Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘grace’

Maybe you already saw this article linked over at The Drudge Report.  I am posting it here because of my own personal experience.   You see, I wish that when I was mired in sin and depressed and hopeless, some good Christian doctor had just said, “Get thee to a rectory! find a priest and dig yourself out of this dung heap of sin!”

Well, I eventually found that curative on my own, without the help of the medical community.  Still it is good to know that there are medical professionals that understand that God made us to be corporeal and spiritual, and the one affects the other.  In England, a young man described as being “in a rut and in need of help” was lucky enough to find a doctor who was willing to see him as the whole person that God made him.  After a lengthy consultation the doctor suggested that the young man return to the practice of his faith from youth.  Fox News NY reports:

Richard Scott, a doctor for 28 years, is under investigation by the General Medical Council (GMC) and faces disciplinary action after he suggested to a 24-year-old man that he might find solace in Christianity.

Scott, who practices at a medical center in Margate, east of London, well known for having Christian doctors, insists he only raised his spiritual beliefs after carrying out a thorough and lengthy consultation, during which medical checks and referrals for further care were arranged.

When the man’s mother inquired of the consultation, however, her son apparently replied, “He just said I need Jesus.” This prompted his mother to refer Scott to the GMC, claiming that he had not offered medical advice during the consultation but instead talked about Jesus.

…He has continued to seek treatment from the practice despite the complaint filed by his mother.

The doctor, who has an unblemished record “has decided to fight the allegations and stand up to what he believes is a politically correct trend in Britain to persecute Christians for expressing their faith in the workplace.”

Scott fears that if he accepts the warning, and discusses his Christian beliefs with other patients, he could be struck off.

He maintains he acted professionally and says the complaint was made against him in the knowledge that professional bodies are nervous about claims of a religious nature.

Scott said, “I only discussed my faith at the end of a lengthy medical consultation after exploring the various interventions that the patient had previously tried, and after promising to follow up the patient’s request for an appointment with other medical professionals.

“I only discussed mutual faith after obtaining the patient’s permission. In our conversation, I said that, personally, I had found having faith in Jesus helped me and could help the patient. At no time did the patient indicate that they were offended, or that they wanted to stop the discussion. If that had been the case, I would have immediately ended the conversation.

“This complaint was brought to the GMC not by the patient, who has continued to be a patient in this practice, but by the patient’s mother.”

Scott is a partner at the Bethesda medical center in Margate, Kent. The six partners at the practice are all Christians and it has taken a biblical name. Practice leaflets and message boards publicize the doctors’ religion and invite patients to raise Christian beliefs with them.

Scott is being advised by the Christian Legal Center. Paul Diamond, the leading human rights barrister, has been instructed in the case.

Did you catch that?  The practice is made up of Christian practitioners.  Their leaflets and boards publicize their Christian beliefs and the nature of their practice.  So my question is, did this mother take her son there knowing full well the nature of their practice?  Was this some sort of set up?  We know from experience that atheists and humanists are not content to simply keep religion out of government.  They want it out of everyone’s lives and will not be happy until this is achieved.  Their number one target, in fact their only target, is Christianity. 

Pray for this doctor and his legal defense team.  May we never be silent in proclaiming the truth.  And for what it’s worth, I think the doctor is probably spot on.  We all can think of examples where getting right by God ‘cured’ someone of pain, despair, depression, anxiety or other so-called mental illnesses.

It did for me.

Read Full Post »

Now there remained in the camp two of the men, of whom one was called Eldad, and the other Medad, upon whom the spirit rested; for they also had been enrolled, but were not gone forth to the tabernacle.  And when they prophesied in the camp, there ran a young man, and told Moses, saying: Eldad and Medad prophesy in the camp.  Forthwith Joshua the son of Nun, the minister of Moses, and chosen out of many, said: My lord Moses forbid them.  But he said: Why have you jealousy for me? O that all the people might prophesy, and that the Lord would give them his spirit!”    Num 11:26-30

 

John answered him, saying: Master, we saw one casting out devils in your name, who follows not us: and we forbade him.  But Jesus said: Do not forbid him. For there is no man that does a miracle in my name and can soon speak ill of me.  For he that is not against you is for you.”      Mark 9:37-39

Fr. Robert Barron of Word on Fire Ministries gave a terrific homily a couple years ago at Church of St. Mary’s in Chicago.  The homily is entitled, “Would that Everyone Could be a Prophet.”  The Sunday readings he focused on were Numbers 11:25-29 and Mark 9:38-43, 45, 47-48. 

