See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains. - James 5:7

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Thoughts on the 'little way'.



"Never allow yourself to pour out your heart, even if it be for the space of a creed." - John of the Cross
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Frequently, we ourselves can be the cause of most of our suffering when it comes to our interaction with others.  We sometimes lack discretion.  Or maybe just I do.
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I've tired myself out by writing about what no one asked my opinion on in the first place, while meddling in the affairs of others.  Hence I've been pondering Therese's gentle rebuke to Celine, as if she could be counselling me:  "It is not for you to be a justice of the peace", remarked the Saint cleverly.  "Only God has that right."  Therese went on to explain to Celine that nothing is lost however since we can embrace our faults and failings in humble acceptance that we are indeed little souls, weak and imperfect.  She made it clear to Celine that it is this awareness, this condition, which attracts the divine mercy to ourselves.
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Celine wrote: "She wished, moreover, that I would come so far as to desire that others would notice my faults so that they would scorn me and always judge me to be a religious without virtue."  This was very difficult for Celine to accept, just as it is for someone as irreligious as myself.   Paradoxically, another counsel from John of the Cross comes to the aid of those of us who find that disposition of soul nearly impossible to acquire, or worse, attribute such virtue to themselves as a sort of 'spiritual consolation prize' to justify oneself.  St. John writes:
"Take neither great not little notice of who is with you or against you and try always to please God.  Ask him that his will be done in you.  Love him intensely, as he deserves to be loved."    
Happy feast day to all.  (Today is also First Saturday.)

St. Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face


In thanksgiving for favors granted.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Crabby saints...



Geronimo.
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St. Jerome had a reputation: "In Rome, Jerome never really got on with other clergy. He was not ambitious for ecclesiastical promotion. He was somewhat irascible, dipping his pen rather more often into vinegar than honey. Jerome loved nothing so much as a good squabble, and argued bitterly and at great length with his critics and adversaries. He had little time for trivial niceties." - So claims Don Marco.
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He also did a lot of penance - perhaps for his difficult personality - which may be why he is shown in art holding a rock with which he beat his chest...  However, taking the blame upon himself, he was frequently heard to mutter: "the effeminate always interpret honesty to be cruelty."  (Actually, Cary Grant said that about women and I adapted it for my own use.) 
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Truth be told, Jerome probably suffered more from his temperament than his opponents suffered from his pen.
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From Today's Magnificat Meditation:
"Let me briefly confess to you a secret of mine: I do not want the person who wishes to understand the Apostle through me to have such a difficult time making sense of my writings that he has to find someone to interpret the interpreter." - St. Jerome
What kind of fights could he get into with today's know-it-alls, huh?
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"Paula - hand me the rock! "  Shouted St. Jerome.
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Mother don't - the old crank is already bleedin' obnoxious!"  Countered Eustochium.
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" G*$ (@%&! - I said, hand me the rock!"  He demanded once again.
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Paula hands him the rock and runs off crying, covering her head with her new Vulgate edition of the Bible.
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"Oh, sorry hon!  I didn't mean it the way it sounded.  Thank you!"  Said Jerome, meekly, like a lamb.
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Art:  Face of St. Jerome, Erik Armusik

Action Alert - Today is the last day to do it.



Would you look over and consider sending the automatic email (top right corner) to your Congress people? It is the "Support Respect for Rights of Conscience Act".  Click here.

ACTION: Contact your U.S. Representative by e-mail, phone, or FAX letter:


  • Call the U.S. Capitol switchboard at: 202-224-3121, or call your Members’ local offices.
  • Send an e-mail through NCHLA’s Grassroots Action Center at: HERE.
  • Additional contact info can be found on Members’ web sites at: www.house.gov and www.senate.gov.



MESSAGE: “Please co-sponsor the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act (H.R. 1179, S. 1467). This measure ensures that the rights of conscience of all participants in our nation’s health care system will be respected.”


Thanks to Rhapsody.

The last day of the novena: "Go on with courage - I shall be with you."



Ninth day of the novena to St. Therese.
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"On this evening of her death, therefore, as I placed a small piece of ice upon Therese's parched lips, I received in turn a beautiful smile.  As she fixed a tender gaze upon me, it seemed she was looking into the future, with all that it held for me.  Her superhuman expression was full of encouragement and promise as though she were saying to me: 'Va, va, ma Celine, je serais avec toi'"* - My Sister St. Therese
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*"Go on with courage, my Celine; I shall be with you."
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Therese died at seven twenty in the evening of September 30, 1897.
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In thanksgiving for the continual companionship of my patroness and little mother, St. Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face.

