If you read this post on Msgr. Pope’s blog, you will find many of his other outstanding reflections. For your convenience it is copied below with his kind permission.

Is Love the Cause of Hatred? The Answer May Surprise You

By: Msgr. Charles Pope (posted with permission – source)

There is an old saying that the opposite of love is not hate; it is indifference. Indeed, it’s pretty hard to hate or even to have a strong aversion to something or someone we don’t really care about. But when we do love, we care. And the stronger our love, the more intense our concern, anger, or even hatred for what is wrong.

But does this mean that love is the cause of hatred? Our instinct is to recoil and say, “Of course not!”

As usual, St. Thomas provides help in sorting out some of the details and making proper distinctions. He takes up the question in the Prima Secundae (question 29 and Article 2): “Is Love the Cause of Hatred?”

Love … precedes hatred; and nothing is hated, except through being contrary to a suitable thing which is loved. And hence it is that every hatred is caused by love (Summa Theologica, I IIae 29.2, respondeo).

In other words, St. Thomas is saying that we would not hate that which is wrong, deformed, unjust, or dissonant unless we first loved what it was supposed to be. And thus love precedes hatred. It causes hatred by first instilling the love for what is right and then engendering a detestation of what is wrong.

An important distinction – If the word “hate” is tripping you up, understand that “hate” as used here is not referring to a vengeful wrath that seeks to destroy others. That sort of hate is, of course, forbidden; it flows not from wanting the good, true, and beautiful for others, but from a desire to destroy them. This is diabolical hatred: a hatred that hates, not the sin, but the sinner.

The hate referenced here is more akin to grief, or to the sorrow and anger we feel when someone or something is not as it should be. It is grief and a passion to set things right. This is the sort of hatred that love causes.

St. Thomas adds in his reply to objection 2:

Love and hatred are contraries … [and so] it amounts to the same that one love a certain thing, or that one hate its contrary. Thus love of one thing is the cause of one’s hating its contrary (I IIae 29.2, ad 2).

If we don’t love, we don’t care. But when we love, we care, and we experience indignation when what we care about is deformed, cast aside, or contrary to what it should be. And in this way loves causes hatred.

Love wills the good of the other, for his or her own sake. Love does not will the good of the other in order to win an argument or to be proved right. It wills the good simply for the sake of the other. St. Thomas says that love hates what is contrary to what is suitable and proper. But since no person, human or angelic, is in himself contrary to what is proper, we do not hate the person but rather what is deformed or contrary to what it should be. Therefore, a human (or angelic) person can never be the object of our hatred, per se.

One might object that correlation is not causation, and that is true, but in this case the hatred would not exist at all were the thing not first loved in its ideal form. It is this love of the ideal that causes the hatred of what is deformed. Thus love is the cause of the hatred, not merely correlated to it.

Why is this important for us to grasp? There are many reasons, but of special importance is understanding it in relation to one another.

In modern times, we have tended to reduce love to kindness, warm feelings, affirmation, and approval. But this is a drastic reduction of love. Kindness is an aspect of love, but so is rebuke. Approval and affirmation have their place, but so do forbiddance and insistence on what is right. Love can produce warm feelings but it can also bring about the deepest indignation.

When we love others we want for them what is good, true, just, proper, and beautiful—not what is deformed. And given the fact that we live in a fallen world, governed by a fallen angel, and are ourselves fallen and prone to sin, true love for others will have tensions. But tension is not always bad. No tension, no change. And change is going to be necessary for us to reach the perfection to which we are called.

So true love, properly understood, is capable of great indignation—yes, even of hatred. We ought to hate anything that is deformed or that is less than that to which we are called. Scripture says that if we love the world (a lesser thing) then we are enemies of God—yes, even adulterers! For God is our true love; anything less than loving God above all else is to be hated. Jesus gets even more personal when he says, If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sistersyes, even his own lifesuch a person cannot be my disciple (Lk 14:26). Jesus is insisting on the same truth: that He is to be loved above all. Any lesser love that takes His place is a hateful and harmful thing.

Such strong language! And we in these dainty times wince at it. But vigorous love causes a hatred of deformity and a jealousy for the fullness of what love should be. Much of our problem today is that we do not hate our sins or those of others nearly enough. From this perspective, our modern notion of kind, tolerant “love” is really slothful, weak love that seeks what makes everyone feel good rather than what is best. Feeling good becomes more important that doing good or being good. The ancient motto esse quam videri (to be rather than to seem (to be)) is reversed and it becomes more important to seem to be than it is to actually be.

