Monday, November 30, 2015

Morality of Human Acts--The Object, the Intention and the Circumstances

Catechism of the Catholic Church

1750 The morality of human acts depends on: 
- the object chosen; 
- the end in view or the intention; 
- the circumstances of the action. 
The object, the intention, and the circumstances make up the "sources," or constitutive elements, of the morality of human acts.

1751 The object chosen is a good toward which the will deliberately directs itself. It is the matter of a human act. The object chosen morally specifies the act of the will, insofar as reason recognizes and judges it to be or not to be in conformity with the true good. Objective norms of morality express the rational order of good and evil, attested to by conscience.

1752 In contrast to the object, the intention resides in the acting subject. Because it lies at the voluntary source of an action and determines it by its end, intention is an element essential to the moral evaluation of an action. The end is the first goal of the intention and indicates the purpose pursued in the action. the intention is a movement of the will toward the end: it is concerned with the goal of the activity. It aims at the good anticipated from the action undertaken. Intention is not limited to directing individual actions, but can guide several actions toward one and the same purpose; it can orient one's whole life toward its ultimate end. For example, a service done with the end of helping one's neighbor can at the same time be inspired by the love of God as the ultimate end of all our actions. One and the same action can also be inspired by several intentions, such as performing a service in order to obtain a favor or to boast about it.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi

The Peace Prayer
Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace;
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is error, truth;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
And where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master,
Grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled, as to console;
To be understood, as to understand;
To be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

St. Teresa of Avila's Prayer for Serenity

St. Teresa of Avila

Let nothing disturb you,
Let nothing frighten you,
All things are passing away:
God never changes.
Patience obtains all things
Whoever has God lacks nothing;
God alone suffices.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Leave Not Your Soul Empty

Saint Macarius, Bishop

When a house has no master living in it, it becomes dark, vile and contemptible, choked with filth and disgusting refuse.  So too is a soul which has lost its master, who once rejoiced there with his angels.  The soul is darkened with sin; its desires are degraded, and it knows nothing but shame.

Woe to the path that is not walked on, or along which the voices of men are not heard, for then it becomes the haunt of wild animals.  Woe to the soul if the Lord does not walk within it to banish with his voice the spiritual beasts of sin.  Woe to the house where no master dwells, to the field where no farmer works, to the pilotless ship, storm-tossed and sinking.  Woe to the soul without Christ as it true pilot; drifting in the darkness, buffeted by the waves of passion, storm-tossed at the mercy of evil spirits; its end is destruction.  Woe to the soul that does not have Christ to cultivate it with care to produce the good fruit of the Holy Spirit.  Let to itself, it is choked with thorns and thistles; instead of fruit it produces only what is fit for burning.  Woe to the soul that does not have Christ dwelling in it; deserted and foul with the filth of passions, it becomes the haven for all the vices.

When a farmer prepares to till the soil he must put on clothing and use tools that are suitable.  So Christ, our heavenly king, came to till the soil of mankind devastated by sin.  He assumed a body and, using the cross as his plowshare, cultivated the barren soul of man.  He removed the thorns and thistles which are the evil spirits and pulled up the weeds of sin.  Into the fire he cast the straw of wickedness.  And when he had plowed the soul with the wood of the cross, he planted in it a most lovely garden of the Spirit that could produce its Lord and God the sweetest and most pleasant fruit of every kind. 

Cf. Hom. 38: PG 34, 710-711.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

The Goods and Requirements of Conjugal Love

Catechism of the Catholic Church

1643 "Conjugal love involves a totality, in which all the elements of the person enter - appeal of the body and instinct, power of feeling and affectivity, aspiration of the spirit and of will. It aims at a deeply personal unity, a unity that, beyond union in one flesh, leads to forming one heart and soul; it demands indissolubility and faithfulness in definitive mutual giving; and it is open to fertility. In a word it is a question of the normal characteristics of all natural conjugal love, but with a new significance which not only purifies and strengthens them, but raises them to the extent of making them the expression of specifically Christian values."

The unity and indissolubility of marriage
1644 The love of the spouses requires, of its very nature, the unity and indissolubility of the spouses' community of persons, which embraces their entire life: "so they are no longer two, but one flesh." They "are called to grow continually in their communion through day-to-day fidelity to their marriage promise of total mutual self-giving." This human communion is confirmed, purified, and completed by communion in Jesus Christ, given through the sacrament of Matrimony. It is deepened by lives of the common faith and by the Eucharist received together.

