Friday, January 29, 2016

A Prayer Prior to Voting

O God, we acknowledge You today as Lord, 
Not only of individuals, but of nations and governments. 

We thank You for the 
privilege 
Of being able to organize ourselves politically 
And of knowing that political loyalty 
Does not have to mean disloyalty to You. 

We thank You for Your law, 
Which our Founding Fathers acknowledged 
And recognized as higher than any human law. 
We thank You for the opportunity that this 
election year 
puts before us, 
To exercise our solemn 
duty not only to vote, 
But to influence countless others to vote, 
And to vote correctly. 

Lord, we pray that Your people may be awakened. 
Let them realize that while politics is not their 
salvation, 
Their response to You requires that they be politically 
active. 

Awaken Your people to know that they are not called to be 
a sect fleeing the world 
But rather a community of 
faith renewing the world. 

Awaken them that the same hands lifted up to You in 
prayer 
Are the hands that pull the lever in the voting booth; 
That the same eyes that read Your Word 
Are the eyes that read the names on the ballot, 
And that they do not cease to be Christians 
When they enter the voting booth. 

Awaken Your people to a commitment to justice, 
To the 
sanctity of marriage and the family, 
To the dignity of each individual human life, 
And to the 
truth that human rights begin when Human Lives 
Begin, 
And not one moment later. 

Lord, we rejoice today 
That we are citizens of Your kingdom. 

May that make us all the more committed 
To being faithful citizens on earth. 

We ask this through 
Jesus Christ, our Lord.

Amen.



Cf. Catholic Online, http://www.catholic.org/prayers/prayer.php?p=649

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

What is Heaven, Purgatory and Hell Like?

United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

“At the evening of life, we shall be judged on our love.”
St. John of the Cross

[In freedom, one chooses one’s eternal destiny.  The choice we make determines what eternity will be like.]

What is heaven like?  Scripture uses a variety of pictures to help us understand heaven, such as a wedding party, a banquet, the Father’s house, a state of unending or perfect happiness.  But the real heaven is beyond any picture we can paint of it…  Seeing God face to face in all his glory is the essential aspect of heaven.  This is called the beatific vision.  To make this possible God must reveal himself and give us the capacity to behold him.  [Thus we must be transformed and glorified to experience the fullness of the experience of God in heaven]. In the words of St. Cyprian, “How great will your glory and happiness be, to be allowed to see God, to be honored with sharing the joy of salvation and eternal light with Christ your Lord and God…to delight in the joy of immortality in the Kingdom of Heaven with the righteous and God’s friends.”

What is purgatory like?  Traditionally purgatory has been described as a purifying fire.  Since the human soul cannot be touched by earthly flames…[the pains of purgatory are associated with the] purification that obtains that perfection of love and holiness needed to enter heaven, that obtains a heart that is totally open to God, that obtains the necessary detachment from selfishness and self-centeredness necessary to see and experience the God of Heaven. This purging, this purification of all that is not for the honor and glory of God is what the pain of purgatory consists of.]

What is hell like?   The chief punishment of hell is eternal separation from God” (CCC 1035).  It is impossible for us to be united with God if we refuse to love him.  When we sin seriously against God, neighbor, or self, we have failed to love God.  Persistence in a state of serious sin reflects a choice to reject God’s love and an intention to separate oneself from him.  Freely chosen eternal separation from communion with God is called hell.  While images of fire have been used traditionally to picture hell, for example in the Scriptures, the reality of hell exceeds our ability to describe the pain of isolation that comes from rejecting God’s love.

Scripture and the teaching of the Church regarding heaven and hell emphasize a call to personal responsibility by which we use our freedom, aided by divine grace, to respond completely to God’s love.  There is always an urgent call to conversion and repentance, for God desires all to be saved!


Cf. United States Catholic Catechism for Adults, 153-155.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Christian Life as a Life of Freedom

Fr. Karl Rahner, S.J.

The basic and ultimate thrust of Christian life consists not so much in the fact that a Christian is a special instance of mankind in general, but rather in the fact that a Christian is simply man as he is.  He is a person who accepts without reservations the whole of concrete human life with all its adventures, its absurdities, and its incomprehensibilities.  A real non-Christian, on the other hand, a person who could not even be called an “implicit Christian” in the ultimate depths of the way he lives out human existence, is characterized precisely by the fact that he does not muster this unconditional acceptance of human existence. 

The really ultimate and real thing about a Christian and his life is that he accepts himself just as he is, and does this without making anything an idol, without leaving anything out, and without closing himself to the totality of what in the ultimate depths of reality is inescapably imposed upon man as his task.

