: to achieve greatness, we have to push into the struggle. A lot of people, especially young people, are looking for comfort. I recently spoke with a university professor who lamented at the lack of care his students have for their education. If they fail a test, they demand a re-test, because somehow something was wrong with the test and not with them. Our Western Culture has served to create monsters of people, who instead of seeking to be heroic, seek to be comfortable. The recent story of Brittany Maynard (Lord, have mercy) who committed suicide exemplifies where your mind can go when comfort is more important than greatness. Yet, the media praised her as a sort of hero.
False heroism. This is what has befallen our culture, and the local church is certainly not exempt. All of the scandals that have ravaged the church in recent years are rooted in the fact that it is easier to allow evil than to battle for good. It is easier to give into whatever temptation comes at you than to mortify yourself. So-called pastors are afraid to speak the truth out of fear. Not just fear that they will become less popular with the “frozen chosen”, but even with their own Bishops. God bless the priests and Bishops that remain committed to the Truth and speak it without compromise. Yet, we have all seen this before.
Every great story has within it a great hero. The hero will inevitably encounter struggles and enter into battle with a malevolent enemy. The hero wins in the end, but it is not without incredible struggle. Friends, this is our story. We have been called by the King of Kings to fight for Him and for His Church. The first battle begins within ourselves. We are called to discipline the flesh and become virtuous. As we conquer those dark things within ourselves, with the help of grace, we begin to see things change in the world around us. We are also called to restore the social order in the world. We are made to be heroic, not comfortable. There is going to be great struggles along the way. Yet, we know there can also be great victory, though it may not be the easy victory we had in mind. The question is, the next time we encounter something difficult and ask ourselves, “Why can’t anything just go right for once,” are we going to push into the struggle or pull away from it?