Readings & Reflections: Thursday of the Thirtieth Week in Ordinary Time & St. Alphonsus Rodriguez, October 30,2014

Readings & Reflections: Thursday of the Thirtieth Week in Ordinary Time & St. Alphonsus Rodriguez, October 30,2014

Even before the lancing, we witness Christ’s heart being pierced as we hear Jesus cry, “Jerusalem, how many times I yearned to gather your children together, but you were unwilling!” His prayer makes us pray for the grace to “be able to stand firm against the tactics of the Devil” and to persevere in “the mystery of the Gospel.” We were made for this Mystery.

Opening Prayer

Dear Lord,  Give us the grace put on the armor of God,
that we may be able to resist on the evil day and, having done everything, to hold our ground.  Enable us to stand fast with our loins girded in truth,
clothed with righteousness as a breastplate, and our feet shod in readiness for the Gospel of peace. In Jesus’ Mighty Name, we pray.Amen.

Reading 1
Eph 6:10-20

Brothers and sisters:
Draw your strength from the Lord and from his mighty power.
Put on the armor of God so that you may be able to stand firm
against the tactics of the Devil.
For our struggle is not with flesh and blood
but with the principalities, with the powers,
with the world rulers of this present darkness,
with the evil spirits in the heavens.
Therefore, put on the armor of God,
that you may be able to resist on the evil day
and, having done everything, to hold your ground.
So stand fast with your loins girded in truth,
clothed with righteousness as a breastplate,
and your feet shod in readiness for the Gospel of peace.
In all circumstances, hold faith as a shield,
to quench all the flaming arrows of the Evil One.
And take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit,
which is the word of God.

With all prayer and supplication,
pray at every opportunity in the Spirit.
To that end, be watchful with all perseverance and supplication
for all the holy ones and also for me,
that speech may be given me to open my mouth,
to make known with boldness the mystery of the Gospel
for which I am an ambassador in chains,
so that I may have the courage to speak as I must.

The word of the Lord.

Responsorial Psalm
Ps 144:1b, 2, 9-10

R. (1b) Blessed be the Lord, my Rock!

Blessed be the LORD, my rock,
who trains my hands for battle, my fingers for war.
R. Blessed be the Lord, my Rock!
My mercy and my fortress,
my stronghold, my deliverer,
My shield, in whom I trust,
who subdues my people under me.
R. Blessed be the Lord, my Rock!
O God, I will sing a new song to you;
with a ten‑stringed lyre I will chant your praise,
You who give victory to kings,
and deliver David, your servant from the evil sword.
R. Blessed be the Lord, my Rock!

Gospel
Lk 13:31-35

Some Pharisees came to Jesus and said,
“Go away, leave this area because Herod wants to kill you.”
He replied, “Go and tell that fox,
‘Behold, I cast out demons and I perform healings today and tomorrow, and on the third day I accomplish my purpose.
Yet I must continue on my way today, tomorrow, and the following day,
for it is impossible that a prophet should die
outside of Jerusalem.’

“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how many times I yearned to gather your children together
as a hen gathers her brood under her wings,
but you were unwilling! Behold, your house will be abandoned.
But I tell you, you will not see me until the time comes when you say,
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.”

The Gospel of the Lord.

Reflection 1– Soldier of Christ

A soldier of Christ is not daunted by any problem or difficulty for he knows that in Him we have already won the battle and in Him we have salvation. He uses the Sword of the Spirit, God’s Word in every circumstance that may came his way. But above all, the life he leads is founded on prayer-supplication, intercession, confession, praise and thanksgiving!

As we live our Christian lives and face up to our daily battles against the evil one, it is important for us to stand still and allow God to fight for us. We should be able to acknowledge that the battle is not ours but the Lord’s. We must turn over the control to God to allow his grace to flow to through us.

In 1 Peter 5:7 we are admonished to cast all our care upon God, for he cares for us. We need to gladly toss away our troubles and give them over to God, because He is big enough to catch them and to deal with them. We should be like Christ, brave and courageous, even in the midst of persecution, Who was not discouraged by any threat but spoke, “Yet I must continue on my way today, tomorrow, and the following day, for it is impossible that a prophet should die outside of Jerusalem.”

Every believer must therefore be firmly founded on Christ so that when storms of life try to blow one over, he will not be shaken and moved.  In all circumstances, we need to hold faith as a shield, to quench all the flaming arrows of the Evil One. We need to take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. We ought to draw our strength from the Lord and from his mighty power and must put on the armor of God so that we may be able to stand firm against the tactics of the Devil, for our struggle is not with flesh and blood but with the principalities, with the powers, with the world rulers of this present darkness, with the evil spirits in the heavens. In all these, with all prayer and supplication, pray at every opportunity in the Spirit. And as Psalm 55;23 states:  “Cast your cares upon the Lord and He will support you and never will He permit the just man to be disturbed.”

Why fear in our work and battle against the evil one, “if God is for us, who can be against us? He did not spare his own Son but handed him over for us all, how will he not also give us everything else along with him?

Who will bring a charge against God’s chosen ones?  Let us remember that God is always with us, even till the end of time and will never forsake us, “for I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor present things, nor future things, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Direction

We should be able to acknowledge that the battles we encounter are not ours but the Lord’s. We must turn over the control to God to allow his grace to flow through us.

Prayer

Heavenly Father, give us the strength to endure the struggles and trials of life and enable us to let your will prevail in us. In Jesus, we pray. Amen.

