Sunday, December 9, 2012

Second week of Advent - What has changed?

So what have you remembered from your first week of Advent?  You now in your second week, what has changed?  I do actually remember my first weeks sermon.  Fr. Daniel talked about the deck chairs of the Titanic.  The gist of it was are we the people moving the chairs while the ship is sinking?  Now, that I think about it I am not sure I get the relationship to Advent.  Sounds more like an Lent sermon. 

It has been a tough week for me.  Started the week in the hospital with my heart doing flip flops which all started over a migraine which I thought was a sinus headache so I took one sudafed.  Apparently I will never be able to take sudafed again.  Only ended there overnight.  Tuesday went for a nuclear medicine test in Pittsburgh.  They told us to be prepared to be there all day and than after it was over asked me to be there again the next day.  What?  Really?  Not prepared for that one.  Actually made it happen.  Ended the week on a new antibiotic that made me sick for four days.  Stopped taking that one.

In the middle of the test in Pittsburgh I saw a priest sitting by himself in the cafeteria so I invited myself and Ann Marie to sit with him.  I am glad wed did end up having lunch with Fr. Felix.  He is from Uganda and has just ended studies at Duquesne University.  We had a great discussion on the differences in Catholicism in US and Africa, Uganda specifically.  We talked about the joy that the Uganda church has for the faith.  We talked about the aging population of the church in the his parish here in the US and found here in north east of US.  He told us of how he feels like a king in Uganda.  That the people and there families come from all over for church.  That at night they have to tell them to go home and let the priest sleep.  Fr. Felix mentioned that he had a decision to make whether to stay in US or go back to Uganda.  He was leaning on going back to Uganda, he said it is too lonely being a priest in US.  What an indictment of Catholicism in the US especially in the city of Pittsburgh.  Fr. Felix told us that he could tell we were not from the city as we were friendly.  He also thanked us for helping bring his joy back to him on that day. 

I find the comment about being friendly disconcerting as a believer I have found believers to be friendly even in the city.  I do think he was speaking of the culture more than what is left of the church.  For instance the day after we met Fr. Felix I went to Mass and confession in the city and afterward was asked by a man outside the church for some money.  I gave him my usual answer that I would by him a lunch but not give money and he thanked me and said yes he would like some McDonalds.  Not my first choice but I took Ernie to McDonalds and bought him lunch.  When the cashier asked if it was for here or to go I said for here and Ernie interrupted and said his part was to go.   How about that?  After buying his lunch he didn't even have time to share it with me. 

So what have I learned this first week of Advent.  Joy is for us to share but others still choose to receive it.  You could replace Jesus for the word joy in the sentence above.  Oh yeah, be careful of different confessors, I got a whole rosary for a penance LOL. 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Come to me

I recently wrote a letter of welcome to a group having a retreat that I could not attend because of spending a few days in the hospital.  Here is the body of the letter.  I thought it would be great for the blog.



Dear Divine Mercy Encounter #67,

Jesus said in the gospel of Matthew, “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for your selves.   For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.”
That is his invitation not just to the twelve apostles but to you on this day.  In the invitation he doesn’t invite just the twelve but he invites all who labor and are burdened and He will give you rest.  You are invited to a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

"Come" - the invitation is Christ's, the action required is ours.  Christ is gentle and humble, he will not impose his will on ours, we are still free to carry our burdens without rest for our souls.   Our bodies may be beaten down, our spirits crushed and our lives forfeit but the promise of rest for our souls even now is held out to us.  But "come" and do what?  Learn and take Christ's yoke.

"to me" - Christ is the one to whom we must go.  Not to the world, not to ourselves, not to any other person, group, ideology, philosophy, political party, idea, distraction or entertainment.  The person of Jesus Christ is our only light and goal, obedience to his teaching our only path.

"all you that are weary" - for the one in love with Christ all that is not Christ is wearisome.  We all become weary from something, whether from our daily work or our daily sin.   Yes, Christ's invitation is held out even to the Christian who has gone astray, gotten caught up in the wrong things, has lost his recollection and peace or is simply weary from active service to Christ.

