A Tale Of A Good Shepherd And A Lost Sheep

Recently, Congressman Patrick Kennedy of Rhode Island has clashed with the Catholic Church and Bishop Thomas Tobin of the Diocese of Providence regarding the congressman’s public support of a health care reform bill which supports public funding for abortions.

Congressman Kennedy’s public support for the right to choose abortion and his criticism of the Catholic Church’s opposition to the current health care reform bill is in clear contradiction to his claim that he is a practicing Catholic. At this juncture, the bishop would be negligent in not responding to, and caring for a sheep that has wandered from the flock into dangerous surroundings!

All of this has now made national news. Congressman Kennedy claimed in an interview dated November 22, 2009, that Bishop Tobin has forbid him to receive Holy Communion. You may read Bishop Tobin’s response to Kennedy’s claims here.

Catholics should be concerned not so much with the their ability to receive the sacraments, but with whether or not they are properly disposed to receive them. Christ’s sanctifying and saving grace is conferred through the sacraments when the recipient is properly disposed to receive that grace, i.e., receiving the Eucharist in the state of mortal is not the proper disposition toward receiving the Sacrament. The same goes for the sacrament of Confession (Penance, Reconciliation). The recipient asking to be absolved is not properly disposed to the sacrament if he or she is not sincerely contrite, and willing to repent and make every effort to avoid sin in the future.

Discussions on local radio talk shows has served to reveal that many professed Catholics, at least in and around the Diocese of Providence have much to learn about the Faith they claim to be practicing. A professed Catholic is not at liberty to pick and choose which Church doctrine he or she believes and follows, and what he or she does not believe, and thus does not follow. The Church has one teaching authority, the Magisterium, whose teachings are the true teachings received from Jesus Christ and passed on through apostolic succession over the centuries up to the present day.

We cannot profess the Catholic Faith and then do what we want concerning abortion, contraception, and reception of the sacraments etc.!

As Catholics, and I include myself, we need to spend much more time learning about and practicing our Faith, then on doing things that do little to enhance the quality of our life here on earth, much less our eternal life!

This is a wake up call for the Catholic Church. We are in dire need of better ways in which to educate the faithful and evangelize the truth. We need to pray more often and more fervently, not only for ourselves, but for our Holy Father, our bishops and priests and all the clergy and religious, all catechists, all political leaders, and everyone throughout the world who does not know Christ, or does not think that Christ is essential in their lives!

Let us pray for Bishop Tobin, that he remain close to our Lord, and continue to courageously and boldly proclaim and stand by the truth as he shepherds his flock! And let us pray for Congressman Kennedy, and all Catholics, whom have strayed and are wandering, that they may safely return home!

Always Time for Mass

http://www.masstimes.org/ is a great resource for those wanting to attend Mass when they are unable to take advantage of the Mass times offered at their home parishes.
This website offers listings for Mass times, Confession schedules, and times of Eucharistic Adoration in numerous languages and numerous countries. You may search it by country, province, diocese, and postal zip code.
I have used it and have found it extremely helpful when I have wanted to attend daily Mass when the Mass time in my home parish conflicts with my work schedule, or when looking for a time and place to go to Confession or Eucharistic Adoration.

How Do We Reject Christ?

I preface the following post by saying that I offer it in the spirit of love, and by no means out of a sense of self-righteousness! I have certainly been guilty of countless instances in which I traded Christ’s offer of an intimate relationship for the things of this world and my own selfish desires!

There is no doubt Christ experienced tremendous physical pain and suffering as he went to the cross for us, but was his physical suffering the thing that caused him the most anguish?

I thought of this during Mass today. I thought of all the times I chose to satisfy my physical needs and desires by making and taking the time to do so, rather than making the time to do the things that would help build my relationship with the God of the universe, the God who longs to be a close friend to this lowly sinner! In other words, I REJECTED HIM! I rejected him no less than those who cried out, “CRUCIFY HIM”!