Thus our modern notion of love is weak at best and a lie at worst. St. Thomas’ teaching that love is the cause of hatred indicates that our lack of hate for sin and other deformities of what is good, true, and beautiful is caused by a lack of love. It is not a display of open-mindedness or tolerance; it is a lack of love.

True love admits of jealousy, indignation, and hatred for what is deformed, deficient, untrue, or obtuse. True love is fiery; it has a passion to set things right and to insist on what is truly good rather than what is merely adequate.

How deep is your love? Is it capable of being the cause of hatred? It ought to be (if properly understood).

Does this sort of talk unnerve you? Let me finish by simply requoting St. Thomas:

Love … precedes hatred; and nothing is hated, except through being contrary to a suitable thing which is loved. And hence it is that every hatred is caused by love.

If you read this post on Msgr. Pope’s blog, you will find many of his other outstanding reflections. For your convenience it is copied below with his kind permission.

A Diagnosis of Sin and a Healing Remedy

by Msgr. Charles Pope (posted with permission – source)

There is a reading in daily Mass this week (Tuesday of the 7th Week of the year) in which James masterfully sets forth a fundamental aspect of our struggle against sin. He speaks of our disordered passions and double-minded ways. He assesses our problems and then offers solutions. The text from the Letter of James (James 4:1-10) is presented below in bold italics, while my commentary is shown in normal font.

I. SourceWhere do the wars and where do the conflicts among you come from? Is it not from your passions that make war within your members? You covet but do not possess. You kill and envy but you cannot obtain; you fight and wage war.

The text states simply that our problems center on our disordered passions. Notice that it is not the passions per se, but disordered passions, the passions that “wage war” within us.

Of themselves, the passions are good. Without hunger we would forget to eat or find it to be too much effort. Without anger, we would care little for justice and no longer pursue it. Without curiosity (a kind of intellectual passion) we would never ask or solve.

So the problem is the disordered passions, the passions that wage war and summon us to foolish pursuits and conquests. In the moment, our passions are over the top. The eye never has enough of seeing, nor the ear its fill of hearing (Eccl 1:8).

The text says that we covet but do not possess. Why? Because acquiring, our desire expands and we still feel empty! The promise that one can “have it all” rings hollow, because the meaning of “all” is ever expanding. It is like the mirage of water in the desert: always just ahead, always inviting us, yet never there!

And thus, as the text says, we rage. We acquire unjustly. We conquer, kill, and seize if necessary. But we will have what is “ours,” what we think we need, and even what we merely want. Collectively, we will sacrifice anything in order to acquire: family, children, health, sleep, you name it. We’ll do anything just to have a little more of something we can’t even really enjoy because we have to work so hard to get it. And then when we get it, we need something else.

When do we ever say, “It’s enough”? Greed drives many conflicts, within and without.

II. SupplyYou have not because you ask not.

God will give us what we need; He will not necessarily give us what we want. But in the end, an essential solution to our deadly greed is to ask God for what we need and be grateful for what we have.

III. SlipYou ask but do not receive, because you ask wrongly, miss to spend it on your passions. Yes even our prayers are often misdirected, spent on passing things of this world.

We don’t hesitate to ask God for money, for health, or for that promotion. But when do we ever ask for holiness, whatever it takes? When do we ask for the grace to forgive, to love our enemies, to have better-ordered priorities? Too often we don’t. But Lord, would you please do something about my arthritis?

And thus our prayers “slip” or miss the mark. We ask for worldly things and do not seek the things that matter to God. We don’t ask for what He really wants to give us.

IV. SpouseAdulterers! Do you not know that to be a lover of the world means enmity with God? Therefore, whoever wants to be a lover of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the Spirit that he has made to dwell in us”? But he bestows a greater grace; therefore, it says: God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.

The Lord places our struggle here in personal and relational terms. Our disordered passions, our lust for this world, are a form of adultery. We prefer these other lovers to our true spouse, who is God. Adulterers!

And boldly, too, the text speaks of a jealous God, who will not so easily give up on us, who will seek to draw us back from our false lovers to His true love. He does this by repulsion and attraction. He resists the proud and seeks to break every form of pride in them, and He bestows grace on the humble.

Given the mess that we are in, given our disordered passions and wandering hearts, what are some remedies? The text presents them in two basic parts: submission and sorrow.

V. Submission So submit yourselves to God. Resist the Devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and have purified your hearts, you of two minds.