"and are carrying heavy burdens" - the types of burdens are far too numerous to mention, from physical and emotional burdens, to the burden of family responsibilities, job or lack of job, our studies, or imprisonment...Jesus does not say he will remove our burdens but give us rest, by learning from him and accepting his yoke.  Spiritual rest is therefore not incompatible with carrying heavy burdens.

"I will give you rest" - I will give it.  The world will not give it, you will not give it to yourself through self-imposed discipline and practices, your favorite religious leader will not give it, Jesus Christ dispenses his rest to those who come to him, learn from him and take his yoke.   

So Jesus Christ has invited all of you this day to encounter Him.  Do not fear, this is not a heavy handed Jesus but a loving Jesus who wants the best for you and has the best to give you.  Keep your hearts open and know that I and many are praying for you.  

Friday, August 17, 2012

Grandmas House Fire

Looking into house from window near sidewalk. 
Charles St. view.
Another view from Charles St. 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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Sunday, July 15, 2012

Reading Gospel of John

"Whoever believes in him will not be condemned, but whoever does not believe has already been condemned, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the verdict, that the light came into the world, but people preferred darkness to light, because their works were evil.  For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come toward the light, so that his works might not be exposed.  But whoever lives the truth comes to the light, so that his works may be clearly seen as done in God."  John 3:18-21

I am a daily Mass goer and I try to read the readings everyday before going to Mass.  This means I read a bunch a scripture over time.  Recently though I though I would do what I tell others to do and read a whole book at a time.  Read Mark the last couple of weeks and now am in the Gospel of John.  It is not like I have not read John before but each time I find it hard to read more than a few paragraphs because it is so full.  It is like reading something Blessed John Paul II wrote.  It is so dense that you have to stop and reread every line.  At least I have to.

Which brings me to the above quoted lines.  These lines remind me of the thoughts I have had about whether or not it is sometimes better to leave some in the dark.  Don't get me wrong for those who stay in the light it is much better that they are shown the light and the truth of Jesus Christ.  What of those who will choose darkness again because "people preferred darkness to light."  Sometimes I wonder if they wouldn't be better left to the dark and the Mercy of God.  Please do not worry these thoughts have never left me from telling others about the light and truth found in Jesus Christ.  It is just a thought I have from time to time and this part of scripture reminded me of it.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Selling our youth and families down river

The following is completely stolen from someone on Facebook.  It was so good I thought I would just reprint it in entirety. 

by Chastity-Abstinence-Education on Tuesday, May 18, 2010 at 6:16pm ·

Introduction To Selling our Youth and Families Down River



I have become absolutely convinced that there are a number of reasons why we are seeing an ever growing melt down in sexual mores in this country, in schools, in government, in media, in our culture along with the breakdown of the family:



1. Too many churches across denominational lines have failed to teach a comprehensive chastity message. They have failed to teach a comprehensive abstinence message till marriage, all in line with Biblical Truth. They have never taught the Spiritual reasons-God's Law, emotional, psychological, social and physical benefits of abstinence till marriage.



2. The biggest reason why parents are not up in total arms over things which are taught regarding sexuality in our schools is too many of them, along with society at large have no clue of what a Chasity message really is about. They have no idea how this will influence the youth to protect the marital bed if they were all taught the meaning of true love. (See below message).



3. Too many people including parents from about the 1950's to 1960's have failed to wait till marriage and thus have failed themselves and believe that their children will also fail. But this is a false idea because they themselves were not taught the Spiritual reasons-God's Law, emotional, psychological, social and physical reasons to protect the marital bed....



4. Until we solve the Sex outside marriage issue, the cultural sexual revolution we will never win the prolife cause, we will never stop the vast majority of divorces, and save the family.



If you think this is a good sound piece to explain this issue then please pass this information along to as many people, friends, relatives, churches, media as possible!