We must ask ourselves, is it the rejection of Christ’s unending and extreme love for us that caused him the most intense anguish and pain as he prepared for the cross at Gethsemane? How do we feel when we are rejected by those we love? Magnify that feeling trillions of times over and we would only be able to begin to imagine what Christ must have felt and still feels today as we reject his love and invitation to share in his divinity!

We always seem to be able to make time for everything else but for the one who really matters, Jesus Christ!

Jesus strongly desires to be with us! Do we strongly desire to be with him? How painful it must have been for our Lord to know that so many would never respond to, or even give a second thought to what he was about to do out of love for us and a desire to be with us for eternity!

Jesus gives himself to us daily in the Eucharist – please consider preparing yourself through the sacrament of Reconciliation to receive him into your heart with all of the praise and worship he deserves, and then welcome him eagerly under your roof by receiving him in the Eucharist!

Let's Listen to Our Mother!

I recently finished a book entitled, "Our Lady of Kibeho: Mary Speaks to the World from the Heart of Africa". The author, Immaculee Ilibagiza, survived the terrible genocide that occurred in Rwanda in 1994 – thirteen years after Our Blessed Mother warned of the atrocities through the visionaries she appeared to in the village of Kibeho, Rwanda.

Over a million lives were lost in the genocide, including Immaculee’s grandparents, mother, father, and two brothers. However, under the care and direction of our Blessed Mother, combined with her faith in Almighty God, Immaculee forgives her family’s killers, and continues to preach about forgiveness and reconciliation to this day.

This book has inspired me to strive for a closer relationship with my heavenly Mother, a Mother who loves us and whose only desire is to draw us closer to her Son! I am sure it will continue to have the same impact on many others who read its pages.

Mary appeared to three young college girls in 1981. She predicted the genocide in Rwanda 13 years before it happened. This convinced the Vatican that the apparitions were real. Immaculee Ilibagiza survived the genocide and wrote the best selling novel Left to Tell. She was left to tell the remarkable story of how Our Lady appeared in Kibeho, Africa.

Reflections on the Eucharist

Lord, I am eager to participate in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass as often as I am able! It is there that you give me yourself in the Eucharist! And when I am properly prepared and disposed to receive you, the grace that you offer is astounding!

It is equally awesome to think, that the Creator of the vast universe in which we live, the designer of the complexities of it all, and the one who keeps it all in perfect balance, even as we fail to take proper care of what you have given us, humbles himself to become truly present in the form of bread and wine in order that I may be nourished for my journey back to you, Lord! How can I thank you, Lord, other than to say, “I am yours, I want to do your will, use me for the purpose for which you created me!” Amen!

Spectators On and About the Cross

Watch and listen to Bishop Fulton Sheen in his last Good Friday homily, recorded in 1979 at St. Agnes church, New York. This is part 1 of a 5 part video with a total time of about 45 minutes. It will be 45 minutes very well spent!

The title of the homily is Spectators On and About the Cross. The bishop speaks of three types of SPECTATORS; Spectators of indifference, or those who have fallen away, Spectators of pain, and Spectators of love. We are those spectators.

Battle Over the Doctrine of Salvation

The Battle continues to wage over doctrine concerning salvation. Well meaning non-Catholic brothers and sisters in Christ vehemently argue that we Catholics are wrong to believe that works are an important aspect of salvation. In doing so they usually site a passage from St. Paul’s letter to the Church in Ephesus in which he says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not from you; it is the gift of God; it is not from works, so no one may boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9 NAB).

These admonishments seem to imply that we Catholics believe that our salvation is determined solely by our works, and are therefore ignorant concerning the true Source of our salvation, and thus are not truly saved. Nothing could be further from the truth. If our brothers and sisters in Christ would just take the time to study carefully and prayerfully the teachings of the Catholic Church, they would soon learn of their gross misunderstanding, and perhaps even consider entering into the fullness of the Church! For it is there that Christ, the God of the universe and all its splendor and awesome wonder, humbles Himself out of love for each one of us, and makes Himself present in the sacrament of the Eucharist, giving Himself to us in a form we can understand and experience with all of our senses. What an awesome God to offer nourishment for our bodies and souls daily as we make our journey back to Him! Thank You Lord!!!