1645 "The unity of marriage, distinctly recognized by our Lord, is made clear in the equal personal dignity which must be accorded to man and wife in mutual and unreserved affection." Polygamy is contrary to conjugal love which is undivided and exclusive.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Pope Francis: The World’s Kingdom vs. God’s Kingdom

Angelus Address (November 22, 2015)

The world’s kingdom is based on “weapons of fear” and manipulation.  Christ’s kingdom is based on truth and love.  The world’s kingdom oppresses, Christ’s kingdom “frees us from our weaknesses and miseries,” and leads us to “reconciliation and forgiveness.”  “Christ is not a king who dominates us, who treats us like subjects, but who elevates us to his own dignity.” 

The logic of the world and the logic of the Gospel are very different.  Worldly logic, and the worldly kingdom is based on “ambition and competition” and “fights with weapons of fear, blackmail, and the manipulation of conscience.”  The logic of the Gospel is built upon “humility and gratitude, silently yet effectively with the strength of truth.”   “In speaking of power and strength, for the Christian, means to refer to the power of the Cross and the strength of Jesus’ love.”  This love “remains resolute and complete, even in the face of rejection; it stands out as the achievement of a life spent in the total offering of self on behalf of humanity.”

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Problem of Suffering: A Catholic Perspective!

Fr. John Pasquini, Th.D.

Suffering is not a curse or tragedy—whether at the individual or societal level: suffering is a gift, a grace, a blessing.  Without suffering we cannot be authentically human. 

Without suffering we become slaves to self-will and self-infatuation.  We develop an obsession with controlling the “here and now,” which always fails.  Without suffering we would be destined to a life of slavery.

Suffering is the key that unshackles that which enslaves.  Suffering is the means to freedom. Suffering reminds us of our powerlessness, finitude, and our limitations.  It reminds us our fragility and the brevity of life, and ultimately our eternal destiny.

Suffering forces us to confront reality.  It strips us to the core of who we are and then asks, “Are we happy with who we have found?”

Thus suffering entails conversion and a revelation.  We are not the same after we have suffered.  Who we continue to become depends on how much we allow suffering to purge us of our superficialities and our divided nature. 

It is only when we are purged of the superficial, the delusional, the repressed that we can become authentically human.  It is in the purging process that we find our meaning and purpose in life, that we find the answers to the essential questions in life.   

Suffering is transformative; it is freeing and enlightening. It is a must, a grace, a necessity for humanness.  Suffering addresses the essential questions in life and offers us a pathway to light, happiness and peace.

To not have suffered is to not have lived!

And if life is eternal, as I believe, then suffering is simply that aspect in life that prepares us for eternity, not as a surprise but as a gift.  In eternal life, the mystery of suffering, avoidable and unavoidable, is revealed and conquered, for in eternity, in the beatific vision, it is no longer needed.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Do Not Accept the Grace of God in Vain

Rainiero Cantalamessa

The discovery of grace implies conversion.  It makes us face the question, “What have I done with God’s grace?  What am I doing with it?’ 

St. Paul puts us on our guard when he said, “We entreat you not to accept the grace of God in vain” (2 Cor. 6:1).  The grace of God can actually be accepted “in vain”; it can fall on deaf ears, and this is a dreadful situation.  We can waste grace, and this occurs when we don’t correspond to grace; when we don’t nourish grace so that it can produce its fruits, the fruits of the Holy Spirit, the virtues….

The worst case of receiving grace in vain is to lose it, to live in sin, in the dis-grace of God.  This is really a dreadful situation because it is a premonition of eternal death.  In fact, if God’s grace is the beginning of glory, to be in dis-grace of God is the beginning of damnation.  To live in God’s dis-grace is already to live as damned; it means to suffer in this life the torment of the damned even if you are not yet able to recognize and experience the torment in question.  You should not live in God’s dis-grace even for one night—it’s too risky. 

To willingly live without God’s grace is like being dead…, and, alas, how many corpses there are in our streets and squares!  They are often the picture of vitality and youth and yet they are dead!  A well-known atheist was asked one day how he felt deep within his heart and what he was feeling now at the end of his life.  He replied, “I have lived all my life with the strange feeling that I was travelling without a ticket.”  ….To live without God, refusing his grace, is like traveling without a ticket with the risk of being discovered at any moment and being forced to get off.  It reminds us of what Jesus said to the man at the wedding feast who had no wedding garment, who was speechless and cast out.