In the first place, we are to submit to God and draw close to Him. To submit is to be placed under the authority of another. Thus we must let the Lord have increasing authority in our lives as we willingly hear His word and seek to heed it. Paradoxically, it is this very submission that brings us increasing freedom. For the Christian, freedom is the capacity to obey God.

To draw near to God is seek His presence with increasing affection. Prayer is a way of paying attention to God, of being aware of His presence and work in our life. As we open the door to Him, He increasingly enters our life and goes to work repairing our disordered drives.

The text also speaks of resisting the devil. Note the “re” in resist; it indicates a repetitive action. We stand against the devil not just once, but again and again; it is a lifelong battle. But note that the text says that ultimately our resistance will cause the devil to depart.

And thus by this work of God our hands are increasingly cleansed from our sinful practices and our hearts are “purified.” I put purified in quotes because here it means more than just merely clean; it means single-hearted, free of all sorts of admixtures that come from being double-minded. James says elsewhere, The double-minded man is unstable in all his ways (James 1:8). The fact is, we want too many conflicting things. This messes with our mind and further divides our heart. It is the source of a lot of our suffering and discontentedness.

God wants to heal this bad condition in us. He wants us to draw close and to submit to His authority and vision for our life.

VI. Sorrow Begin to lament, to mourn, to weep. Let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy into dejection. Humble yourselves before the Lord and he will exalt you.

There is a place for holy sorrow over our sins. This is very different from the gnawing guilt that comes from the accuser (who is Satan) or from our flesh and pride. St. Paul speaks of godly sorrow in Corinthians:

I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because you were grieved into repenting. For you felt a godly grief, so that you suffered no loss through us. For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death. For see what earnestness this godly grief has produced in you, but also what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what longing, what zeal … (2 Cor 7:9-11).

Therefore, James advises a healthy lament for our sins. He says that we should cease making light of the sinful world and taking too much joy in this present evil age. Sin should be mourned over, not laughed at or made light of.

Let us come before God humbly and let Him go to work to exalt and perfect us.


Blessed are the Pure of Heart – A Reflection on an Often Misunderstood Beatitude and Virtue

by Msgr. Charles Pope (posted with permission – source)

roseThis post is a kind of follow-up to yesterday’s reflection from the Letter of James, in which we were summoned away from our double-minded ways.

One of the beatitudes taught by Jesus is often misunderstood, largely due to the popular translations of it from the Greek text: “Blessed are the pure of heart,” or “Blessed are the clean of heart.” Let’s look at three facets of the beatitude: its fundamental meaning, its focus, and the freedom it gives.

I. Fundamental Meaning – While the words “pure” and “clean” are not inauthentic translations of the Greek word καθαρός (katharos), a more literal translation is “to be without admixture, to be simply one thing.” Hence it means to be that one thing, purely and simply, with nothing else mixed in. Another helpful way of translating the Greek μακάριοι οἱ καθαροὶ τῇ καρδίᾳ (makarioi hoi katharoi te kardia) is “Blessed are the single-hearted.”

The reason I suggest that the phrase “single-hearted” is more descriptive is that in modern English the words “pure” and “clean” tend to evoke a moral sense of being free of sin, of being morally upright. And while this is surely a significant part, being single-hearted is a deeper and richer concept than simply being well-behaved, because to be well-behaved is the result of the deeper truth of being one thing, of not being duplicitous, of not having a divided heart.

II. Focus – Fr. Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange says, Simplicity is opposed not only to duplicity, but to every useless complexity, to all that is pretentious or tainted with affectation … Christ says to us “If thy eye be single thy whole body shall be lightsome” (Mat 6:22); that is, if our intention is upright and simple, our whole life be one, true and luminous, instead of being divided, like that of those who try to serve two masters … The perfect soul is thus a simplified soul … willing things only for God (Three Ages of the Interior Life, Tan Publishers, Vol 2, pp. 162-163).

The image of the rose window in my church (see upper right), which I have used before on this blog, is a good illustration of what it means to be single-hearted. It does not deny that life has different facets, but rather shows that every facet of life is ordered around and points to Christ, is subsumed in Jesus and His heavenly kingdom along with the Father and the Spirit as the ordering principle of every other thing. And thus career, family, marriage, finances, spending priorities, use of time, where one lives, and all other imaginable aspects of life are subsumed in Christ, point to Him, and lead to the Lord and His kingdom on high.

