Thursday, March 8, 2018

International Women's Day and One Universal Woman. By:C.C.

When woman lives mindless of her divine purpose all of man suffers the confusion of it's natural order.

Jesus, in His encounter with women at varying points in Scripture touches them with a profound sense of dignity, entrusting to them on more than one occasion the hiddeness of His majesty that through
them was further revealed.

Women by their very design make visible the invisible to man, and in the fertility of their ordained ability of receptivity to life bring forth, even in spiritual ways, a depth of understanding and sensitivity to the movements of the Spirit that ultimately encourage man to uphold all that is entrusted to him by God.

Through Jesus’ encounter particularly with the Samaritan woman, the woman caught in adultery, and Mary Magdalene there is a restoration by His touch to return to that divine origin and dignity that they had been created in, by calling them from the bondage of sin and into the fullness of His grace.

There is great intentionality in the way that Jesus appears to these women, and what unfolds after these encounters.

Through the Samaritan woman many unbelievers came to believe, and Mary Magdalene was the one to bear witness to the most important moment in all of history and the reason for our rejoicing. I find great symbolism in the way that our Lord made himself apparent to these women, to go forth and carry the news to man that he may believe and come to faith, and even endure in it.

There is a sacrament born in the life breathed into them by Christ’s presence that blesses those who bore witness to it. They, in tremendous ways brought the Good News to men. They, through the encounter of the nearness of God made visible the invisible power of the Lord. The souls of these women and their receptivity is the fertile ground that our Lord plants seeds of His truth.

Though I am much ignorant of “feminine theology” and also the direction that a lot of it seems to take. I am struck primarily by the ways in which a false sense of feminism has crept into the Church, and into the minds of women, this idea that there is an inequality of roles, that there is need first and foremost to be as man. And to ultimately fulfill duties that our Lord never ordained to us as women. God in his design made us “helpers” to man, to be as partners, to receive life physically and reveal the majesty of God’s blessing, tangible evidence of a miraculous God through the body of the woman. This, I see as an important point that translates even in to the spiritual, into the mystical reality of Christ.

I see a tremendous suffering of ignorance to the truth and role of women as willed by God. There is one woman alive who has boldly shared her sentiments on this matter with whom I agree greatly. And this is Dr. Alice Von Hildebrand. I worry there are far too few women imbued with the sense of understanding that she holds, and as she nears her end it is a blessing that she has left us with the abundance of her words upon pages and pages that will endure beyond her time on earth.

I recall a lecture I heard of hers where she spoke about the creation of Adam and Eve, she spoke to those initial days in the garden and brought us into the moment of God’s creation of man and woman, identifying that Adam was created from “the slime of the earth”, and that “Eve had the dignity of being made from the human person”. Eve was created by God through man, through part of his body, the body that God had made from the earth, and in this wondrous creation, from the rib, and thus the dignity of the body was made Eve. She spoke to this to begin highlighting the initial glory already belonging to woman. Her thought continued in Adam’s naming of Eve “Mother of all the living’, this lingers in my mind as a key point, and a necessary point of remembering, that even though woman suffers the wounds of original sin, nothing can eliminate this point of potential or even divine purpose of being called to be “Mother of all the living”,even in a culture where women have too often become the handmaid’s of death through killing the life of their womb.

Vonhildebrand, a lover of St.Augustine went on to allude to his comments regarding the temptation in the garden, and while he suggested that Satan came to Eve because she was the weaker sex, Vonhildebrand differs in that she was able to see Satan’s coming to Eve as a means of highlighting the power of woman’s influence over man, for good, or for evil.

She sees this approach to the woman in light of the great threat women are to Satan’s designs, because through woman comes all life, through woman is mirrored God’s glory in a profound way exceeding that of man. She speaks of this in relation to the ability to beget life within the womb, and reminds us that everything God touches, especially in regards to the potential of conception is sacred, immensely sacred and calls for a “trembling respect”.

When we come to view woman in light of having the capacity for the greatest influence over man, the chaos we suffer from today and many of the issues surfacing arise from this forgetting of woman’s divine purpose, by women themselves.

Satan comes not as a serpent in the garden, but in cunning, tremendous ways to cloud the concept of the feminine dignity and divine purpose that consequently leads man to roam around in the filth from where he was drawn.