From this perspective we could characterize Christian life precisely as a life of freedom.  For freedom is ultimately an openness to everything, to everything without exception: openness to absolute truth, to absolute love, and to the absolute infinity of human life in its immediacy to the very reality which we call God…. 

Ultimately this freedom is not the absence of forces which determine our existence.  We can strive for this kind of freedom to a certain extent; this is also possible and it is a real task in human life.  But for us who were born without being asked, who will die without being asked, and who have received a quite definite realm of existence without being asked, a realm which ultimately cannot be exchanged, there is no immediate freedom in the sense of an absence of any and every force which co-determines our existence.  But a Christian believes that there is a path to freedom which lies in going through this custody.  We do not seize it by force, but rather it is given to us by God insofar as he gives himself to us throughout all the custodies of our existence.


Cf. Foundations of Christian Faith (New York: Herder and Herder, 2012), 402-403.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

A Message to Priests

St. John Paul II

As priests you are at the service of Christ the Teacher.  A very important part of your ministry is to preach and teach the Christian message. 

Saint Paul describes his own attitude to this ministry:  “We do not resort to trickery or falsify the word of God.  We proclaim the truth openly and commend ourselves to every man’s conscience before God.”  We must not tamper with God’s word.  We must strive to apply the Good News to the ever changing conditions of the world but, courageously and at all costs, we must resist the temptation to alter its content or reinterpret it in order to make it fit into the passing spirit of the present age.

The message we preach is not the wisdom of this world but the words of life that seem like foolishness to the unspiritual man.  We should not be surprised then if our message of conversion and life is not always well received.  Do everything in your power to present the world as effectively as possible; believe in the power of the word itself, and never become discouraged.

How careful we must be about our preaching!  It should be the continuation of our prayer.  To spend your lives, in the service of the People of God, through word and sacrament—this is your great task, your glory, your treasure.  We must love our vocation and mission.  But we must love our vocation and mission.  But we must also be seen to love our priesthood.  Let your people see that you are men of prayer.  Let them see that you treat the mysteries with love and respect.  Let them see that your commitment to peace, justice, and truth is sincere, unconditional and brave.

And remember:  There are always souls to enlighten, sinners to pardon, tears to dry, disappointments to console, sick to encourage, children and youngsters to guide.  There is, there ever shall be, people to love and save, in Christ’s name!  This is your vocation; it ought to make you happy and courageous.


Prayers and Devotions (New York: Viking, 1994), 297, 299.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Roe vs. Wade's Legacy: Death and Post Abortion Trauma

Fr. John J. Pasquini, Th.D.

Trauma, if not dealt with, will manifest itself in the most negative of ways.  Hence, the trauma of abortion, if not dealt with, will wreak havoc on a woman and consequently on much of society.  Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or what is often called Post Abortion Trauma/Syndrome is common.  Thirsty-six percent of women who have had an abortion will suffer from sleep disorders, 31% will suffer regrets, 11% will be prescribed psychotropic medications, and 44% suffer some other sort of nervous disorder associated with PTSD.

Women who have had abortions often seek to deal with the pain in essentially four manners:  through suppression, repression, rationalization, and/or compensation.

Suppression
Women who seek to suppress the trauma of abortion consciously push away or push down any negative feelings.  They do everything possible not to think about the abortion or its trauma.  These are women who often turn to alcohol or drugs to numb their pain, or become workaholics to keep busy and distracted, or avoid prayer, church, and God.  It is not unusual to notice a person get up and walk out of church when the very word abortion is mentioned.  They are not being disrespectful.  They are simply avoiding a reminder of their trauma.

In the most extreme cases, women who suppress their pain will often have more than one abortion (three to ten is not unusual) with the hope that each abortion will lessen the trauma (forty-five percent of women who have had an abortion, will have more than one).  The mentality is: “The more I have, the less it will hurt.”

Repression
Women who repress the trauma of abortion do so without any conscious awareness.  Repression is a subconscious defense mechanism where the mind blocks out any negativity.  These repressed feelings manifest themselves through an inability to bond with their husbands or children and an inability to form deep relationships.  They don’t want to be hurt by the possibility of any future losses, so they hold back! 
           