Reflection 2 – On the third day I will accomplish my purpose

  • In the Gospel, Jesus demonstrates that he is fully aware of Herod’s plans, as well as those of the chief priests, scribes, elders and Pharisees. He alludes to his imminent death in Jerusalem as well as to the third day of his Resurrection.
  • During his public ministry Jesus preached about the Kingdom of God, cast out demons and healed the sick. His mission, though, will culminate in Jerusalem in a few months. He knows that he will return to Jerusalem for the Passover. On that day, Palm Sunday, the crowds will cry out: “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord”. They will recognize him as royal savior.

Just as the people of Israel refused to heed the word of the prophets, they will refuse to listen to Jesus, who brings a divine message of love, compassion, mercy and salvation. Jesus says that he desires to gather the people under his arms and he will do this on the Cross. His arms will stretch out and he will embrace us.

Jesus fights against evil, sin and death. He is a mighty warrior, clothed in the armor of God. Today, Saint Paul encourages us to draw strength from God in our fight against evil. The armor we will put on in our fight is not made of steel or leather. Just as the Kingdom of God is not a matter of food and drink, but rather of peace, righteousness and justice, so too the armor of God is one of truth, righteousness, good news, faith, salvation, and fortitude.

God is our Rock, God is the one who trains us for battle. God is our fortress of mercy, our stronghold of deliverance, our trustworthy shield. We are under God’s care in all we do. He guides us as we proclaim the Gospel of the Kingdom of God.

Our mission against evil and our mission to extend the Kingdom, must be sustained by prayer in the Spirit. We should not trust in our own strength or armor, nor should we proclaim our own set of truths. Rather, we rely on the help and power of the Holy Spirit; we are protected and guided by our God, and we seek proclaim the truth of Jesus Christ, so that all men and women may welcome the word of the Kingdom and in turn become soldiers for Christ.

Read the source: http://www.zenit.org/en/articles/daily-homily-on-the-third-day-i-accomplish-my-purpose

Reflection 3 – St. Alphonsus Rodriguez (c. 1533-1617 A.D.)

Tragedy and challenge beset today’s saint early in life, but Alphonsus Rodriguez found happiness and contentment through simple service and prayer.

Born in Spain in 1533, Alphonsus inherited the family textile business at 23. Within the space of three years, his wife, daughter and mother died; meanwhile, business was poor. Alphonsus stepped back and reassessed his life. He sold the business and, with his young son, moved into his sisters’ home. There he learned the discipline of prayer and meditation.

Years later, at the death of his son, Alphonsus, almost 40 by then, sought to join the Jesuits. He was not helped by his poor education. He applied twice before being admitted. For 45 years he served as doorkeeper at the Jesuits’ college in Majorca. When not at his post, he was almost always at prayer, though he often encountered difficulties and temptations.

His holiness and prayerfulness attracted many to him, including St. Peter Claver, then a Jesuit seminarian. Alphonsus’s life as doorkeeper may have been humdrum, but he caught the attention of poet and fellow-Jesuit Gerard Manley Hopkins, who made him the subject of one of his poems.

Alphonsus died in 1617. He is the patron saint of Majorca.
Read the source: http://www.americancatholic.org/features/saints/saint.aspx?id=1184

Comment:

We like to think that God rewards the good even in this life. But Alphonsus knew business losses, painful bereavement and periods when God seemed very distant. None of his suffering made him withdraw into a shell of self-pity or bitterness. Rather, he reached out to others who lived with pain, including enslaved blacks. Among the many notables at his funeral were the sick and poor people whose lives he had touched. May they find such a friend in us!

The Early Church on Abortion: 8 Quotes Before AD 400

Listers, the issue of abortion did not rise amongst the technological advances of modernism. It is a tragedy that has plagued humanity for millennia. The following are quotes from our Early Church Fathers. As the modern world is embracing a neo-paganism,  let us stand against the revitalization of the old atrocities our forefathers worked tirelessly to eradicate.

Let us pray for an end to abortion.

Our Lady of Guadalupe, pray for us.

“You shall not kill the child by obtaining an abortion. Nor, again, shall you destroy him after he is born.” 
St. Barnabas (“Epistle of St. Barnabas,” c. 70-100 A.D.)

“You shall not murder a child by abortion nor kill one who has been born.”
“The Didache [The Teaching Of The Twelve Apostles]” (c. 80-140 A.D.)

“Women who were reputed believers began to resort to drugs for producing sterility. They also girded themselves around, so as to expel what was being conceived. For they did not wish to have a child by either slave or by any common fellow – out of concern for their family and their excessive wealth. See what a great impiety the lawless one has advanced! He teaches adultery and murder at the same time!” St. Hipploytus (“Refutation Of All Heresies,” c. 225 A.D.)

“He [the schismatic Novatian] struck the womb of his wife with his heel and hurried an abortion, thereby causing parricide.”
St. Cyprian of Carthage (“Epistle 52 To Cornelius,” c. 251 A.D.)

“A woman who deliberately destroys a fetus is answerable for murder. And any fine distinction as to its being completely formed or unformed is not admissible amongst us.”
St. Basil the Great (“Epistle 138,” c. 375 A.D.)

“Others drink for sterility and commit murder on the human not yet sown. Some when they sense that they have conceived by sin, consider the poisons for abortion, and frequently die themselves along with it, and go to Hell guilty of three crimes: murdering themselves, committing adultery against Christ, and murder against their unborn child.”
St. Jerome (“Epistle 22,” c. 380 A.D.)