Selling our Youth and Families down River



MPS to give out condoms in the schools (http://www.jsonline.com/news/opinion/78556257.html ) ...Milwaukee Health department distributes Condoms to kids as young as 12 years of age (http://www.jsonline.com/news/opinion/62440627.html) .



State Senate bill S324/AB458 to eliminate any abstinence only programs. Our legislature is about to vote to assure that only that one sentence about abstinence exists in prevention education. By reversing the 2005 law and including a bias stipulation in this bill, this law assures that youth can never be guided towards sexual abstinence. Teen sexual activity will be normal, acceptable behavior by law. The Gauntlet is being laid down for the demise of healthy relationships for our youth and thus for the family.



Through our Government Schools distributing condoms out to kids, through our government health department handing out condoms to children as young as 12 years of age, through our government schools teaching sex education that propagates sex outside of marriage as permissible, through our media promoting sexual promiscuity we are selling our youth, our families down river. We are setting them up for destructive behavior. We are setting them up for faulty relations, and for marriages in which over half will end in divorce. We are turning the Judeo-Christian ethic on its ear in favor of the destructive secular Humanism.



All human generations previous to our own, and all known human societies besides our own, have understood that sex had to be controlled; and they have therefore maintained in place moral and legal checks and sanctions aimed at insuring the necessary control of the powerful and unruly human sexual drive for the good of both society and the individuals in it, for the good of family, husband, wife and children. Our plan to liberate sex by means of contraception and sex education has now manifestly failed. KENNETH D. WHITEHEAD http://www.catholiceducation.org/articles/sexuality/se0035.html



The Boundaries of Sexual Relations -Marriage



The passion, warmth, beauty, and fire of sexual relations are like that of a burning fire in a fireplace. Once outside of their natural boundaries, both sexual relations and fire will destroy the individual, people around them, and everything you have and own. This is the devastating effect of sexual passions outside of the natural bonds of marriage.



All sexual relations outside of marriage work toward weakening and eliminating marriage as an institution. Anything that weakens and causes the destruction of marital bonds ultimately works towards the destruction of the well being and character of children and ultimately of our society at large.



Why is this so?



Sexual passions before marriage creates self-centered gratification, using people to meet ones own selfish sensual desires. Women and men can become sexual commodities to be bought, sold, and traded, all to meet this self-gratification. One streetcar becomes as good as another, miss one, there will be another in fifteen minutes.



If we do not learn to control our passions before marriage, there will be no reason to expect that our passions will be controlled after marriage (Tiger Woods and a whole host of others). Hence, pornography to entice one’s sensual pleasures and marital affairs run rampant in today’s society, all working to tear marriages apart.



If we are participating in self-gratification of sexual relations prior to marriage, we are engaged in using people to meet our wants, and selfishness--the exact opposite of what marriage is all about. You see, marriage is meant to be self-giving through self-sacrifice. We end up marrying the wrong person because we were blinded by sexual activity, never truly learning what our partner was like before marriage. We marry wrongly because we marry with an attitude of what’s in it for me and when the relationships grows tired or weary, we bail out for another streetcar.



Consequently all sorts of diseases are spread, many of which are incurable, meaning we carry them for life and hand them on to our partners-as in promiscuity or spouses and worse cause physical harm to our offspring-- our babies, our children. Finally, some sexually transmitted diseases causing sterilization and some ultimately cause death.



Scripture is clear on this. Without true repentance, this self-centered gratification leads to the death of the soul for all eternity.



1 Cor 6:9; neither the sexual immoral- fornicators nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor male prostitutes, nor homosexual offender nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards, nor slanders nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. Eph 5:5 Be sure of this, that no fornicator or impure man, or one who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Also see: Leviticus 18:22-25, Romans 1:24-26; 1 Cor. 6:15-19; Flee from sexual immorality. … Sins sexually sins against his own body. 1 Cor. 10:8; We should not commit sexual immorality, as some of them did- and in one day twenty-three thousand of them died. Col. 3:5; 1 Thes. 4:3; Rom 1:29- For pro creation; Gen. 1:28; Mat 19:4-6; For Spiritual unity; Gen. 2:24;



There is A Question That Must Be Answered!!!



