Archive for April, 2010

The One Thing Cont.

My eldest son made his First Communion in a small chapel a few miles from our hometown. The local bishop has designated this chapel to be a place where the traditional rites of the Church will be offered. It is fittingly named
Blessed Sacrament Faith Community. My extended family was invited and did attend the mass for my son’s big day. Later that afternoon, an uncle of mine
commented that he had never seen a church with that many small children in attendance be so quiet. There are approximately 20 families in the homeschool academy which we are members of – most of these families are quite large, some with as many as eight or nine children (more on that later). My answer to my uncle was this: what he witnessed is not some aberration or strange occurence – it is the result, the fruit of trying to live according to the time tested, traditional order of family life ordained by God and taught by His Church since the beginning. It is simple, it is beautiful, it is common sense: Dad is the head, Mom is the heart, the children are obedient to and are trained and guided in correct behavior by Dad and Mom. Before I continue, a suggestion which most of the families in our school implement with the children when they are very young – pray a family rosary every night with Dad holding the little one(s) and requiring –
not hoping for or requesting – requiring those little ones to sit still and be quiet for the duration of the prayers. When Sunday rolls around, those babies know what is expected of them.
A good friend of mine told me once that people think that peace is an absence of fighting, an uneasy silence. True peace comes from order, from things being the way they are supposed to be. The way things are supposed to be regarding the order of family life is stated very clearly in Sacred Scripture and the wrintings of many popes and great saints. For the last 40 years, our modern society has been shaking its tiny fist at God and refusing to live by His dictates on family life – for some reason, we think we know better. The results of our rebellion prove that we do not.
I want to make one more point before closing – according to one of our late, great popes, the Father in the home is the chief in authority and the Mother is the chief in love. The children learn obedience from watching Mom’s behavior toward Dad. Her submission to her husband’s authority is a gift she gives to her husband and children. Something to ponder: when Jesus was born, He was given His name by St. Joseph, not our Blessed Mother. She was conceived without sin, perfect in every way and yet who does the angel instruct to name the Child? – His foster Father.
Next time, we will explore Dad’s role – what he should do and how he should look.
St. John Vianney on the Mass: if we could get a glimpse of what the angels see at Mass, we would die of love.

The One Thing

I was talking with a good friend recently about his pastor whom my friend described as “solid”. I asked why he thought he was solid. He answered that this priest has many good, effective outreach programs to the youth, the elderly and other groups. I then asked “what is Father doing to instruct or teach the families in the parish about God’s ordained order for family life.”
I asked him that because of the obvious fact that the Church is made up of families and God, in His wisdom and goodness has clearly told us how a family should be ordered and how the life of a christian family should be lived. An obvious fact: if God’s order is adhered to and followed, happiness and peace will result. We currently have a 60% divorce rate with the predictably disastrous results of extreme suffering, wounded children and parents, confusion and a weakened Church. So, it is painfully obvious that God’s order has been largely abandoned. A crumbling foundation is a serious problem for any homeowner – a potential disaster and a very costly
situation. Holy Mother Church has a foundation problem.
Back to my friend: outreach programs are very good, no doubt. The Church is apostolic in Her very nature and origin. But the temptation is to avoid the heavy lifting of fixing the cracked foundation in favor of planting tulips in the flower bed and painting the shutters. The former involves long, hard and probably unpopular work while the latter provides immediate, short-lived
gratification.
I heard a priest once say that the worst temptation he faces is the temptation to allow his parishioners to stay the way they are – complacency. That temptation is faced by us all – but the good news is that it is paper thin – once we force ourselves to bust through, we realize what radiant living is all about.
So what is this order for families? Coming soon….
A snippet on leadership: leadership is influence – nothing more, nothing less – John Maxwell.