From the readings, we see Joshua being jealous of the prophesying by the two elders who were not at the meeting with Moses.  In the gospel, we see John complaining that some people are casting out demons in Jesus’ name, even though they were not part of his apostles.  In both cases, Moses and Jesus chastise the complainers for trying to stop these works of God.  Also, Fr. Barron tells us, this is the root of the problem between Saul and David, and Saul’s jealously of the divine gifts to David, threw Israel into civil war.

Fr. Barron reminds us that when we sow dissention, jealousy and turf wars, we waste the grace that God has extended to us.  Instead, he challenges us to look for the grace in us, and in those around us, and cooperate with it: 

The spiritual life is really about one thing: it’s about our cooperation with grace….Grace–God’s love–is surging into the world at all times, according to God’s purposes, God’s will. Our job is pretty simple: it’s to notice it and once we notice it to cooperate with it, get on board with it.  Cooperate.  Whether that grace is coming directly to me, or to someone else.  Whether it is according to my expectations or outside my expectations…Whereever it appears, get on board, cooperate with it!

When the ego takes over, the flow of grace is blocked.  That’s the central tragedy of sin.  God’s love wants to surge into the world, but He gives us the privilege of cooperating with it.  We can block it if we make our own ego central.

 

Watch the homily below. 

Part 1

Part 2


Remember to pre-order your Catholicism dvd set today!

Read Full Post »

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light, for light produces every kind of goodness and righteousness and truth.  Try to learn what is pleasing to the Lord.  Take no part in the fruitless works of darkness; rather expose them, for it is shameful even to mention the things done by them in secret; but everything exposed by the light becomes visible, for everything that becomes visible is light. Therefore, it says: “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light.”

Ephesians 5:8-14

Yesterday, we attended the Confirmation of the oldest son of a family with whom our family is close. It struck me during Mass that this passage from the second reading applies very aptly to the young people; indeed to all of us.  This entire chapter of Ephesians gives good instruction on the importance of right thinking.  In our modern context, it is a sure shield against moral relativism.

Pray for our Confirmation recipients.

Read Full Post »

Sorry for another repost of someone else’s article but I stumbled upon this gem that is absolutely worth a look.  (Plus, I know if I post the article on my website, I’ll always know where to find it!)

Rob Dapreau of Catholic Phoenix writes this essay on what “carrying our cross” means, and even more, how to carry it.  He writes,

…Christ willingly embraces both our cross and our crucifixion. He does so freely, out of love. Why he would do this is a mystery so great that it is incomprehensible when looked at from a paradigm of justice. We can only begin to understand it when we look at it through eyes of love.

When I taught high school, I would often ask my students what should be done about a society that was officially instituted to provide for the common welfare of its members, but in practice, systematically took advantage of one of them. The exploited person was always expected to eat cold food, take cold showers, and wear old clothes, so that the others—who rarely showed appreciation and regularly showed contempt—could have the best of everything.

They would decry the injustice and suggest everything from castration to crucifixion as a remedy. Then I’d drop the bomb on them: “That’s your family, and that exploited member is your mom.”

Crickets.

The thing is, most moms, like Jesus, aren’t motivated by justice; they’re motivated by love. This means they find happiness in making their loved ones happy. A good mom is more than willing to deprive herself for her children, but even a great daycare worker will strike if you try to make a mother’s level of commitment into the standard employees are expected to meet.

Love is the only thing that can make sense of sacrifice. The only right response to sacrificial love is love. We show our love and gratitude to Jesus by keeping his commandments, including the one with which I started this post.

Here are some things to consider as we try to follow the way of the cross.

The rest of his essay is just as good.  I especially like his reminder not to drag our cross, but to bear it cheerfully.  I find myself dragging mine from time to time, so this was a great visualization and nudge.  Read the rest here.

Read Full Post »

Many babies died to get this picture.

 

***

And each one said to his neighbour: Come let us make brick, and bake them with fire. And they had brick instead of stones, and slime instead of mortar:  And they said: Come, let us make a city and a tower, the top whereof may reach to heaven; and let us make our name famous before we be scattered abroad into all lands.   Genesis 11: 3-4

 ***

“Life once conceived, must be protected with the utmost care; abortion and infanticide are abominable crimes.”  Gaudium et Spes, Second Vatican Council

 

IVF.  In vitro fertilization, also called artificial insemination.  The joining of an egg and sperm in a laboratory, creation of life in a test tube.  For some, it is a miracle.  They wonder at the majesty and brilliance of the medical profession, the advances man has made and exclaim what good man can do.  They forget, ignore, or willfully deny that man can do no good without God for God is the source of all good.  Our civilization is baking the bricks of our own technological Tower of Babel, and when we reach the top, when the medical community solves the riddle of life, we won’t need God anymore.  We’ll be like gods ourselves.