In numerous ways there is an outpouring of women seeking worth and dignity in areas to claim some lofty status of headship, especially in areas of the Church, in my opinion this is pursued completely ignorant to the reverence necessary to hold man in his designated place and fulfill humbly the immensity of the role entrusted to them as women of Christ. When woman becomes the antagonist to man she is no longer helper, she is no longer “Mother of All the living”.

There is One Woman through Whom we must pass to understand our role as women of God and this is the Most Blessed Virgin Mary. When we seek to be near Her and to grow in the virtues that she so taught by her witness, then we uphold the role within the Church that God willed for us. To imbue it with the gift of life, to receive in the hiddeness and fragility, by our nearness to God, the eternal truths made visible by faithful servitude.

There is One Mother of The Church, One Divine Woman deserving of the role to sit beside the alter of Christ. That woman fails at large to recognize the magnitude of her worth and divine purpose is reflective that she has forgotten her tremendous belonging to the Maternity of Mary. What does it mean to be a woman of God, and His beloved daughter, but to uphold the dignity of ourselves by seeking to unfold the mystery that we are in Him, being helpers to man by utilizing our gifts in accordance to their design. By carrying the good news entrusted to us, by being a “mother of all living” and caring prayerfully for the many sons of God through whom we receive the Living Word and Bread of Life.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

"Upon This Rock" By:C.C.

"You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it." (Matthew 16:18)

Even while I lived in complete error, even while I accepted sin religiously, I never thought anything within the Catholic Church was untrue.

It lingered truthful and intact, just unexplored, and unloved.

I dismissed it , accepting that it would be waiting , just as it has been left to us by Him. Waiting as constant and fixed as Christ left it to us, but I preferred the fluidity of the world , and all of its apparent freedoms.

I remember meeting a few religious, those people imbued with a sense of the Gospel , those to whom God was really God and they were subject to His authority.

I thought myself free. Not beyond His authority, but more tragically beyond His love.
In fact, I completely chose myself there. To love other things and left no room to love Him adequately, nor the room for Him to take the place He most deserved and desired, denying Him the place He created. 

But He rang the bell of my heart , He sang there in times of need. He reminded me Whose I was, always seeking to gain entry to a place He owned yet was shut out of completely.

Eventually He won , His Rock demolishing the castles I'd built from the sand of sin.

What is this Truth we possess , if it does not leave us changed? What is this faith we profess if our whole life is not rearranged?

On the feast of the Saintly lover in 2014 , on a fresh day in February, I knelt before the bones of St.Peter , and I felt mine within shatter in further surrender. I believed before I got there, but I left that tomb faithful in spaces within me I didn't know existed.

And so I do not worry what may force against It. I do not mind those entrenched in error and sin, for Truth, though unlived remains intact and valid. God's promise to us is a constant comfort.

He alone can ring the bell.

He alone will call His children home to Rome. 

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

"That's Amore": Remembering Italy & God's love By: C.C.

"Do you not yet understand or comprehend?
Are your hearts hardened?
Do you have eyes and not see, ears and not hear?
And do you not remember" (Mark 8:17-18)

Our remembering of God's goodness and intercession in our lives does not render us perfect but points us to recalling where perfection can be found, and to where we must return and reside to attain it. To live in faith and trust God in order to be brought to the fullness of our purpose and know true life. 

It is important to remember where we came from, where God has brought us, and to do so graciously. The point of our remembering is important, because as we proceed in our faith lives and gain greater understanding, we see the grace of those moments behind us that  can help encourage our continued following of the Lord. This remembering also enables us to see the grace and movements of the Holy Spirit interceding at a time when we were much too ignorant to notice. It is in our coming to recognize Him at work that we become more attentive, more humble, and more faithful.

During my fourth year of university, I was far from God but nearer to my roots and indeed on my way to witnessing the collision of my culture and the faith that I had so poorly tried to dismiss.

I immersed myself in Italian studies during the later years of my post-secondary education. Many of the English courses were cross listed with Italian, and I used this to successfully explore my passion for the Italo-Canadese experience, Italian literature, and identity throughout my final year. 