“The rich women, to avoid dividing the inheritance among many, kill their own fetus in the womb and with murderous juices extinguish in the genital chamber their children.”
St. Ambrose (“On the Hexaemeron,” c. 386 A.D.)

“To destroy the fetus ‘is something worse than murder.’ The one who does this ‘does not take away life that has already been born, but prevents it from being born.’”
St. John Chrysostom (“Homilies on Romans,” c. 391 A.D.)

10 Popes Comment on the Virtue & Intellect of St. Thomas Aquinas

10 Popes Comment on the Virtue & Intellect of St. Thomas Aquinas

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Read the source: http://www.stpeterslist.com/9808/the-commentary-of-10-popes-on-st-thomas-aquinas/

Listers, the following is taken from The Formation of the Catholic Mind by Dr. Ronald A. McArthur. Dr. McArthur is the founding president of the highly praised Thomas Aquinas College in California. The Most Rev. Pietro Sambi (†), Apostolic Nuncio to the United States, once stated, “The Church will flourish through the inspiring example and praiseworthy endeavors of Thomas Aquinas College.” The staff of SPL has worked with and studied alongside TAC alumni and the experience has always been enjoyable.1

St. Peter’s List has worked arduously to bring the lister community a quality cataloguing of both the praise of St. Thomas Aquinas and the teachings of St. Thomas Aquinas. We exhort the listers to listen to the voices of our saints and popes and turn to the wisdom of St. Thomas Aquinas.

A Selection of Lists Referencing St. Thomas Aquinas

What does the Church, to whom Christ has entrusted His concerns for us, teach concerning theological doctrines?

1. Pope John XXII, speaking about St. Thomas, said before his canonization that “his life was saintly and his doctrine could only be miraculous … because he enlightened the church more than all the other doctors. By the use of his works a man could profit more in one year than if he studies the doctrine of others for his whole life.”

2. St. Pius V declared him a Doctor of The Church, saying he was “the most brilliant light of the Church,” whose works are “the most certain rule of Christian doctrine by which he enlightened the Apostolic Church in answering conclusively numberless errors … which illumination has often been evident in the past and recently stood forth prominently in the decrees of the Council of Trent.”

3. Benedict XIII wrote to the Order of Preachers that they should “pursue with energy your Doctor’s works, more brilliant than the sun and written without the shadow of error. These works made the Church illustrious with wonderful erudition, since they march ahead and proceed with unimpeded step, protecting and vindicating by the surest rule of Christian doctrine, the truth of our holy religion.”

4. Leo XIII stated that “this is the greatest glory of Thomas, altogether his own and shared with no other Catholic Doctor, that the Fathers of Trent, in order to proceed in an orderly fashion during the conclave, desired to have opened upon the altar together with the Scriptures and the decrees of the Supreme Pontiffs, the Summa of St. Thomas Aquinas whence they could draw counsel, reasons and answers.”

Again from Leo XIII: “This point is vital, that Bishops expend every effort to see that young men destined to be the hope of the Church should be imbued with the holy and heavenly doctrine of the Angelic Doctor. In those places where young men have devoted themselves to the patronage and doctrine of St. Thomas, true wisdom will flourish, drawn as it is from solid principles and explained by reason in an orderly fashion … Theology proceeding correctly and well according to the plan and method of Aquinas is in accordance with our command. Every day We become more clearly aware how powerfully Sacred Doctrine taught by its master and patron, Thomas, affords the greatest possible utility for both clergy and laity.

5. St. Pius X said that the chief of Leo’s achievements is his restoration of the doctrine of St. Thomas. For he “restored the Angelic Doctor … as the leader and master of theology, whose divine genius fashioned weapons marvelously suited to protect the truth and destroy the many errors of the times. Indeed those principles of wisdom, useful for all time, which the holy Doctors passed on to us, have been organized by no one more aptly than by Thomas, and no one has explained them more clearly.” Indeed, Pius said, those who depart from the teaching of St. Thomas “seem to effect ultimately their withdrawal from the Church … As we have said, one may not desert Aquinas, especially in philosophy and theology, without great harm; following him is the safest way to the knowledge of divine things.… If the doctrine of any other author or saint has ever been approved at any time by us or our predecessors with singular commendation joined with an invitation and order to propagate and to defend it, it may be easily understood that it was commended only insofar as it agreed with the principles of Aquinas or was in no way opposed to them.” Theology professors “should also take particular care that their students develop a deep affection for the Summa … In this way and no other will theology be restored to its pristine dignity, and the proper order and value will be restored to all sacred studies, and the province of the intellect and reason flower again in a second spring.”

6. Benedict XV stated that “the eminent commendations of Thomas Aquinas by the Holy See no longer permit a Catholic to doubt that he was divinely raised up that the Church might have a master whose doctrine should be followed in a special way at all times.”

7. Pius XI said that “indeed, We so approve of the tributes paid to his almost divine brilliance that we believe Thomas should be called not only Angelic but Common or Universal Doctor of the Church. As innumerable documents of every kind attest, the Church has adopted his doctrine for her own.… It is no wonder that the Church has made this light her own and has adorned herself with it, and has illustrated her immortal doctrine with it … It is no wonder that all the popes have vied with one another in exalting him, proposing him, inculcating him, as a model, master, doctor, patron and protector of all schools … Just as it was said of old to the Egyptians in time of famine: ‘Go to Joseph, so that they should receive a supply of corn to nourish their bodies, so to those who are now in quest of truth We now say: ‘Go to Thomas’ that they may ask from him the food of solid doctrine of which he has an abundance to nourish their souls unto eternal life.”