What a comforting thought. 

“After all,” we tell ourselves, “isn’t it God’s fault that there is poverty, want, ignorance, war, injustice, death and decay?  Isn’t it God who ignores our prayers and denies us what we desire, fails us in our wants, frustrates our right to have what we want when we want it?”  Well then, let’s not rely upon God.  His plan wasn’t very good and we can make a much better one.  Let us then make our own path.  Take the painful situation of infertility, of an absence of our own flesh and blood children.  Who is God to deny us our right to bear children?  I am entitled to have children, when and how I like, and it is not God placeto deny me, nor yours to judge me.  Like Lot’s daughters, we conspire, “Let us go into our doctors’ houses and lie with them so that we may have children.”

From UK‘s Daily Mail comes this priceless story of a 58 year old single woman who through IVF now has twins.  That’s her in the picture above, holding one of the children.  This story exemplifies all that is wrong with the western society’s brave new world of medical and technological advances.  Without moral grounding, you get this sort of thing.  To sum up the story, 58 year old Carole Hobson, a lawyer, decided that now that she was in her 50s, she wanted a child.  She admits never wanting one before.  Her boyfriend of eleven years felt differently.  So she ditched him and started her quest to get her some kids.  This involved an egg from India, sperm from Scandinavia, 5 rounds of IVF treatments, one abortion, £20,000, a team of National Health Service medical staff (paid for by British taxpayers), the birth of twins and the hiring of a fulltime nanny.   So single senior citizen gets her brand new kiddies with national healthcare, goes back to work and drops off the longed-for children with the college student who is going to raise them.  Sounds like a very happy ending, right?

Actually, interestingly, tellingly….no.

In one of those twists that reminds us who is God and who is not, mother Carole Hobson is overwhelmed and full of regret.  As the newsreporter writes–

Carole, sleep-deprived, pole-axed by the reality of caring for baby twins and anxious for their still fragile health, appears to illustrate perfectly the proverb: ‘Be careful what you wish for . . . you might just get it.’

But it’s early days yet and, to be fair to Carole, she looks far less frazzled than I’d expected, given the demands of twins. She seems to be  incredibly well and has a calm, loving commitment to her babies — but it’s hard to detect any sign of euphoria.

….

She was admitted to Medway Maritime Hospital as an emergency on December 17, suffering from pre-eclampsia and a winter respiratory virus. The decision to deliver the twins was made on Christmas Eve after Carole’s liver and kidneys started to fail.

‘Half an hour before the Caesarean, I was shown around the neo-natal unit where the twins would be taken after their birth and that’s when I sobbed my heart out, thinking: “What on earth have I done?” ’ says Carole.

‘I was crying for my babies and what they might have to go through to survive. That’s when the enormity of the situation hit me and I doubted whether I’d done the right thing.’

No, she didn’t do the right thing.  She did a very selfish thing and has brought those children into a life in which there is no father or mother, their legal mother may die before they even come of age and her plan is for nannies to raise them.  Those poor kids.  And I note that it is a funny time for her to wonder what her babies have to do to survive, given all that they had done to survive up to this point.  She had been pregnant with triplets but chose one to murder in the womb.  That’s called “a selective abortion” and is so frequent in IVF pregnancies that not having one or more abortions is rare.  So both of these twins had already survived one of her choices.   And these babies were born on her 5th round of IVF, meaning that literally 20-30 babies had already died prior to their arrival.  So dozens of dead babies preceded these tiny twins in life. 

What drives a person to such lengths?  Well, selfishness mostly.  It sounds to me as if Carole is greatly in need of love, a relationship with God and forgiveness, as her life decisions seem to be on a path of increasing destructiveness.

She described to me the extraordinary lengths she went to in order to achieve her goal, batting away any criticism of her quest for late, single motherhood with clear-headed logic and well-rehearsed argument.

She explained how it wasn’t until her late 40s and early 50s that — having lacked all maternal instinct in her 20s or 30s, while she forged her career — she came to bitterly regret her childlessness.

Her then partner of 11 years, a geologist, was not keen on the idea, so Carole decided to go ahead alone, effectively sacrificing their relationship on the altar of motherhood.