So the single-hearted life is a well-ordered life. Each step, each decision leads in the right direction. St. Paul said, This one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:13-14). While Paul made many journeys to many places, he was really on one journey and headed to one place. This simplified and ordered his life. He was single-hearted.

A simple life is a well-ordered, singly focused life. But duplicity introduces many complexities and disorders. Jesus says, He who does not gather with me, scatters (Luke 11:23). Unfortunately, this image of scattering or being hindered describes many Christians whose lives are not ordered on the one thing necessary, who are not single-hearted, whose hearts are not focused on the one thing they should be. Such people have lives that are often scattered, confused, disordered, and filled with a jumble of conflicting drives that hinder them from the true goal of life. The double minded man is unstable in all his ways (James 1:8).

St. Thomas Aquinas wrote that simplicity is related to the virtue of veracity, because it opposes the duplicity that James denounced (Summa Theologica IIa IIae q. 109 art. 2, the 4th). 

III. Freedom – Finally, being single-hearted, being pure of heart, not only orders our life but it also grants us freedom. In modern Western thinking, freedom is often equated with doing more rather than less. Freedom is interpreted as “being able to do anything I please.” This attitude has led to the kind of jumbled mess that much of modern life has become: a tangled web of contrary desires with little unifying direction or purpose. We tend to think of freedom in abstract terms and hence we tend to get abstract and disconnected results. 

But biblically and spiritually, freedom is the capacity or ability to do what is right, best, and proper. And thus, paradoxically, freedom often means doing less, not more.

Being single-hearted helps to focus us and to pare away a lot of the unnecessary baggage of modern life. Life gets simpler, and simplicity is a form of freedom that allows us to focus on what is important more so than on what is urgent. We discover that what often seems to be urgent is not really so necessary or urgent after all. Regarding the good options in life, St. Paul said, All things are lawful to me, but not all things are expedient (1 Cor 6:12).

Pray for the gift to become more single-hearted. More than ever in this modern age, with its myriad distractions and endless possibilities, we need to learn the lesson of the rose window and center our lives on Christ, the one thing necessary.

I have used the video below in other posts. Please pardon a brief profane word in the clip, but it does help to emphasize the point being made.

Every Catholic should read every word of Cardinal Robert Sarah’s speech at the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C. on May 17, 2016.

Cardinal Sarah is Prefect of the Vatican’s Congregation for Divine Worship. Click here to read his speech.

More on Cardinal Sarah posted on this blog.

If you read this post on Msgr. Pope’s blog, you will find many of his other outstanding reflections. For your convenience it is copied below with his kind permission.

The Spirit of the Lord Filled the Earth – A Homily for Pentecost

By: Msgr. Charles Pope (posted with permission – source)

PentecostWhat a wondrous and challenging feast we celebrate at Pentecost! A feast like this challenges us because it puts to the lie a lazy, sleepy, hidden, and tepid Christian life. The Lord Jesus said to Apostles, and still says to us, I have come to cast a fire on the earth (Luke 12:49). This is a feast about fire, a transformative, refining, purifying fire that the Lord wants to kindle in us and in this world. It is about a necessary fire. For as the Lord first judged the world by fire, the present heavens and the earth are reserved for fire. Because it is going to be the fire next time, we need the tongues of Pentecost fire to fall on us to set us on fire and bring us up to the temperature of glory.

The readings today speak to us of the Holy Spirit in three ways: the portraits of the Spirit, the proclamation of the Spirit, and the propagation by the Spirit.

I. The Portraits of the Spirit – The reading today speaks of the Holy Spirit using two images: rushing wind and tongues of fire. These two images recall Psalm 50, which says, Our God comes, he does not keep silence, before him is a devouring fire, round about him a mighty tempest.

Rushing Wind – Notice how the text from Acts opens: When the time for Pentecost was fulfilled, they were all in one place together. And suddenly there came from the sky a noise like a strong driving wind, and it filled the entire house in which they were.

This text brings us to the very root meaning of the word “spirit.” Spirit refers to breath. This is preserved in the word “respiration,” which is the act of breathing. So, the Spirit of God is the breath of God, the Ruah Adonai (the Spirit, the breath of God).

Genesis 1:2 speaks of this, saying, the Spirit of God was moving over the face of the waters. And Genesis 2:7 speaks even more remarkably of something God did only for man (not the animals): then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.

So the very Spirit of God was breathed into Adam! But, as we know, Adam lost this gift and died spiritually when he sinned.