Monday, January 18, 2016

The Work of the Media in Human Society

20. The swift advances of the means of social communication tear down the barriers that time and space have erected between men. They can make for greater understanding and closer unity. A mass of information is continually on the move to and from all parts of the world and, as a result, men can learn what goes on and how other men live. Teaching at all levels has benefited by the use of these aids. These media play their part in eliminating illiteracy and in providing both basic and further education. They can, very effectively, help people in developing countries to achieve progress and freedom. They can establish a measure of universal equality in which all men, whatever their place in society can enjoy the delights of culture and leisure. They enrich men's minds. They help them to keep in touch with reality by providing the sights and sounds which are the very stuff of life. They bring far away times and places within their grasp. And when illiteracy is rife - and this is not in any way to question the validity of traditional cultures - citizens can quickly be brought in touch with recent developments in modern ways of life.

21. In the light of these advantages, the communications media can be seen as powerful instruments for progress. It is true they present difficulties but these must be faced and overcome. Both the communicators and the recipients ought to be aware of their inherent dangers and difficulties. For instance, how can we ensure that this swift and haphazard and endless stream of news is properly evaluated and understood? The media are bound to seek a mass audience and so they often adopt a neutral stance in order to avoid giving offence to any section of their audience. How, in a society that is committed to the rights of dissent, is the distinction between right and wrong, and true and false, to be made?

Friday, January 15, 2016

Vatican II’s Recipe for Good Journalism

6. The channels of social communication, even though they are addressed to individuals, reach and affect the whole of society. They inform a vast public about what goes on in the world and about contemporary attitudes and they do it swiftly. That is why they are indispensable to the smooth functioning of modern society with its complex and ever changing needs….

9, 13. The media of social communication can contribute a great deal to human unity. If, however, men's minds and hearts are ill disposed, if good will is not there, this outpouring of technology may produce an opposite effect so that there is less understanding and more discord and, as a result, evils are multiplied. Too often, we have to watch social communications used to contradict or corrupt the fundamental values of human life….  All men of good will, then, are impelled to work together to ensure that the media of communication do in fact contribute to the pursuit of truth and the speeding up of progress…

14, 15.  Since it is man himself who decides how the available means of communication shall be used, the moral principles at issue here are those based on a true interpretation of the dignity of man….. Whoever wants to see the media take their allotted place…must have a full and proper understanding of man. He must also have a sound knowledge both of the true nature of social communication and of the tools at its service.

16. The total output of the media in any given area should be judged by the contribution it makes to the common good.  Its news, culture and entertainment should meet the growing needs of society. The news of something that has happened must be given and so too must the background of the event so that people can understand society's problems and work for their solution. A proper balance must be kept, not only between hard news, educational material and entertainment but also between the light and the more serious forms of that entertainment.

17. Every communication must comply with certain essential requirements and these are sincerity, honesty and truthfulness. Good intentions and a clear conscience do not thereby make a communication sound and reliable. A communication must state the truth. It must accurately reflect the situation with all its implications. The moral worth and validity of any communication does not lie solely in its theme or intellectual content. The way in which it is presented, the way in which it is spoken and treated and even the audience for which it is designed - all these factors must be taken into account.


Communio et Progressio, 29 January, 1971.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Mary, the Great Intercessor

Fr. John J. Pasquini, Th.D.

Mary is the Great Intercessor because God made her so. 

If the angels and saints throughout the Scriptures have interceded for us and continue to do so in heaven, how much more can we expect Mary to intercede for us?

Mary interceded for us in her “Fiat,” her “Yes” to God.  By her “yes” she opened the way to her Son coming into this world.  She opened the way to redemption, salvation, sanctification and grace. By giving Jesus his body and blood, she also became the instrument of our salvation, the body and blood that would be offered up on the cross for our salvation.

The Queen Mother of the Old Testament, the Hebrew Scriptures, would often give advice to the King; This new Queen Mother gives advice to the new King, the King of kings, Jesus Christ—as she did at Cana.

At Cana, Mary’s intercession brought about Jesus’ first public miracle and the beginning of his ministry.  And on the cross, near the end of Jesus’ public ministry, Jesus gave Mary to John, to us, as a reminder that she would continue to intercede for us, the community of faith, the Church, as represented by the apostle John.  That just as John was “beloved” Mary would see us as “beloved.”

Honoring Mary is what Jesus wants, for to do so is to honor his work—in her!  To imitate and honor Mary is to honor and imitate Christ—who took upon himself his mother’s flesh and blood. 

Mary is a living picture, the image of her Son, bodily (since Jesus took his body and blood from his mother), and because of her Son, Mary is full of grace, the perfection of the virtues, the model of the what the Church is called to be, the model of what a disciple is called to be—in persona Christi.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Terrorism and a Catholic Response

Fr. John J. Pasquini, Th.D.