In pursuit of doctors who would help her, Carole travelled from Kent to the Ukraine, back to London, to Cyprus and finally to a fertility clinic in India — which treats women up to the age of 63 — where her fifth attempt at IVF proved successful.

‘I felt incomplete without a child,’ she said, explaining that she went to India because of shortage of egg donors elsewhere.

‘I want to seize every opportunity that medical science can offer me, as a woman. Some people might accuse me of being selfish or going against nature, but isn’t it going against nature to perform transplants or heart surgery? I’m no more selfish than any other woman who wants a family.’

Sin is like this.  We get embroiled in a few sins and before you know it, we have lost our relationship with God.  We may search to replace Him even.  I think that’s what happened here, with the helpful assistance of the Tower-building medical community.  Why didn’t someone say no?  Cause medical professionals are builders not moralists or ethicists.

So let’s review Catholic moral teaching:

Heterologous artificial fertilization violates the rights of the child; it deprives him of his filial relationship with his parental origins and can hinder the maturing of his personal identity. Furthermore, it offends the common vocation of the spouses who are called to fatherhood and motherhood: it objectively deprives conjugal fruitfulness of its unity and integrity; it brings about and manifests a rupture between genetic parenthood, gestational parenthood and responsibility for upbringing. Such damage to the personal relationships within the family has repercussions on civil society: what threatens the unity and stability of the family is a source of dissension, disorder and injustice in the whole of social life. These reasons lead to a negative moral judgment concerning heterologous artificial fertilization: consequently fertilization of a married woman with the sperm of a donor different from her husband and fertilization with the husband’s sperm of an ovum not coming from his wife are morally illicit. Furthermore, the artificial fertilization of a woman who is unmarried or a widow, whoever the donor may be, cannot be morally justified. (italics in original)

Why does the Church teach this?  Is it because she is out of touch?  Is it because she is run by a bunch of old guys who have no idea what desire feels like?  Is it because God hates us and wants us to be disappointed, frustrated and miserable?  No.  No. No.  It is because of love.  God will show us the path to life.

The Church’s Magisterium does not intervene on the basis of a particular competence in the area of the experimental sciences; but having taken account of the data of research and technology, it intends to put forward, by virtue of its evangelical mission and apostolic duty, the moral teaching corresponding to the dignity of the person and to his or her integral vocation. It intends to do so by expounding the criteria of moral judgment as regards the applications of scientific research and technology, especially in relation to human life and its beginnings. These criteria are the respect, defence and promotion of man, his “primary and fundamental right” to life, his dignity as a person who is endowed with a spiritual soul and with moral responsibility and who is called to beatific communion with God. The Church’s intervention in this field is inspired also by the Love which she owes to man, helping him to recognize and respect his rights and duties. This love draws from the fount of Christ’s love: as she contemplates the mystery of the Incarnate Word, the Church also comes to understand the “mystery of man”;  by proclaiming the Gospel of salvation, she reveals to man his dignity and invites him to discover fully the truth of his own being. Thus the Church once more puts forward the divine law in order to accomplish the work of truth and liberation. For it is out of goodness – in order to indicate the path of life – that God gives human beings his commandments and the grace to observe them: and it is likewise out of goodness – in order to help them persevere along the same path – that God always offers to everyone his forgiveness. Christ has compassion on our weaknesses: he is our Creator and Redeemer. May his spirit open men’s hearts to the gift of God’s peace and to an understanding of his precepts.  (footnotes removed) (emphasis mine)Introduction to INSTRUCTION ON RESPECT FOR HUMAN LIFE IN ITS ORIGIN AND ON THE DIGNITY OF PROCREATION REPLIES TO CERTAIN QUESTIONS OF THE DAY

Christ our Creator and Redeemer has compassion for us and God forgives.  I am praying that this mother who is realizing the repercussions of her monumental decision, will find in her disappointment, fear and difficulty that God loves her and her children and wants her to choose Him from now on.  This is a moment that could change this woman’s life.  We all have these moments and we know as believers that God takes the fruits of our selfish decisions and works His plan through it.

Read the full Daily Mail article here.

Read Full Post »

having said all that, here is a gem of a quotation I just read (belatedly, it seems).  From an article on former MTV reality star and now mother of 6, Rachel Campos-Duffy, it forms the oppositional yet complementary Lenten prayer activity for busy mothers.