8. Bl. John Paul II said: “[T]he Church has been justified in consistently proposing Saint Thomas as a master of thought and a model of the right way to do theology….

“[T]he Magisterium has repeatedly acclaimed the merits of Saint Thomas’ thought and made him the guide and model for theological studies.… The Magisterium’s intention has always been to show how Saint Thomas is an authentic model for all who seek the truth. In his thinking, the demands of reason and the power of faith found the most elevated synthesis ever attained by human thought, for he could defend the radical newness introduced by Revelation without ever demeaning the venture proper to reason.”

9. Pope Benedict XVI said, “In his encyclical Fides et Ratio, my venerated predecessor, Pope John Paul II recalled that ‘the Church has been justified in consistently proposing St. Thomas a master of thought and a model of the right way to do theology’ (No. 43).

“It is not surprising that, after St. Augustine, among the writers mentioned in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, St. Thomas is quoted more than any other — some 61 times! He was also called the Doctor Angelicus, perhaps because of his virtues, in particular the loftiness of his thought and purity of life.

“In short, Thomas Aquinas showed there is a natural harmony between Christian faith and reason. And this was the great work of Thomas, who in that moment of encounter between two cultures — that moment in which it seemed that faith should surrender before reason — showed that they go together, that what seemed to be reason incompatible with faith was not reason, and what seemed to be faith was not faith, in so far as it was opposed to true rationality; thus he created a new synthesis, which shaped the culture of the following centuries.”

Since Sacred Theology uses philosophy as a handmaid, the Church’s duty does not end with a judgment upon Theology alone, but extends to philosophy as well.

1. Pius XII said that “… the Angelic Doctor interpreted [Aristotle] in a uniquely brilliant manner. He made that philosophy Christian when he purged it of the errors into which a pagan writer would easily fall; he used those very errors in his exposition and vindication of Catholic truth. Among the important advances which the Church owes to the great Aquinas this certainly should be included that so nicely did he harmonize Christian truth with the enduring peripatetic philosophy that he made Aristotle cease to be an adversary and become, instead, a militant supporter for Christ … Therefore, those who wish to be true philosophers … should take the principles and foundations of their doctrine from Thomas Aquinas. To follow his leadership is praiseworthy: on the contrary, to depart foolishly and rashly from the wisdom of the angelic Doctor is something far from Our mind and fraught with peril … For those who apply themselves to the teaching and study of Theology and Philosophy should consider it their capital duty, having set aside the findings of a fruitless philosophy, to follow St. Thomas Aquinas and to cherish him as their master and their leader.”

2. St. Pius X said that “all who teach philosophy in Catholic schools throughout the world should take care never to depart from the path and method of Aquinas, and to insist upon that procedure more vigorously every day…We warn teachers to keep this religiously in mind, especially in metaphysics, that to disregard Aquinas cannot be done without suffering great harm.”

3. Benedict XV said that “along with our predecessors We are equally persuaded that the only philosophy worth our efforts is that which is according to Christ. Therefore the study of philosophy according to the principles and system of Aquinas must certainly be encouraged so that the explanation and invincible defense of divinely revealed truth may be as full as human reason can make of it.”

  1. Thomas Aquinas College: Visit their website, learn more about Dr. McArthur, and read his article The Formation of the Catholic Mind in full. [

The Four Ends of Mass

The Four Ends of Mass

 

“It would be easier for the world to survive without the sun than to do without Holy Mass.” – St. Padre Pio

After a talk I gave a while ago, a young man came to me with a question. “I think I’m a good Catholic,” he began, “but I don’t go to mass. I hear it’s a sin not to go, but I don’t understand that. I guess I don’t see the point. Can you give me any reasons why I should go?” His question was sincere, and it led to a long and healthy discussion of why being present at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is important in the life of a faithful Catholic.

But truth be told, many Catholics probably ask the same questions, even if they attend mass faithfully. What’s the point? Why should I bother? This confusion and apathy about the source and summit of the Catholic faith is due to an almost complete failure of teaching on what the mass actually is.

To clear up some of this confusion, let’s examine the nature and purposes of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

What is the mass?

Let’s begin with what the mass is not. The mass is not a community meal designed to strengthen our unity and “gather us in.” Feelings of unity and community can be strengthened at any number of events, including potlucks or Church picnics. At most, feeling unified with our brothers and sisters in Christ is a nice byproduct of the mass, but it is certainly not its chief end.

Second, the mass is not about you. It is not about having a wonderful “weekend experience,” as one new parish based program claims. Nor is its purpose to make you feel good about yourself, to encourage you, to inspire you, or to make you feel included and welcomed. You simply aren’t the audience—God is, and the mass is all about him.

So what is the mass essentially? It is first and foremost a sacrifice.In fact, it is the once for all sacrifice of Christ on Calvary, that transcends time and space, made present for us again in an unbloody manner. It is the perfect sacrifice that all the Old Testament sacrifices prefigured (See Malachi 1:11). In it, Jesus Christ lovingly offers himself in an act of oblation to God the Father on our behalf. He adores God the Father, he atones for our sins, he offers thanks and praise, and he intercedes for our needs.