What do Barbara Nicolosi and Michael Voris have in common?



They blame the baby boomers for just about everything...
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And apparently can't wait for them to die off.  Nice.
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Save the Boomers, save the World.  (Sounds like a potential Cafe Press line to me.)
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The Boomers' exit from cultural influence creates a two-sided pastoral challenge for the 21st-century Church.
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First is the effect on the gargantuan Boomer generation of a lifetime of listening almost exclusively to their own voices.
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As an institution charged with saving souls, the Church's urgent outreach to fading Boomers must encourage them to face and take responsibility for the mistakes they have made. If they would be saved, the Boomer Generation must be guided into repentance for the way they self-righteously sacrificed all others as they fled from the simple heroism of adult human life. The rigid eradication of tradition, the gross materialism, the unbridled license, the embarrassing promiscuity -- all always accompanied by shrill distortion and denial -- have left our society disconnected, bloated, poorly educated, unable to trust, and simmering in resentment. I see many of my Millennial Generation students clamoring to set back the clock to a day before the Sixties, when there were grown-ups.
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The Church's secondary, but equally urgent pastoral challenge, is with the younger generations. Do not think me flippant in suggesting that pastors and teachers of the faith must quickly provide substantive, moral reasons for GenXers not to euthanize the Boomers; for them, the Entitled Generation will quickly morph into the Expensive Generation as they and Millennials are bent low under the weight of social programs that were strapped on their backs without their consent. - Save the Boomers, Save the World, Barbara Nicolosi Harrington
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Get it in your head
Hollywood is dead
Hollywood is dead
Hollywood is dead

Thursday, September 29, 2011

New 'cults' within Catholicism.




Cult or idolatry?
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I probably mentioned it before, but a few months ago I received emails from a local church-lady pro-life activist defaming a local deacon and parish-workers, as well as a local priest in good standing with the Catholic Church, currently incardinated in another diocese.  Apparently these people weren't pro-life enough for her.  This woman gained a little bit of fame as a wistleblower early on in the pro-life movement, wherein she more or less hit her stride for singular dedication to pro-life activism - to such an extent that it seems to me that her sort of pro-life obsession verges on the cult-ish.  It's dangerous to suggest such things however, lest people accuse you of not being sufficiently pro-life. 
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To some extent, the pro-life cause - more or less strictly focused upon eradicating abortion, sometimes to the exclusion of other pro-life issues such the abolition of the death penalty for instance, may be like any cause people passionately dedicate their lives to, sometimes to the point of excluding the duties of their state in life.  Interestingly, Fr. Pavone insists that pro-life is a spirituality in and of itself.  Perhaps he is right. 
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Cardinal O'Connor founded the Sisters of Life - whose spirituality is said to be based upon the "Gospel of Life" - or is it?  Their apostolic work is pro-life - but their religious life, indeed their spirituality is formulated along the lines of the traditional religious vocation.  The foundation of their religious life is the vocation of being a sister, a bride of Christ.  I may be wrong, but it seems to me that vocation is first and foremost a call - activated in and through the response and consent of the one called.  It is in effect, an obedience - to a particular state in life.  Hence the nun is first a nun, a priest is first a priest, and so on. 
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By way of another example, there are those who believe there should be in the Church an exclusive 'gay spirituality' - either for Catholic gay people who think homosexual behavior is not sinful, and/or by those who struggle with SSA and seek to live in accord and in fidelity to Church teaching, yet seem to be convinced that there needs to be a special spirituality just for them.  I don't think Courage advocates that however, and I certainly do not.  When we advocate for a special spirituality within the Church, it seems to me we are attempting to make a sort of cult out of a particular condition, circumstance or particular concern.  
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I'm not including here the issue of new lay movements or new religious foundations approved within the Church, and guided by the proper ecclesial authority.  I'm really talking about the personal/political crusades which seem to tend toward a cult-like behavior or the establishment of a sort of self-appointed personal prelature, sometimes centered around a particular charismatic personality.  Old fashioned social justice activists demonstrated similar behaviors based upon personal agendas.  Nothing wrong with good old fashioned activism and protest, but sometimes it overtakes a person's life - and faith.  Activism is not in itself a spirituality, nor can it replace authentic worship in spirit and truth.
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Anyway - I'm not sure my personal opinion makes as much sense, or is as well stated as what Mark Shea has written in his essay, Prolife Idolatry:
People with a cartoonish view of idolatry often tend to talk as though idol worship is something stoopid heads just get up one morning and start doing out of a perverse desire to prostrate themselves before a rock or something.