Thus we see in this passage from Acts an amazing and wonderful resuscitation of the human person, as these first Christians experience the rushing wind of God’s Spirit breathing spiritual life back into them. God does C.P.R. and brings humanity, dead in sin, back to life! The Holy Spirit comes to dwell in us once again as in a temple (cf 1 Cor 3:16). It has been said that Christmas is the feast of God with us, Good Friday is the Feast of God for us, but Pentecost is the Feast of God in us.

Tongues of Fire – The text from Acts then says, Then there appeared to them tongues as of fire, which parted and came to rest on each one of them.

The Bible often speaks of God as fire or in fiery terms. Moses saw God as a burning bush. God led the people out of Egypt through the desert as a pillar of fire. Moses went up onto a fiery Mt. Sinai where God was. Psalm 97 says,

The LORD reigns; let the earth rejoice; let the many coastlands be glad! Clouds and thick darkness are round about him; righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne. Fire goes before him, and burns up his adversaries round about. His lightnings lighten the world; the earth sees and trembles. The mountains melt like wax before the LORD, before the Lord of all the earth. The heavens proclaim his righteousness; and all the peoples behold his glory.

Scriptures also call God a Holy fire, a consuming fire (cf Heb 12:29) and a refining fire (cf Is. 48:10; Jer 9:7; Zec 13:9; & Mal 3:3).

And so it is that our God, who is a Holy Fire, comes to dwell in us through His Holy Spirit. And as a Holy Fire, He refines us by burning away our sins and purifying us. As Job once said, But he knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold (Job 23:10).

God is also preparing us for judgment, for if He is a Holy Fire, then who may endure the day of His coming or of going to Him? What can endure the presence of Fire Himself? Only that which is already fire. Thus we must be set afire by God’s love.

So, in the coming of the Holy Spirit, God sets us on fire to make us a kind of fire. In so doing, He purifies us and prepares us to meet Him one day, to meet Him who is a Holy Fire.

II. The Proclamation of the Spirit – You will notice that the Spirit came on them like “tongues” of fire. And the reference to tongues is no accident. For notice how the Holy Spirit moves them to speak and ultimately to witness. The text says, And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in different tongues, as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim. Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven staying in Jerusalem. At this sound, they gathered in a large crowd, but they were confused because each one heard them speaking in his own language. They were astounded, and in amazement they asked, “Are not all these people who are speaking Galileans? Then how does each of us hear them in his native language? We are Parthians, Medes, and Elamites, inhabitants of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the districts of Libya near Cyrene, as well as travelers from Rome, both Jews and converts to Judaism, Cretans and Arabs, yet we hear them speaking in our own tongues of the mighty acts of God.”

So behold how the Holy Spirit moves them to proclaim, not just within the safety of the upper room, but also in holy boldness before the crowds who have gathered.

Notice the transformation! Moments ago these were frightened men who gathered in secrecy, only behind locked doors. They were huddled together in fear. But now they go forth to the crowds and boldly proclaim Christ. They have gone from fear to faith, from cowardice to courage, from terror to testimony!

What about us? Too many Christians are silent, overcome by fear. Perhaps they fear being called names, or being unpopular. Perhaps they are anxious about being laughed at, or resisted, or of being asked questions they don’t feel capable of answering. Some Christians are able to gather in the “upper room” of the parish and to be active, even to be leaders. But once outside the safe confines of the “upper room” they slip into undercover mode. They become secret agent Christians.

Well, the Holy Spirit wants to change that. To the degree that we have really met Jesus Christ and experienced His Holy Spirit, we are less able to keep silent. An old Gospel song says, “I thought I wasn’t gonna testify, but I couldn’t keep it to myself, what the Lord has done for me.” The Holy Spirit, if authentically received, wants to give us zeal and joy, to burn away our fear so that testifying and witnessing come naturally to us.

Note also how the Spirit “translates” for the apostles. The people in the crowd before them spoke different languages yet each heard Peter and the others speak in his own language. The Spirit, therefore, assists not only us but also those who hear us. My testimony is not dependent on my eloquence alone but also on the grace of the Holy Spirit, who casts out deafness and opens hearts. Every Christian should remember this. Some of our most doubtful encounters with others can still bear great fruit on account of the work of the Holy Spirit, who “translates” for us and overcomes many obstacles we might think insurmountable. 

III. The Propagation by the Spirit – In the great commission, the Lord said, Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age (Matt 28:19ff). He also said, I have come to cast a fire on the earth and How I wish the blaze were already ignited (Luke 12:49).