We must therefore have a sound sense of fear and awe at the responsibility that the grace of God gives us.  We must not only protect it, we must also cultivate it and increase it because it is possible to grow in grace, as it said of Jesus himself.  ….The first message in Christianity must be the message of grace, but that in order to be able to preach it, grace must be experienced and lived.  ….A person living in sin cannot help others free themselves of sin.

Cf. Mary: Mirror of the Church (Collegeville: Liturgical Press, 1992), 32-34.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Role of the Lay Faithful in the Church

Catechism of the Catholic Church

897 "The term 'laity' is here understood to mean all the faithful except those in Holy Orders and those who belong to a religious state approved by the Church. That is, the faithful, who by Baptism are incorporated into Christ and integrated into the People of God, are made sharers in their particular way in the priestly, prophetic, and kingly office of Christ, and have their own part to play in the mission of the whole Christian people in the Church and in the World."

The vocation of lay people
898 "By reason of their special vocation it belongs to the laity to seek the kingdom of God by engaging in temporal affairs and directing them according to God's will.... It pertains to them in a special way so to illuminate and order all temporal things with which they are closely associated that these may always be effected and grow according to Christ and may be to the glory of the Creator and Redeemer."

899 The initiative of lay Christians is necessary especially when the matter involves discovering or inventing the means for permeating social, political, and economic realities with the demands of Christian doctrine and life. This initiative is a normal element of the life of the Church:

Lay believers are in the front line of Church life; for them the Church is the animating principle of human society. Therefore, they in particular ought to have an ever-clearer consciousness not only of belonging to the Church, but of being the Church, that is to say, the community of the faithful on earth under the leadership of the Pope, the common Head, and of the bishops in communion with him. They are the Church.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

God Answers Prayers in His Way and In His Time


I sought wealth so that I might have everything.
I was given poverty, so that I could appreciate everything.

I sought power, so that I might be influential.
I was given weakness, so that I might recognize the needs of others.

I wanted health so that I could live a long life.
I was given illness so that I could appreciate life and live it to the full.

In my life I got very little that I ever asked for, but everything I ever could have desired or hoped for.

Almost despite myself, you gave me my deepest, innermost needs.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

The Sanctity of Marriage and the Family

Gadium et Spes, n. 48

St. Anne and St. Joachim
Husband and Wife, by the covenant of marriage, are no longer two, but one flesh.  By their intimate union of persons and of actions they give mutual help and service to each other, experience the meaning of their unity, and gain an ever deeper understanding of it day by day.

Thus intimate union in the mutual self-giving of two persons as well as the good of children, demands full fidelity from both, and an indissoluble unity between them. 
Christ the Lord has abundantly blessed this richly complex love, which springs from the divine source of love and is founded on the model of his union with the Church. 

In earlier times God met his people in a covenant of love and fidelity.  So now the Savior of mankind, the Bridegroom of the Church, meets Christian husbands and wives in the sacrament of matrimony.  Further, he remains with them in order that, as he loved the Church and gave himself up for her, so husband and wife may in mutual self-giving, love each other with perpetual fidelity. 

True married love is caught up into God’s love; it is guided and enriched by the redeeming power of Christ and the saving action of the Church, in order that the partners may be effectively led to God and receive help and strength in the sublime responsibility of parenthood.

Christian partners are therefore strengthened, and as it were consecrated, by a special sacrament for the duties and the dignity of their state.  By the power of this sacrament they fulfill their obligations to each other and to their family and are filled with the spirit of Christ.  This spirit pervades their whole lives with faith, hope and love.  Thus they promote their own perfection and each other’s sanctification, and so contribute together to the greater glory of God.

Hence, with parents leading the way by example and family prayer, their children—indeed all within the family circle—will find it easier to make progress in natural virtues, in salvation and in holiness.  Husband and wife, raised to the dignity and the responsibility of parenthood, will be zealous in fulfilling their task as educators, especially in the sphere of religious education, a task that is primarily their own.

Children, as active members of the family, contribute in their own way to the holiness of their parents.  With the love of grateful hearts, with loving respect and trust, they will return the generosity of their parents and will stand by them as true sons and daughters when they meet hardship and the loneliness of old age.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Life and Liberty—Universal Human Rights

Fr. Frank Pavone

Church and State—A Common Morality
[Truths] can be known by human reason alone.  These are natural truths and fundamental rights….