I fondly remember reading through great works of Italian studies, plenty of those I read moved with deep critique and satirical references to the Catholic faith, despite how eloquently done they were, in time I did begin to recognize how controversial all of it was. Even at the highest most articulate critique of the Church I was moved to consider God in a way that I had not before.
It led me to entertain that there was something intensely true about the Catholic faith that I'd so nonchalantly thought of.
I was intrigued by the history of Italy the literary life of Florence , nostalgic for a time long gone and people etched in these pages. A dear friend of mine was going to Milan that year for a semester at Bocconi University. She is incredibly bright, I somehow always managed to keep some quality company, despite scraping through the trenches of immorality.
I approached my dad and told him that I would enjoy, as a means of celebrating my last year of university, to go to Italy for some time to be with my friend, to tour a bit etc. It was a fulfilled request and off I went for reading week and some added extra time.
I would also be spending Valentine's day in Italy , I mean, how romantic could it get?  At that point in my life I was far more into these secular things, and into plenty disastrous scenarios and men, but in honest reflection I was the tornado causing most of the disaster! God had a much bigger plan and lesson to be learned indeed.
Prior to leaving , given my interest in Italian studies I perused the Italian Interest section at Chapters one day and discovered a book about Padre Pio. It grasped my attention to say the least and I clasped the book and reserved myself to buying it. That my soul was never to be the same was an understatement, if you welcome him , look out! I am sure now , that God in all of His goodness knew I needed the intercession of one such spiritual warrior to help shake me from all my badness! 

I'm also assured had he been living and I went to him for confession it'd be one of those spent kneeling for 14 hours, with a line up of people outside shaking their heads at me chanting "Vergogna". 

I was shaken to the core , but not shaken enough of course, just rattled enough to know how real and mighty God was , how true this faith within me was , and how far I had gone from all of it, and that this Padre Pio man was a mighty man of faith and surely very real.
Valentine's day in Italy that year seemed far from romantic. It involved a yelling match with a partner left at home , and just disgust at my current life. Simultaneously this was incredibly the most beautiful day because alive in me was the desire for only God , for a Church, and this is where I reserved myself to spending the day, looking for a Church, a priest, and praying that my English tongue could muster up the ugly litany of my numerous sins in the beautiful Italian language in a confessional somehow. 

I'm amazed looking back and seeing the grace at recognizing the need for Confession, when I couldn't even muster up the effort to attend Sunday Mass. That awakening to seeing our sin and coming to know where it can be remedied is a true grace. 

My friend was off to her day at Bocconi and I was off to find a church, which I was sure in Italy, would not be difficult! Off I went to seek "la Chiesa"

What I discovered on the way was the awareness of radical solitude and my own freedom of vulnerability. There's something about the perception of being unknown in your surroundings that can offer a freedom to appear just as you are without concern. And so I wept and wept through the streets of Milan, it was far more dramatic than necessary, and maybe in many ways poetic perhaps. But it did indeed capture the moment I was in. Ah, the collapse of the sinful fortress within me was beginning. 

 I went into the Church beside the University  but there was no Priest present to hear my Confession. There was a young man praying there and I left as silently as possible in my sniffles and tears to continue seeking another Church. I walked outside and the young man who was in the Church followed me and introduced himself. His name was Giuseppe, he was from Sicily, and he was a law student at Bocconi. 

I was a mess, truthfully the last thing I wanted to do was talk to anyone beyond a priest. I spoke to him in my stuttered Italian and said that I was in need of a Priest and a good Confession. The young man looked at his watch, and told me that he knew where another Church was and that he would bring me there. He did have an exam to write that day, and told me that his time was short. He motioned toward his vehicle, and apprehensively I said to him that I would not be travelling in a car with as I do not know him. I was being "street smart" even in my state of personal disaster. He exclaimed a slightly frustrated "Va bene" and said he would walk me there. A walk that he said would take a near 30 minutes.

I could not believe the selflessness of this man's gesture to me. We spoke on the walk about faith, and religion. He shared about himself and his journey of faith and the very reason for his success of studies and in his life was due to his faith in the Lord and that of his praying family. He asked me bluntly if I was religious, I did not know how to respond to such a question. I was not religious, in fact I did not have any relationship with my faith life at that time. Although, I did talk to him about Padre Pio because I had just finished reading his life story, which I feel was largely responsible in aiding me to be walking the streets of Milan distressed and looking for a Confession.