As Catholics, we have the privilege of attending this sacrifice, and uniting ourselves to Christ’s self offering. Put another way, we can imitate Christ by offering ourselves, souls and bodies, to God the Father as “living sacrifices,” as St. Paul says. This is what participation in the mass really means. In the prayerOrate Frates, the priest acknowledges this participation of the faithful when he prays, “Pray brethren, that my sacrifice and yours may be acceptable to God, the Almighty Father.”

The Four Ends of Mass

four endsNow that we’ve discussed what the mass is, let’s briefly look at its four ends or purposes.

1. Adoration - The Holy Mass is first and foremost an act of loving adoration. It is worship of God our Father. Why? Because he deserves it. Almighty God is the most perfect of all Beings, the self-existing one, and all that exists owes its existence to him. He is the Supreme Good, the Good from which all other goods receive their meaning. He is the Supreme Beauty, the sole standard by which we can recognize and understand that which is beautiful. And he is Love itself, giving of himself from all eternity. He alone is worthy of our awe-struck adoration.

“Worthy art thou, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for thou didst create all things,
and by thy will they existed and were created,” the saints and angels cry in the book of Revelation, and the mass is participation in this heavenly worship.

2. Thanksgiving - All that we are and have comes from God’s generous hand. Every good, every blessing finds its source in God alone, and our very existence is dependent on his will. In response to God’s endless generosity, which we often don’t even notice, thanksgiving is the only acceptable response. And guess what? True gratitude is one of the most joyful feelings we can have. “I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought,” said G.K. Chesterton, “and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.” That is exactly what Holy Mass should be—an experience of happiness doubled by wonder.

3. Atonement - We are all sinners, and while we do our best to rationalize and minimize it, all sin is a grave offense against God, incurring his just wrath. But while we all deserve hell, we are not without hope. On the cross, Jesus Christ atoned for our sins totally and completely, and we have the assurance that if we turn to him in repentance and faith, we can find forgiveness and healing.

The sacrifice of Christ on the holy cross is our certain hope, and the Holy Mass is the re-presentation of this sacrifice. Therefore, the third end of the mass is atonement for our sins. The book of Revelation describes Christ appearing as a “Lamb as if it had been slain.” In heaven, Jesus stands before God’s throne, offering God the Father his once for all sacrifice in continual atonement for our sins and the sins of the whole world. This reality is made present at every mass.

4. Petition - The mass is a powerful form of prayer. In fact, it is the most powerful prayer the Church possesses. St. Jerome once said, “Without doubt, the Lord grants all favors which are asked of Him in Mass, provided they be fitting for us.” Many of the saints tell us that bringing our requests before Our Lord after the consecration is one of the most effective ways to obtain all that we need spiritually and physically. I would encourage you to pray in this way, knowing that Jesus is on the altar interceding for you as well.

Go to Mass

In every mass, Jesus Christs descends upon the altar in the fullness of his body, blood, soul, and Divinity. He is truly present, giving himself to us completely in the Holy Eucharist. It is truly the sacrifice of Calvary made present once again. What a beautiful and profound reality! As St. Padre Pio once said, “If we only knew how God regards this Sacrifice, we would risk our lives to be present at a single Mass.” Why would we miss mass for anything?

Read the source: http://catholicexchange.com/four-ends-mass

The post The Four Ends of Mass appeared first on The Catholic Gentleman.

This article is reprinted with permission from our friends at

Eight Habits of Healthy Couples

Eight Habits of Healthy Couples

My newest book, When Divorce Is Not An Option: How to Heal Your Marriage and Nurture Lasting Love looks at the eight habits that healthy couples cultivate in their relationship and describes, step-by-step how couples who are struggling can develop those habits in their relationship.

There’s a lot of confusion about what separates happy couples from unhappy couples.  The book explores some of those myths.  For instance, you might be surprised to know that happy couples argue about as often as unhappy couples and are about as good at solving problems!  The real difference is how happy couples work hard to take care of each other when they’re arguing and also the ways they attend to both their relationship and their own emotional health with they are not in conflict.  Research shows that these eight habits that distinguish happy couples can be learned by any couple regardless of their background.  We know now that if a couple is willing to do the work to learn and practice these eight habits, virtually ANY marriage can be saved.

Do you and your spouse practice the Healthy Marriage Habits that can help you get the most out of your marriage?  Take a look.

1.  Rituals of Connection-- Happy couples have regular rituals for working, playing, talking, and praying together.  They carve out at some time each day to make sure they do something related to these four categories.  Rituals of connection form the skeleton of the relationship.  These rituals guarantee that the couple will prioritize their relationship and have the time they need to share experiences, relate on a deeper level to each other, and build a shared life together.

2.  Emotional Rapport & Benevolence– Happy couples make a point of being intentional about looking for ways to make each other’s days a little easier or more pleasant.  They turn toward each other in times of stress (instead of isolating) and actively look for ways to lighten each other’s burden even when they don’t feel like it.

3.  Self-Regulation–Happy couples are good at monitoring their emotional temperatures.  They know when they need to take a break from a stressful conversation and they know what to do to get themselves back to a calm and empathetic mindset so that the next round of discussions will go better.  They don’t blame their partner for their own emotional reactions.  Instead, they learn from the times they lose it and figure out how to do better the next time.

4. A Positive Intention Frame--Happy couples realize that most offenses in marriage are due to miscommunication or misunderstanding.  They realize that their partner gets nothing out of being intentionally offensive.  They try to understand the true intention or need behind the offense and find more respectful way to meet that need or intention.