Running a household with six children can get chaotic and even overwhelming at times, so Campos-Duffy once lamented to a priest during Confession that her prayer life was dismal. The priest then told her that her “very life as a mother is a prayer,” which completely changed her perspective: “He said that everything I did at home—whether it was changing a diaper or wiping a nose—whatever it was that I was doing was a prayer to God.”

Campos-Duffy concluded, “For a busy mom, I think it’s understanding that prayer can be very short and immediate. Even (when) . . . we’re running out the door, we just stop for a second. There’s a holy water font right by the door and we bless ourselves and say ‘Jesus, I trust in you.’ And then, out the door. That can make all the difference. And I’ve got to sometimes stop in the middle of the day, in the middle of being upset at a child and regroup myself and think about what little treasures they are and how I would probably give my left arm when I’m 60 to have this moment back. It is about finding those moments throughout the day.”

God bless our mothers.

h/t New Advent

Read Full Post »

As I was saying to my Bible study group a couple weeks ago, I have struggled personally to make quiet time for prayer.  Between running a family, working, volunteering, blogging, Bible study, and going, going, going, I will allow myself to forget to make quiet time to spend with God.  Oh sure, I’ll remember a quick morning prayer, short prayers throughout the day, and evening examinations, but many days, unless I stay determined, I may not have actual quiet time to simply be in God’s presence. Knowing this weakness, I try to give myself opportunities throughout the week, especially walking or hiking. 

One of my blogging acquaintances first put this in my mind several years ago when she pointed out that she was spending so much time blogging that it was interfering with her prayer life, so she had decided to take a break from her blog.  That shook me because I had become accustomed to thinking of my blogging time as time spent with God.  I realized that I was mistaken, and I was grateful to her for mentioning this, because clearly I myself had rationalized my online time as prayer when in fact, it wasn’t.

A second opportunity for growth came when I read that Dr. Michael Barber teaches his classes at John Paul the Great University:

Prayer should be more than a monologue–a litany of requests. As I tell my students, we need to talk to Jesus more than we talk about Jesus. But if your idea of prayer is simply rattling off requests, you miss the point.

Now, honestly, I don’t rattle off requests to God when I pray…although I have a lot of “bless him, her, this and that”s.  But the comment from my blogging friend and Dr. Barber’s teaching got me to thinking about how much time I actually make for God.  When I took away the time I was spending talking about Him, it wasn’t very much time.  Dr. Barber was right on the mark.  I was spending more time talking ABOUT Jesus than talking TO Jesus.  It was a spiritual kick in the pants and I’ve been mindful of it for the last year to two.  

I realize that I am not alone is this.  So many of us practicing Christians think we know God because we study and talk about Him.  The Christian rock band Remedy Drive even wrote a song called Get to Know You the lyrics of which are:

I heard so much of you I wrote a book
Thick with thoughts of you that I heard were true
The critics read my work and they reviewed
‘He wrote of things he’d heard but never really knew’

I’d say it’s time that I get to know you
More then just what I’ve been told
I’d say it’s time that I get to know you
I want to know from my soul

If a lack of intimacy with God is a prevalent problem even among the faithful, how can we repair that?  What can we do to draw closer to God?  Dr. Barber’s advice is helpful when he goes on to write:

Spending time in his presence through contemplation helps us remain with him and helps us hear his voice so that our prayer is not simply about what we say to him.

…We need to be still. We need to place ourselves in God’s presence.  (italics mine)

Isn’t that beautifully said?  “….place ourselves in God’s presence.”  In other words, quiet our minds, stop our hands from fiddling, our eyes from darting, our mouths from prattling.  Place ourselves in God’s presence and allow Him to come to us.  Can we be brave, humble, or trusting enough to receive? Can we put away our defenses, our rationalizations, our attacks, our petty grievances and constant desires and let God wash over us?  God will come to us when we make ready for him. 

…and behold the Lord passes, and a great and strong wind before the Lord, overthrowing the mountains, and breaking the rocks in pieces: but the Lord is not in the wind. And after the wind, an earthquake: but the Lord is not in the earthquake.  And after the earthquake, a fire: but the Lord is not in the fire. And after the fire, a whistling of a gentle air.  And when Elias heard it, he covered his face with his mantle…”

….because God was in the whisper.

 

Next week is Lent.  Take yourself to Adoration, or walk among the trees.  Sit in the sun, or lie in the dark.  Turn off your computer, your television, your IPhone, your stereo.  I promise to do the same.  Let us make our Lenten offering to the Lord be our stillness, placing ourselves in His presence, awaiting the whisper.

 Come Emmanuel.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »