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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.

St. Paul Was Not Ashamed of the Gospel — Are We?

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

St. Paul writes this in today’s reading from the Letter to the Romans: “I am not ashamed of the gospel. It is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes” (Rom 1:16).

“Gospel” here refers to the whole of the New Testament rather than merely the four Gospels. The gospel is the apostolic exhortation, the proclamation of the apostles of what Jesus taught and said and did for our salvation. This proclamation was recorded and collected in the letters of the apostles Paul, Peter, James, John, and Jude, and in what later came to be called the four Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. The gospel is the transformative word of the Lord proclaimed by the apostles in obedience to the command of the Lord,

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, to the end of the age (Matt 28:19-20).

Of these apostles (“sent ones”) Jesus says this:

Very truly I tell you, whoever receives the one I send receives me; and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me (Jn 13:20).

So the gospel is the authoritative and transformative proclamation of the Lord’s word through the apostles in totality. Of this full and received message St. Paul says he is not ashamed, though he has suffered for preaching it; others have suffered and even been killed for it!

Can we say the same? Are we unashamed of the gospel? Sadly, too many people are to some extent ashamed of the gospel. Even among practicing Catholics and clergy, there are too many who promote a compromised, watered-down message rather than boldly, joyfully, and confidently proclaiming the full gospel.

  • Many are ashamed of the gospel’s moral vision, especially those parts that challenge the rebellion of our times against marriage, the family, the proper purpose of sexuality, and the sanctity of human life. If a priest or lay person brings up such topics, too many Catholics cringe, embarrassed that a controversial subject has been mentioned. Some worry that someone might be angered, challenged, or “hurt.” The embarrassment and nervousness are often visible by the looks on their faces or their seeming need to change the subject, speak in euphemisms, or talk in generalities and abstractions. It seems that they want to avoid a clear discussion of the truth in such matters at all costs.
  • Many are ashamed of the strong demands of the cross. Jesus wanted us to be under no illusions. Strong medicine is required for what ails us. The cross and the need for self-denial and sacrifice are at the center of the gospel, but many are ashamed when the concept of the cross goes from being an abstraction to something more specific. Thus when the world protests with rhetorical questions we are embarrassed and too often compromise or grow silent. For example, when someone indignantly asks, “Are you saying that a woman who is pregnant as a result of rape must carry the child to birth?” Instead of responding, “Yes, and we must help her to decide whether to raise the child or place the child up for adoption,” we often compromise, saying that maybe abortion is all right in cases of rape or incest—but it isn’t. The child is innocent; he or she does not deserve to be killed. We are easily ashamed of the cross in other cases, too, such as in the abortion of possibly “defective” babies or euthanasia/assisted-suicide for the suffering. We shy away from standing firm when it comes to embracing of any kind of suffering, inconvenience, or cross. It’s harder to get married and stay married than it is to divorce; it’s harder to resist sin than give way to temptation; it’s harder to delay satisfaction than to indulge right away. In these ways the cross is no abstraction; it is quite real. When it gets real, though, many of us are ashamed of the gospel and what it proclaims.
  • Many are ashamed of the proclamation that Christ as the exclusive and only savior. In our “pluralistic” world, which “diversity” is an absolutized virtue, the thought that Jesus is the sole savior of mankind is an embarrassment to many Catholics. Scripture says of Jesus, He is ‘the stone you builders rejected, which has become the cornerstone.’ Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved (Acts 4:11-12). Jesus himself says, I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me (Jn 14:6). When the world says that there are many ways to God, that people have a right to worship the “god of their own understanding,” and that all ways are valid and good and true, too many Catholics are ashamed of our teaching that Jesus is the unique and only savior of mankind. If there are Muslims, Buddhists, or Zoroastrians in Heaven it is only because of the mercy and grace of Jesus. Talk like this engenders shame in many Catholics, who cringe and want to parrot the world’s view that Christianity has no preeminence or saving value above any other view.
  • Many are ashamed of what Jesus teaches on judgment and Hell. There are many passages in which Jesus and the apostles warn of Hell, judgment, and eternal exclusion from the Kingdom of God. Many shamefully dismiss Jesus’ parables and teachings about Hell and judgement as excess or hyperbole; strangely, they assert that when Jesus said that many would be lost and few would be saved that he meant precisely the opposite. They think that God will never say, “Depart from me you evildoers. Depart from me; I never knew you” Many are embarrassed by such teachings and simply dismiss them as implausible. They have shamefully reinvented God as a “sweetie pie” rather than the all holy God to whom we must be conformed if we ever hope to be able to endure His presence. Too many are embarrassed by the gospel and these teachings, most of which comes right from the mouth of Jesus.
  • Many are ashamed of simple biblical terms such as sin (especially mortal sin), evil, repentance, conversion, judgment, Hell, and phrases such as “woe to you,” “vengeance is mine,” and “fornicators will not inherit the Kingdom of God.” Many dismiss such common biblical phrases as “unwelcoming,” “unkind,” and “un-Christlike.” Never mind that many of these biblical phrases were commonly on the very lips of Jesus. Too many are ashamed of the real Christ and prefer a refashioned, softened one.

St. Paul says that he is not ashamed of the gospel. What about us? Are we confident and uncompromising in proclaiming the gospel or are we ashamed and fearful? Do we compromise the gospel in order to avoid the scorn of an unbelieving, sin-sick world? Do we stand up without shame and proclaim the truth with love and confidence?

Are we ashamed of the gospel or are we joyful and confident?

This song says, “You should be a witness! Stand up and be a witness for the Lord!”

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Below are excerpts from a reflection by Fr. Daniel Doctor (source).

The Roman Catholic Church, that is the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church is the Bride of Jesus Christ.  This Church was established by Christ Himself to be the sole means of salvation for all of humanity. As Catholics, we know of no other way to salvation except through the sacramental system established by Christ and given to His Apostles.

Why is the Catholic Church in Near Chaos and Confusion?

the Church is in a state of near chaos and confusion over what She teaches and what She does not teach.  The overriding reason for this is because bishops, the clergy, teachers and parents, have completely failed in their duties to transmit the Faith to each of the successive past four generations.  And there are huge consequences for this failure.