5. Caretaking in Conflict–Happy couples know that the most important thing in problem-solving isn’t actually solving the problem.  The MOST important thing in problem-solving is taking care of each other so that they can solve the problem together.  Happy couples work to make sure each knows the other’s concerns are important.  They also look for ways to reassure each other that they can get through any difficulties as long as they stick together.

6.  Mutual Respect, Accountability, and Boundaries–Happy couples respect each other, which means that they are willing to listen and learn from each other even when it is hard.  They don’t have to understand why something is important to their partner.  It is enough that it is important.  They accept each other’s boundaries and work to accommodate each other’s needs and preferences even when those needs or preferences don’t necessarily make sense.

7.  Reviewing and Learning from Mistakes–Happy couples know how to learn from their disagreements.  They are able to go back over arguments and offenses in a way that helps them learn to do better next time.  They don’t blame and attack each other or endlessly debate what “really” happened last time.  They focus on what they need to do to handle similar situations better in the future.

8.  Seeking Healthy Support–Happy couples know when they need to learn new skills and they know where to turn for appropriate support.  They don’t complain about their marriage to friends who will simply confirm their biases.  They look for opportunities to develop new skills even when things are going well, and if they need help, they seek it either from mature couples who know and love them both, or marriage-friendly professionals who are qualified to teach the skills they need to address their particular struggles.

How’d you do?  Every couple has areas they are best at and areas they could improve in. If you would like to learn how to heal or strengthen your relationship by cultivating these skills, check out When Divorce is Not An Option:  How to Heal Your Marriage and Nurture Lasting Love.   You’ll discover a step-by-step plan for making your marriage everything you know it can be!

Or, if you feel you need additional support, contact the Pastoral Solutions Institute (740-266-6461) to learn more about how our Catholic tele-counseling practice can help you transform your marriage, family or personal life!

Dr. Gregory Popcak Dr. Gregory Popcak is the Executive Director of the Pastoral Solutions Institute, an organization dedicated to helping Catholics find faith-filled solutions to tough marriage, family, and personal problems.

Forged by WAR: The 3 Battles in the Rise of the Rosary

History of the Jehovah’s Witnesses

History of the Jehovah’s Witnesses

Charles_Taze_Russell_sharp

by Catholic Say, September 20, 2014

Read the source: http://catholicsay.com/history-of-the-jehovahs-witnesses/

Fifty years ago the Jehovah’s Witnesses numbered fewer than 100,000. Now there are several million of them around the world. They don’t have churches; they have “Kingdom Halls” instead. Their congregations are uniformly small, usually numbering less than two hundred. Most Witnesses used to be Catholics or Protestants. Let’s look a little at their history, because that will help us understand their unique doctrines.

The sect now known as the Jehovah’s Witnesses was started by Charles Taze Russell, who was born in 1852 and worked in Pittsburgh as a haberdasher. He was raised a Congregationalist, but at the age of seventeen he tried to convert an atheist to Christianity and ended up being converted instead—not to outright atheism, but to agnosticism. Some years later he went to an Adventist meeting, was told that Jesus would be back at any time, and got interested in the Bible.

The leading light of Adventism had been William Miller, a flamboyant preacher who predicted that the world would end in 1843. When it didn’t, he “discovered” an arithmetical error in his eschatological calculations and said it would end in 1844. When his prediction again failed, many people became frustrated and withdrew from the Adventist movement, but a remnant, led by Ellen G. White, went on to form the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

It was this diminished Adventism which influenced Russell, who took the title “Pastor” even though he never got through high school. In 1879, he began the Watch Tower—what would later be known as the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, the teaching organ of the Jehovah’s Witnesses. In 1908 he moved its headquarters to Brooklyn, where it has remained ever since.

Before he got his religious career well underway, Russell promoted what he called “miracle wheat,” which he sold at sixty dollars per bushel. He claimed it would grow five times as well as regular wheat. In fact, it grew slightly less well than regular wheat, as was established in court when Russell was sued. Later he marketed a fake cancer cure and what he termed a “millennial bean” (which a wag has said probably got that name because it took a thousand years to sprout).

Unusual Doctrines

Russell taught his followers the non-existence of hell and the annihilation of unsaved people (a doctrine he picked up from the Adventists), the non-existence of the Trinity (he said only the Father, Jehovah, is God), the identification of Jesus with Michael the Archangel, the reduction of the Holy Spirit from a person to a force, the mortality (not immortality) of the soul, and the return of Jesus in 1914.

When 1914 had come and gone, with no Jesus in sight, Russell modified his teachings and claimed Jesus had, in fact, returned to Earth, but that his return was invisible. His visible return would come later, but still very soon. It would result in the final conflict between God and the Devil—the forces of good and the forces of evil—in which God would be victorious. This conflict is known to Witnesses as the battle of Armageddon, and just about everything the Witnesses teach centers around this doctrine.

Russell died in 1916 and was succeeded by “Judge” Joseph R. Rutherford. Rutherford, born in 1869, had been brought up as a Baptist and became the legal adviser to the Watch Tower. He never was a real judge, but took the title because, as an attorney, he substituted at least once for an absent judge.

At one time he claimed Russell was next to Paul as an expounder of the gospel, but later, in an effort to have his writings supplant Russell’s, he let Russell’s books go out of print. It was Rutherford who coined the slogan, “Millions now living will never die.” By it he meant that some people alive in 1914 would still be alive when Armageddon came and the world was restored to a paradise state.