Giuseppe had much to say about Padre Pio. In fact he was very devoted to him.  We approached this beautiful Church and he walked me inside. He spoke to the secretary for me and asked when the priest would be returning. She notified him that it would be a couple of hours. He parted with me and said ``be faithful and be strong``. He had to get back to Bocconi, and I agreed that I would wait inside of the Church for a priest. 

This Church was beyond words. There were people everywhere taking pictures. I knelt in tears in one of the pews and continued to weep for a rather long time. I did not recall the name of this Church and for years it had bothered me. I remained there for over two hours in silent tears of prayer. I did not end up seeing the Priest but there was still something seemingly profound and sense of home that I felt in being there within the Church. By God`s grace I would eventually find a priest for Confession back home, though it did take me some good time(couple years sadly) and bad moments until I sought it. 

(*Go to Confession, don't wait, it's beautiful)

When I left this Church I took a picture of it to remember. It would be years until I would realize the incredible holiness and sacred ground that I was kneeling upon, and it's symbolism. I learned that the place I was led to by Giuseppe was a Basilica.
While in attendance at a Conference in Connecticut (2013), I encountered a priest from Milan. I quickly realized that maybe he would be able to tell me the name of this Church where I was years before in tears and in search of a priest. 

   Fr. Mario did in fact tell me that this Basilica where I was at in 2008 is called Sant` Eustorgio. It is one of the oldest Churches in Milan and the original location of the relics of the Three Kings. It is also named after St. Eustorgius (I) who was Archbishop of Milan in 343-349. He was appropriately referred to by St.Ambrose  as `confessor`. I'm also baptized on St.Ambrose' feast day so I was pretty moved to say the least to know I came to the right place for a Confession, even if I didn't find a Confessor!                            
                                    (My friend gave me this as a parting gift from Italy)

As time went on in 2014 , I found myself off to Italy again for Valentine's Day, this time a practicing Catholic, a frequent Confession going woman, and about to be married in under a month. 

Within me was intense gratitude. I recalled prayerfully my last Valentine's day long ago that I had spent in Italy, and how far I had come. It was a necessary remembering of grace. It was a moment that grows in significance the more that time passes. 

At the center of all we think we know of human love is God's radical love for each of us. As Valentine's day approaches and all the fluffy nonsense is overdone, poorly done, and so meaningless. We as the faithful begin our Lenten journey. Remembering that we are dust. 

I am pausing to remember two Valentine's days spent in Italy coming to learn the amazing power and love of God, and His love for us, despite us. 

And I am also thankful for knowing where to find a priest, and for this morning's Sacrament of Penance.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Purifying our Appetite for Knowledge at The Table. By:C.C.

There is an increase today in the available  information and our "knowing" of the things of God. Numerous degrees, studies, theories, philosophies, and even truth tainted by personal ideologies have somehow swept into the sacredness of faith. 

Perhaps, we need applaud the aspirations that stem from the honest desire and longing to fill the void of unknowing within us, yet only God alone can instruct and truly carry us to clarity in the capacity that He wills for us.

The intellectual ascent is laden with limitations . The Desert Fathers spoke about the essentials for guarding of the intellect . Perhaps this was always the case. It seems the danger today is in the rapid way the thoughts of man can spread into the shallowness of unrooted minds and souls, heavily influencing one's concept of God and leaving untouched His reality.

We see the rivalry of egos and comparisons, of ideologies and methods to bring about positive advancements in Church affairs , riddling with noise the sacredness of God's gift to us.
Faith suffers not because of poor evangelization, but due to being evangelized by the poverty of another's concepts and ideals, while the Sacred is pushed aside , closed away, and dismissed.
To be a disciple of the Lord demands lowliness.

Personal conversion , and reverence before God born from holy fear is important to keep in mind before commencing any work for Him.

To pursue study not with intent of knowing , but with a desire to love and to serve God more fully. Not the God we have constructed in our minds to accommodate the superficial way we have grown to live in the Western World. But the God born to us in the poverty of a manger, died for us at the sufferings of the Cross, and left for us the only thing necessary to live out a life of virtue.