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The vast majority of Catholics simply do not accept, believe, or practice the Faith anymore.  The results of this can be clearly measured in the lack of priestly ordinations, the increasing number of priests leaving active ministry, the number of priests who have been exiled, punished, and persecuted for speaking the Truths of the Catholic Faith, the closing of parishes, schools, hospitals, and other Catholic institutions, forced collaboratives, the clustering of parishes, and the constant moving of priests.  This is also seen in the burnout among the clergy because of the increased workload and the lack of any true support system from their Bishops or the people of God.  But all of this that is occurring in the church today, is giving to those of us who pay attention a much more truthful picture of reality of the Catholic Church in America.

…  all of us, most especially parents and priests, must become more pro-active, more aggressive in learning the true Catholic Faith and holding firm to it.  And then teaching this authentic faith to the next generation as well as to the current generation that has lost their faith.

I am here to tell you, and you can believe me or not, but there is a real active evil person, working every day to destroy us and our children. The same is true for so many young adults who are unprepared to counter or even believe in the diabolical, the true evil of this world, which has intensified greatly over these past few years.  This evil has gone unchecked by Faithful Catholics as well as the Church’s hierarchy.

We must, like the Saints, who have gone before us, learn the Catholic faith that we so casually say we believe in.  We must stand up for the Doctrine She has wonderfully taught for over 2,000 years and practice it wholeheartedly.  When we take the time to study and learn the true Faith, this is meant to energize our prayer life.  Do we as Catholics even have a prayer life anymore?  Are we developing a prayer Life?  The relationship with God, that the Church asks us?  This education in the Faith is meant to help us fall in love with the Catholic Church, Her teachings, and give us the strength and courage to oppose the Devil.  I can assure you, as a Roman Catholic Priest, the Devil is absolutely real.

For as St. Peter, our first Pope, taught us in his letters, “Stay sober and alert. Your opponent the devil is prowling like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, solid in your faith.”

If you feel, like I and a whole bunch of other people do, that things are spinning out of control in our world, and most especially in the Church today,  you’re right.  The underlying reason is because the Church is in a state of near chaos and confusion.  As Pope Benedict stated recently, “ready to capsize” this is all brought about by the Church’s chief enemy the Devil, and he is real.  Be assured, we have not arrived at this place in history by accident.  There is an intelligent evil being behind all of this work, bent on our destruction and the destruction of our Lord’s Catholic Church.

We must rededicate ourselves, as good Catholics, to knowing and studying the Faith.  This way, we can resist and fight with all our might against the evil that has plagued us for far too long.  Part of the answer to this problem involves setting aside time to study the Faith, to be enraptured by its glories and mysteries, its blinding truth.  This cannot happen if we don’t make the effort to learn our wonderful Faith, and then follow through with our good intentions.

There is no way to fight against the Devil other than to love God more. And we cannot love what we do not know. Knowledge of the Faith is absolutely crucial for any spiritual growth, and we need to get back on our knees and beg God to deliver us from the sinful evil of this current generation, and the filth, greed, lust, and heresy that has entered our church.

We are not alone in this fight.  We have never been alone. God, His Holy Mother, the Angels, and all His Saints, the whole of Heaven, watches and encourages us to get involved in this fight for the salvation of souls, as well as for the liberty and exultation of Holy Mother the Church, our only known source of salvation.  For as St. Thomas Becket, a martyr for the Faith so wisely taught us, as well as the testimony of so many Saints, without real effort no one ever wins the crown of everlasting life.

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Having recently sent some of my relatives the message below and only receiving one reply (an acceptable one), I must say it’s tempting to give up trying to reach out to people. However, this morning I read Msgr. Charles Pope’s post regarding this Sunday’s Gospel (copied below with his kind permission – following my message to family.)

My message to family:

As far as I know, no one to whom I am sending this message has renounced their Catholic faith. Therefore, I speak to you as a fellow Catholic, regardless of how actively each of us may be practicing our mutual faith. That’s between God and us, individually.

I think it should be obvious to all of us that there has been a great degradation in moral behavior among our fellow brethren throughout the world. And I think this is something we all should be gravely concerned about. I really don’t think I need to list specific moral behavioral aberrations. Even if you are only minimally in tune with the teachings of Jesus and his Catholic Church, all of them should be quite obvious to you. They are so numerous!

So what is the point of my message? It is to share with you my – and solicit your – grave concern for the wellbeing of ourselves, our loved ones and all mankind.

Perhaps we must first be attuned to and seriously concerned about what is happening in our Catholic Church. Hurricanes, floods, tornadoes, earthquakes, volcanoes, avalanches, tsunamis, nuclear bombs, and so on, can exterminate human lives, but only the violence of rejecting the teachings of Christ Jesus in union with his Father and the Holy Spirit, can exterminate the life of a soul. And that is what is going on in our beloved Catholic Church today. The most horrific crime against humanity and its Creator is being committed by those to whom Christ has entrusted our souls.

Please join me in my concern and prayers.

Sinner Please Don’t Let This Harvest Pass

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

There is an urgency and clarity about Sunday’s Gospel that is often lacking in modern Christians, including the clergy. The message is urgent, provocative, and clear: there is a day of judgment coming for every one of us and we must be ready for it. The message is a sobering one for a modern world that is often dismissive of judgment—and certainly of Hell. Jesus clearly says that the Kingdom of God can be taken from us for our refusal to accept its fruits in our life.

The parables that Jesus related to teach about judgment and the reality of Hell are often quite vivid, even shocking in their harsh imagery; they are certainly not stories for the easily offended. They are also difficult to take for those who have tried to refashion Jesus into a pleasant, affirming sort of fellow rather than the uncompromising prophet and Lord that He is.

No one spoke of Hell more often than Jesus did. Attempting to reconcile these bluntly presented teachings with the God who loves us so much points to the deeper mysteries of justice and mercy and their interaction with human freedom. This point must be clear, however: no one loves us more than Jesus does and yet no one spoke of Hell and its certainty more often than Jesus did. No one warned us of judgment and its inescapable consequences more often than did Jesus. Out of love for us, Jesus spoke of death, judgment, Heaven, and Hell. As one who loves us, He wants none of us to be lost. So He warns us; He speaks the truth in love.

