Clearing the Heart to See the Truth

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  • Dick Neves: No offense, but this reads like a justification for relativi...
  • Fran Sheehan: Having just read about Pope Francis' approval of the guideli...
  • tina: I've been reading the correspondence of Zelie and Louis Mart...
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  • Christina Semmens: Beautiful synopsis of the way that we are ALL called to holi...
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What has Pope Francis Changed?...

A lot of good men and women, many of them my former teachers, have said that if Pope Francis allows communion for the divorced and remarried, it will either explicitly or implicitly contradict orthodox Catholic teaching about the Eucharist and/or marriage. The result is that for a while people have been banking on the Holy Spirit preventing the Pope from making such a decision. In other words, some faithful folks reason as follows: a) allowing divorced and remarried people to receive communion would be – at least practically – tantamount to heresy; b) the Pope can’t officially commit heresy (that’s one of the main reasons we have a Pope); c) so the Holy Spirit won’t allow the Pope to officially allow communion for the divorced and remarried. Okay, but now it’s starting to look like the Pope has made the decision to allow the divorced and remarried to receive communion. So all the folks who relied on the above reasoning are going to be tempted to doubt the institution of the papacy, or the irreformability of Catholic teaching, or the Holy Spirit, or all three. In other words, I’m afraid that because of the Holy Father’s recent statements a lot of good Catholics are going to start questioning their faith. So here’s my message: it’s okay if Pope Francis changes the Church’s current practice. It’s okay if people in adulterous relationships aren’t prevented from receiving communion. It doesn’t mean adultery isn’t adultery, and it doesn’t mean the Pope isn’t the Pope, and it doesn’t mean people shouldn’t generally refrain from receiving communion when they’re conscious of having done something gravely wrong. All it means is that there can be a change in pastoral practice to reflect the distinction between...

A Saint from Saints

Saint Thérèse of Lisieux was called the “Greatest Saint of modern times,” by another great saint, St. Pope Pius X. Shortly after her death in 1897, her fame spread quickly, and her spiritual auto-biography—Story of a Soul—became an overnight success. In it, she recounted the growth of her interior life due to the workings of grace, culminating in her final words before entering into the abode of the blessed, “Oh, how I love him!” The ‘Him,’ of course, was Jesus. Despite her terrible disease of tuberculosis, which by the time of her death had consumed much of her lungs and capacity to breath, she remarked how her sufferings were joyful, as they drew her closer to her Beloved, Jesus. When I first returned to the Church in the early 1990’s, I tried reading her writings. I must admit, when I read some of them for the first time, I had to put the book down. The love and affections conveyed there were just too much for me. I confided to her sadly and secretly in the depths of my heart, “Thérèse, I don’t love Jesus like you. Further, I don’t even want to love Jesus like you did…but I want to want to.” She has been working on that part of my prayer ever since. Thus, when I was able to travel to Lisieux this summer with my teenage daughter, Claire Thérèse, to visit the wonderful shrines dedicated to her and her now canonized parents, I recognized her hand in all of this, nudging me—pushing me—to grow closer to her Beloved. To add extra leverage, she brought in her parents, Zélie and Louis. In learning about her parents, I understand better why Thérèse became such a great saint. In...

Communion and Consequences...

Why are so many Catholics leading the civic charge towards American degeneracy? Our vice-president is Catholic, and champions abortion blithely, unblushingly, as a matter of course. Same goes for the House Minority Leader, the highest ranking female politician in our history so far. The last Secretary of Health and Human Services is Catholic, and warred with her own bishops in an effort to get Catholic money to go to drugs designed to kill kids and objectify women. Out of nine Supreme Court Justices, six self-identify as Catholics. Six! That’s a majority vote plus one! And that’s the governing body that just made a disorder of body, mind and soul legally equivalent to one of the fundamental metaphors for understanding how we’re loved by God. What’s going on here? It’s one thing for Catholics to be sinners, for God’s people to be tempted by the conditions of time and place to the point where they’re no longer distinguishable from their non-Catholic or non-Christian neighbors. That’s one thing. But it seems like another thing when you’ve got so many high-profile Catholics doing such disproportionate damage. Scandalous Catholics are nothing new, but why are there so many scandalous Catholics, and why are they so lamentably influential? My take? It’s because they receive communion. I bet these prominent, disastrous Catholic politicians go to Sunday mass with some regularity, and I’m sure every time they go they receive the Eucharist. And that’s really dangerous, because receiving the Eucharist always has an effect, and it’s not necessarily a good one. Drinking the Blood of Jesus can, of course, make you a saint, but you can also be drinking your own damnation. God in flesh is never something neutral – after contact you’re either a greater...

Rome and Reasons for Hope...

I just returned from my second pilgrimage to Rome in the last 10 months. This one was to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Apostles of the Interior Life community, a Roman/American community of consecrated women, priests, and laity, of which I am a lay member. The Lord God lavished grace upon grace upon me, and gave me reasons for hope in this time of world-wide moral struggles. It is for this reason that I compose this entry. God is utterly generous and gratuitous in the bestowal of heavenly gifts.  Of this truth, I am a living witness. So, if you feel anxious or worried about this present darkness, be at peace and confident in this fact–in Christ, the battle is won, and the victory is ours. Consider the following: Without realizing the audacious events that were about to unfold in the U.S. regarding the Supreme Court and the redefinition of marriage, we were given the privilege to celebrate Holy Mass in the crypt of the  tomb of St. Peter directly beneath the High Papal Altar in St. Peter’s Basilica on June 26. While attending Mass, I was able to peer continually over the priest’s shoulder to eye the actual tomb of Peter. Immediately after the homily, all of the married couples present were invited to approach the altar and renew our wedding nuptials. My wife was able to enjoy the pilgrimage with me, so we were deeply honored to be able to renew our vows with all of the other wonderful married couples. Only later that afternoon did we find out about the SCOTUS ruling. After my shock and anger subsided, I realized what had happened earlier in the day–I renewed my marriage, along with around 20 other...
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