How is the Lord going to do this?

Perhaps a picture will help to illustrate. My parish church is dedicated to the Holy Spirit under the title Holy Comforter. Above the high altar is the following Latin inscription: Spiritus Domini, replevit orbem terrarum (The Spirit of the Lord, filled the orb of the earth). (See the photo above of our high altar.)

The walls of my parish Church answer the question. The clerestory walls are painted Spanish red, and upon this great canvas are also painted the stories of the lives of twenty saints, surrounding us like a great cloud of witnesses (cf Heb 12:1). (See also the video below.) And over the head of every saint is a tongue of fire.

This is how the Spirit of the Lord fills the earth. It is not via “magic fairy dust.” It is in the fiery transformation of every Christian going forth to bring warmth and light to a cold, dark world. This is how the Lord casts fire on the earth. This is how the Spirit of the Lord fills the orb of the earth—in the lives of saints (and in your life)!

In the end, the Great Commission (Matt 28) is our first and most important job. No matter what else we do, we are supposed to do this. Parishes do not deserve to exist if they do not do this. As individual Christians, we are a disgrace and not worthy of the name if we fail to win souls for Jesus Christ. The Spirit of the Lord is going to fill the orb of the earth, but only through us. The spread of the Gospel has been placed in your hands. It’s scary, isn’t it!

In my short time on this planet, I have seen it. Parishes that were once big and booming (and frankly, arrogant) are now in decline and some are near closure. It happens to the best if they do not evangelize, if they do not accomplish “job one” The Lord wants to light a fire. Why not become fire? Let the Spirit propagate the Church through you. (I’m not talking about the person next to you; I am talking to you.)

Happy feast of Pentecost! But don’t forget that the basic image is very challenging, for it means getting out of the “upper room,” opening the doors, and proclaiming Christ to the world. Let the Holy Spirit light a fire in you. Then you can’t help but spread light and heat to a dark, cold world.

Let the evangelization of the whole world begin with you.

This video features details from the clerestory of my parish, Holy Comforter in Washington, D.C. Notice the tongue of fire above each saint. The paintings show how the Spirit of the Lord fills the orb of the earth through the lives of the lives of the saints (and through you, too). It is not magic; it is grace, working in your life, through your gifts and your relationships, so that the Lord will reach each soul. The witnesses on the walls of my Church say, “You are the way that He will fill the earth and set it on fire.” Let the blaze be ignited in you!

The song says, “We are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses, looking on, encouraging us to do the will of the Lord. Let us stand worthy and be faithful to God’s call … We must not grow weary …!”

erant omnes pariter dicentes, alleluia,
et subito factus est sonus de coelo, alleluia,
tamquam spiritus vehementis,
et replevit totam domum, alleluia.

When the Day of Pentecost had fully come,
they were all with one accord in one place, saying, alleluia.
And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, alleluia



By Dennis Prager Townhall 03 May 16 (original source)

[ emphasis by Bishop Rene Henry Gracida]

As of tonight, we may know if Donald Trump will be the Republican presidential candidate. And, barring unforeseeable events, it is certain that Hillary Clinton will be the Democratic nominee. Those are two reasons — of many, unfortunately — why, other than the first years of the Civil War, when the survival of the United States as one country was in jeopardy, there has never been a darker time in American history.The various major wars — the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, World War I and II, and the Korean and Vietnam wars — were worse in terms of American lives lost.The Great Depression was worse in economic terms.

There were more riots during the Vietnam War era.

But at no other time has there been as much pessimism — valid pessimism, moreover — about America’s future as there is today.

Among the reasons are:

Every distinctive value on which America was founded is in jeopardy.

According to a Pew Research Center study, more and more young Americans do not believe in freedom of speech for what they deem hate speech. Forty percent of respondents ages 18 to 34 agreed that offensive statements should be outlawed.

According to a series of Harvard University polls, about 47 percent of Americans ages 18 to 29 believe that food, shelter and health care “are a right that government should provide to those unable to afford them.” That means that nearly half our young believe they have a legitimate claim on the labor and earnings of others for life’s basic necessities.

More than half of 18- to 29-year-old Americans do not support capitalism, the source of the prosperity they enjoy, and the only economic system that has ever lifted mass numbers of people out of poverty.

When young Americans see pictures of the Founding Fathers, they do not see the great men that most Americans have seen throughout American history; they see white males who were affluent (now derisively labeled “privileged”) and owned slaves.