Historically, this parable had meaning for the ancient Jews that had already come to pass. God had established and cared for his vine, Israel. He had given them every blessing; He had led them out of slavery and established them in the Promised Land. Yet when searching for the fruits of righteousness He found little. God sent many prophets to warn them and to call forth those fruits, but they were persecuted, rejected, and even murdered. Finally, God sent His Son, but He too was murdered. There comes forth a sentence: He will put those wretched men to a wretched death and lease his vineyard to other tenants who will give him the produce at the proper times … Therefore, I say to you, the Kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people that will produce its fruit. By 70 A.D., Jerusalem was destroyed; the Temple was never to be rebuilt.

The Jewish people are not singled out in the Scriptures., All of us, like them, are a vineyard. If we are not careful, their story will be ours. Like the ancients, we have a decision to make. Either we accept the offer of the Kingdom and thereby yield to the Lord’s work and bring forth a harvest, or we face judgment for rejecting that offer. God will not force us to accept His Kingship or His Kingdom. We have a choice to make and that choice will be at the heart of the judgment we will face.

Let’s take a closer look at today’s Gospel and apply it to the vineyard of our lives.

I.  THE SOWING – The text says, There was a landowner who planted a vineyard, put a hedge around it, dug a wine press in it, and built a tower. Then he leased it to tenants and went on a journey.

Note the care and providence of the landowner (God), who has given each of us life and every kind of grace. The image of the vineyard indicates that we have the capacity to bear fruit. This signifies the many gifts, talents, and abilities that we have been given by God.

The hedge calls to mind the protection of His grace and mercy. Though the world can be a tempting place, God has put a hedge of protection around us that is sufficient to keep us safe from serious sin, if we accept its power.

But a hedge implies limits. Although God’s protective graces are sufficient, we must live within limits, within the hedge that keeps the wild animals of temptation from devouring the fruits of our vine.

The tower is symbolic of the Church, which stands guard like a watchman warning those who live within the boundaries of the hedge of dangers. The tower (the Church) is stands as a sign of contradiction to the hostile world outside, which seeks to devour the fruit of the vineyard.

That the landowner leases the vineyard is a reminder that we are not our own; we have been purchased at great cost. God and God alone created all these things we call ours. We are but stewards, even of our own lives. We belong to God; we must render an account to Him and show forth fruits.

This point must be emphasized: God has given us great care. He has given us His grace and mercy—His very self. As the text from Isaiah says, What more was there to do for my vineyard that I had not done? God loves us and does not want us to be lost. He gives us every grace and mercy we need. The Lord says, As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways! Why will you die, O house of Israel? (Ez 33:11) This must be emphasized because we grumble too quickly about the coming judgment. God offers every possible grace to save us. It is up to us to accept or reject His help.

II.  THE SEEKING – The text says, When vintage time drew near, he sent his servants to the tenants to obtain his produce.

There come moments in our lives when God looks for fruits. Remember that He is the owner and the fruits are rightfully His. He has done everything to bring forth the fruit and now deserves to see the produce of His grace in the vineyard of our life, which is His own.

What fruits does the Lord seek? The values and fruits of the Kingdom: faith, justice, mercy, peace, forgiveness, chastity, faithfulness, generosity, love of the poor, love of one’s family and friends—even love of one’s enemy—kindness, truth, sincerity, courage to speak the truth and witness to the faith, and an evangelical spirit.

The text says that the owner sent his servants to obtain the produce. Here also is evidence of God’s mercy. Historically, God’s “servants” were the prophets. God sent them not only to bring forth the harvest of justice, but also to clarify and apply His Word, and to remind and warn sinners. God patiently sent many generations of prophets to help Israel.

It is the same for us. God sends us many “prophets.” Perhaps they are priests or religious, parents, catechists, teachers, or role models; but they are all part of God’s plan to warn us to bear fruit and to help call forth and obtain some of those fruits. Each in his own way says, as St. Paul did in today’s second reading, Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Keep on doing what you have learned and received and heard and seen in me (Phil 4:8-9).

Yes, God seeks fruits, and rightfully so. He sends His servants, the prophets, to help call them forth in us.

III. THE SINNING – The text says, But the tenants seized the servants and one they beat, another they killed, and a third they stoned. Again he sent other servants, more numerous than the first ones, but they treated them in the same way. Finally, he sent his son to them, thinking, ‘They will respect my son.’ But when the tenants saw the son, they said to one another, ‘This is the heir. Come, let us kill him and acquire his inheritance.’ They seized him, threw him out of the vineyard, and killed him.

Despite all that the owner has done by sending His servants, the tenants reject them all, and with increasing vehemence; their hearts grow harder. The landowner even goes so far to demonstrate his love and his will to save that he sends his own son, but they drag him outside the vineyard and kill him. Yes, Jesus died outside the city gates, murdered for seeking the fruit of faith from the tenants of the vineyard.

What of us? There are too many who reject God’s prophets. They do so with growing vehemence and abusive treatment. Many people today despise the Church, the Scriptures, parents, friends, and Christians in general who seek to clarify and apply God’s Word and to warn of the need to be ready. Repeated resistance can cause a hardening of the heart to set in. In the end, there are some—in fact many according to Jesus—who effectively kill the life of God within them and utterly reject the Kingdom of God and its values. They do not want to live lives that show forth forgiveness, mercy, love of enemies, chastity, justice, love of the poor, generosity, kindness, and witness to the Lord and the truth.

We ought to be very sober because there are many, many people today who are like this. Some have merely drifted away and are indifferent. (Some have been hurt or are struggling to believe, but at least they remain open.) Still others are passionate in their hatred for the Church, Scripture, and anything to do with God, explicitly rejecting many of the values of His kingdom. We must continue in our attempts to reach them.

IV. THE SENTENCE – The text says, What will the owner of the vineyard do to those tenants when he comes? They answered him, ‘He will put those wretched men to a wretched death and lease his vineyard to other tenants who will give him the produce at the proper times.’ Therefore, I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people that will produce its fruit.