"Do this in memory me" is the most sacred remembering, it is where we are most instructed.
The Eucharist is the true Source, and the most Essential.

At the table of remembering men are born and made. We are humbled and fed. We are instructed and guided. We are fulfilled and provided for. This surpasses linguistic limitations , the heights of intellect, and pierces with Infinite love the wounded heart. It purifies our instructions, guides our steps, and provides the grace for our work to be entrenched in the love and will of our Lord.

Growing up , I tactfully learned that the best time to speak to my father and present my lavish ideas was after he had eaten. It was at the table where I knew he would best receive news of my desired weekend plans , a troubling math grade (frequently), or other things that if presented in the haste of passing, and to a man's unfed belly would ensure a troublesome reaction. I understood the simple way that being fed would allow him to deal better and be more content. To think more clearly , and this at a natural level.

Our Lord calls us to His table , with our hunger, with our ideas stirring, with the yearnings, and the zeal in our hearts, not to beg our permission, or ask pardon, but to imbue us with the supernatural aid and sacramental grace to enable our steps to be most aligned, most nourished, and most fulfilled. To purify the intent of our knowing and our learning.

May we always strive to be humble students at the Lord's feet, be at peace in our unknowing, and yearn to use all that is known to us for the greater good.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

No Texting on The Road to Emmaus: A Loss of Attentiveness & Reverence by:C.C.

Recently Pope Francis addressed his dismay regarding the prominence of cell phone use during Mass. From this point he elaborated and encouraged the faithful to recognize the importance of what is taking place and Whom it is present among us, “The Eucharist is an amazing event where Jesus Christ, our life, becomes present,”. Naturally, the distracted way that many come to the table of the Lord reveals the reality of a loss of reverence, and the essential understanding necessary to have us partake in the Lord's passion with a well disposed and focused spirit. 

Today Pope Francis again reminded the faithful of the need for attentiveness and silence during Mass, declaring that "Mass is the highest form of prayer and not an appropriate moment for small talk". There is an invitation to be silent before the Lord. 

We are inundated today with many distractions and the primacy of God seems to be a rarity. However, it can be said that what is more tragic is the underlying reality that there is a loss of belief in the presence of Christ in the Eucharist. And that the "breaking of the bread" becomes commonplace and some routine of sorts opposed to the "highest form of prayer"that leads us to be transformed and renewed in Christ, offering to us the graces that we so need to live out our call as Christians in the world. 

I am brought to reflect upon that moment on the road to Emmaus,(Luke 24:13-35) when the pilgrims were walking and Jesus approached them, but they were kept from recognizing Him, carrying on in conversation with Him unknowingly. 
I imagine if this were to happen in 2017, there would be very little conversation on the road and perhaps not even the notice of another person approaching as one is often found distracted by their phone, perusing the latest social media feeds etc. There is a loss of so much natural encounter from person to person that encountering the supernatural presence of our Lord becomes even more difficult if we do not attune ourselves to the necessary quiet and interior attentiveness required to recognize what is truly taking place. 

Though the pilgrims were unaware, and even kept from recognizing Jesus while walking,  He became real to them and present at the breaking of the bread. This is where Jesus meets us daily. In the Eucharist , in the breaking of the bread, and if we allow our self-inclined gaze and misplaced priorities to be broken, we too will see Him and know Him.  

When we are reminded to recognize the Eucharist as the most important part of our lives as Catholics and the true focal point of the Liturgy then all other things with little relevance naturally fall away. Only One thing becomes essential. Only One is the most important-Jesus.

A priest I write to from time to time said to me the other day that "Catholics were once known for their interior life that is why the Eucharist was Real for them". This stirred within me as I reflected and could see unavoidable truth in this. The loss of interior life amidst the noise of this world leaves us all outside of the capacity to recognize the Real Presence of Jesus. I view the loss of an authentic Eucharistic life as reason for straying away from our profound truths, and naturally a cause of so much distracted dilution and loss of a richness in faith. 