But, in fact, idolatry is typically born out of the deep love of something that is genuinely good and great. It is the best things in the world that become idols, not the worst. Nobody idolizes the band that opened for the Beatles (whoever they were). People idolize the Beatles, because they were really good. Nobody idolizes the mediocre ball player, the second-rate artist, or the guy who lost the race to be the first from New York to Paris. They idolized DiMaggio, Leonardo, and Lindbergh.

For just this reason, one of the tricky things about the Christian Faith is that we must always be on guard, not against loving creatures per se, but against loving them more than we love God. Keep God as your first and greatest love and you are free to love creatures (especially human beings) as much as you like. But get those loves out of order and, no matter how worthy the creature, and you are an idolater.

The devil has lots of ways to tempt us to idolatry, of course. One of them, paradoxically, is to get us to crack up and go sappy about the sheer adorable goodness of the Idol. In short, Satan *loves* Love, so long as it's disordered love.


So whether it's a PETA idolater fawning over the big brown eyes of a puppy (while wishing humans and their Judeo-Christian God of Dominion over nature would all die), a lover of one's country putting the glory of the Fatherland above all, or, in our case, pro lifers who love babies as the most important things in the universe, the problem is the same: Second things are put first.

Even adorable innocent babies? Yes. Especially adorable innocent babies if that happens to be your weak spot and the place you can be tempted to place the creature before the Creator. And for a significant number of people in our particular time and place, it is the weak spot, precisely because our culture is so hostile to the unborn babe. We start out defending babies for the sake of Christ and wind up worshipping babies instead of Christ.
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With all due respect, the worship of God the Blessed Trinity is even more important than life. That's not me talking. That's Jesus Christ: "Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell." Declaring that there is NOTHING MORE IMPORTANT than life, particularly for a priest, is idolatrous. It places the second greatest commandment (love your neighbor) before the first (Love God). That is not, I repeat, bad because the second greatest commandment is bad. It's bad because the second greatest commandment is second, not first.
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The pro life movement is a great and good thing that addresses the paramount moral issue of our time. But it is, at the end of the day, still only creaturely and is not more important than God. Healthy Catholic faith sees love of the unborn springing out the Eucharist as a fruit of the kingdom of God. Unhealthy, diseased pro life idolatry sees the worship of God, the Eucharist and the priesthood as prisons and obstacles to "THE MOST IMPORTANT Issue". - Mark Shea
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Mark says what I wanted to say.
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Art: Solomon's Idolatry - Master MZ from the Rosenwald Collection – circa 1501.
   

"I am resigned to being always imperfect." - St. Therese



Eighth day of the novena to St. Therese.

"Therese believed that God frequently allows us to experience in ourselves the same weaknesses which we deplore in others,,,  [Thus] when we see ourselves fallen into those faults we are then more prompt to excuse them in others." - My Sister St. Therese, Sister Genevieve of the Holy Face
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"'Sometimes it happens,' she went on, 'that despite their best efforts, some souls remain imperfect because it would be to their spiritual detriment to believe they are virtuous or to have others agree that they are.'" - Ibid
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"I am resigned to being always imperfect, and I even find happiness in it.  I keep an eye on myself to see if I can discover any new imperfections." - Therese to Mother Agnes of Jesus

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Imagine St. Therese as Simon Salus...



Seventh day of the novena to St. Therese.
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St. Simon Salus left the desert to live amongst prostitutes and outcasts in Syria.  The stories of the desert fathers captured the heart of Little Therese, discovering in the simplicity of their lives, the compliment to the doctrine of her 'little way'.  One story I love is something she once confided to one of her novices, Marie of the Trinity:
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"To help me accept a humiliation, she once confided to me: 'If I had not been accepted in Carmel, I would have entered a Refuge (for fallen women) and lived out my days there, unknown and despised among the poor penitents.  I would have been happy to be taken as one of them, and would have become an apostle among them, telling them what I thought of God's mercy.'" - Therese By Those Who Knew Her

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Bearing one another's burdens.