The belief that certain fundamental rights are God-based — a view held by every American founder and nearly all Americans throughout its history — is reviled outside of conservative religious circles, and held by fewer and fewer Americans today.

The view that male and female are distinctive identities — one of the few unquestioned foundational views of every society in history –– is being obliterated. Simply saying that one believes (all things being equal) a child does best starting out life with a married father and mother will ensure they’ll be considered a “hater.”

The ideas that America should be a melting pot, or that all Americans should identify as American, are now unutterable in educated company. In fact, many college campuses do not have an American flag on their campus because some students regard it as offensive and representational of imperialism and capitalism.

In addition, virtually every major institution is in decay or disarray.

Religious institutions, which, for most of American history, have been the most important institutions in everyday American life, are being rendered irrelevant. And a larger number of Americans, many more than ever before, do not identify with any religion.

The traditional family has become nothing more than one of many options open to Americans. For the first time in American history there are more unmarried women than married women. The number of adults age 34 and under who have never been married is nearing 50 percent. In recent years, data showed just 20 percent of Americans ages 18 to 29 are wedded, compared to nearly 60 percent in 1960. Additionally, more than 40 percent of American births are to unmarried women. Among Hispanic women the percent is over 53, and among black women the rate is over 71 percent.

Universities (outside the natural sciences and mathematics), are intellectual frauds. In terms of ability to think clearly, they actually make most students dumber than before they entered college. As Pulitzer Prize-winning Wall Street Journal columnist Bret Stephens wrote recently, “American academia is, by and large, idiotic.”

National, state and city governments have no doubt largely engaged in Ponzi-scheme-like practices, racking up levels of debt that will crush the economy of the country sooner or later.

The size of the federal government, and its far-reaching meddling in and control over Americans’ lives, is the very thing America was founded to avoid.

The arts are as fraudulent as academia. Artistic standards have been destroyed. In music, art and architecture, nonsense and ugliness have replaced the pursuit of meaning, edification and beauty. The scatological have replaced the noble.

And now there’s Clinton and Trump. Nothing more clearly exemplifies the dark time in which we are living than this political version of Sophie’s choice.

I will not end on a happy note because there isn’t one; but neither will I despair.

One doesn’t fight only when one is optimistic. One fights because it is the right thing to do, and because America remains, as Lincoln said, “the last best hope of earth.”

Dear Readers,

I would like to introduce you to a new Internet resource that is truly a blessing from God and for all your loved ones who are in danger of dying without faith or repentance or the sacraments whether their deaths may come within hours or decades from now.

I encourage you to read the comments of the remarkable person and priest who founded this soul-saving ministry at https://savesoulsblog.wordpress.com.

Do pray for the souls of your deceased loved ones, but don’t neglect the souls of your living loved ones.

Excerpts of Father Joseph’s comments:

“My name is Father Joseph and I am a Catholic priest.  I have been living in monasteries for about 34 years and have been a priest for almost 25.  I’ve been around long enough to know that there is nothing more important than the salvation of souls, our own and our fellow human beings.  There really is no time for anything else, because Heaven and Hell are forever…”

“Are there any incorrigible teenagers, irascible old folks, lapsed Catholics, ardent unbelievers, or heedless profligates among your family or friends? Or do you know someone who is dying without faith or repentance or the sacraments? Well, just email their names to me. I will keep a list of these “hard cases” and will pray for them (including them also in the divine mercy chaplets I pray several times daily especially for this intention), and I will also offer the Holy Mass twice a month for their salvation.

You see, this way, even if there’s no evidence that their lives are changing for the better, you will know that graces are being “stored up” for them — Jesus did in fact tell us to “lay up treasures in heaven” (Mt. 6:20) — which the Lord may apply to them at the moment of their deaths. This is what I will ask Him to do, anyway (and I think He will, in his infinite mercy). There are so many parents who fret over their wayward children or their unbelieving relatives or friends, and such concern is legitimate. Well, now there’s something practical you can do about it.”

Please visit https://savesoulsblog.wordpress.com.

If you read this post on Msgr. Pope’s blog, you will find many of his other outstanding reflections. For your convenience it is copied below with his kind permission.

On the Need to Be More Urgent in Preparing for Final Judgment

Msgr. Charles Pope (posted with permission – source)

At every funeral I celebrate, I spend a good portion of the sermon urging everyone, including myself, to be more intent on preparing for death and judgement. I remind the assembled of Jesus’ numerous parables on this theme. I remind them that no one loves them more than does Jesus, and yet no one issued more warnings of judgment and Hell than He did. I do this at funerals because the overwhelming majority of people I see there do not attend church at any other time. I feel that I have to take advantage of the opportunity to wrest them from the sin of presumption that is so prevalent today.