[Human morality is common to both “church and state.”]  It is critical to understand “church, state, and morality” as one dynamic.  We cannot just talk about church and state as separate entities with separate guidelines.  There is a morality that flows through both.  The sanctions on stealing or killing illustrate the shared norms.  We affirm that the church and the state each has a legitimate autonomy.  Yet when we say that there is a legitimate autonomy of the two…we are not saying that the way we conduct ourselves politically is value-free.  Democracy cannot be value-neutral.  It cannot fail to ascertain that there are certain things that are good, certain things that are right.  And yes, we can know those things. 

Human reason is something that is shared by all of us.  We don’t all exercise it with the same degree of discernment, but a common denominator of humanity is our ability to reason.  We are able to distinguish between right and wrong.  We also understand that on certain issues right and wrong are so clearly distinct that the state absolutely must acknowledge them.  We can discern, furthermore, the fundamental rights that people possess. A fundamental right is a human right without which we cannot express our humanity.  At the top of the list are life itself and liberty.  We cannot live as fully functioning persons if we are enslaved.  A person, by definition, by his or her very nature, is free.  We have to be able to act freely to accept our responsibility as humans.  In America today and in all of the free world, this truth is fully accepted.

And yet to be free, a person must first be alive.  To deprive a person of life is to deprive the person of liberty.  It stands to reason, literally, that the very right to life has to be respected and protected….  

To hold the state accountable for protecting those fundamental rights—life and freedom--has nothing to do with imposing religious beliefs and everything to do with reason.

Cf. Frank Pavone, Abolishing Abortion (US: Nelson Books, 2015), 16-18.  This new book by Fr. Frank Pavone is highly recommended by the Catholic Post Journal for all involved in the Pro-Life Movement, the most important movement of our generation.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

God's Tender Concern for You and Me

God’s Providence in Your Life

Bl. Mother Teresa of Calcutta

I will give you an example of God’s love.  A man came to our house and said, “My only child is dying!  The doctor has prescribed a medicine that you can only get in England.” 

We have permission from our government to store life-saving medicines that are gathered from all over the country.  We have many people who go from house to house and gather leftover medicines so our doctors can dispense them.  They bring them to us and we give them to our poor people.  We have thousands of people who come to our dispensaries. 

While we were talking, a man came in with a basket of medicines.  I looked at that basket: right on the top was the very medicine that man needed for his dying child!  If it had been underneath, I wouldn’t have seen it.

If he had come earlier or later, I would not have remembered.  He came just in time.

As I stood in front of that basket I thought, “There are millions of children in the world, and God is concerned with that little child in Calcutta.  To send that man at that very moment!  To put the medicine right on the top, so I could see it!”

See God’s tender concern for you and for me!  He would do the same thing for each of you.

Cf.  In the Heart of the World (Novato: New World Library, 1997), 79-80.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Church as the People of God

Catechism of Catholic Church
781 "At all times and in every race, anyone who fears God and does what is right has been acceptable to him. He has, however, willed to make men holy and save them, not as individuals without any bond or link between them, but rather to make them into a people who might acknowledge him and serve him in holiness. He therefore chose the Israelite race to be his own people and established a covenant with it. He gradually instructed this people.... All these things, however, happened as a preparation for and figure of that new and perfect covenant which was to be ratified in Christ . . . the New Covenant in his blood; he called together a race made up of Jews and Gentiles which would be one, not according to the flesh, but in the Spirit."

Characteristics of the People of God
782 The People of God is marked by characteristics that clearly distinguish it from all other religious, ethnic, political, or cultural groups found in history:
- It is the People of God: God is not the property of any one people. But he acquired a people for himself from those who previously were not a people: "a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation."
- One becomes a member of this people not by a physical birth, but by being "born anew," a birth "of water and the Spirit," that is, by faith in Christ, and Baptism.
- This People has for its Head Jesus the Christ (the anointed, the Messiah). Because the same anointing, the Holy Spirit, flows from the head into the body, this is "the messianic people."
- "The status of this people is that of the dignity and freedom of the sons of God, in whose hearts the Holy Spirit dwells as in a temple."
- "Its law is the new commandment to love as Christ loved us." This is the "new" law of the Holy Spirit.
- Its mission is to be salt of the earth and light of the world.  This people is "a most sure seed of unity, hope, and salvation for the whole human race."
-Its destiny, finally, "is the Kingdom of God which has been begun by God himself on earth and which must be further extended until it has been brought to perfection by him at the end of time."