Sixth day of the novena to St. Therese.
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"In the course of her religious life she often had to suffer from people's dislike of her, or from clashes of temperament or of mood, and indeed, from jealousy and spiteful behaviour on the part of other nuns.  Not only did she bear all of this with patient equanimity, but she always tried to excuse their behaviour.  She also sought the company of such nuns in preference to that of others, and showed them the greatest kindness.  I considered the conduct of one of these to be particularly reprehensible, but Sister Therese insisted: 'I assure you that I have the greatest compassion for Sister X.  If you knew her as well as I do, you would see that she is not responsible for all of the things that seem so awful to us.  I remind myself that if i had an infirmity such as hers, and so defective a spirit, I would not do any better than she does, and then I would despair; she suffers terribly from her own shortcomings.'" - Therese By Those Who Knew Her, testimony of Mother Agnes of Jesus.
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There is so much perfection on the Internet, many of us become discouraged and tempted to despair of our own, sometimes very serious shortcomings, frustrated that we never seem to improve.  What would Little Therese tell us?
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"If God wants you to be as weak and powerless as a child, do you think your merit will be any less for that?  Resign yourself then, to stumbling at every step, to falling even, and to being weak in carrying your cross.  Love your powerlessness, and your soul will benefit more from it than if, aided by grace, you were to behave with enthusiastic heroism and fill your soul with self-satisfaction and pride." - Therese By Those Who Knew Her, testimony of Marie of the Trinity, OCD

Did the Pope rebuke anyone while in Germany?



I don't think so, Poodle.
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I noted on one or two other blogs suggestions the Holy Father may have 'rebuked' some Catholics on his pastoral visit to Germany - although I didn't get that sense in any of his homilies.  Elsewhere, I came across a post reporting that he actually commended the German bishops as 'good shepherds'.  Ach der lieber schatzie!
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I think many people want the Pope to start cracking the whip and hurling rebukes and condemnations all over the world - calling down fire upon those who resist/dissent from Catholic teaching.  Just like the disciples in today's Gospel, we always want a fight: "Lord, do you want us to call down fire from heaven to consume them?"
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It was only then that Jesus rebuked them - in another place he tells them they do not know from what spirit they speak.  Christ pretty much kept his rebukes for those of us who consider ourselves religious people... hypocrites and those of us without charity and mercy.
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I'm probably a heretic for saying that however.
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Photo source.

Now it is The American Life League...



Practices questioned.
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American Life League, a major Catholic pro-life organization, has been flagged by several nonprofit watchdogs for questionable financial practices, including compensating board members and doing hundreds of thousands of dollars in business with a firm owned by the spouse of the organization’s leader.
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The league has also been investigated by the Internal Revenue Service, according to forms filed annually with the tax agency.
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While Fr. Frank Pavone’s Priests for Life organization is under the spotlight for how it has handled its finances, questions have been raised for several years about American Life League’s finances, according to notes on its Form 990, which all nonprofits are required to file with the IRS. Questions have also been raised by the Better Business Bureau, which has been unsuccessful in its attempt to get the league to answer questions. - NCR.
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I wonder if the Government has anything to do with this?  The Obama administration?  In retaliation for Archbishop Dolan's letter?   

Stuff they didn't want us to know... and few of us thought to ask.



Fukishima Desolation...
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Worse than Nagasaki.  What’s emerging in Japan six months since the nuclear meltdown at the Tokyo Electric Power Co. plant is a radioactive zone bigger than that left by the 1945 atomic bombings at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. While nature reclaims the 20 kilometer (12 mile) no-go zone, Fukushima’s $3.2 billion-a-year farm industry is being devastated and tourists that hiked the prefecture’s mountains and surfed off its beaches have all but vanished. - Source

Monday, September 26, 2011

The Crescat Awards are soooooooooooooo over.



No one gets the prize... nah-uh, notch yet darlin'...
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Great song though, huh!  I just found out that Nick Ashford died!  RIP!

Please pray for a dear friend who is suffering very much.

Lord Jesus Save Me, by Father Vincent McNabb OP(the grumpy saint)
"Lord Jesus, the one whom Thou lovest is sick" (Jn 11:3). The one whom Thou lovest is strayed. I have lost Thee. I cannot find Thee. Find me. Seek me. I cannot find Thee. I have lost my way. Thou art the Way. Find me, or I am utterly lost. Thou lovest me. I do not know if I love Thee; but I know Thou lovest me. I do not plead my love, but Thine. I do not plead my strength, but Thine. I do not plead my deed, but Thine. The one whom Thou lovest is sick. I dare not say: The one who loves Thee is sick. My sickness is that I do not love Thee. That is the source of my sickness which is approaching death. I am sinking. Raise me. Come to me upon the waters. Lord Jesus, "the one whom Thou lovest is sick."(Thanks to Richard for prayer and info, click on image to link to blog post @linenonthehedgrow)
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Photo and quote: Lord Jesus Save Me, by Father Vincent McNabb OP (the grumpy saint)

The duties of our state in life.


