Wednesday, November 20, 2019

One day within your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere. Ps. 84

Icon I did of the Apparition of the Mother of God at Fatima 
for Fr. Frederick Miller who had been the Director of the Blue Army 
in New Jersey at the time (1991).  The icon was copied and claimed to
be an original by the painter, and presented in Russia.
The World Apostolate of Fatima claims
no knowledge of the original I painted,
despite it was used as a cover for Soul Magazine.
Sadly, even Fatima apostolates can have
credibility issues.  A fact which causes many 
to dismiss the apparition and message as 
a thing of the past.

Living by faith.

Today many are once again interpreting private revelations, at times placing greater stock in mystical visions and locutions than what the Popes have taught since Vatican II.  As many Catholics know, visionaries and locutionists are followed unquestioned, their prophecies collected into a narrative to discredit Vatican II, the Novus Ordo, and even papal elections.  I'm not sure how many of these people will ever have confidence in papal authority again, much less trust any new conclave to elect a pope.  It is important to look to the Church to interpret private revelations and prophecy, which was done with the Fatima message, albeit, not a few Catholics believe is incomplete.  

It's time to repeat precautions by the great Carmelite Doctor of the Church, St. John of the Cross.

Visions and locutions, even though from God, can mislead us. 
St. John of the Cross in Chapter 19 of the Ascent lays out proof from Scripture on how this can be, for the sake of brevity, I will only high light a few passages to help explain the dangers and misunderstandings locutions can and do generate.
"We mentioned the two reason why, although God's visions and locutions are true and certain in themselves, they are not always so for us.  The first reason is because of our defective manner of understanding them, and the second because their basic causes are sometimes variable.
Clearly in regard to the first, not all revelations turn out according to the literal meaning.  The cause is that, since God is immense and profound, he usually embodies in his prophecies, locutions, and revelations other ways, concepts, and ideas remarkably different from the meaning we generally find in them.  And the surer and more truthful they are, the less they seem so to us.
We behold this frequently in Scripture.  With a number of the ancients, many of God's prophecies and locutions did not turn out as they had expected, because they interpreted them with their own different and extremely literal method."
The letter kills, the spirit gives life.
John goes on to cite several passages from Scripture, explaining why and how the recipients got it wrong and events turned out not as human nature expected.  John then explains:
"[...] Souls are misled by imparting to God's locutions and revelations a literal interpretation, and interpretation according to the outer rind.  As has been explained, God's chief objective in conferring these revelations is to express and impart the elusive, spiritual meaning contained in the words.  This spiritual meaning is richer and more plentiful than the literal meaning and transcends those limits."
[...] "Anyone bound to the letter, locution, form, or apprehensible figure cannot avoid serious error and will later become confused for having been led by the literal sense and not having allowed for the spiritual meaning which is divested of the literal sense.  ('The letter kills, the spirit gives life' - 2 Cor. 3:6)"

+ + + + +

"It is impossible for someone unspiritual to judge and understand the things of God correctly; and one is not spiritual if one judges them literally." - All quotes from St. John taken from The Ascent, Bk II, Chapter 19

Sunday, November 17, 2019

How to pray when you don't know how.

Or simply can't.

Remember, live in the Presence of God.  Recollection is a prayer which helps us to pray always.

A Simple Way to Pray Always
After my liberation many people said to me: “Father, in prison you must have had a lot of time to pray.” It was not as simple as one might think. The Lord permitted me to experience all my weakness, my physical and mental fragility. Time passes slowly in prison, particularly in solitary confinement. Imagine a week, a month, two months of silence…. There were days when I was so worn out by exhaustion and illness that I could not manage to say a single prayer! This reminds me of a story.
There was an older man named Jim who would go to church every day at noon for just a few minutes, and then he would leave. The sacristan was very curious about Jim’s daily routine, and one day he stopped him to ask: “Why do you come here every day?” “I come to pray,” Jim answered.
“That’s impossible! What prayer can you say in two minutes?”
“I am an old, ignorant man. I pray to God in my own way.”
“But what do you say?”
“I say: ‘Jesus, here I am, it’s Jim.’ And then I leave.” After some years, Jim became ill and had to go to the hospital, where he was admitted to the ward for the poor. When it seemed that Jim was dying, a priest and a nurse, a religious sister, stood near his bed. The priest asked, “Jim, tell us how it is that from the day you came to this ward everything changed for the better? How is it that the patients have become happier, more content, and friendlier?”
“I don’t know. When I could walk around, I would try to visit everyone. I greeted them, talked a bit with them. When I couldn’t get out of bed I called everyone over to me to make them laugh, to make them happy. With Jim they are always happy!”
“But why are you happy?”
“Well aren’t you happy when you receive a visitor?” asked Jim.
“Of course, but we have never seen anyone come to visit you.”
“When I came here I asked you for two chairs. One was for you, Father, and one was reserved for my guest.” “But what guest?” the priest asked.
“I used to go to church to visit Jesus every day at noon. But when I couldn’t do that anymore, Jesus came here.”
“Jesus comes to visit you? What does he say?”
“He says: ‘Jim, here I am, it’s Jesus!’” Before dying, Jim smiled and gestured with his hand toward the chair next to his bed, as if inviting someone to sit down. He smiled for the last time and closed his eyes.
When my strength failed and I could not even pray, I repeated: “Jesus, here I am, it’s Francis.” Joy and consolation would come to me and I experienced Jesus ­responding: “Francis, here I am, it’s Jesus.”
Venerable Francis Xavier Nguyên Văn Thuân
Cardinal Nguyên Văn Thuân († 2002) was imprisoned by the Vietnamese government for thirteen years. [From Five Loaves & Two Fish, Tinvui Media, Tr. © 1997, Edizioni San Paolo, Pauline Books & Media/The Daughters of St. Paul, Boston, MA. All rights reserved. Used with permission.]