Archbishop Fulton Sheen

“There are not over a hundred people in the United States who hate the Catholic Church. There are millions, however, who hate what they wrongly believe to be the Catholic Church- which is, of course, quite a different thing.”

Archbishop Fulton Sheen

I re-discovered this great quote by  Archbishop Fulton Sheen, while visiting Ben’s great blog Frontier Ruminations.

A Reflection on our response to Christ Love

I want to share this beautiful and enlightening reflection on John 15:9-11 from Fr. Vincent Serpa’s book “Just a minute, Sixty Seconds a Day with the Gospel”:

“Jesus said to his disciples:

As the Father loves me, so I also love you. Remain in my love.

If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love.

“I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete.

John 15:9-11

Nowhere else do we find Jesus expressing such intimacy and vulnerability. What he said to them on Holy Thursday night he showed them on Good Friday. What he said to them he says to you this very moment! He loves you with a love that keeps your heart beating. He loves you with a love that caused his heart to stop. What are you going to do about it? What are you going to do about it?”

-Fr. Vincent Serpa
Just a minute, Sixty Seconds a Day with the Gospel

What are you going to do about it?

Just think about it:

“He loves you with a love that keeps your heart beating”.

Everything, that is, the air that you breathe, the light that strikes your eyes, you and me, all exists because of him…without him we would not exist. We owed him this very instant…

“He loves you with a love that caused his heart to stop.”

By his death on the Cross, he transformed the ultimate act of human cruelty into the ultimate act of self-giving. It was his love for humanity that opened the gates of heaven for you and for me.

Imagine how your life will be different if every time you see someone suffering you see Christ suffering, if every time someone offends you, you remember all the times that you have offended Christ, and how he still offers you his wounds, his suffering and his death on the Cross, just for you. How much our life will change if we keep such a perspective and what a difference we can make in the world!!!

Do you believe that you can make a difference? I do, because of his Love.

God Bless!

Note: One of my favorite radio shows/podcast is Catholic Answers Live. It is Q & A radio show dedicated to defending and explain the teaching of the Catholic faith and confront head on some of today’s most controversial topics that affect our society. I highly recommend it.

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Love and Salvation

“God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him”

1 John 4:16

This is the good news for humanity. God is Love! Love has always been at the heart of God’s plan. Indeed, the history of salvation is a history of God’s love for his creation. Love was the basis for the relationship between God and Israel:

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might”

Deuteronomy 6:5

…and it is at the heart of God’s plan for redemption:

“God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life”

John 3:16

It was at the Cross, that Love was poured into humanity in all its divine mercy and glory! In returned, we are called to love God and to love one another:

“You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and first commandment. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself”

Matthew 22:37-40, citing from Duet 6:5 and Lev 19:18

This love cannot be merely expressed by words but it has to be materialized by works as St. John says:

“Children, let us love not in word or speech but in deed and truth”

1 John 3:18

and as Jesus says in Matthew 25:41-45:

“Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, a stranger and you gave me no welcome, naked and you gave me no clothing, ill and in prison, and you did not care for me.” Then they will answer and say, “Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or ill or in prison, and not minister to your needs?” He will answer them, “Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.” And these will go off to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life”.

Matthew 25:41-45

So it is very clear that works of mercy are necessary for salvation, but can they earn our salvation?
The answer is simply NOT A CHANCE. We cannot earn our way to heaven because salvation is a free and unmerited gift from God. Paragraph 1996 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church states it very succinctly:

“Our justification comes from the grace of God. Grace is favor, the free and undeserved help that God gives us to respond to his call to become children of God, adoptive sons, partakers of the divine nature and of eternal life”.

Catechism of the Catholic Church, Paragraph 1996

God through his Grace freely gives us love and in return we are moved to love one another in works of mercy. As Pope Benedict XVI beautifully wrote in his encyclical Deus Caritas Est:

“since God has first loved us (1 John 4:10) love is now no longer a mere “command”, it is the response to the gift of love with which God draws near to us”.

This illuminates the relationship between faith, works and salvation. Works play a role in our salvation because God loved us first (1 John 4:10). This Christian love (Caritas) is fulfilled through works of charity and obedience to God’s commandments. It is a necessary response to God’s love.

Works are an indelible consequence of love, without love there is no works, without works there cannot be love and without love, faith is dead. As St. James wrote:

“What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him?

If a brother or sister has nothing to wear and has no food for the day, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, keep warm, and eat well,” but you do not give them the necessities of the body, what good is it?

So also faith of itself, if it does not have works, is dead”.

James 2:14-17

It is because we were first loved by God that we can love one another. Thus, the merits of our works belong to God, as Saint Augustine puts it:“When God rewards our merits, he rewards his own gifts to us“, because it is through Christ, in Christ, and with Christ that we love one another:

“Remain in me, as I in you. As a branch cannot bear fruit all by itself, unless it remains part of the vine, neither can you unless you remain in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me, with me in him, bears fruit in plenty; for cut off from me you can do nothing.”