Thursday, November 12, 2015

The Domestic Church

Catechism of the Catholic Church

1655 Christ chose to be born and grow up in the bosom of the holy family of Joseph and Mary. the Church is nothing other than "the family of God." From the beginning, the core of the Church was often constituted by those who had become believers "together with all [their] household."  When they were converted, they desired that "their whole household" should also be saved.  These families who became believers were islands of Christian life in an unbelieving world.

1656 In our own time, in a world often alien and even hostile to faith, believing families are of primary importance as centers of living, radiant faith. For this reason the Second Vatican Council, using an ancient expression, calls the family the Ecclesia domestica.  It is in the bosom of the family that parents are "by word and example . . . the first heralds of the faith with regard to their children. They should encourage them in the vocation which is proper to each child, fostering with special care any religious vocation." 

1657 It is here that the father of the family, the mother, children, and all members of the family exercise the priesthood of the baptized in a privileged way "by the reception of the sacraments, prayer and thanksgiving, the witness of a holy life, and self-denial and active charity." Thus the home is the first school of Christian life and "a school for human enrichment."  Here one learns endurance and the joy of work, fraternal love, generous - even repeated - forgiveness, and above all divine worship in prayer and the offering of one's life.

1658 We must also remember the great number of single persons who, because of the particular circumstances in which they have to live - often not of their choosing - are especially close to Jesus' heart and therefore deserve the special affection and active solicitude of the Church, especially of pastors. Many remain without a human family often due to conditions of poverty. Some live their situation in the spirit of the Beatitudes, serving God and neighbor in exemplary fashion. the doors of homes, the "domestic churches," and of the great family which is the Church must be open to all of them. "No one is without a family in this world: the Church is a home and family for everyone, especially those who 'labor and are heavy laden.'" 

What is Matrimonial Consent?

Catechism of the Catholic Church

1625 The parties to a marriage covenant are a baptized man and woman, free to contract marriage, who freely express their consent; "to be free" means:

- not being under constraint;

- not impeded by any natural or ecclesiastical law.

1626 The Church holds the exchange of consent between the spouses to be the indispensable element that "makes the marriage."  If consent is lacking there is no marriage.

1627 The consent consists in a "human act by which the partners mutually give themselves to each other": "I take you to be my wife" - "I take you to be my husband."  This consent that binds the spouses to each other finds its fulfillment in the two "becoming one flesh." 

1628 The consent must be an act of the will of each of the contracting parties, free of coercion or grave external fear.  No human power can substitute for this consent.  If this freedom is lacking the marriage is invalid.

1629 For this reason (or for other reasons that render the marriage null and void) the Church, after an examination of the situation by the competent ecclesiastical tribunal, can declare the nullity of a marriage, i.e., that the marriage never existed.130 In this case the contracting parties are free to marry, provided the natural obligations of a previous union are discharged.131

1630 The priest (or deacon) who assists at the celebration of a marriage receives the consent of the spouses in the name of the Church and gives the blessing of the Church. the presence of the Church's minister (and also of the witnesses) visibly expresses the fact that marriage is an ecclesial reality.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

God Exists because He Fills the Emptiness

If God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent him. (1)

We know from experience that belief in God fills an emptiness. 

Atheists are fully aware that belief in God brings about fulfillment:  Marx felt belief in God was an opiate to assuage; Feuerbach and Freud saw it as a psychological projection that gave consolation.  Some view it as a delusion of happiness.  For Persinger, God is a “built-in pacifier.”

We have an emptiness that seeks to be filled.  Many seek to fill this emptiness and sense of restlessness with wealth, honor, fame, glory, power, bodily health, pleasure, and so forth.  Yet human experience shows us that these things do not fill the emptiness.  History has shown us that only belief in God can fill the emptiness!

Those who seek wealth, honor, power, etc., to fill the emptiness, and acquire them, find momentary satisfaction, but then the emptiness returns.  They thus seek to acquire more wealth, honor, power, etc., so as to recapture some sense of satisfaction, but the emptiness always returns.  And the patterns goes on.  Why does it go on?  What is its end?