Here, then, is the sentence: If you don’t want the Kingdom, you don’t have to have it. On one level, it would seem everyone wants the Kingdom. In other words, everyone who has any faith in God at all wants to go to Heaven. But what is Heaven? It is the fullness of the Kingdom of God. It is not just a place of our making. It is that place where the will of God, the Kingdom’s values, are in full flower. Many, however, do not want to live chastely, do not want to forgive, do not want to be generous, do not want to love the poor, do not want God or anyone else at the center, do not want to worship God.

Self exclusion – Having rejected the Kingdom’s values, and having rejected the prophets who warned them, many simply exclude themselves from the Kingdom. God will not force the Kingdom on anyone. If, even after God’s grace and mercy and His pleading through the prophets, you don’t want it, you don’t have to have it. It will be taken from you and given to those who do.

The existence of Hell is rooted in God’s respect for our freedom, for we have been called to love. Love must be free, not compelled. Therefore, Hell has to be a reality. It is the “alternative arrangement” that others make for themselves in their rejection of the Kingdom of God. At our death, our decision is forever fixed.

Yes, Hell and the judgment that precedes it are clearly taught in today’s Gospel and in many other places (e.g., Matt 23:33; Lk 16:23; Mk 43:47; Matt 5:29; Matt 10:28; Matt 18:9; Matt 5:22; Matt 11:23; Matt 7:23; Matt 25:41; Mk 9:48; Luke 13:23; Rev 22:15). These teachings come from a Lord who loves us and wants to save us, but who is also well aware of our stubborn and stiff-necked ways.

What is a healthy response to this teaching? To work earnestly for the salvation of souls, beginning with our own. Nothing has destroyed evangelization and missionary activity more than the modern notion that everyone goes to Heaven. Nothing has so destroyed zeal for the moral life and hunger for the Sacraments, prayer, and Scripture. And nothing is so contrary to Scripture as the dismissal of Hell with the false notion that all are going to Heaven.

But rather than panic or despair, we must get to work and be more urgent in our quest to win souls for Christ. Whom does the Lord want you to work with to draw back to Him? Pray and ask Him: “Who, Lord?” The Lord does not want any to be lost. He still sends His prophets (this means you) to draw back anyone who will listen. Will you work for the Lord? Will you work for souls?

There is a day of judgment looming and we must be made ready for it by the Lord. Will you be urgent about it, for yourself and others?

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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 Ministry of Angels, as Seen in a Commercial

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

Most of us struggle with the fact that God allows bad things to happen to us. Why does He not intervene more often to protect us from attacks of various kinds and from events that cause sadness, setbacks, or suffering?

While mysterious, the clearest answer is that God allows suffering in order that some greater blessing may occur. To some degree I have found this to be so; some of my greatest blessings required that a door slam shut for me or that I endure some suffering. If my college sweetheart had not ended things, I would most likely not have the very great blessing of being a priest today. Had I gotten some of my preferred assignments in my early years as a priest, I would not have been enriched by the assignments I did have. Those difficult assignments have drawn me out and helped me to grow far more than the cozy, familiar placements I desired would have. Had I not entered into the crucible of depression and anxiety in my thirties, I would not have learned to trust God as much as I do, and I would not have learned important lessons about myself and about life.

So despite that fact that we understandably fear suffering and dislike it, for reasons of His own (reasons He knows best), God does allow some degree of it in our lives.

Yet I wonder if we really consider often enough the countless times God did step in to prevent disaster in our lives. We tend to focus on the negative things in life and overlook the enormous number of blessings we often take for granted: every beat of our heart, the proper functioning of every cell in our body, and all of the perfect balances that exist in nature and the cosmos in order to sustain us.

Just think of the simple act of walking, all of the possible missteps we might take but most often do not. Think of all the foolish risks we have taken in our lives—especially when we were young—that did not end in disaster. Think of all the poor choices we have made and yet escaped the worst possible outcomes.

Yes, we wonder why we and others suffer and why God allows it, but do we ever wonder why we don’t suffer? Do we ever think about why and how we have escaped enduring the consequences of some awfully foolish things we have done? In typical human fashion, we minimize our many, many blessings, and magnify and resent our sufferings.

I have a favorite expression, one that I have made my own over the years, that I use in response to people who ask me how I am doing: “I’m pretty well blessed, for a sinner.”  I’ve heard others put the same sentiment this way: “I’m more blessed than I deserve.” Yes, we are all pretty well blessed indeed!

I thought of all those things as I watched the commercial below (aired during the 2014 Super Bowl). While it speaks of the watchfulness of a father, it makes me think of my guardian angel, who has surely preserved me from many disasters.

As you watch the commercial, don’t forget to thank God for the many times He has rescued you through the intervention of your guardian angel. Thank Him too for His hidden blessings—blessings that, though you know nothing of them, are bestowed by Him all the same. Finally, think of the wonderful mercy He has often shown in protecting you from the worst of your foolishness.

 

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In a September 24, 2017 CNN article ‘Irma brought out the truth about the Florida Keys‘, reporter Bill Weir paints, in my opinion, a very condescending view of people who make the Florida Keys their home.

He states that “It takes a special breed of cat to settle in the Florida Keys.” He continues with: “The slivers of land atop an ancient coral reef hold a mixture of hedonism and high water, luring anglers and divers, bikers and burnouts, pirates and professionals down US 1 to forget about life for a weekend … or forever. Depending on your point of view, it is a road to paradise or a highway to hell.”

I can’t speak for all people of the Keys nor can I speak for all Catholic Christians, but I do know that those of my fellow Catholics who take their faith seriously do not (even could not) embrace the philosophy or psychology of hedonism. And a share of us do live in the Florida Keys, where my wife and I recently made our home after having lived in “earthquake country” (specifically, the San Francisco Bay Area, for thirty years.

While we were riding out Irma in Ft. Myers, FL, having evacuated a newly constructed hurricane and flood resistant home in the Middle Keys, I watched some of CNN’s live coverage of Irma from their reporting base in Key Largo (which was on the bay side of the island). I was appalled by the reporter’s (quite possibly the same fellow who wrote the article) condescending comments when referring to the people of the Keys. I had the distinct impression that he was so very jealous of them, that he had to insult them in order to justify his fear of, or lack of ability, to live in the Keys. He was quite representative of CNN’s penchant for sensationalism and narrow focus on worse case scenarios.