I can assure you that nowhere in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, or in any other Magisterial teaching of the Catholic Church will one find anything that remotely implies that we Catholics are to believe that we are saved solely by our works, or that our salvation is contingent solely upon how good we tried to be in this lifetime! Catholics believe that we are saved by the grace which God makes available to us through our Lord Jesus Christ, which was gained for us through His passion, death and resurrection. It is a free gift to those who will accept it by faith!

We are free to accept or reject this gift, but if we make the freewill choice to accept it, we must continuously ask for God’s grace in order to meet the demands of daily Christian existence! As fallen creatures, this takes WORK! Jesus tells us in Luke 9:23-24, “If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily 11 and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.” This means we must begin to deny ourselves in order to love and serve others, and we must live our lives in a manner that is indicative of our gratitude for God’s saving grace!

The words, ‘I am saved by grace alone’ seem to imply that once the free gift of salvation is accepted we need do nothing more then wait for God to carry us off to Heaven! Consider the following. The words, ‘I love you’ are meaningless without action, or, if you will, WORKS! Can we tell our wives, husbands, children, or anyone else for that matter that we love them and never give of ourselves to show it! Can one truly and sincerely accept God’s saving grace by merely speaking the words? I think we can all agree that the answer is no!

St. James talks about the necessity of both faith and works when he says the following, “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. Indeed someone might say, "You have faith and I have works." Demonstrate your faith to me without works, and I will demonstrate my faith to you from my works. You believe that God is one. You do well. Even the demons believe that and tremble. Do you want proof, you ignoramus, that faith without works is useless? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered his son Isaac upon the altar? You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by the works. Thus the scripture was fulfilled that says, "Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness," and he was called "the friend of God." See how a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. And in the same way, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she welcomed the messengers and sent them out by a different route? For just as a body without a spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead. (James 2:14-26 NAB)

PLEASE, I appreciate the zeal expressed by my non-Catholic brothers and sisters in Christ, and the concern that they should have for my salvation, but I ask humbly and charitably to PLEASE look up and prayerfully read for yourself all that the Catechism of the Catholic Church has to say about SALVATION. Remember also that there is ONE TEACHING AUTHORITY for the Catholic Church, the Magisterium, which has been around for 2000 years, and will continue to exist until Christ returns.

Jesus Himself said, “And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, 13 and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.” (Matt 16:18 NAB) THE Church will remain despite the attacks of Satan, all human frailty and weakness, and all persecution, until Jesus returns! Jesus said it, so you can BELIEVE it!

It is with charity and not pride that I ask that you to accept the Magisterial teachings of the Catholic Church as truth, for the sin of pride leads to death rather than life, and our Lord Jesus Christ is the Way, Truth, and the Life. There is no better way to intimately know and receive Jesus than in the Sacrament of the Eucharist, which He, Himself instituted at the Last Supper as a way to remain with us until His return!

Approximately 1500 years after Christ founded His Church, a Catholic priest by the name of Martin Luther, publicly protested (the word from which the word Protestant is derived) against several practices of the Catholic Church. Satan saw this as a golden opportunity and an open door to conduct a clever attack, which for a relatively short period of time (500 years) has resulted in an extremely rapid increase in dissension and division among Christians, to the extent that there are now literally tens of thousands of Christian churches and denominations that continue to divide over doctrinal issues.

Contained in the Liturgy of the Catholic Mass, as part of the Eucharistic Prayer II are the very beautiful words, “Lord, remember your Church throughout the world; make us grow in love, together with Benedict XVI, our Pope . . .” Let us all ask the Holy Spirit for the wisdom to recognize the truth, and to protect us from all deception that hinders us from experiencing the closest relationship we can possibly have with our Savior, which is in the Eucharist!