Father Mercy

A holy priest is the love of God visible in a human being. A priest with genuine concern for souls can touch the heart of sinful man in a deep, profound way. A priest can do something that even the angels can’t do: he can place the flesh and blood of the Son of the Living God on our tongues for the nourishment of our souls. He can forgive our sins and faults and failings while uttering the most beautiful words on this side of paradise: “I
absolve you from your sins”. The power of the priesthood! It should move us
to pray and fast for our priests that they will be holy, that they will be true fathers to their spiritual children who need them so much. No priest, no Eucharist, no Eucharist, we die.
I watched the movie “Father Mercy” with my wife and children last night. The story of an Italian priest during World War II who volunteers to go to the front lines and minister to the men who “need me”, this film portrays a priest whose heart is “after the heart of God”. Courageous, passionate, tender, concerned, masculine & tough – this priest’s name was Father Carlo Gnocchi and he has been declared Venerable by the Holy Father.
The key word here is “Father”. A good friend of mine told me of the time that his wife called her kindly pastor at 2:00 in the morning for help – his response was not to tell her to call him in the morning or to make an appointment – he told her “you come here right now”. He counseled her for 2 hours into the wee hours of the morning. THAT is the heart of God – all attention on his child who needed him.
I just read this morning that the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter is having difficulty housing the growing numbers of young men eager to begin preparing themselves for the great adventure of being a priest of God.
Saint John Vianney wrote extensively about the priesthood – his simple style of writing is worth reading for a better appreciation of our priests. It is reported that when he died and his outer garments were removed, St. John Vianney’s emaciated frame resembled a skeleton – he lived on very little food and his rigorous fasting revealed the heart of a true shepherd, a spiritual Father willing to expend himself for his people.
Lastly, we should always remember that our priests are Our Blessed Mother’s favorite sons. They are very special to her.
Daily snippet: Mother Theresa of Calcutta: If we can’t love our brothers and sisters who we see, how can we love God who we can’t see?
More later….

Does God Care About What I Wear?

A good friend recently told me that the petty criminals and con men of his
young adult years (1950’s) dressed with more dignity and self respect than the majority of upstanding citizens of our present age. What has happened?
One of the terrible by products of liberalism is a lowering or even elimination of standards. After all, standards and tradition and all of those
old fashioned ideas shackle us and hold us down. They stifle our self expression and our freedom to be ourselves.
On the contrary, living with standards of behavior and dress elevates and
promotes the dignity that we possess by virtue of our baptism. The concept is very simple: what we wear on the outside reveals our inner thoughts and perception of who we are and where we are going. A good way to grasp this idea is to think of the royal classes in the Middle Ages and even in the time of Our Lord. It was understood that a King or Queen donned more and more robes and accessories as they rose in prominence and power. The slave girls and boys who attended to their needs wore very simple, skimpy garments.
The intention here is not to besmirch or belittle the service of a servant but to illustrate the fact that we were intended by Almighty God to be noble people, dignified and refined in our behavior, speech and dress. I’ll close with a suggestion: rent a movie which has it’s setting in 18th century England and notice the manner of speech and comportment – then ask
yourself if this dignified atmosphere elevated the thoughts and even emotions of the citizens of those days.
On a personal note – about ten years ago I began dressing in a shirt and tie
on most days of the week – and being attentive to how I dressed on weekends while in public places and even at home. This simple decision has greatly impacted how I perceive myself and better yet – how my wife and children see me. Will a six year old react differently to a well dressed, dignified parent who is correcting them than to a parent dressed as if they just rolled out of bed?
Reading material is available at www.christianfamilyoutreach.com
Traditional snippet: When confusion reigns, go to tradition!
More later…….

This Too Shall Pass

I have been trying to come up with an analogy that fits properly with the latest attack on Holy Mother Church and the Holy Father. I came up with this: picture, if you will, a large majestic ship gliding effortlessly through the ocean water with her hull littered with ugly, hard barnacles clinging to her for dear life. The Church has shaken off many nuisances in the past 20 centuries – She has her mission and the American media will not deter Her.
Maybe we can apply this thinking to our own lives and mission(s) as Catholics in the 21st century. If we are authentic disciples of Jesus Christ,
we will live our lives in such a way that the spirit of the world will not be able to sway us or tempt us. After all, it is easier to be a follower than it is to be a disciple. A disciple goes the distance in the midst of trial, tribulation and even persecution. A follower might turn and run at the first sign of trouble. Many Catholics feel that we are entering, or have entered, a time of great chastisement and purification – our society seems to be spinning out of control. Our response must be the response of a disciple – intensify the effort to be holy, live the ascetic life and perform the duties of our state in life. Many problems can be eliminated by living our lives with eternity in mind – when that is the focus, everything else is seen for what it is – vanity.
A holy priest once said in a homily that vanity is not just what we do in the bathroom mirror – it is anything that is not concerned with eternity and the destiny of our eternal souls.
A snippet from Zig Ziglar: if you dress up, you GO up. More on dressing later.
May God bless us and Mary keep us.