The next time this reporter visits the Keys, it would be beneficial for him to visit my church (San Pablo Catholic Church) on any Sunday of the year when Pastor Rev. Luis Rivera or Deacon John Kirk happen to be preaching the homily (sermon). Perhaps he would learn how Catholicism and hedonism are so very much opposed to each other. He shouldn’t enter the communion line though, unless he is a baptized Catholic and presently in the state of sanctifying grace (of course, all non-Catholics are welcome to attend and share in all of the other benefits of a Catholic Mass). He should just observe, pray and listen. He may even become aware of just how much CNN’s deplorable embrace and promotion of immorality is so very much opposed to the Will of God.

Related:

The Theology of the Cross versus Hedonism

 

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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.

Trademarks of the True Messiah – A Homily for the 22nd Sunday of the Year

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

In Sunday’s Gospel the Lord firmly sets before us the need for the cross, not as an end in itself, but as the way to glory. Let’s consider the Gospel in three stages.

I.  The Pattern that is Announced – The text says, Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer greatly from the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed and on the third day be raised.

The Lord announces not only the Cross but also the Resurrection. In effect, He announces the pattern of the Christian life, which we have come to call the “Paschal Mystery.”

The expression “Paschal Mystery” refers to the suffering, death, resurrection, and glorification of Jesus as a whole. The word “Paschal” is related to the Hebrew word for Passover, “Pesach.” Just as the shed blood of a lamb saved the people from the angel of death and signaled their deliverance, so does Jesus’ death, his Blood, save us from death and deliver us from slavery to sin.

So He is announcing a pattern: the Cross leads somewhere; it accomplishes something. It is not an end in itself; it has a purpose; it is part of a pattern.

St. Paul articulates the pattern of the Paschal Mystery in this way: We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body (2 Cor 4:10). It is like an upward spiral in which the cross brings blessings we enjoy. We often circle back to the crosses God permits, but then there come even greater blessings and higher capacities. Cross, growth, cross, growth—so the pattern continues until we reach the end, dying with Christ so as to live with Him.

This is the pattern of our life. We are dying to our old self, to this world, to our sins; but rising to new life, rising to the Kingdom of God and becoming victorious over sin. The cross brings life; it is a prelude to growth. We die in order to live more richly. An old spiritual says of this repeated pattern that “every round goes higher, higher.”

Do you see the pattern that Jesus announces? Neither the Lord not the Church announces the cross so as to burden us. No, the cross is part of a pattern that, if accepted with faith, brings blessing, new life, and greater strength.

II.  The Prevention that is Attempted – The text says, Then Peter took Jesus aside and began to rebuke him, “God forbid, Lord! No such thing shall ever happen to you.” He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are an obstacle to me. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.”

Notice Peter’s exact wording: “No such thing shall ever happen to you.” We ought to ask, “What such thing?” Peter, in precluding that Jesus suffer and die, also implicitly blocks the rising and glorification of Jesus, for Christ cannot rise unless He dies.

Peter, of course, is not thinking this all the way through—but neither do we when we seek to avoid crosses for ourselves or to hinder others improperly from accepting their crosses. The cross brings glory and growth; we run the risk of depriving ourselves and others of these if we rush to eliminate all the demands and difficulties of life. We may do this through enabling behaviors or perhaps by spoiling our children.

We also hinder our own growth by refusing to accept the crosses of self-discipline, hard work, obedience, suffering, consequences, limits, and resistance of temptation. In rejecting the cross we also reject its fruits.

All of this serves to explain Jesus’ severe reaction to Peter’s words. He even goes so far as to call Peter, “Satan,” for it pertains to Satan to pretend to befriend us in protesting our crosses while really just wanting to thwart our blessings. Peter may not know what he is doing, but Satan does—he seeks to become an obstacle to Jesus’ work.

Jesus’ severe reaction is rooted in protecting our blessings.

III. The Prescription that is Awarding – Jesus goes on to teach further on the wisdom of and the need for the cross. The text says, Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life? Or what can one give in exchange for his life? For the Son of Man will come with his angels in his Father’s glory, and then he will repay all according to his conduct.”

The heart of Jesus’ teaching here is the deep paradox that in order to find our life we must lose it. More specifically, in order to gain Heaven, we must die to this world. That dying is a process more so than just an event at the end of our physical life here. Although we cling to life in this world, it is really not life at all. It is a mere spark compared to the fire of love that God offers; it is a single note compared to the great symphony God directs.

Jesus instructs us to be willing to exchange this tiny, dying life for that which is true life. The Lord says that whatever small blessings come from clinging to this life and this world are really no benefit at all.

Of course what the world’s cheap trinkets offer is immediate gratification and evasion of the cross. We may feel relief for a moment, but our growth is stunted and those cheap little trinkets slip through our fingers. We gain the world (cheap little trinket that it is) but lose our souls. It’s a total loss, or to use a modern expression, it’s a FAIL!

Jesus’ final words, however, remind us that the choice is ours. The day will come when He will respond to our choice. Either we accept true life and win or we choose the passing, dying life of this world and lose.

Addendum:

Hedonism – This is the doctrine that pleasure or happiness is the sole or chief good in life. It comes from the Greek word hēdonē, meaning “pleasure” and is akin to the Greek hēdys, meaning “sweet.”

Of course pleasure is to be desired and to some degree sought, but it is not the only good in life. Indeed, some of our greatest goods and accomplishments require sacrifice: years of study and preparation for a career; the blood, sweat, and tears of raising children.

Hedonism seeks to avoid sacrifice and suffering at all costs. It is directly opposed to the theology of the Cross. St. Paul spoke in his day of the enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction, their god is the belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things (Php 3:18–19). He also taught that the cross was an absurdity to the Gentiles (1 Cor 1:23).

