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Friday, 17 April 2015

Cardinal George Died

Yes, I knew it was down for awhile...but not why until now

see above for more details..
Could this be true? Several news websites are reporting that the official Vatican website,, was hacked and taken off-line Monday night by Turkish protesters who objected to Pope Francis’ use of the term “genocide” to refer to the killing of 1.5 million Armenians by Turkish forces in 1915.
  • Theodore Shoebat reported on his website that the hacking was done as an act of revenge against Pope Francis for his exposing of the Armenian Genocide.
  • The Stack repeats the story, adding the name of the hacker group:  @THTHerakles.  Reportedly, the London-based hackers will continue to target the website until an apology is issued by Vatican City.
  • And Breitbart reports that the Vatican website was actually hit twice in the span of 24 hours, following Pope Francis’ comments on Sunday describing the killings by soldiers of the Ottoman Empire as “the first genocide of the twentieth century.”

Sad Times for Catholics in the Army

Mr. Berry said he thinks the “hostile work environment” that is forcing the most religious persons out of the military is only getting worse, and that while in the past problems were mainly in the Air Force, religious liberty issues have spread throughout all the services.
“The problem is getting worse, not better, despite our efforts,” he said. “There is a culture [of] hostility [toward] religion in the military right now.”
While problems in the past have touched all religious groups, Travis Weber, director of the Center for Religious Liberty at the Family Research Council, said he’s seen a recent uptick and pattern of Christians facing persecution for religious expression.
two page article... read more on link above

In the chaplain example last month, Navy Chaplain Lt. Cmdr. Wes Modder was removed from his position counseling sailors and could be kicked out of the military for expressing his views on marriage and homosexuality in private sessions. Mr. Berry is representing Lt. Cmdr. Modder, who is still on active duty in Charleston, South Carolina, as the case is reviewed at a higher level.
Mr. Berry said this case even could set a precedent usable outside the military by establishing, as a principle, that the government can punish religious leaders based on the state’s moral disapproval of the church’s teachings, especially in matters of sex.
“If what happened to Chaplain Modder is allowed to stand, it could foretell more instances in which the government tells priests, ministers, chaplains, etc. that their views are unacceptable,” he said.
Mr. Weber said these types of punishments affect both troops and chaplains, since chaplains will feel the need to constantly be looking over their shoulder to avoid punishment, and service members will wonder if chaplains are being honest or just saying what they can say without getting in trouble.
Pray for my friend, Father William Kneemiller, who is just off to the Middle East again for a year as a chaplain. God bless him and keep him safe.

Pope Francis on Mary, Our Mother

from another blog...a post of mine

The Fourth Principle of Providence

In view of Quietism, however, this last sentence obliges us to lay down a fourth principle no less certain than the principles that have preceded. The principle is, that obviously self-abandonment does not dispense us from doing everything in our power to fulfil God's will as made known in the commandments and counsels, and in the events of life; but so long as we have the sincere desire to carry out His will thus made known from day to day, we can and indeed we must abandon ourselves for the rest to the divine will of good pleasure, no matter how mysterious it may be, and thus avoid a useless disquiet and mere agitation. [55]
This fourth principle is expressed in equivalent terms by the Council of Trent (Sess. VI, cap. 13), when it declares that we must all have firm hope in God's assistance and put our trust in Him, being careful at the same time to keep His commandments. As the well-known proverb has it: "Do what you ought, come what may." Garrigou-Lagrange

It is interesting that St. Padre Pio reminds us that agitation comes from satan, not God and is a sign that one is giving into temptation. Garrigou-Lagrange understands the same truth.

With the stress of our daily lives, it seems impossible to not fall into agitation (getting upset at the speed of the Net-a first world problem, for example).

Yes, one desires to live in the Will of God. Desire and pray for this daily, and God will guide you.

On Living in Mortal Sin

Recently, on another blog, a question of a marriage between an unbaptize and baptized person arose. And, in another conversation, someone asked about living in the same house with a person in mortal sin.

Why would anyone choose to live in the same house or apartment with people or a person in mortal sin, or marry someone in mortal or Original Sin?