In 1931 he changed the name of the sect to the Jehovah’s Witnesses, which he based on Isaiah 43:10 (“‘You are my witnesses,’ is the utterance of Jehovah, ‘even my servant whom I have chosen . . . ,’” New World Translation). As an organizer, he equipped missionaries with portable phonographs, which they took door to door along with records of Rutherford. They didn’t have to say much when they came calling; all they had to do was put on Rutherford’s record. He displayed a marked hatred for Catholicism on his radio program and in the pamphlets he wrote. Later his successors tempered the sect’s anti-Catholicism, but Awake! and The Watchtower still carry anti-Catholic articles every few issues, though the tone tends to be more subtle than the overtly lurid style of Rutherford’s day.

Rutherford said that in 1925 Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and the prophets would return to Earth, and for them he prepared a mansion named Beth Sarim in San Diego, California. He moved into this mansion (where he died in 1942) and bought an automobile with which to drive the resurrected patriarchs around. The Watch Tower Society quietly sold Beth Sarim years later to cover up an embarrassing moment in their history, namely another failed prophecy.

Trained to Give Testimonies

Rutherford was succeeded by Nathan Homer Knorr, who was born in 1905 and died in 1977. Knorr joined the movement as a teenager, working his way up through the ranks. He got rid of the phonographs and insisted that the missionaries attend courses and be trained in door-to-door evangelism techniques. The Witnesses now have a reputation as skillful deliverers of “personal testimonies.”

Since the Bible, as preserved through the centuries, did not support the peculiar doctrines of the Witnesses, Knorr chose an anonymous committee to produce the New World Translation, which is used by no sect other than the Witnesses. By means of former Witnesses, the names of the five members of the translation committee eventually came to light. Four of the five members completely lack credentials to qualify them as Bible translators, and the fifth member studied non-biblical Greek for only about two years.

The New World Translation was produced because it buttresses Witnesses’ beliefs through obscure or inaccurate renderings. For example, to prove that Jesus was only a creature, not God, theNew World Translation’s rendering of John 1:1 concludes this way: “and the Word was a god” [italics added]. Every other translation, Catholic and Protestant—not to mention the Greek original—has “and the Word was God.”

What Happened to Armageddon?

Knorr was succeeded as head of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, by Frederick Franz. He had been the Witnesses’ leading theologian, and his services were often called upon. For some years the sect’s magazines had been predicting that Armageddon would occur in 1975. When it didn’t, Franz had to find an explanation.

Witnesses believe that Adam was created in 4026 B.C. and that human beings have been allotted 6000 years of existence until Armageddon and the beginning of the millennium. This figure is based on a “creative week” in which each of six days is equal to 1,000 years, with the Sabbath or seventh day being the beginning of the millennium. Simple arithmetic gives 1975 as the year Armageddon would arrive. Franz explained that Armageddon would actually come 6000 years after Eve’s creation. But when 1975 came and went, the Witnesses had to “adjust” their chronology to cover up a failed prediction. They accomplished this by maintaining that no one knew exactly how long after Adam’s creation Eve came on the scene. Franz said that it was months—even years. Hence he was able to “stretch” the 1975 date to some indeterminate time in the future. In any case, Franz said that Witnesses would just have to wait, knowing the end is right around the corner.

When the final battle does occur—remember, it will be during the lifetime of “millions” of people alive in 1914, which means it can’t be too far off—Jehovah will defeat Satan and the elect will go to heaven to rule with Christ. But, following a literal interpretation of the number mentioned in Revelation, chapters 7 and 14, only 144,000 are among the elect. They will go to heaven as spirit persons (without resurrected bodies). The remaining faithful (Jehovah’s Witnesses), who are known as Jonadabs, will live forever on a renewed, paradise Earth in resurrected bodies. The unsaved will cease to exist at all, having been annihilated by Jehovah.

Franz was succeeded as president of the Watchtower in 1993 by Milton Henschel, who has continued the aggressive evangelization tactics of his predecessors. In 1995 the Watchtower quietly changed one of its major prophetic doctrines. Until this point, they had maintained that the generation alive in 1914 would not pass from the scene until Armageddon occurred. Now that this generation has almost entirely died out—and Armageddon has not occurred and does not seem like it will happen immediately—they had to change their doctrine. Now, the Watchtower says that Armageddon will simply occur “soon,” and it is no longer tied to a particular, literal generation of people.

How They Make Converts

Most religions welcome converts, and the Witnesses’ very reason for existence is to make them. To accomplish this they follow several steps.

First they try to get a copy of one of their magazines into the hands of a prospective convert. They lead off with a question designed to tap into universal concerns such as, “How would you like to live in a world without sickness, war, poverty, or any other problem?” If the prospect is willing to speak with them, they arrange what’s known as a “back call”—that is, they return in a week or so for more discussions. This can be kept up indefinitely.

At some point the missionaries invite the prospect to a Bible study. This is not the usual sort of Bible study, where passages are examined in light of context, original word meaning, relevance to other verses in Scripture, etc. Instead, this “Bible study” is really an exposition of Witness doctrine by means of Watchtower literature. Simple questions are presented in the literature which are derived directly from the text. The answers, therefore, are readily discernible, making the prospective convert feel spiritually astute, since he or she can answer all the questions “correctly.” The Bible study is directed along lines mandated by the officials in Brooklyn, and the prospect is there to learn, not to teach. If he progresses well, he’s invited to a larger Bible study, which may be held at a Kingdom Hall.