Attempts to fill oneself with worldly accomplishments and possessions can only bring about temporary fulfillment.  In the end, they leave us empty.  And what is the consequence of this emptiness?  Studies point to the fact that atheists are among the most unhappy, the most bitter, the most intolerant, the most aggressive, and the most likely to pacify their angst with drugs and alcohol. (2)  They are more likely to commit suicide or to die in despair.  They echo the angst of Severus, “I have been everything and everything is nothing.”

Why does human experience teach us that there is nothing in this world that can give us a remedy for this emptiness?  Why does human experience teach us that only a belief in something beyond ourselves and this world can fill this emptiness? 

Prayers for Our Soldiers and their Needs

United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

Prayers in a Time of War

  1. For Troops
    All-powerful and ever-living God,
    when Abraham left his native land
    and departed from his people
    you kept him safe through all his journeys.
    Protect these soldiers.
    Be their constant companion and their strength in battle,
    their refuge in every adversity.
    Guide them, O Lord, that they may return home in safety.
    We ask this through Christ our Lord.
  2. Prayer of a Spouse for a Soldier
    God of power and might,
    at every moment and in every place
    you are near to those who call upon your name in faith.
    In marriage you have blessed us with a share in your divine love.
    Look upon my husband/wife and keep him/her in your safekeeping,
    no matter where the road may lead.
    And when the battle is ended,
    bring him/her safely home to those who love him.
    We ask this through Christ our Lord.
  3. Prayer of a Son or Daughter for a Parent
    Loving God
    you watch over each and every one of your children
    Hear my prayer for my father/mother
    Be his/her constant companion.
    Protect him/her no matter where he/she goes,
    and bring him/her safely and quickly home to those who love him/her.
    We ask this through Christ our Lord.
  4. Prayer of a Parent for a Soldier
    Father all-powerful and ever-loving God,
    from before we were born,
    your love has nurtured and sustained us.
    Hear my prayer for N., my son/daughter.
    Keep him/her safe in time of battle
    and faithful to you, day in and day out.
    Bring him/her safely home to those who love him/her.
    We ask this through Christ our Lord.
  5. Prayer for Those who Await a Soldier's Return
    God of all goodness,
    Look with love on those who wait
    for the safe return of their loved ones
    who serve in the armed forces of their country.
    In faith and hope, we turn to you for comfort.
    Grant that we may trust in your mercy
    and send an angel to sustain us as we await their safe return.
    We ask this through Christ our Lord.
  6. For Government Leaders
    God of power and might, wisdom and justice,
    through you authority is rightly administered,
    laws are enacted, and judgment is decreed.
    Assist with your spirit of counsel and fortitude
    the President and other government leaders of these United States.
    May they always seek
    the ways of righteousness, justice and mercy.
    Grant that they may be enabled by your powerful protection
    to lead our country with honesty and integrity.
    We ask this through Christ our Lord.
  7. For the Safety of Soldiers
    Almighty and eternal God,
    those who take refuge in you will be glad
    and forever will shout for joy.
    Protect these soldiers as they discharge their duties.
    Protect them with the shield of your strength
    and keep them safe from all evil and harm.
    May the power of your love enable them to return home
    in safety, that with all who love them,
    they may ever praise you for your loving care.
    We ask this through Christ our Lord.
  8. For our Enemies
    Jesus, Prince of Peace,
    you have asked us to love our enemies
    and pray for those who persecute us.
    We pray for our enemies and those who oppose us.
    With the help of the Holy Spirit,
    may all people learn to work together
    for that justice which brings true and lasting peace.
    To you be glory and honor for ever and ever.
  9. For Courage in the time of Battle
    O Prince of peace, we humbly ask your protection
    for all our men and women in military service.
    Give them unflinching courage to defend
    with honor, dignity and devotion,
    the rights of all who are imperiled
    by injustice and evil.
    Be their rock, their shield, and their stronghold
    and let them draw their strength from you.
    For you are God, for ever and ever.
  10. In a Time of Waiting
    All powerful and ever-living God,
    Guard our churches, our homes, our schools,
    our hospitals, our factories, and all the places where we gather.
    Deliver us from harm and peril.
    Protect our land and its peoples from enemies within and without.
    Grant an early peace with victory founded upon justice.
    Instill in the hearts and minds of men and women everywhere
    a firm purpose to live forever in peace and good will toward all.
    We ask this through Christ our Lord.
  11. For Deceased Veterans
    O God,
    by whose mercy the faithful departed find rest,
    look kindly on your departed veterans who gave their
    lives in the service of their country.
    Grant that through the passion, death, and resurrection of your Son
    they may share in the joy of your heavenly kingdom
    and rejoice in you with your saints forever.
    We ask this through Christ our Lord.