Things have not changed, my friends. The world reacts with great indignation whenever the cross or suffering is even implied. So the world will cry out with bewildered exasperation and ask incredulously of the Church, are you saying that a woman who was raped must carry the child to term and cannot abort? Yes, we are. Are you saying that a “gay” person must live celibately and may never “marry” his or her same-sex lover? Yes, we are. Are you saying that a handicapped child in the womb must be “condemned” to live in the world and cannot be aborted and put out of his (more accurately our) “misery”? Yes, we are. Are you saying that a suffering person cannot be euthanized to avoid the pain? Yes, we are.

The shock expressed in these sorts of questions shows how deeply hedonism has infected the modern mind. The concept of the cross is not only absurd, it is downright “immoral” in the hedonist mentality, which sees pleasure as the only true human good. To the hedonist, a life without enough pleasure is a life not worth living, and anyone who would seek to set limits on the lawful (and sometime unlawful) pleasures of others is mean, hateful, absurd, obtuse, intolerant, and just plain evil.

When pleasure is life’s only goal or good, how dare you, or the Church, or anyone seek to set limits on it let alone suggest that the way of the cross is better or required! You must be banished, silenced, and destroyed.

Many faithful Catholics in the pews are deeply infected with the illusion of hedonism and thus take up the voice of bewilderment, anger, and scoffing whenever the Church points to the cross and insists on self-denial, sacrifice, and doing the right thing even when the cost is great. The head wagging in congregations is often visible if a priest dares to preach that abortion, euthanasia, in vitro fertilization, and contraception are wrong regardless of the cost, or if he speaks about the reality of the cross. The faithful who swim in the waters of a hedonistic culture are often shocked at anything that might limit the pleasure that others want to pursue.

Hedonism makes the central Christian mysteries of the cross and redemptive suffering seem like something from a distant planet or a parallel and strange universe. The opening word from Jesus’ mouth, “Repent,” seems strange to the hedonistic world, which has even reconstructed Jesus Himself to be someone who just wants us to be happy and content. The cry goes up, even among the faithful, doesn’t God want me to be happy? On this basis, all kinds of sinful behavior is supposed to be tolerated because insisting on the opposite is “hard” and because it seems “mean” to speak of the cross or of self-discipline in a hedonistic culture.

Bringing people back to the real Jesus and to the real message of the Gospel, which features the cross as the way to glory, takes a lot of work and a long conversation. We must be prepared to engage in that extended conversation with people.

This song speaks of life as a kind of spiraling climb between cross and glory. As the spiritual says, “Every round goes higher, higher, soldiers of the Cross.”

 

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Excerpts from Cardinal Raymond Burke’s address at the 32nd Annual Church Teaches Forum entitled “The Message of Fatima: Peace for the World” given at Galt House, Louisville, Kentucky 22 July 2017.[Source]

Developing Lives of Peace after the Heart of Mary

Recently, I participated in a three-day conference on the Sacred Liturgy in which many good young priests also participated. There were several occasions to visit with them about their priestly ministry. As is my experience in most places that I visit, the priests expressed a great concern about the situation in which the world and the Church find themselves. It is a situation which can most simply be described as confusion, division and error. Toward the end of the conference, one young pastor approached me and asked: “Cardinal, do you think that we are in the end times?” The expression on his face made clear the sincerity of his question and the profound concern which prompted it. I did not hesitate to respond: “It may be so.”

We are living in most troubled times in the world and also in the Church. Secularization has ravaged the culture of many nations, especially in the West, alienating culture from its only true source in God and His plan for us and our world. There is the daily and widespread attack on innocent and defenseless human life with the resulting unprecedented violence in family life and in society, in general. There is the ever more virulent gender ideology which propagates total confusion about our identity as male and female, and leads to the profound unhappiness and even self-destruction of many in society. There is also the denial of the freedom of religion which attempts to hinder, if not snuff out completely, any public discourse about God and our necessary relationship with Him. With the denial of the freedom of religion comes the attempt to force God-fearing individuals to act against their well-formed conscience, that is, against God’s law written upon the human heart. In supposedly free countries, the government forces upon society practices of abortion, sterilization, contraception, euthanasia, and lack of respect for human sexuality, even to the  point of indoctrinating small children in the iniquitous “gender theory.”

 At the same time, atheistic materialism and relativism leads to the unscrupulous pursuit of wealth, pleasure and power, while the rule of law, dictated by justice, is trampled underfoot. In such a pervasively disordered cultural condition, there is legitimate fear of a global confrontation which can only mean destruction and death for many. Clearly, the present situation of the world cannot continue without leading to total annihilation.

The world has never needed more the solid teaching and direction which Our Lord, in His immeasurable and unceasing love of man, wishes to give to the world through His Church and especially through her pastors: the Roman Pontiff, the Bishops in communion with the See of Peter, and their principal co-workers, the priests. But, in a diabolical way, the confusion and error which has led human culture in the way of death and destruction has also entered into the Church, so that she draws near to the culture without seeming to know her own identity and mission, without seeming to have the clarity and the courage to announce the Gospel of Life and Divine Love to the radically secularized culture. For example, after the June 30th decision of the German Parliament to accept so-called “samesex marriage,” the President of Conference of Bishops in Germany declared that the decision was not a major concern for the Church which, according to him, should be more concerned about intolerance towards persons suffering from same-sex attraction. Clearly, in such an approach, there is no longer the just and necessary distinction between the love which we as Christians must always have for the person involved in sin and the hatred which we also must always have for sinful acts.

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For whatever reason, many shepherds are silent about the situation in which the Church finds herself or have abandoned the clarity of the Church’s teaching for the confusion and error which is wrongly thought to address more effectively the total collapse of Christian culture. The young pastor who asked me the question about the possibly apocalyptic nature of the present time in the Church and in the world spoke from an experience of ever greater challenges in teaching the truths of the faith with integrity, while witnessing a seeming lack of clarity and courage on the part of higher ecclesial authority.

In fact, the totally materialist and relativist culture, embraced and powerfully supported by the secular means of communication and the political lobbying of wealthy secularists, encourages the confusion and division in the Church. Some time ago, a Cardinal in Rome commented on how good it is that the secular media are no longer attacking the Church, as they did so fiercely during the pontificate of Pope Benedict XVI. My response was that the approval of the secular media is, on the contrary, for me a sign that the Church is failing badly in her clear and courageous witness to the world for the salvation of the world.