Or doing it 'my way'...
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Most of the troubles in my life can be more or less traced to my failure to be faithful to the duties of my state in life, from job troubles, to religious and spiritual difficulties, to family problems - I can blame myself. 
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While wondering/pondering how and why there seem to be so many problems in those we often look up to - namely celebrity priests and apologists - it occurred to me that the failures we see in one another may be connected to our failure to give 'pride of place' as it were, to the greatness of ordinary life - comprised and defined chiefly by the duties of our state in life.  As this is very much part of the doctrine of the 'little way' of St. Therese, I thought it might be good to share something from one of her 'apostles', Pere Marie-Eugene of the Child Jesus, OCD (1894-1967), for the fifth day of the novena to the saint.
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The fifth day of the novena to St. Therese.
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The judges chosen by God to save Israel were not always holy people.  Some of them did not come to a very brilliant end.  We observe in them all kinds of faults.  Yet God saves Israel through them and assures them of victory.
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There can also be, and will be in the New Testament, apostles, persons who have accomplished great things and were not themselves holy when at the height of their mission and works.
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In the Life of Teresa of Avila we come upon a remark which is somewhat terrifying for priests, or apostles in general.  She writes: 'At the Last judgment, how many of these trees will we see who appeared like beautiful oaks, branches extending far and wide, sheltering birds of the air that take refuge in them, yet when the come to the Last Judgment we see that tree with its trunk eaten away by the worm of pride and vanity.'  They have achieved some good works - but their work has not profited them, and may only gain them condemnation. (Perhaps the famous priests who recently left ministry?)
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The fruitfulness of a person's apostolate simply proves that the mission given was divine and that the Holy Spirit truly mandated it and has brought it to completion for our sake.
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We often think of the apostolate as some form of work in the parish or society.  We see it as a particular commitment, something extra which we add to our ordinary duties.  We call this our apostolate. ... But the apostolate considered in its essential reality is made up of the duties of our state in life. 
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What will our apostolate be then?  Our role in the Church, ordinarily, is the sum total of the duties of our state in life.  A priest has received the ministry of the priesthood.  This priesthood, this commitment it requires of him, obedience to the bishop and the Church, may oblige him to fulfill one or another particular function or apostolate.  But what is it that makes him truly an apostle?  What is his essential function as an apostle in the Church?  It is to be a priest, and to carry out the essential duties of his priesthood.
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At the other end of the spectrum, let us take the married woman.  She has received the sacrament of marriage.  What will her essential apostolate be within the Church?  Obviously, the procreation and education of children. - Where The Spirit Breathes,  Marie-Eugene of the Child Jesus, OCD

Pope snubbed im deutschen Vaterland... "Get my coat George - we're leaving!"



He wasn't really snubbed, nor did he tell Monsignor to get his coat.  But some people are afraid Benedict XVI may retire next year.   Already that one has proven to be false as well.
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I don't believe in rumors.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Getting back on the 'little way' after a fall...



The fourth day of the novena to St. Therese.

"Jesus, repair what I have done badly!"
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Thank God Christ came to save sinners, huh?  One day Therese counseled her sister Celine: "Your programme of life seems to be this: 'I will be kind to those who are kind, and be amiable with those who are amiable.'  Then naturally you become agitated as soon as someone disagrees with you.  In this you are like the pagans in the Gospel who our Lord tells us not to be like.  Rather he tells us, 'love your enemies, do good to those who hate you and pray for those who persecute you.'" -My Sister St. Therese, Sr. Genevieve of the Holy Face
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 "Jesus, repair what I have done badly!"
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"A notion which is not widespread and which, nevertheless, is very important is that Jesus, when we ask him with confidence, repairs not only the evil we have done in ourselves, but also the evil we have done around us.
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Indeed, he has made all things right in me, but what about the evil I have done to others?  The bad example I have set, the scandal I have given, the good I would have been able to do and did not do, the injustice I committed?  I am set aright myself, but what about the others?
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Say then, 'Jesus, from this evil also which I have wrought around me, draw forth good.  Even, I dare to ask you, draw a greater good from it than if I had not done the evil... Jesus, make reparation in me and around me.'" - I Believe In Love, Pere Jean du Coeur de Jesus D'Elbee
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"Jesus, repair what I have done badly!"
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Image: Source