Vatican Treasures

Fr. John J. Pasquini, Th.D.

Sell all and give to the poor?

This is a statement that many secular people and sometimes religious people like to express regarding the Vatican’s treasures. 

How does the Church respond to such claims? 

First, the Church does not think simply in terms of the “here and now.”  It thinks in terms of centuries.  It thinks of being there for the needy in the present and in the future.

Second, the Catholic Church is the number one charitable organization in the world.  It is so because it has a constant stream of income, which is often supplemented by admission fees to its various historical sites and museums.  In an interview with a Dutch Newspaper, Straatnievwj, on October 27, 2015, Pope Francis commented that the additional income from the Church’s treasures help to maintain hospitals, schools, and poor church communities throughout the world.  He commented that he had released 50,000 euros—that particular week—for the building of three schools in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  (Most people are unaware that the Catholic Church often operates with deficits.  Its money for the poor come from the people—and in a secular world, people are less generous.  The Church is as generous as its people.)

Third, if you sold all the Vatican treasures (statues, art-work, historical documents, etc.) the monies from their purchase would be consumed within a few years. Then what?  If you sold your house and all your possessions and gave them to the poor, how would you help the poor in the future?  You would be among the poor in need of help!

Fourth, the treasures of Western civilization do not belong to the Catholic Church but to humanity.  They are not to be sold to private collectors or museums but are to be protected by the oldest surviving institution in the world—an institution that built and preserved Western civilization.  “Western civilization’s treasures,” in the words of Francis, “are in the Church but do not belong to the Church; they belong to humanity and are therefore not the Church’s to give away.”

Poverty, as Jesus reminded us, will always be with us.  As long as there is sin there will be poverty.  We are called to be faithful in our service to the poor and leave the success to God—who takes care of all things in his way and in his time.

The Church thinks and lives in terms of centuries—with an eye on serving people in every generation till the end of time.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Visions of the Earth and Not of Heaven

Fr. John Pasquini, Th.D.

What kind of zeal do we display in seeking God in our lives?  Do we show more zeal in seeking earthly treasures and worldly accomplishments?  Do we fail to realize that this life is but a blink of the eye, a puff of smoke, a simple breath of air when compared to eternity?  Are our priorities properly set?

In 1923 a high-level meeting of the world’s greatest movers and shakers met at Chicago’s Edgewater Beach Hotel.  In attendance was the president of the nation’s largest steel company, the nation’s largest gas company, and the nation’s largest utility company.  Also in attendance were the other six major movers and shakers of the economy and culture.  Each man had achieved his position through non-stop work.  Little sleep, much maneuvering, many deals, a little bit of cronyism, and a life spent with a single all consuming passion for being the greatest. 

What did this chase after worldly glory leave them with?  What happened to these great men?  During the passage of twenty-five years, three died penniless, three had committed suicide, two were imprisoned, and one was institutionalized for insanity.  They may have gained the world for a while, but in the end they lost the world and perhaps much more! 

“Worldly people,” as Blessed Henry Suso said, “often purchase hell at a very dear price.”  They allow, as Cuthbert of Lindifarne stated, the “love of money to come and snatch them away.”  How sad it is, as Gemma Galgani explained, “to have visions of the earth instead of visions of heaven.”  After all, as Ignatius of Loyola explained, “the earth is only the earth.” 

How sad it must be to have wasted one’s life away!  The dying words of atheists, agnostics, and the worldly remind us of the sad reality of living life for earthly treasures and worldly accomplishments:  Voltaire cried, “I have been abandoned by all…  I shall go into nothingness.”   Severus whispered, “I have been everything and everything is nothing!”  Thomas Paine explained, “I would give worlds if I had them….  I am at the edge of hell all alone.”  Carlile sniveled, “I am as good as without hope, a sad old man gazing into the final chasm.”  Sir Thomas Scott sobbed “Until this moment, I thought there was neither God nor hell…”  Edward Gibbon despaired, “All is dark and doubtful.”  Sir Francis Newport cried, “All is over, all is lost.”  Hobbes said, “I am about to take a fearful leap into the dark….”  Marx shouted to his nurse, “Get out, get out.  Let me die alone.”  Taleran admitted, “I am suffering the pangs of the damned.”  Vollney cried incessantly “My God, My God, My God…” Meravue exclaimed, “Give me opium that I may not think of eternity.” Aldamont summarized it best, “Life was hell, and there is another hell ahead.”[i] 

Monday, November 9, 2015

C.S. Lewis' Proof for God's Existence

Fr. John J. Pasquini, Th.D.