Joining one's body and soul in marriage makes a spiritual as well as a physical union. Living in the same house with someone in mortal sin, on purpose choosing to do this, (instead of realizing that people sin and need to go to confession), places oneself in spiritual warfare daily. These thoughts prompted me to realize that most Catholics may not understand the seriousness of spiritual warfare regarding those outside of sanctifying grace.

A parent who is paying for an adult child to be at home can and should insist that while that child is dependent, he or she must abide by religious rules in the house, such as going to confession, Mass, and Holy Communion. One cannot tolerate serious sin daily. When I lived in a lay community, all the people were in sanctifying grace, as these people had to turn away from sin before entering, something which occurred naturally. No one in sin would want to live the rigorous communal life we did.

To pretend there is no a difference in a house where people are practicing Catholics, praying and in sanctifying grace, and a house where this is not the case, simply defies reason. A priest cannot cleanse a house of an infestation as long as the people living there engage in a lifestyle of sin. He can do it once, but the demons will return, worse than before, as the people are living in sin.

Living in mortal sin, obviously, cannot be judged as the same as falling into mortal sin. Living in mortal sin, such as in an irregular marriage, or actively homosexual relationship, or involved in embezzlement or graft or practicing contraception or living in lies and manipulations which are abusive on a regular basis, opens the door for demonic influences beyond one's imagination.

I can walk into a house, as God a long time ago gave me discernment, as He does to all Catholics as part of the gift of knowledge in Confirmation, and tell whether someone is into witchcraft, illicit sex, or whether someone who has lived in a place has been a Mason or whatever. Infestations of demons have become more and more common in houses where mortal sin and even sins which are intrinsic evils have become more common. If an abortion has been done in a house, I can tell. Why would someone want to live in a place full of demons of abortion, murder, illicit sex and so on?

Why would people choose to live with a person or persons who are subjecting one to spiritual oppressions? Why would anyone not choose to live in a house of peace and grace? Why would someone choose companions whom one cannot trust as they have left the road of wisdom and grace?

Many saints write of the necessity for good, holy companions. In Preparation for Death, St. Alphonsus writes in chapters two and four on the evil of bad companions and the blessing of good ones. One must choose close friends who are holy, or at least, in sanctifying grace and working on holiness.

When I was in graduate school at Notre Dame in the early '80s, a friend of mine and I were discussing the really serious problems of one of her roommates who was promiscuous. Finally, as other young women did not want to put up with this, and spoke with her about the line of men she had invited in, the girl moved out. The house became peaceful and a place for study, whereas before there existed chaos, depression, and anxiety. The poor young woman had been encouraged to have sex with men by her own parents as a teen, and could not break the habit. As a non-practicing Catholic, she was not turning to grace for the help needed to break away from sin. She would not listen to those of us who tried to help her out of her desperate lifestyle. But, one cannot allow such lifestyles to take over a Catholic environment of prayer and peace, if someone is not willing to change. The other women had determined the household rules and she would not abide by these.

I myself asked the sister in charge of the women's dorms and townhouses to live with nuns while I was a grad student at ND, as I got tired of fornication and the resulting spiritual warfare. Thankfully, my request was granted.

There are, of course, other serious sins, such as maliciousness, which can infect a house. A woman I know had to divorce her husband many, many years ago as he insisted on dubious and criminal business deals. He was soaked in avarice, and left the Church. He refused to repent and the chaos in the house affected the children. She was fortunate to be able to move away with the children safely. However, the children were affected and several have fallen away. Such are the sins on the consciences of parents.

I think of St. Padre Pio refusing to hear the confession of one woman who walked into a room where there were many people waiting to go to him for the sacrament. As the woman, dressed very well, rather middle class, came in, the saint rushed in and said, and I paraphrase, "I shall not hear your confession until you really repent. Your son is in hell because of you."

As a parent, I remember these words. I do not want to be held accountable for any reason for the sins of my son. But, many parents will be held accountable, for laxity, or obvious sin, or sins against the children, such as incest which can lead a person to be an abuser themselves, (although, no one is doomed to sin, of course), and so on.

Living in sin creates a place for demons to reside, and demons like to attach themselves to places, as well as to people. 

To pretend mortal sin does not open one up to more evil is to ignore Church teaching and common sense.