Terrorism is in the fore of every mind.  People of good will are clearly aware of the evil and depravity of such acts.  The question:  If we have the ability to prevent or stop evil—the evil of terrorism--do we have a moral obligation to do so?  The answer is “Yes.”  Yes, we have a moral obligation to act.  But how?  The following is a Catholic approach:

1. Seek to understand the ideologies of the terrorists and what underlies their outrage--not as you understand them, or would like other people to understand them (in a politically correct way) but as they understand themselves.

2. Be not afraid to understand the reality that one is dealing with.  Often what is “out of sight is out of mind.”  Failure to know the truth, or conceal the truth, is costly to the innocent: In the words of Bonhoeffer, “Not to speak is to speak; not to act is to act.”

Saints Enhance Our Worship Of God

Adolphe Tanquerey, S.S., D.D.


Assuredly there is but one God and one principal mediator, Jesus Christ: “For there is one God: and one mediator of God and man, the God-man Christ Jesus.”  However, it has pleased the Divine Wisdom as well as the Divine Goodness to grant us protectors, intercessors and models that are, or at least appear to be, closer still to us.  Such are the Saints, members of Christ’s mystical body, who having reproduced in their own lives the divine perfections and the virtues of Christ, are concerned in the welfare of their fellow-members, their brethren.  They want them, too, to achieve the heights of holiness.

By honoring them we honor none other than God Himself, since the Saints reflect the divine perfections.  All that they have is from God, and therefore should be acknowledged as such.  In asking them to intercede for us before the Almighty, it is none other than God whom we invoke, for they are nothing but what God has granted them to be.  

Lastly, since their own sanctity depends solely upon their imitation of the divine Model, upon the measure in which they themselves have reproduced His virtues, when we imitate them we do nothing else but imitate Jesus Christ Himself.  

Far from distracting, then, from the worship due to God and to the Incarnate Word, devotion to the Saints confirms it and carries it out in all its fullness.


Cf. The Spiritual Life (Westminster: Newman Press, 1930), 80.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Prayer for Generosity

St. Ignatius of Loyola


Lord, teach me to be generous.
Teach me to serve you as you deserve;
to give and not to count the cost,
to fight and not to heed the wounds,
to toil and not to seek for rest,
to labor and not to ask for reward,
save that of knowing that I do your will.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Prayer of St. Ignatius of Loyola


Anima Christi 


Soul of Christ, sanctify me.
Body of Christ, save me.
Blood of Christ, inebriate me.
Water from the side of Christ, wash me.
Passion of Christ, strengthen me.
Good Jesus, hear me.
Within thy wounds, shelter me.
From the evil one, protect me.
At the hour of my death, call me.
Amen.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Take Lord--Prayer of St. Ignatius of Loyola


Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty, 
my memory, my understanding
and my entire will,
All I have and call my own.

You have given all to me.
To you, Lord, I return it.

Everything is yours; do with me what you will.
Give me only your love and your grace.
That is enough for me.

Aquinas' Proofs for the Existence of God based on Change and Cause

Fr. John J. Pasquini, Th.D.

A series of closely placed upright dominoes will remain standing until someone or something makes one dominoes fall onto another.  Then the cascade of falling dominoes begins.  Someone or something had to cause the first domino to fall, to begin the cascade.  Someone or something had to change the position of the first domino for the others to fall.  Without a first cause or first cause of change, all remains standing silently, motionless…  What is said of dominoes is so with the universe in its multiplicity of causes and changes.
Colloquially speaking, in regards to the universe: “What is the ‘thing’ that began it all?” 
Aquinas’ first argument goes as follows:

The first and most obvious way [to prove the existence of God] is based on change.  We see things changing.  Anything that changes is being changed by something else.…  This something else, if itself changing, is being changed by yet another thing; and this last change by another.  Now we must stop somewhere, otherwise there will be no first cause of the change, and, as a result, no subsequent causes.  (Only when acted upon by a first cause do intermediate causes produce a change…)  We arrive then at some first cause of change not itself being changed by anything, and this is what everybody understands by God. (1)

         The philosopher Peter Kreeft summarizes Aquinas’ argument in the following manner:  “Since no thing (or series of things) can move (change) itself, there must be a first, Unmoved Mover, source of all motion.” (2) 
Either change in the universe is characterized by an unending, eternally preceding series of causes of change (an infinite regress without a first cause), or there is an ultimate first cause of change (a finite regress).  Since everything in our human experience seems to affirm the logic of an ultimate cause to change, logic favors a first uncaused cause for change in the universe—which we call God.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Pascal's Wager

Fr. John J. Pasquini, Th.D.