Argument from Desire

C.S. Lewis’ argument from desire is found succinctly in Mere Christianity (Bk. III. Ch. 10).

“Creatures are not born with desires unless satisfaction for these desires exist.  A baby feels hunger: well, there is such a thing as food.  A duckling wants to swim: well, there is such a thing as water.  Men feel sexual desire: well, there is such a thing as sex.  If I find myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.” (1)

The more formal explanation of Lewis’ argument goes as follows:

1.     Every innate desire in us corresponds to a real thing that can satisfy that desire.
2.     There exists in us one innate desire which nothing on earth can satisfy.
3.     There must, therefore, exist something which is beyond this earth that can satisfy this desire. 
4.     This something is what we call God.

When discussing desires, Lewis makes a distinction between innate desires and externally conditioned desires. 

Innate desires come from our nature; they are inborn and universal—that is, they are common to all healthy people. 

Externally conditioned desires are acquired through the external influences of the culture we live in.  Unlike innate desires, which are found in all healthy people, externally conditioned desires vary from person to person.

Externally conditioned desires do not necessarily correspond to things that exist. I desire that the United States be protected by the superheroes Batman and Superman.    Batman and Superman do not exist. 

Innate desires, however, always corresponds to things that exists.  As the philosopher Peter Kreeft has explained, when it comes to innate desires “no one has ever found one case of an innate desire for a nonexistent object.” (2) I desire food, food exists.  I desire drink, drink exists.  I desire knowledge, knowledge exists.   Our innate desires therefore correspond to real things. 

Praying with the Bible

Fr. John Pasquini, Th.D.

A Way to Pray with the Bible

Step One
Choose a passage from the Bible, preferably a small paragraph or story. 

Step Two
Read the passage.  Collect the facts.  What is being said?  What is going on?

Step Three
Meditate on the passage.  What is God saying to me in this passage from the Bible?  Is there something in my life that God wants to talk to me about?

Step Four
Pray to God.  Share your feelings and thoughts with him. 

Step Five—Taking Action

What do I feel and think God wants me to do?  What is he calling me to do?

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Joy is Prayer: Joy is Love

Bl. Mother Teresa of Calcutta

A joyful heart is the normal result of a heart burning with love.  Joy is not simply a matter of temperament, it is always hard to remain joyful—all the more reason why we should try to acquire it and make it grow in our hearts.

Joy is prayer; joy is strength; joy is love.  She gives most who gives with joy.

To children and to the poor, to all those who suffer and are lonely, give them always a happy smile; give them not only your care but also your heart.  We may not be able to give much, but we can always give the joy that springs from a heart that is filled with love.

If in your work you have difficulties and you accept them with joy, with a big smile, in this, like many other things you will see your good works.  And the best way to show your gratitude is to accept everything with joy.

If you are joyful, it will shine in your eyes and in your look, in your conversation and in your contentment.  You will not be able to hide it because joy overflows. 

Joy is very contagious.  Try, therefore, to be always overflowing with joy wherever you go. 

Joy according to St. Bonaventure, has been given to man so that he can rejoice in God because of the hope of the eternal good and all the benefits he receives from God.  Thus he will know how to rejoice at his neighbor’s prosperity, how to feel discontent concerning empty things. 

Joy must be one of the pivots of our life.  It is the token of a generous personality.  Sometimes it is also a mantle that clothes a life of sacrifice and self-giving.  A person who has this gift often reaches high summits.  He or she is like a sun in a community.

We should ask ourselves, “Have I really experienced the joy of loving?”  True love is love that causes us pain, that hurts, and yet brings us joy.  That is why we must pray and ask for the courage to love.

May God give back to you in love all the love you have given and all the joy and peace you have sown around you, all over the world. 

Cf. In the Heart of the World (Novato: New World Library, 1997), 27-29.