The news media portrays sexual immorality as ok. Many of our schools portray sexual immorality as a matter of choice. Our entertainment industry glorifies sexual immorality. Recreational sex is the “in” thing. This is the philosophy, the religion of Humanism.



If the Church does not teach right and wrong and why, who will??



Side Note



Most Protestants, Catholics, and society at large do not realize that the use of contraceptives within the bonds of marriage was taught to be a grave moral sin against Christ, God and family by all Christian churches up until the 1930's. The church of England, the Anglican church, Episcopalians was the first Protestant church to shed it's teachings on this subject--- you know that church that now ordains Gay Bishops, and wants to sanctify gay marriages. One by one all of the Protestant churches abandoned this teaching.



The water shed moment occurred in the 1960's when finally all Protestant Christians accepted the use of Contraceptives within the bounds of marriage. Even a substantial number of priests, bishops, and Lay Catholics also abandoned the Church's teachings on this matter.



The Christian teachings have been so denigrated from within the ranks of Protestant churches as well as x number of Catholics and society at large that this has become a pet peeve of mine, for multiple reasons. First my lack of understanding of this teaching in the past. Second because our educational establishment our government schools propagation that sex out side of marriage is permissible as long as they contracept. Schools teach abstinence may be the best choice but they have any number of contraceptive options, abstinence is not taught as a moral right and wrong. Instead we teach them how to violate the statutory rape laws which says it illegal for them to be having sex in the first place, and instead teach them state confidentiality laws so they understand where they can obtain all of these reproductive health services without parental knowledge.



Contraception and Marriage 1



It has been more than 40 years since the Church of Christ has stopped teaching that contraception within the bonds of marriage was considered a grave moral sin against God, Christ and his church. Just what have been the results. Wide spread "conjugal infidelity and the general lowering of morality." Few would deny that the rates of abortion, divorce, family breakdown, wife and child abuse, venereal disease and out of wedlock births have all massively increased since the mid-1960’s. Obviously, the birth control pill has not been the only factor in this unraveling. But it has played a major role.



Men in general have lost respect for woman and "no longer care for her physical and psychological equilibrium," to the point that that women are considered "as a mere instruments of selfish enjoyment, and no longer as his respected and beloved companion." In other words contraception might be marketed as liberating for women, but the real "beneficiaries" of birth control pills and devices have been men.



The widespread use of contraception has placed a "dangerous weapon...in the hands of those public authorities who take no heed of moral exigencies." As we have since discovered, eugenics didn't disappear with Nazi racial theories in 1945. Population control policies are now an accepted part of nearly every foreign aid discussion.



Contraception has mislead human beings into thinking they have unlimited dominion over their own bodies, relentlessly turning the human person into the object of his or her own intrusive power...A man and a woman participate uniquely in the glory of God by their ability to co-create new life with Him. At the heart of contraception, however, is the assumption that fertility is an infection which must be attacked and controlled, exactly as antibiotics attack bacteria. In this attitude, one can also see the organic link between contraception and abortion. If fertility can be misrepresented as an infection to be attacked, so too can new life.



Contraception and The Law 2



In 1960 before the widespread "contraceptive mentality", our schools, churches, government and media all sent the same "sex is for marriage" message to our children. Kids behaved responsibly and teen pregnancy was rare. The out of wedlock birth rate was only 6% among all ages in the white population and 22% among blacks.



But in the subsequent years of that same decade, the "pill" was invented and the "sexual revolution" started, and Griswold v. Connecticut said married folks had a "right" to use contraception (1965 was a landmark case in which the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that the Constitution protected a right to privacy. The case involved a Connecticut law that prohibited the use of contraceptives. By a vote of 7-2, the Supreme Court invalidated the law on the grounds that it violated the "right to marital privacy".). The 70's brought us Title X "sex education" and a "contraception right" for unmarried folks in Eisenstadt v. Baird (1972 Supreme Court case that established the right of unmarried people to possess contraception on the same basis as married couples and, by implication, the right of unmarried couples to engage in potentially nonprocreative sexual intercourse). Then in the next year 1973 the "right to abortion".