-----To believe in God places one in a winning situation.  To believe in God makes one happy in this life (whether this happiness is real, a delusion, a Marxian opiate, or a Freudian-Feuerbachian projection) and upon death one is either right or wrong.  If wrong, there will be no awareness of being wrong.  If right there will be eternal life and bliss.

-----To not believe in God places one in a losing situation.  To not believe in God brings about a life chasing after unattainable happiness in this life, and upon death, if one is right one will never know.  If one is wrong, then eternal life is lost, and one’s earthly journey was wasted:   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 the atheist lifestyle best, “Life was hell, and there is another hell ahead.” (1)

Bet, wager on God.  It is the best bet! (2)

NOTES
1.                 Cf. The Sun Sentinel, Fort Lauderdale Edition, 1968; cf. Religion and Philosophy, www.city-data.com/forum/religion-philosophy/330369-deathbed-admission-atheists

2.                 One of the great intellectual works of all time is attributed to Blaise Pascal, Pensees, trans. W.F. Trotter (New York: E.P. Dutton and Company, 1958).

Monday, January 4, 2016

Jesus Painted a Picture of God

Fr. John J. Pasquini, Th.D.

The American statesmen Adlai Stevenson was fond of telling the following story wherever he went:  A little girl, Amy, was sitting on the kitchen floor.  She had her box of crayons out and was busy drawing a picture.  This intrigued the little girl’s mother.  She looked at her daughter and at her drawing and said, “Whose picture are you drawing, Amy?”  “I’m drawing a picture of God,” said Amy.  “But, darling,” said the mother, “nobody knows what God looks like.”  She retorted, “They will when I get finished!” 

There are two realities we deal with every day of our lives.  On the one hand we desire a life of happiness, a life of peace and contentment, and on the other hand we recognize that life comes with suffering.  How do we reconcile these two realities?  As Christians we believe that Christ reconciles these two realities; that in Christ, the Reconciler, we can have a taste of happiness, a taste of peace and contentment, even amidst a life that inevitably and unavoidably comes with suffering, with trials and tribulations.

In Jesus, the Father drew a picture of himself, a picture that we could understand and relate to.  And what is this picture that the Father drew of himself:  It is a picture of a Father that loves us so much that he sent his only begotten Son to be like us; to experience life like us; to share in our experiences.

We want purpose and meaning to our life.
He gives it!

We want to experience joy, happiness, fulfillment.
He shows us the way to it!

We want to have true friendships and relationships.
He shows us how!

We want to overcome the difficulties of life.
He gives us strength and comfort!

We want someone to walk with us in good times and bad, to even carry us when we can’t go on.
He is there.

We want to know what are the priorities in life.
He shows them to us!

We want to know what it means to be human and how to grasp the divine.
Jesus is the fulfillment!

We want eternal life?
He gives it!

Sunday, January 3, 2016

The Stigmata: Psychological or Spiritual

Fr. Adolphe Tanquerey, S.S., D.D.

The phenomenon of the stigmata consists in a kind of impression of Our Lord’s Wounds made upon the feet, hands, side and brow.  These wounds appear spontaneously from no exterior hurt, and periodically there is a flow of fresh blood.

True Versus False Stigmatism
---The stigmata are localized in the very spots where Our Lord received the five wounds, a fact which is not true of the bloody sweat produced by hypnotism.

----Generally, the wounds bleed afresh and the pains recur on the days or during the seasons which recall the Savior’s Passion, such as Fridays or the feast days of Our Lord.

---The wounds do not become infected, and the blood which flows from them is pure, whilst the slightest natural lesion in some other part of the body develops pus.  The wounds do not yield to the usual medical treatment, and remain at times thirty or forty years.

---The wounds bleed freely and produce a veritable hemorrhage.  That this should occur at the moment when they first appear is quite conceivable, but that it should take place again and again is inexplicable.  The extent of the hemorrhages remains likewise unexplained; the stigmata generally lie on the surface, removed from the great blood vessels, yet the blood literally streams from there.

---Last, and above all, the stigmata are not met with except in persons who practice the most heroic virtues and possess a special love for the cross.

The study of all these circumstances proves indeed that we are dealing here not with some ordinary, pathological case, but with a free, intelligent cause which exerts its influence in order to make these persons hearing the stigmata more like the Crucified Christ.


Cf. The Spiritual Life (Westminster: Newman Press, 1930), 713-714.