Indeed, the sin of presumption seems to be at an all-time high. This is due to many factors in the world where sin is minimized or declared of little import. Even within the Church, due to the error of “universalism” (the belief that most (if not all) people will go to Heaven), a view almost completely contradictory to Scripture, few people are earnest in preparing for death and judgment. This is tragic. While we shouldn’t run around in a panic, we ought to have a lot more urgency in working for salvation. We can do this through daily prayer, frequent Confession and Holy Communion, holy fellowship, and reading/studying Scripture and Church teaching. We must practice the virtues learned in these holy sources and consistently seek the Lord’s grace and mercy.

It is foolish to fail to do this, to put it off day after day. St. Alphonsus Liguori makes this point beautifully and powerfully in his classic work Preparation for Death. He writes,

What would you say of the man who put off his preparation for a trial on which his life depended, till the day of the trial arrived? Would you not stigmatize as a fool the general who should not begin to lay in a supply of provisions and arms, till the city is besieged? Would it not be folly in a pilot [of a ship] to neglect till the time of the tempest to provide the vessel with an anchor and a helm? Such is the folly of a Christian who neglects his conscience till death arrives …. The Lord called the virgins foolish who wished to prepare their lamps with the spouse came (Preparation for Death, 8th Ed., edited by Stephen Winchell, p. 91).

And yet this is precisely what most people do. Too many are busy pursuing lesser things such as career, money, and worldly possessions. Meanwhile, death and judgment, which are both more important and more certain, get little attention. Even comparatively frivolous things like sports, television, and gossip are often given more passion and priority than preparing to die well and in God’s favor. People tend to maximize the minimum and minimize the maximum.

According to the Lord, this is the very definition of foolishness. And yet most assume that either they will be able to repent in a flash as death approaches, or that God doesn’t really care about all the things He said He cares about.

There is no basis in Scripture for the idea that last minute repentance or pleas will win the day. In the “Parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins” as well as in almost every similar parable, those excluded from the Kingdom (who hear the Lord say, “I know you not”) all protest and lament loudly. Some of the passages speak of wailing and grinding of teeth as the damned depart into outer darkness or into the fire prepared for the devil and his angels.

Why is this so? Why does God disregard such pleas? Don’t those pleas represent proper repentance? If they do, then why does God seemingly ignore them?

St. Thomas Aquinas provides some insight:

A person may repent of his sin in two ways: in one way, directly, in another way indirectly. He repents of sin directly who hates sin as such; and repents indirectly who hates it on account of something connected with it, for instance punishment. Accordingly, the wicked will not repent of their sin directly, because consent in the malice of sin remains in them. But they will repent indirectly, inasmuch as they will suffer from the punishment inflicted on them for sin. The damned still will wickedness but shun punishment. And thus indirectly they repent of the wickedness committed (Summa Theologica, Sup. 98. Art. 2).

It would seem that their repentance is not a proper repentance from sin, but rather represents more of a regret at the consequences. It is impossible to enter Heaven while still loving sin. Their repentance is not sufficient to grant the healing necessary to enter Heaven.

St. Alphonsus gives us an insight as to why direct repentance (i.e., the repentance of one who hates sin as such) is unlikely to be found suddenly at the moment of death:

It is necessary at death to hate sin, and to love God above all things. But how can he, then, hate forbidden pleasures who has loved them to till that moment? … It is for this reason that God is deaf to their cry … (Preparation for Death, 8th Ed., edited by Stephen Winchell, p. 92).

This is perfectly sensible. Most are simply not able to shift their desires 180 degrees in a moment. The Lord warns that if our desires at the time of our death are not for God and the values of His kingdom, it is highly unlikely that we will have a sudden change of heart. Further, when we die, our disposition either for or against God is forever fixed. The wicked do not depart wailing and grinding their teeth because they suddenly hate sin and love God and holiness. No, they wail due to more selfish motives, such as the fear of punishment. They hate the consequences, but not the sin.

Consider well these admonitions from two great saints, which speak directly and clearly against the presumptiveness and foolishness of our age. Get to work while there is still time. Tell everyone you love to set his or her house in order before the day of reckoning. Do not delay your conversion to the Lord