Perhaps a review of mortal sin is needed here. From the CCC:

1855 Mortal sin destroys charity in the heart of man by a grave violation of God's law; it turns man away from God, who is his ultimate end and his beatitude, by preferring an inferior good to him.

1858 Grave matter is specified by the Ten Commandments, corresponding to the answer of Jesus to the rich young man: "Do not kill, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and your mother."132 The gravity of sins is more or less great: murder is graver than theft. One must also take into account who is wronged: violence against parents is in itself graver than violence against a stranger.

1859 Mortal sin requires full knowledge and complete consent. It presupposes knowledge of the sinful character of the act, of its opposition to God's law. It also implies a consent sufficiently deliberate to be a personal choice. Feigned ignorance and hardness of heart133 do not diminish, but rather increase, the voluntary character of a sin.

1860 Unintentional ignorance can diminish or even remove the imputability of a grave offense. But no one is deemed to be ignorant of the principles of the moral law, which are written in the conscience of every man. The promptings of feelings and passions can also diminish the voluntary and free character of the offense, as can external pressures or pathological disorders. Sin committed through malice, by deliberate choice of evil, is the gravest.

1861 Mortal sin is a radical possibility of human freedom, as is love itself. It results in the loss of charity and the privation of sanctifying grace, that is, of the state of grace. If it is not redeemed by repentance and God's forgiveness, it causes exclusion from Christ's kingdom and the eternal death of hell, for our freedom has the power to make choices for ever, with no turning back. However, although we can judge that an act is in itself a grave offense, we must entrust judgment of persons to the justice and mercy of God.

One of the common statements on this blog is that there is not middle ground in the spiritual life-one is either for God or against Him. One's house either becomes a sanctuary or a war-zone of spiritual warfare.

These situations I am describing are not the same as a man or woman converting or reverting after a marriage outside the Church which must be regularized. If it can be, then the Catholic has a commitment to the spouse to bring that person into grace.

If the spouse refuses to regularize the marriage, one must make a choice with guidance from a holy priest. The Catholic spouse in a regular, legal and sacramental marriage can lead the other one to God, of course, The main reason for marriage is to lead each other to heaven.

I know many spouses who have converted their husbands or wives, praise God. But, I know many more where the unbelieving spouse has not converted. It will be through the merits and love of the practicing Catholic if that person is saved. One can turn to St. Paul for understanding on this point.

1 Corinthians 7 

Directions concerning Marriage

Now concerning the matters about which you wrote: “It is well for a man not to touch a woman.” But because of cases of sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband. The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does; likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. Do not deprive one another except perhaps by agreement for a set time, to devote yourselves to prayer, and then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. This I say by way of concession, not of command. I wish that all were as I myself am. But each has a particular gift from God, one having one kind and another a different kind.
To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is well for them to remain unmarried as I am. But if they are not practicing self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to be aflame with passion.
10 To the married I give this command—not I but the Lord—that the wife should not separate from her husband 11 (but if she does separate, let her remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband), and that the husband should not divorce his wife.
12 To the rest I say—I and not the Lord—that if any believer[a] has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he should not divorce her.13 And if any woman has a husband who is an unbeliever, and he consents to live with her, she should not divorce him. 14 For the unbelieving husband is made holy through his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy through her husband. Otherwise, your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy.15 But if the unbelieving partner separates, let it be so; in such a case the brother or sister is not bound. It is to peace that God has called you.[b] 16 Wife, for all you know, you might save your husband. Husband, for all you know, you might save your wife.

more on this purgatorial souls sometimes have to work out purgatory in the places where they sinned. BTW, a certain Father Rosica does not like the label, "living in sin"...well, Christ told sinners to sin no more...which is a call not to live in sin. 

Very Important Post on Who Can Make a Spiritual Communion

Read this please...most important post of the day!

 Therefore a person who is divorced and “remarried” is not able to receive the sacrament of Holy Communion, or able to make a spiritual communion, until they repent of their sin.

More here...

For those who are in sanctifying grace, here is the prayer...

My Jesus,
I believe that You
are present in the Most Holy Sacrament.
I love You above all things,
and I desire to receive You into my soul.
Since I cannot at this moment
receive You sacramentally,
come at least spiritually into my heart.  I embrace You as if You were already there and unite myself wholly to You.  Never permit me to be separated from You.