About this time he’s invited to attend a Sunday service. At the Kingdom Hall, which resembles not so much a church but a small lecture hall, the prospect hears a Witness discuss a few verses of Scripture and how those verses can be explained to non-Witnesses or how to “refute” standard Christian doctrines such as the Trinity, hell, the immortality of the soul, etc. The service includes taped music to accompany the singing of hymns, and there is always time allotted for obtaining Watchtower literature and publications.

Sharing Techniques

The prospective convert gets still more of this if he proceeds to the next step, which consists of going to meetings on Wednesday or Thursday nights. At those meetings Witnesses trade stories, explaining how they’ve done that week in going door to door, giving advice to one another, figuring out better ways to get the message across, and logging their hours. (Every month each Kingdom Hall mails to the headquarters in Brooklyn a detailed log of activities, including hours spent “witnessing” door-to-door, the number of converts made, and the number of pieces of literature distributed.)

If the prospect goes through all these steps, he’s ready for admission to the sect. That involves baptism by immersion and agreeing to work actively as a missionary. Many missionaries take only part-time jobs so they can devote more time to their evangelization. Witnesses will typically spend 60-100 hours each month in their evangelizing work. Some will even go so far as to work full time for the WTS, receiving little more than room and board for their efforts.

Life as a Witness

Although not every Witness can put in so many hours, every Witness is expected to do what he can by way of missionary work. There is no separate, ordained ministry as is found in Protestant churches. Their sect operates no hospitals, sanitariums, orphanages, schools, colleges, or social welfare agencies. From their perspective it will all disappear in a few years anyway, so they don’t expend their energies in these areas.

Jehovah’s Witnesses live under a strict regimen. They may be “disfellowshipped” for a variety of reasons, such as attending a Catholic or Protestant church or receiving a blood transfusion. Disfellowshipping is the sect’s equivalent of excommunication, though somewhat more harsh. A disfellow-
shipped Witness may attend Kingdom Hall, but he is not allowed to speak to anyone, and no one may speak to him. The others are to act as though he no longer exists. This applies even to his family, who may only communicate with him as much as absolutely necessary.

They recognize the legitimacy of no governmental authority, since they believe all earthly authority is of Satan. They will not serve in the military, salute the flag, say the Pledge of Allegiance, vote, run for office, or serve as officials of labor unions.

No matter how peculiar their doctrines, they deserve to be complimented on their determination and single-minded zeal. However, as Paul might have said concerning them, “I can testify about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge” (Rom. 10:2, NIV).

Quotes from Cardinal Bergoglio, now Pope Francis, on 7 Moral Issues

Pope Francis: The Church is not limited to Bishops and parishes

Pope Francis: The Church is not limited to Bishops and parishes

Published on Oct 29, 2014

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During his weekly general audience, Pope Francis explained how God makes himself present in the Church. It’s through the Baptized, explained the Pope, that God acts and makes Himself present.
Despite the limitations of the clergy and the laity, they too, said the Pope, can lead others towards God.
SUMMARY OF POPE’S CATECHESIS:
Dear Brothers and Sisters:
“In our catechesis on the Church, we have seen that the Church is a spiritual reality, the mystical Body of Christ.  Yet we know that the Church is also a visible reality, expressed in our parishes and communities, and in her institutional structures.
This visible reality is itself mysterious, for it embraces the countless and often hidden works of charity carried out by believers throughout the world.  To understand the relationship between the visible and the spiritual dimensions of Christ’s Body, the Church, we need to look to Jesus himself, both God and man.  Just as Christ’s humanity serves his divine mission of salvation, so too, with the eyes of faith, we can understand how the Church’s visible dimension is at the service of her deepest spiritual reality.
 Through her sacraments and her witness to Christ in our world, the Church seeks to proclaim and bring God’s merciful love to all, particularly the poor and those in need.  Let us ask the Lord to enable us to grow in holiness and to be an ever more visible sign of his love for all mankind.”

Pope Francis: We can be a cause of scandal but also give witness

Pope Francis: We can be a cause of scandal but also give witness

Published on Oct 29, 2014

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Pope Francis posed a question to thousands of pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square: How is it possible that God acts in the world through the Church and Christiansif all are sinners?
POPE FRANCIS
“Many times, as a Church, we experience our frailty and our limitations. We all have them. We are all sinners. All of us. None of us can say: ‘I am not a sinner.’ If one of us feels that they are not a sinner, raise your hand. Let’s see how many…you can’t. We all are.”
Pope Francis said that although the way God acts in the world can’t always be understood, Christians can see how Jesus acted.
POPE FRANCIS
“As Jesus used his humanity – because he was also a man – to accomplish his mission, so should the Church. Through its visible reality, of all that can be seen: the Sacraments, the witness of all Christians, the Church is called everyday to be close to every person.”
He went on to say that the Church is made up not only of bishops and priests, but of all baptized people. In that way, God can use the witness of each Christian to bring others closer to the faith.
POPE FRANCIS
“Let us ask [the Lord] to not be a cause of scandal. Let us ask for the gift of faith so that we can understand that, despite our limitations and our poverty, the Lord makes of us an instrument of grace and a visible sign of His love for all humanity. We may become a cause of scandal. Yes. But we can also become a witness.”
Before concluding his addess, Pope Francis prayed for 43 students who werekidnapped in Mexico. He also repeated his call to the international community to overcome the Ebola epidemic that continues to spread globally.