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Describing what has become known as “the power of the keys,” the Catechism of the Catholic Church reminds us that it is founded on Saint Peter’s confession of Our Lord as God the Son Incarnate for our eternal salvation and declares: Because of the faith he confessed Peter will remain the unshakeable rock of the Church. His mission will be to keep this faith from every lapse and to strengthen his brothers in it.

Thus, it is absurd to think that Pope Francis can teach something which is not in accord with what his predecessors, for example Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Saint John Paul II, have solemnly taught.

Regarding the frequent statements of Pope Francis, there has developed a popular understanding that every statement of the Holy Father must be accepted as papal teaching or magisterium. The mass media has certainly wanted to pick and choose among the declarations of Pope Francis, in order to demonstrate that the Catholic Church is undergoing a revolution and is changing radically its teaching on certain key questions of faith and especially of morals. The matter is complicated because Pope Francis regularly chooses to speak in a colloquial manner, whether during interviews given on airplanes or to news outlets, or in spontaneous remarks to various groups. Such being the case, when one places his remarks within the proper context of the teaching and practice of the Church, he may be accused of speaking against the Holy Father. I recall one of the eminent Fathers of the Extraordinary Session of the Synod of Bishops, held during October of 2014, approaching me during a break to say: “What is going on? Those of us who are upholding what the Church has always taught and practiced are now called enemies of the Pope?” As a result, one is tempted to remain silent or to try to explain doctrinally a language which confuses or even contradicts doctrine.

The way in which I have come to understand the duty to correct the popular understanding regarding Church teaching and the declarations of the Pope is to distinguish, as the Church has always done, the words of the man who is Pope and the words of the Pope as Vicar of Christ on earth. In the Middle Ages, the Church spoke of the two bodies of the Pope: the body of the man and the body of the Vicar of Christ. In fact, the traditional Papal vesture, especially the red mozzetta with the stole depicting the Apostles Saint Peter and Paul, visibly represents the true body of the Pope when he is setting forth the teaching of the Church.

In recent times, the Church has not been accustomed to a Roman Pontiff who speaks  publicly in a colloquial manner. In fact, great care has always been taken, so that any published words of the Pope be clearly in accord with the Magisterium. Some months ago, I was speaking with a Cardinal who, as a young prelate, had worked closely with Blessed Pope Paul VI. Pope Paul VI was a gifted preacher who often spoke without a prepared text. These sermons were later transcribed for publication, but Pope Paul VI would never permit the publication of one of his sermons without thoroughly studying the printed text. As he told the young prelate, I am the Vicar of Christ on earth, and I have a most serious responsibility to make certain that no word of mine could be interpreted in a way contrary to Church teaching.

Pope Francis has chosen to speak often in his first body, the body of the man who is Pope. In fact, even in documents which, in the past, have represented more solemn teaching, he states clearly that he is not offering magisterial teaching but his own thinking. But those who are accustomed to a different manner of Papal speaking want to make his every statement somehow part of the Magisterium. To do so is contrary to reason and to what the Church has always understood. It is simply wrong and harmful to the Church to receive every declaration of the Holy Father as an expression of papal teaching or magisterium.
Making the distinction between the two types of discourse of the Roman Pontiff is, in no way, disrespectful of the Petrine Office. Much less, does it constitute enmity of Pope Francis. In fact, to the contrary, it shows ultimate respect for the Petrine Office and for the man to whom Our Lord has entrusted it. Without the distinction, we would easily lose respect for the Papacy or be led to think that, if we do not agree with the personal opinions of the man who is Roman Pontiff, then we must break communion with the Church.

In any case, any declaration of the Roman Pontiff must be understood within the context of the constant teaching and practice of the Church, lest confusion and division about the teaching and practice of the Church enter into her body to the great harm of souls and to the great harm of the evangelization of the world. Recall the words of Saint Paul at the  beginning of the Letter to the Galatians, a community of early Christians into which a grave confusion and division had entered. As a good shepherd of the flock, Saint Paul wrote the following words to address the most worrisome situation:

I marvel that you are so quickly deserting him who called you to the grace of Christ, changing to another gospel; which is not another gospel, except in this respect that there are some who trouble you, and wish to  pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel to you other than that which we have preached to you, let him be anathema! As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone preach a gospel to you other than that which you have received, let him be anathema! For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I seeking to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I should not be a servant of Christ.

While maintaining firmly the Catholic faith in what pertains to the Petrine Office, we cannot fall into an idolatry of the papacy which would make every word spoken by the Pope to be doctrine, even if it is construed to be contrary to the very word of Christ, for example, regarding the indissolubility of marriage. Rather, with the Successor of Peter, we should strive to understand more and more fully the word of Christ, in order to live it more and more perfectly.

Shockingly, some months ago, the Superior General of the Jesuits suggested that we cannot know what Christ really said about any given matter, since we do not have tape-recordings of his discourses. Apart from the absurdity of his statement, it gives the impression that there is no longer a constant teaching and practice of the faith as it has come down to us, in an unbroken line, from the time of Christ and the Apostles.

Likewise, it is not a question of a legitimate so-called “pluralism” in the Church, that is, of a legitimate difference of theological opinion. The faithful are not free to follow theological opinions which contradict the doctrine contained in the Holy Scriptures and Sacred Tradition, and confirmed by the ordinary Magisterium, even if these opinions are finding a wide hearing in the Church and are not being corrected by the Church’s pastors as the pastors are obliged to do.

Observing the centennial of the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima, we must recall how her Message or, as it is sometimes called, her Secret, is principally meant to address a widespread apostasy in the Church and the failure of the Church’s shepherds to correct it. The triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary is, first and foremost, the triumph of the Faith which teaches us what is our right relationship with God and with others.