And what did this government mandated sex education and contraceptive mentality accomplish?



In 1992, the out of wed lock birth rate had tripled to 22% in the white population and 68% in the black population. Keep in mind that during this 32 year interval since 1960, oral contraception usage increased over 10 fold.



This disaster was predictable. Counsel for the state defending the Connecticut statute against contraception in the Griswold case argued that contraceptive access would lead to an increase in sexual immorality and a weakening of marriage. Mahatma Gandhi said the same thing after Margaret Sanger lobbied him for his support for contraception. Gandhi said,



"Artificial methods [of contraception] are like putting a premium on vice. They make men and women reckless ... Nature is relentless and will have full revenge for any such violation of her laws. Moral results can only be produced by moral restraints. All other restraints defeat the very purpose for which they are intended. If artificial [birth control] methods become the order of the day, nothing but moral degradation can be the result."



When we teach teens contraception rather than abstinence, we give them the green light for having sex. In fact, we're really telling them it's not so much the premarital sex that's to be avoided; it's having babies.



Come Let us Reason together



Discover Truth Through Using Our Reason.



In "Theology of the body For Beginners", "Make no mistake: in the final analysis the abortion debate is not about when life begins. It is about the meaning of sex. What most men and women who fight for abortion want is not so much the "right" to kill their offspring, but the "right" to have unrestricted sex without consequences."...."But the often repressive approach of previous generations of Christians- usually silence or, at most, the incomplete "don't do it" mantra is largely responsible for the cultural jettisoning of the Church's teaching on sex"....."A return to God's original plan for the union of the sexes is the only adequate starting point for the building a culture that respects the meaning and dignity of human life"....."He believes that if what the church teaches is objectively true, then human experience---subjective as it is---should offer confirmation of that truth".... 3



All human generations previous to our own, and all known human societies besides our own, have understood that sex had to be controlled; and they have therefore maintained in place moral and legal checks and sanctions aimed at insuring the necessary control of the powerful and unruly human sexual drive for the good of both society and the individuals in it. Our plan to liberate sex by means of contraception and sex education has now manifestly failed. ....



All sexual relation outside of marriage ultimately use the other party to satisfy their sensual desires. Anyone who treats a person as the means to an end does violence to the very essence of the other. Both parties in any sexual relation outside of marriage are allowing themselves to be used by the other in order to get what they want out of the relationship: Each of the persons is mainly concerned with gratifying his or her own sensual desire and or emotional fulfillment. This is a false love and is doomed to failure because it is based on self centered ideals versus self giving relations. 4



Once the relationship becomes physical, those physical forms of intimacy increasingly become more central to the relationship, while real communication, working through problems, and growing in virtue together gradually takes a back seat. 4



The unitive and the procreative goods — are inextricably bound . Sexual relations outside the marital bond are contrary not only to the will of God but to the good of man. Indeed, they are contrary to the will of God precisely because they are against the good of man.” 5



Marriage is not just for procreation, love or sexual pleasure. People have lost their grip on the true reasons for marrying, hence infidelity, divorce, out-of-wedlock births; they are unwilling to make all the sacrifices real marriage requires Marriage is a uniquely “comprehensive” union, meaning that it is shared at several different levels at once — emotional, spiritual and bodily. (from Robert P. George) 5



Our hearts were made to love. 3



Chastity is so necessary for love. Chastity is what makes love possible. It protects love from falling into selfish, utilitarian attitudes and enables us to love selflessly — irrespective of the powerful emotions or sensual delight we may receive from our beloved. If we are to truly love a person of the opposite sex, we must be able to see much more than the person's sexual value. 4



"Only the chaste man and the chaste woman are capable of true love. For chastity frees their association, including marital intercourse, from that tendency to use a person . . . and by so freeing it introduces into their life together and their sexual relationship a special disposition to 'loving kindness." 4