Cashless Society?

Other commentators have been speaking about this in the past month.

A Reminder of Providence

Mendicant is a polite word for beggar. Today, the Church celebrates the life and death of a beggar and homeless man, St. Benedict Labre. He is one of my personal patrons.

I would rather be in Rome, however, God places us where He wants us to be.

I identify with this man who could not make the physical grade to be a monk. I wish I could visit all the wonderful pilgrimage places he did in his very short life.

As the patron of the homeless, St. Benedict Labre, like other fools for Christ, wandered through Europe praying and helping others. Sadly, today, God's fools are not admire anymore and even, in some states here, made into criminals.

St. Benedict Labre may be seen as a "man of Providence".

As we head into chaos and persecution in the Church, it behooves us to recall the definitions of Providence. Garrigou-Lagrange in his book by this name, already reviewed on this blog quite a while ago, reminds us of three points regarding Providence.

My comments in blue...

Why we should abandon ourselves to divine providence

The answer of every Christian will be that the reason lies in the wisdom and goodness of Providence. This is very true; nevertheless, if we are to have a proper understanding of the subject, if we are to avoid the error of the Quietists in renouncing more or less the virtue of hope and the struggle necessary for salvation, if we are to avoid also the other extreme of disquiet, precipitation, and a feverish, fruitless agitation, it is expedient for us to lay down four principles already somewhat accessible to natural reason and clearly set forth in revelation as found in Scripture. These principles underlying the true doctrine of self-abandonment, also bring out the motive inspiring it.

 See my posts on Quietism...but remember that these people just give up and neither hope nor work for their salvation "in fear and trembling". 

One can also become fixated on a particular sin or vice an forget that go is in charge of giving us the grace to combat sin.

The first of these principles is that everything which comes to pass has been foreseen by God from all eternity, and has been willed or at least permitted by Him.
Nothing comes to pass either in the material or in the spiritual world, but God has foreseen it from all eternity; because with Him there ii no passing from ignorance to knowledge as with us, and He has nothing to learn from events as they occur. Not only has God foreseen everything that is happening now or will happen in the future, but whatever reality and goodness there is in these things He has willed; and whatever evil or moral disorder is in them, He has merely permitted. Holy Scripture is explicit on this point, and, as the councils have declared, no room is left for doubt in the matter.

Most people understand this first principle, that God has known from all eternity all that happens. 

He wills good and permits evil, as all humans have free will, and for His Glory.

The second principle is that nothing can be willed or permitted by God that does not contribute to the end He purposed in creating, which is the manifestation of His goodness and infinite perfections, and the glory of the God-man Jesus Christ, His only Son. As St. Paul says (I Cor. 2: 23), "All are yours. And you are Christ's. And Christ is God's."

This glory and the revelation of God's goodness and all His attributes, are the goal of the will of God, either perfect or permissive.

In addition to these two principles, there is a third, which St. Paul states thus (Rom. 8:28) : "We know that to them that love God all things work together unto good: to such as, according to His purpose, are called to be saints" and persevere in His love. God sees to it that everything contributes to their spiritual welfare, not only the grace He bestows on them, not only those natural qualities He endows them with, but sickness too, and contradictions and reverses; as St. Augustine tells us, even their very sins, which God only permits in order to lead them on to a truer humility and thereby to a purer love. It was thus He permitted the threefold denial of St. Peter, to make the great Apostle more humble, more mistrustful of self, and by this very means become stronger and trust more in the divine mercy.

A reader noted that the posts on hell were particularly good on the day I had the flu. Being ill reminds me of my mortality and causes me to consider my end. Hence, the posts on hell. Also, when one is not feeling well, one is more aware of the passing of time, than when one is busy. Time sits heavy on the sick, and leads, or should lead, to reflection. God allows illness to help each one of us move in some way towards perfection.

One's personal salvation may be seen as tied up, intricately, with whatever happens in one's life, for good or for evil. The evil a person chooses, the good God directs.

These first three principles may therefore be summed up in this way: Nothing comes to pass but God has foreseen it, willed it or at least permitted it. He wills nothing, permits nothing, unless for the manifestation of His goodness and infinite perfections, for the glory of His Son, and the welfare of those that love Him. In view of these three principles, it is evident that our trust in Providence cannot be too childlike, too steadfast. Indeed, we may go further and say that this trust in Providence should be blind as is our faith, the object of which is those mysteries that are non-evident and unseen (fides est de non visis) for we are certain beforehand that Providence is directing all things infallibly to a good purpose, and we are more convinced of the rectitude of His designs than we are of the best of our own intentions. Therefore, in abandoning ourselves to God, all we have to fear is that our submission will not be wholehearted enough. [54]

When I complained to STS that I had to move again and was tired of this lifestyle, he noted that God was giving me lots of practice in trusting Divine Providence. As a person who has been too much in control, in the past, of my own life, to give all to God has been a challenge. Being pushed to rely on God for everything means that I am developing this childlike trust, and that His intentions are superior to mine, of course. This does not mean that one stops acting, of course not. In fact, a priest told me recently that I must make my needs known. Because sharing these creates negative responses in people most of the time, I pull back and hesitate. But, I must be obedient to the state in which God has designed to put me-that of a beggar, like St. Benedict Labre, whose feast is today.

One cannot trust in Divine Providence too much. And in times of stress, chaos, and persecution, when human aid disappears, trust in Divine Providence alone becomes essential for the Catholic.

Trusting in Divine Providence absolutely means "blind trust". One knows nothing of the whats, whens, wheres, hows, whys....

But, God has a design and a plan, which will come to completion in His time, not ours.

to be continued...the next post on this theme will be on the fourth principle concerning Providence.

Baptismal Graces

The graces given to us at baptism give Catholics tremendous power to deal with spiritual problems.

As the CCC notes, baptism is the gateway to the other sacraments and gives enlightenment to the soul, as well as freeing the soul from Original Sin.

That first grace, of the forgiveness of all sins and Original Sin, opens the soul to receive the theological virtues of faith, hope, and charity which are "infused in the soul", sanctifying grace and the moral virtues, which develop with grace, practice and education.

Baptism informs all these virtues because the person is renewed in sanctifying grace. Grace purifies the natural virtues. Without grace, these virtues either remain stilted or disappear because of the practice of habitual vice. Sin blocks virtue. Sin is an abuse of free will.

Without baptism, the natural virtues, or the cardinal virtues, cannot be "supernatualized".
Confirmation literally "confirms" the graces of baptism.  We get an indelible mark in baptism, and, as noted in the Council of Trent an indelible mark, which enables the person to publicly live his faith.

The other graces we receive in baptism, confirmed in confirmation, involve a power over the spirits of darkness. Those who are in sanctifying grace have the ability to free themselves from most obsessions and oppressions. Even family vices can be dealt with by the person who is living out his baptismal graces.

Humility, or docility to God's Will allows a person to grow quickly in the graces of baptism. But, as the Church is not a democracy and God gives graces according to His Divine Providence, there is a difference in the accidental graces of baptism.

Here is Thomas Aquinas on the subject:

The effect of Baptism is twofold, the essential effect, and the accidental. The essential effect of Baptism is that for which Baptism was instituted, namely, the begetting of men unto spiritual life. Therefore, since all children are equally disposed to Baptism, because they are baptized not in their own faith, but in that of the Church, they all receive an equal effect in Baptism. Whereas adults, who approach Baptism in their own faith, are not equally disposed to Baptism; for some approach thereto with greater, some with less, devotion. And therefore some receive a greater, some a smaller share of the grace of newness; just as from the same fire, he receives more heat who approaches nearest to it, although the fire, as far as it is concerned, sends forth its heat equally to all.
But the accidental effect of Baptism, is that to which Baptism is not ordained, but which the Divine power produces miraculously in Baptism: thus on Romans 6:6, "that we may serve sin no longer," a gloss says: "this is not bestowed in Baptism, save by an ineffable miracle of the Creator, so that the law of sin, which is in our members, be absolutely destroyed." And such like effects are not equally received by all the baptized, even if they approach with equal devotion: but they are bestowed according to the ordering of Divine providence. (I left the links on).

Therefore, saints are not "equal".  Each person is called to holiness according to God's Plan.

St. Catherine of Siena is not the same type of saint as St. Faustina. St. Bernard of Clairvaux cannot be compared to St. Benedict Labre, whose feast day is today, and so on.

The grace of martyrdom is different than the grace of being an abbot, or bishop, or pope. These are not merely "jobs" but vocations accompanied by certain graces.

Those who are not baptized do not have these many graces. Of course, God can give His graces to whom He desires, but baptism is the normal way for a person to be saved and given the means of salvation.

Trent clarifies the role of the sacraments. A few statements...

CANON IV.-If any one saith, that the sacraments of the New Law are not necessary unto salvation, but superfluous; and that, without them, or without the desire thereof, men obtain of God, through faith alone, the grace of justification;-though all (the sacraments) are not indeed necessary for every individual; let him be anathema.

CANON VI.-If any one saith, that the sacraments of the New Law do not contain the grace which they signify; or, that they do not confer that grace on those who do not place an obstacle thereunto; as though they were merely outward signs of grace or justice received through faith, and certain marks of the Christian profession, whereby believers are distinguished amongst men from unbelievers; let him be anathema.

CANON IX.-If any one saith, that, in the three sacraments, Baptism, to wit, Confirmation, and Order, there is not imprinted in the soul a character, that is, a certain spiritual and indelible Sign, on account of which they cannot be repeated; let him be anathema.

CANON V.-If any one saith, that baptism is free, that is, not necessary unto salvation; let him be anathema.
CANON VI.-If any one saith, that one who has been baptized cannot, even if he would, lose grace, let him sin ever so much, unless he will not believe; let him be anathema.

CANON VII.-If any one saith, that the baptized are, by baptism itself, made debtors but to faith alone, and not to the observance of the whole law of Christ; let him be anathema.

CANON XIII.-If any one saith, that little children, for that they have not actual faith, are not, after having received baptism, to be reckoned amongst the faithful; and that, for this cause, they are to be rebaptized when they have attained to years of discretion; or, that it is better that the baptism of such be omitted, than that, while not believing by their own act, they should be baptized in the faith alone of the Church; let him be anathema.

to be continued...

On Perfection from St. John Paul II

From Veritatis Splendor, a snippet...

If you wish to be perfect" (Mt 19:21)
16. The answer he receives about the commandments does not satisfy the young man, who asks Jesus a further question. "I have kept all these; what do I still lack? " (Mt 19:20). It is not easy to say with a clear conscience "I have kept all these", if one has any understanding of the real meaning of the demands contained in God's Law. And yet, even though he is able to make this reply, even though he has followed the moral ideal seriously and generously from childhood, the rich young man knows that he is still far from the goal: before the person of Jesus he realizes that he is still lacking something. It is his awareness of this insufficiency that Jesus addresses in his final answer. Conscious of the young man's yearning for something greater, which would transcend a legalistic interpretation of the commandments, the Good Teacher invites him to enter upon the path of perfection: "If you wish to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me" (Mt 19:21).
Like the earlier part of Jesus' answer, this part too must be read and interpreted in the context of the whole moral message of the Gospel, and in particular in the context of the Sermon on the Mount, the Beatitudes (cf. Mt 5:3-12), the first of which is precisely the Beatitude of the poor, the "poor in spirit" as Saint Matthew makes clear (Mt 5:3), the humble. In this sense it can be said that the Beatitudes are also relevant to the answer given by Jesus to the young man's question: "What good must I do to have eternal life? ". Indeed, each of the Beatitudes promises, from a particular viewpoint, that very "good" which opens man up to eternal life, and indeed is eternal life.
The Beatitudes are not specifically concerned with certain particular rules of behaviour. Rather, they speak of basic attitudes and dispositions in life and therefore they do not coincide exactly with the commandments. On the other hand, there is no separation or opposition between the Beatitudes and the commandments: both refer to the good, to eternal life. The Sermon on the Mount begins with the proclamation of the Beatitudes, but also refers to the commandments (cf. Mt 5:20-48). At the same time, the Sermon on the Mount demonstrates the openness of the commandments and their orientation towards the horizon of the perfection proper to the Beatitudes. These latter are above all promises, from which there also indirectly flow normative indications for the moral life. In their originality and profundity they are a sort of self- portrait of Christ, and for this very reason are invitations to discipleship and to communion of life with Christ.26
17. We do not know how clearly the young man in the Gospel understood the profound and challenging import of Jesus' first reply: "If you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments". But it is certain that the young man's commitment to respect all the moral demands of the commandments represents the absolutely essential ground in which the desire for perfection can take root and mature, the desire, that is, for the meaning of the commandments to be completely fulfilled in following Christ. Jesus' conversation with the young man helps us to grasp the conditions for the moral growth of man, who has been called to perfection: the young man, having observed all the commandments, shows that he is incapable of taking the next step by himself alone. To do so requires mature human freedom ("If you wish to be perfect") and God's gift of grace ("Come, follow me").
Perfection demands that maturity in self-giving to which human freedom is called. Jesus points out to the young man that the commandments are the first and indispensable condition for having eternal life; on the other hand, for the young man to give up all he possesses and to follow the Lord is presented as an invitation: "If you wish...". These words of Jesus reveal the particular dynamic of freedom's growth towards maturity, and at the same time they bear witness to the fundamental relationship between freedom and divine law. Human freedom and God's law are not in opposition; on the contrary, they appeal one to the other. The follower of Christ knows that his vocation is to freedom. "You were called to freedom, brethren" (Gal 5:13), proclaims the Apostle Paul with joy and pride. But he immediately adds: "only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love be servants of one another" (ibid.). The firmness with which the Apostle opposes those who believe that they are justified by the Law has nothing to do with man's "liberation" from precepts. On the contrary, the latter are at the service of the practice of love: "For he who loves his neighbour has fulfilled the Law. The commandments, 'You shall not commit adultery; You shall not murder; You shall not steal; You shall not covet,' and any other commandment, are summed up in this sentence, 'You shall love your neighbour as yourself' " (Rom 13:8-9). Saint Augustine, after speaking of the observance of the commandments as being a kind of incipient, imperfect freedom, goes on to say: "Why, someone will ask, is it not yet perfect? Because 'I see in my members another law at war with the law of my reason'... In part freedom, in part slavery: not yet complete freedom, not yet pure, not yet whole, because we are not yet in eternity. In part we retain our weakness and in part we have attained freedom. All our sins were destroyed in Baptism, but does it follow that no weakness remained after iniquity was destroyed? Had none remained, we would live without sin in this life. But who would dare to say this except someone who is proud, someone unworthy of the mercy of our deliverer?... Therefore, since some weakness has remained in us, I dare to say that to the extent to which we serve God we are free, while to the extent that we follow the law of sin, we are still slaves".27
18. Those who live "by the flesh" experience God's law as a burden, and indeed as a denial or at least a restriction of their own freedom. On the other hand, those who are impelled by love and "walk by the Spirit" (Gal 5:16), and who desire to serve others, find in God's Law the fundamental and necessary way in which to practise love as something freely chosen and freely lived out. Indeed, they feel an interior urge — a genuine "necessity" and no longer a form of coercion — not to stop at the minimum demands of the Law, but to live them in their "fullness". This is a still uncertain and fragile journey as long as we are on earth, but it is one made possible by grace, which enables us to possess the full freedom of the children of God (cf. Rom 8:21) and thus to live our moral life in a way worthy of our sublime vocation as "sons in the Son".
This vocation to perfect love is not restricted to a small group of individuals. The invitation,"go, sell your possessions and give the money to the poor", and the promise "you will have treasure in heaven", are meant for everyone, because they bring out the full meaning of the commandment of love for neighbour, just as the invitation which follows, "Come, follow me", is the new, specific form of the commandment of love of God. Both the commandments and Jesus' invitation to the rich young man stand at the service of a single and indivisible charity, which spontaneously tends towards that perfection whose measure is God alone: "You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect" (Mt 5:48). In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus makes even clearer the meaning of this perfection: "Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful" (Lk 6:36).

Anti-Semitism Must Not Be Tolerated

When I flew back into New York in January, not too long after the massacres in France and Belgium, I waited for a shuttle to take me to my hotel for the night. As I stood on the sidewalk, an obviously Orthodox Jewish couple, young, handsome, in black, the man with payot, came up next to me with seven large black suitcases. They spoke in French.

I felt like I was in a movie. Here, only days after the Je suis Charlie shootings, I was witnessing the effects of the growing anti-Semitism in France.

Seven large suitcases are not holiday luggage. I wanted to speak with the couple, but decorum stopped me, as I could see they were subdued.

The growth of anti-Semitism in Europe astounds me. I recall reporting on this blog the killing of the children outside a Jewish school in France in 2012. The photo of the very young girl, a child, who was killed then, haunted me. What a beautiful child.

Anti-Semitism is a sin of gross prejudice. Years ago, when I was visiting an old college friend for the first time since she was married and had a little boy, I was helping with the home schooling. Two days into my visit, my friend came up to me in tears and said I had to leave. Her child had told her prejudiced dad that Jesus and Mary were Jewish, as we had been discussing the day before in religion class.

I was shocked. Here were two highly educated people unable to understand that God created the Chosen People to come among us. Christ's genealogy presents us with a complete history of his forefathers and foremothers.

And, yet, the boy was told Christ was not a Jew, that Mary was not a Jew and that Joseph was not a Jew.

I had, honestly, never met such hatred before in my life.

Prejudices of all kinds come from irrational fears. Some people hate Catholics for some of the same reasons Jews are hated.

Pray for the Jews in Europe and in the Middle East and in Africa. Catholics and other Christians are being persecuted, but so are the Jewish people.

Violence has no limits to hate.

Memorize This

It is for your sake that we face death all the day,
  that we are reckoned as sheep to be slaughtered. Ps. 43

CCC on Hope

1817 Hope is the theological virtue by which we desire the kingdom of heaven and eternal life as our happiness, placing our trust in Christ's promises and relying not on our own strength, but on the help of the grace of the Holy Spirit. "Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful."84 "The Holy Spirit . . . he poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that we might be justified by his grace and become heirs in hope of eternal life."85
1818 The virtue of hope responds to the aspiration to happiness which God has placed in the heart of every man; it takes up the hopes that inspire men's activities and purifies them so as to order them to the Kingdom of heaven; it keeps man from discouragement; it sustains him during times of abandonment; it opens up his heart in expectation of eternal beatitude. Buoyed up by hope, he is preserved from selfishness and led to the happiness that flows from charity.
1819 Christian hope takes up and fulfills the hope of the chosen people which has its origin and model in the hope of Abraham, who was blessed abundantly by the promises of God fulfilled in Isaac, and who was purified by the test of the sacrifice.86 "Hoping against hope, he believed, and thus became the father of many nations."87
1820 Christian hope unfolds from the beginning of Jesus' preaching in the proclamation of the beatitudes. The beatitudes raise our hope toward heaven as the new Promised Land; they trace the path that leads through the trials that await the disciples of Jesus. But through the merits of Jesus Christ and of his Passion, God keeps us in the "hope that does not disappoint."88 Hope is the "sure and steadfast anchor of the soul . . . that enters . . . where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf."89 Hope is also a weapon that protects us in the struggle of salvation: "Let us . . . put on the breastplate of faith and charity, and for a helmet the hope of salvation."90 It affords us joy even under trial: "Rejoice in your hope, be patient in tribulation."91 Hope is expressed and nourished in prayer, especially in the Our Father, the summary of everything that hope leads us to desire.
1821 We can therefore hope in the glory of heaven promised by God to those who love him and do his will.92 In every circumstance, each one of us should hope, with the grace of God, to persevere "to the end"93 and to obtain the joy of heaven, as God's eternal reward for the good works accomplished with the grace of Christ. In hope, the Church prays for "all men to be saved."94 She longs to be united with Christ, her Bridegroom, in the glory of heaven:
Hope, O my soul, hope. You know neither the day nor the hour. Watch carefully, for everything passes quickly, even though your impatience makes doubtful what is certain, and turns a very short time into a long one. Dream that the more you struggle, the more you prove the love that you bear your God, and the more you will rejoice one day with your Beloved, in a happiness and rapture that can never end.95

Repeat from Yesterday in Case You Missed This

Write to the Nuncio, write to the Pope. Say fifteen decades of the rosary for this cause.

We need to be the Church Militant.

Here is the Nuncio's address.

The Most Reverend Carlo Maria Vigano
Apostolic Nuncio to the United States 
3339 Massachusetts Ave NW

Washington DC, 20008-3687