How do we again acquire an interior life? How do we come to know the Real Presence of Jesus?
It begins as simply as putting down the phone and spending some time in silence. (CC)

"He remains among us until the end of the world. He dwells on so many altars, though so often offended and profaned."
- St. Maximilian Kolbe 

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Laity, Lay More Fervently Into The Lord. By: C.C.

photo credit Archdiocese of Toronto
This post first appeared at Serviam Ministries
I once wrote that grace does not always come to us wrapped in gold. Do not be discouraged by messy packaging, the abundance of grace manifests in the lowly. The opposite can be said then of evil, for Satan often comes to us not as the beastly goblin we imagine him to be, but vested in gold and filled with promising illusions.
Cunning he so is that there is often a perception of good unfolding, but if inspired by his hand it will not heal but hurt, not build up, but break down things entirely. “Christ taught us truth; the Devil teaches us falsehood and strives in every way to contradict every truth” St. John of Kronstadt.  I suppose then it is fitting to judge prudently where we see truth greatly contradicted and challenged.
As the world seems to become louder and more bold in sin, the importance of silence is so inviting and more urgently necessary. I have always been drawn to the desert fathers for numerous reasons. Perhaps, most notable is the extreme abandonment to God they lived by. Taking their living arrangements into account, their radical silence, and their regard for God alone, it becomes apparent that from them we learn the value and importance of a quiet , uninterrupted mind, so to hear the voice of God and to clearly strive for personal sanctity and union with Him.
This is essential not to leave us floating around in our own minds and illusions, but to prevent us massively from such behavior and to keep us entrenched in the presence of God so that we may better identify His presence within our world, but also present ourselves before Him in true service of what His will is, and not what we ourselves will His will to be.
The word of God confirms to us that the gates of hell shall not prevail against His church (Matthew 16:17-19), but if evil prevails in the hearts of Her members there is visibly great danger.
Most of the confusion and turmoil that is plaguing the current climate of the Church is in my humble opinion a result of misguided devotion and a multitude of sinful behaviors. Personal sin has gone too long unaddressed. I do not impose that we become sour faced saints that St. Teresa of Avila sought to be free from, but that we reclaim an honest examination of conscience before God, that we seek the urgency of this in order to see more clearly how to aid the building up of the Church and be messengers of Truth entrusted to us.
Sour faced saints are by no means profitable to the Church, but nor are radiant smiling disillusioned sinners, hiding behind the mask of holiness. We need to receive from God , we need to be attentive, not with motive to go out prematurely but to work through Him within, to transform and to have a concrete personal witness where we are called to serve. For such I see the present day role of the laity extremely vital to building up the church, I do not mean this by necessarily a fostering of missionaries, though this is important. I mean so in regards to a deep life of prayer, and intentionality toward a relationship and union with Christ. Hidden in Him, and striving to live in accordance to His precepts is the way we attribute much good and keep the Church afloat. Doing so primarily by being obedient to our state in life and upholding what that means. I often think about my vocation. Being a wife and mother. I am naturally drawn to recall the day I was married. I do not look back and envision my dress and my bridesmaids and the fluffy little details within the seams of the day, what I recall as the challenges of married life with all its complexities present themselves, is the sacredness of the Marriage Rite and the words professed that day, and more importantly the freshness of the vow alive in my heart,  my commitment before God almighty, and the numerous witnesses, priests included who stood on in celebration.
This for me is not a place where I meet some sentimentality, but personal correction. For I see how far in so many ways I fly often from what I have promised, owning my sin. And seeing in this a very important point of what God wills to be most urgent and vital to my own sanctity. As the Magesterium is under great attack these days, and perhaps in ways unknown to me, and in affairs that are beyond me, and extremely none of my business, I am brought humbly before God. To focus on my own affairs. Because this is where the biggest witness is. I often see a very misguided attack on our Bishops from many lay members in the Church, and it is concerning. It appears to me that we not only demand perfect holiness only from them, but that we only truly think at times that preserving and upholding truth solely belongs to them. Arguably we are full of pride, excusing ourselves from personal sanctity in the process. It is not healthy. Yes neither is sin, and that must be addressed and dealt with accordingly, but I strongly feel that our Shepherds need prayer from us, they need every good grace that can come from a Church focused on personal conversion and union, then the grace can spread like wildfire and bring up a healthy Church climate, in that there will be stronger vocations, because we would build up better rooted families and encourage a fostering of love of God.