John 15:4-5

So what are we going to do about it?

Hunger, war and diseases predominate most parts of the third-world countries, but also an utter lack of respect to human dignity predominates in the developed world.

We are called to be the Salt and light of the Earth:

“You are the salt of the earth. But if salt loses its taste, with what can it be seasoned? It is no longer good for anything but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot”.

You are the light of the world. A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden.

Nor do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket; it is set on a lampstand, where it gives light to all in the house.

Just so, your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.

Matthew 5:13-16

What about the poor who goes hungry every night in India or the dying in Africa?

What about 4,000 babies that are aborted each day in the US alone?

As followers of Christ are we supposed to ignore this? Or are we called to be the Salt of the Earth, the light of the World?

To be silent on such issues is to be complicit! Let us be the salt and light and do something about it. We can donate our time in a soup kitchen, nursing homes or even at a local hospital through their volunteer program. Let us pray to end abortion. Let us be kind with our neighbors…it all starts with opening our hearts to his Love the rest will take care of itself.

God Bless!

Laborare est orate (Five Contributions of the Benedictine Monks to Western Civilization)

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Today July 11,  is the feast day of the St. Benedict, patron saint of Europe. Here is a list of five hastily collected contributions of the Benedictine monks to Western Civilization.

The motto of the Benedictine monk is “laborare est orare” which translates “to work is to pray” and they worked…

1. Agriculture

Many of the Europe farmlands once were marshes or swamps that were very difficult to cultivate. However, when a monastery was established in the area the monks took it upon themselves to turn barren lands into productive farmlands.

2. Education

Benedictine monks not only pioneered many forms of agriculture, but also instructed the rest of the population in the newly developed agricultural techniques during the middle and late Middle Ages. Dr. Woods noted in his book, How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization:

“…every Benedictine monastery was an agricultural college for the whole region in which it was located.”

This provided an incalculable benefit for the populations surrounding the monasteries.

Monastery were not only center for agriculture, but for education and development of the arts. Thanks to Benedictine monks the Carolingian minuscule was established as the new standard for writing. This is perhaps one of the most important advancement of the early Middle Ages because it provided a universal standard way to write manuscripts that more people could understand. For example, it introduced spaces between words, lower case letters and punctuation. This allows easier writing and reading, which in turn served as a catalyst for education.

3. Industries

They fomented Ireland’s Salmon fisheries, corn commerce in Sweden and cheese making in Italy. They also improved cattle breeding and production of wine.

4. Architecture

They contributed to the medieval church architecture. Directed spring waters to Paris and expanded the use of waterpower devises throughout Europe.

5. Inventions

First modern clock (996 AD), Glider (1200 AD), advanced furnaces for the production of metals among many other inventions.

There are many other contributions of the Benedictine monks to Western Civilization. They provided healthcare, food, education and support to the arts to the surrounding population. Preserved cultural identity against Barbarian invasions. It is a understatment that Europe owes progress and survival to the humble Benedicine monks…it is such a pitty that they ignored, nay abandoned  such contributions at the foundation of the European Union Constitution, more on that in future muses…

St. Benedict, pray for us!

Reference: I hastily composed this post thanks to the great post by Oblates Spring, upon which I drow most of the information presented here.

http://oblatespring.blogspot.com/2010/07/benedictine-contributions-to-world.html

Black Rebels Motorcycle Club

marlon-brando-johnny-strabler-the-wild-one

In the 1953 movie The Wild Ones Marlon Brandon plays the leader of a group of riders out for trouble in California. The movie is a landmark of 1950’s genre of youth disaffection and rebellion. In an iconic scene the main character Johnny Strabler is asked:

What are you rebelling against?

To which Johnny replied:

What’ve you got?

Generations later three friends from California picked up that spirit and channeled it into one of my favorite rock bands of all time: Black Rebel Motorcycle Club.

Taste in music can be very subjective, but there is something about them that has captivated me since the first time I listened to them. Their sound is quintessential Rock & Roll with its roots firmly planted in the American landscape of open roads, rugged individualism, sin and redemption.

“Fault Line” by BRMC

I’ve been waiting on the fault line
Living evil take me on
I’ll be standing with my dying bed
If you care to come along

Racing with the rising tide
To my father’s door

I been lying in the bright light
See my shadow from below
Never wanted from another man
Never wanted for my own

Drowning in the rising tide
At my father’s door

Through a window to the last mile
My living picture on a wall
From the banks of the far side
I see the lights come ashore

Racing from the rising tide
To my father’s door
Racing from the rising tide
To my father’s door
Racing with the rising tide
To my father’s door

They remind me of good old country music. In that their songs often captures the struggle between the desire of the soul and the pull of the world. The great masters of Country music like Roy Acuff, Hank William and Johnny Cash did this brilliantly. They walked the fine line between human frailty and redemption. They acknowledge human weakness, but never glorify it, instead they tried to redeem it. It is the struggle between the good and the bad of human existence that fueled all those great songs.  BRMC follows in that tradtion in their own post modern oblique way…