We must seek to cultivate authentic love for the person himself or herself by directing our attention to the whole person. By looking beyond the physical and psychological attributes and seeing the actual person, we open the door to at least the possibility of willing the good of the other person as in the virtuous friendship and of performing truly selfless acts of kindness 4



Authentic love must be integrated with the higher, nobler aspects of love — such as good will, friendship, virtue, or self-giving commitment . 4



True love involves virtue, friendship, and the pursuit of a common good. In Christian marriage, for example, a husband and wife unite themselves to the common aims of helping each other grow in holiness, deepening their own union, and raising children. Furthermore, they should not only share this common goal, but also have the virtue to help each other get there. 4



In self-giving love, a man recognizes in a profound way that his life is not his own. He has surrendered his own will to his beloved. 4



Do you want a good healthy loving marriage or do you want to settle for less, for a break down of over 50% of marriages ?? The choice is yours, life or death. Choose Life! Choose True Love!



1. Message from Fr. Dan July 26, 2009 St John the Evangelist “Humanae Vitae”



2. Wisconsin Consortium of Catholic Physicians and Guilds In Opposition to Senate Bill 324/Assembly Bill 458



3. John Paul II Theology of the Body "Theology of the Body For Beginners" by Christopher West, Ascension Press, 2004.



4. Love and Responsibility by Pope John Paul II "A summary and explanation" by Edward P. Sri



http://www.catholiceducation.org/articles/marriage/mf0071.html



http://www.catholicculture.com/jp2_on_l&r.html



http://www.catholicculture.com/jp2_on_l&r.pdf



5. "The Conservative-Christian Big Thinker", New York Times December 20, 2009



http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/20/magazine/20george-t.html?scp=1&sq=he%20Conservative-Christian%20Big%20Thinker&st=cse

Obama: “It’s Not Fair” That Catholic Institutions Don’t Provide Contraceptives « Campus Notes

Obama: “It’s Not Fair” That Catholic Institutions Don’t Provide Contraceptives « Campus Notes

Saturday, June 9, 2012

 In stevegershom blog Steve wrote....
This has very much to do with something Anthony Bloom says about prayer:
It is absolutely pointless to ask God for something which we ourselves are not prepared to do. If we say ‘O God, make me free from this or that temptation’ while at at the same time seeking every possible way of falling to just such a temptation, hoping now that God is in control, that He will get us out of it, then we do not stand much chance.2
At first one is tempted to ask: “Then what difference does it make whether I pray for the thing or not?” But we are not praying that the task be done for us — only that our efforts be guided and brought to their proper fruition.

First Before I go any further Steves blog is well written and should be read.

Will God deliver us from something we are not willing to do ourselves?  I believe the difference is what is sinful and what is an addiction.  If it is truly just our cross in life we are struggling with or in this case not struggling with than no, God will probably not deliver us from it.  Although, He has been known to knock some people off their horse and give them instant conversion from sin.  St. Paul went through this on the road to Damascus.  The instant conversion didn't come easy either.   Remember he was left blind for a while and also talked about his own personal thorn that the Lord would not take from his side. 

I often struggle with letting God do His thing in His time and when am I personally called to do something in His time.  That does not mean I can keep putting myself in the way of sin and think God will save me.  There are consequences to our actions and even inaction.  I consider not moving ourselves from the near occasion of sin an inaction and of course I believe can be sinful in itself.  An example of this is when we are watching something on the television and the show moves on to the next one which is nothing more than some soft porn called and R movie.  Sometimes I am not sure of you but I often leave it play out thinking it will get better. 

It's like I tell my daughters who are now above 18 when they say dad there is no reason to block mtv on the tv anymore we are adults.  I tell them I didn't just block those type of channels for them but for my soul too.

If you are still struggling with something hard remember we all do.  Saints are just those who fell and got up again.  The other thing most sins of the flesh especially feel good for a short time and that makes them so enticing.  Ask the Lord to give you the urge to change before you ask the Lord to change you.  We are in this with the Lord.