What then must be our response to the exceedingly difficult times in which we are living, times which realistically seem to be apocalyptic? It must be the response of faith, of faith in Our Lord Jesus Christ Who is alive for us in the Church and Who never fails to teach, sanctify and guide us in the Church, even as He professed to remain with us always until His return on the Last Day to inaugurate “new heavens and a new earth,” to welcome the faithful to the Wedding Feast of the Lamb. We know what Christ teaches us in the Church. It is contained in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, in the official teaching of the Church. His teaching does not change. In the midst of the present confusion and division, we must study more attentively the teachings of the faith contained in the Catechism of the Catholic Church and be prepared to defend those teachings against any falsehood which would erode the faith and thus the unity of the Church.

In order to remain completely united to Christ, in order to be one heart with the Sacred Heart of Jesus, we must go to the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of Christ and Mother of the Church, in order to imitate the oneness of her Immaculate Heart with the glorious pierced Heart of Jesus and in order to seek her maternal intercession. The final words of the Virgin Mother of the Redeemer recorded in the Gospels are the words she spoke to the wine stewards at the Wedding Feast of Cana who came to her in anguish over the lack of sufficient wine for the guests of the newlyweds. She responded to them and their situation of great distress by leading them to her Divine Son, also a guest at the Wedding Feast, and instructing them: “Do whatever he tells you.”

These simple words express the mystery of the Divine Maternity by which the Virgin Mary became the Mother of God, bringing God the Son Incarnate into the world. By the same mystery, she continues to be the channel of all the graces which immeasurably and unceasingly pour forth from Her Divine Son’s glorious pierced Heart into the hearts of His faithful brothers and sisters on earthly pilgrimage to their lasting home with Him in Heaven. No less than she did for the wine stewards at the Wedding Feast of Cana, our Blessed Mother will draw us always closer to Christ Who alone brings us  peace in the midst of our trials.

Invoking the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, we must also invoke frequently throughout the day the intercession of Saint Michael the Archangel. There is no question that the Church is in the midst of a particularly fierce time of battle against the forces of evil, against Satan and his cohorts. There is a definitely diabolical involvement in the ever spreading confusion, division and error within the Church. As Saint Paul reminded us in the Letter to the Ephesians, “our wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against the Principalities and the Powers, against the world-rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness on high.” Saint Michael is our defender in the battle, he is our “safeguard against the wickedness and snares of the devil” who does not sleep as he “prowls about the world seeking the ruin of souls.”

Our Blessed Mother also makes us conscious of our communion with all the saints and, in a particular way, with her most chaste spouse and the foster-father of her Divine Son, Saint Joseph. Saint Joseph is the patron of the universal Church. We should pray to him daily for the peace of the Church, for her protection against all forms of confusion and division which are always the work of Satan. Not without reason, one of the titles of Saint Joseph is “Terror of Demons.” As a good father, he will intercede for the Church, the Mystical Body of Christ.

Our Blessed Mother will likewise lead us to seek the intercession of Saint Peter for his successor, Pope Francis, in order that he know how best to address the grievous situation of the world and the Church, faithfully teaching the word of Christ and addressing it in the loving and firm way of a true spiritual father to the situation of the world today. We should also invoke the intercession of the great pope saints who guided the Church in difficult times with heroic sanctity. I think of Pope Saint Leo the Great, Pope Saint Gregory the Great, Pope Saint Gregory VII, Pope Saint Pius V, Pope Saint Pius X, and Pope Saint John Paul II.

In a particular way, we should pray for the Cardinals of the Church, who are the principal counselors of the Roman Pontiff, that they be of true assistance to the Holy Father in exercising his office as “the perpetual and visible source and foundation of the unity both of the bishops and of the whole company of the faithful.” In such times, the service of the Cardinals requires of them a particular clarity and courage, and a willingness to accept whatever suffering is required in order to be faithful to Christ and His Church, “even to the outpouring of their blood” (“usque ad effusionem sanguinis”).

Having drawn close to the Mother of God who unfailingly takes us to her Divine Son, we must remain serene because of our faith in Christ who will not permit the “gates of hell” to prevail against his Church.

Serenity does not mean that we ignore or deny the gravity of the situation in which the world and the Church find themselves. It means rather that we are fully conscious of the seriousness of the situation, while at the same time we address all of the needs of the world and the Church to Christ our Savior through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Saint Michael the Archangel, Saint Joseph, and the whole company of the saints.

Serenity means that we do not give way to a worldly desperation which expresses itself in aggressive and uncharitable ways. Our confidence is in Christ. Yes, we must do all within our power to defend our Catholic faith in any circumstance in which it is under attack, but we know that the victory belongs ultimately and solely to Christ. Thus, when we have done all that we can do, we are at peace, even if we recognize that we remain “unprofitable servants.”

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To conclude, in my response to the young priest who expressed concern that we may be living in the end times, after saying that it may be so, I continued by saying that it is not for us to worry whether these times are apocalyptic or not, but to remain faithful, generous and courageous in serving Christ in His Mystical Body, the Church. For we know that the final chapter of the story of these times is already written. It is the story of the victory of Christ over sin and its most deadly fruit, eternal death. It remains for us to write, with Christ, the intervening chapters by our fidelity, courage and generosity as His true co-workers, as true soldiers of Christ. It remains for us to be the good and faithful servants who await to open the door for the Master at His Coming.

 It is my hope that these reflections are helpful to you in living your Catholic faith as fully and perfectly as possible in these most troubled times. In a particular way, it is my hope that they will help you to live lives of peace after the Immaculate Heart of Mary, under which God the Son took a human heart, in order to win peace for our hearts always. Let us make our own the oldest preserved extant hymn to the Virgin Mother of God, found already on an Egyptian papyrus of the 3rd century:
We fly to your patronage, O holy Mother of God; despise not our  petitions in our necessities, but deliver us always from all dangers, O glorious and blessed Virgin.
 
Similarly, let us pray in the words of the ancient hymn for Vespers on feasts of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Ave Maris Stella: Show thyself a mother; may the Word divine, born for us thine Infant, hear our prayers through thine.

Let us never doubt that the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God and Mother of Divine Grace, will lead us to her Divine Son, in order that our hearts, one with her Immaculate Heart, may rest always in His Heart, the only source of our salvation. So we will find peace. We will know, love and serve Christ in our daily living.

Thank you for your kind attention. Please pray for me. May God bless you, your homes, and all your labor

Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke

Read the entire reflection here.

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