Proud to be an American

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The Unanimous Declaration of the
Thirteen United States of America
In Congress, July 4, 1776

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness; that, to secure these rights, governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed; that whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object, evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security. Such has been the patient sufferance of these colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former systems of government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over these states. To prove this, let facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his assent to laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his governors to pass laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his assent should be obtained; and, when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of representation in the legislature, a right inestimable to them, and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved representative houses repeatedly, for opposing, with manly firmness, his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the legislative powers, incapable of annihilation, have returned to the people at large for their exercise; the state remaining, in the mean time, exposed to all the dangers of invasions from without and convulsions within.

He has endeavored to prevent the population of these states; for that purpose obstructing the laws for naturalization of foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migration hither, and raising the conditions of new appropriations of lands.

He has obstructed the administration of justice, by refusing his assent to laws for establishing judiciary powers.

He has made judges dependent on his will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of new offices, and sent hither swarms of officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, standing armies, without the consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the military independent of, and superior to, the civil power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our Constitution and unacknowledged by our laws, giving his assent to their acts of pretended legislation:

For quartering large bodies of armed troops
among us;

For protecting them, by a mock trial, from punishment for any murders which they should commit on the inhabitants of these states;

For cutting off our trade with all parts of the world;

For imposing taxes on us without our consent;

For depriving us, in many cases, of the benefits of trial by jury;

For transporting us beyond seas, to be tried for pretended offenses;

For abolishing the free system of English laws in a neighboring province, establishing therein an arbitrary government, and enlarging its boundaries, so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these colonies;

For taking away our charters, abolishing our most valuable laws, and altering fundamentally the forms of our governments;

For suspending our own legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated government here, by declaring us out of his protection and waging war against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burned our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large armies of foreign mercenaries to complete the works of death, desolation, and tyranny already begun with circumstances of cruelty and perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow-citizens, taken captive on the high seas, to bear arms against their country, to become the executioners of their friends and brethren, or to fall themselves by their hands.

He has excited domestic insurrection among us, and has endeavored to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers the merciless Indian savages, whose known rule of warfare is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes, and conditions.

In every stage of these oppressions we have petitioned for redress in the most humble terms; our repeated petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have we been wanting in our attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them, from time to time, of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity; and we have conjured them, by the ties of our common kindred, to disavow these usurpations which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too, have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity which denounces our separation, and hold them as we hold the rest of mankind, enemies in war, in peace friends.

WE, THEREFORE, the REPRESENTATIVES of the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, in General Congress assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the name and by the authority of the good people of these colonies solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, FREE AND INDEPENDENT STATES; that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British crown and that all political connection between them and the state of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved; and that, as free and independent states, they have full power to levy war, conclude peace, contract alliances, establish commerce, and do all other acts and things which independent states may of right do. And for the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.

[Signed by] JOHN HANCOCK [President]
New Hampshire
JOSIAH BARTLETT,
WM. WHIPPLE,
MATTHEW THORNTON.

Massachusetts Bay
SAML. ADAMS,
JOHN ADAMS,
ROBT. TREAT PAINE,
ELBRIDGE GERRY

Rhode Island
STEP. HOPKINS,
WILLIAM ELLERY.

Connecticut
ROGER SHERMAN,
SAM’EL HUNTINGTON,
WM. WILLIAMS,
OLIVER WOLCOTT.

New York
WM. FLOYD,
PHIL. LIVINGSTON,
FRANS. LEWIS,
LEWIS MORRIS.

New Jersey
RICHD. STOCKTON,
JNO. WITHERSPOON,
FRAS. HOPKINSON,
JOHN HART,
ABRA. CLARK.

Pennsylvania
ROBT. MORRIS
BENJAMIN RUSH,
BENJA. FRANKLIN,
JOHN MORTON,
GEO. CLYMER,
JAS. SMITH,
GEO. TAYLOR,
JAMES WILSON,
GEO. ROSS.

Delaware
CAESAR RODNEY,
GEO. READ,
THO. M’KEAN.

Maryland
SAMUEL CHASE,
WM. PACA,
THOS. STONE,
CHARLES CARROLL
of Carrollton.

Virginia
GEORGE WYTHE,
RICHARD HENRY LEE,
TH. JEFFERSON,
BENJA. HARRISON,
THS. NELSON, JR.,
FRANCIS LIGHTFOOT LEE,
CARTER BRAXTON.

North Carolina
WM. HOOPER,
JOSEPH HEWES,
JOHN PENN.

South Carolina
EDWARD RUTLEDGE,
THOS. HAYWARD, JUNR.,
THOMAS LYNCH, JUNR.,
ARTHUR MIDDLETON.

Georgia
BUTTON GWINNETT,
LYMAN HALL,
GEO. WALTON.