I have to entertain the idea of my numerous failings in living up to the call that I vowed to. Imagine I went to Sunday Mass and there were numerous articles printed about my less than perfect walk in Christ and the ways that I have at least one thousand times in four years failed miserably to be obedient to God’s design of marriage. This is meant to humble, not demean.
It affirms for me my responsibility and it should affirm all of us in ours. I like listening to the lectures of Jordan Peterson often. I know he does not claim any religious affiliation, and really he need not, as there is great wisdom and wealth in many of his lectures. One of his points I find most intriguing and inviting is his means of telling people to “sort themselves out” and blatantly to “clean their room” especially those who seek these massively high ideals of fighting for some social justice, he preaches the importance of personal order, for from there on such a practical level there emerges a collectedness that can then pour forth renewal on a greater level in society. So too as the Christian laity, we must make haste to keep our own mess, and our own sin in check.
We have become so quick to react before we reflect and retain anything. Prudence and discretion is so often missed in the quickness of our Tweets, likes, Facebooking, and Instagraming. We miss the essential patient rhythm of prayer. It may be important for us to examine ourselves before the quickness of our thumbs to see if what we are sharing divides or fosters unity. If we can authentically trust the affairs of our lives to the Lord so too we must trust the affairs of His Church to His permitting will, but be ever mindful of sin, the need for ongoing conversion and deep prayer oriented toward preserving the Truth revealed by our Lord, faithful in His promises and the grace of Our Lady. Division in any form is not of Him, but if what moves in accordance to His known will seemingly divides then perhaps it may be fitting, and greater union to Christ had.
The only way to know and affirm this is to personally have our hearts, minds, and souls undividedly focused on Christ, to seek deep conversion and renewal in His will.
The climate of the Church will be remedied not by personal commentary, but by purification of personal devotion and silence before God.
Dilution of doctrine does not produce saints, but sinks down to accommodate the sinner. The greatness of saintliness is truly found by obedience, and not obedience to ourselves. To preserve truth, to uphold the teachings of Christ is to be looked down upon radically by the world, but it also presents a call to rise up and meet the freedom of Christ, a true freedom that we all need so very much.
“Oh my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell, and lead us all into heaven, especially those most in need of thy mercy” And perhaps it is helpful to recall Pope Leo XIII from time to time and the St. Michael Prayer, a brief story of how this prayer came to be shared below, found online One day, after celebrating Mass, the aged Pope Leo XIII was in conference with the Cardinals when suddenly he sank to the floor in a deep swoon. Physicians who hastened to his side could find no trace of his pulse and feared that he had expired. However, after a short interval the Holy Father regained consciousness and exclaimed with great emotion: “Oh, what a horrible picture I have been permitted to see!” He had been shown a vision of evil spirits who had been released from Hell and their efforts to destroy the Church. But in the midst of the horror the archangel St. Michael appeared and cast Satan and his legions into the abyss of hell. Soon afterwards Pope Leo XIII composed the following prayer to Saint Michael, which is the original prayer”
O Glorious Prince of the heavenly host, St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in the battle and in the terrible warfare that we are waging against the principalities and powers, against the rulers of this world of darkness, against the evil spirits. Come to the aid of man, whom Almighty God created immortal, made in His own image and likeness, and redeemed at a great price from the tyranny of Satan. Fight this day the battle of the Lord, together with the holy angels, as already thou hast fought the leader of the proud angels, Lucifer, and his apostate host, who were powerless to resist thee, nor was there place for them any longer in Heaven. That cruel, ancient serpent, who is called the devil or Satan who seduces the whole world, was cast into the abyss with his angels. Behold, this primeval enemy and slayer of men has taken courage. Transformed into an angel of light, he wanders about with all the multitude of wicked spirits, invading the earth in order to blot out the name of God and of His Christ, to seize upon, slay and cast into eternal perdition souls destined for the crown of eternal glory. This wicked dragon pours out, as a most impure flood, the venom of his malice on men of depraved mind and corrupt heart, the spirit of lying, of impiety, of blasphemy, and the pestilent breath of impurity, and of every vice and iniquity. 
These most crafty enemies have filled and inebriated with gall and bitterness the Church, the spouse of the immaculate Lamb, and have laid impious hands on her most sacred possessions. In the Holy Place itself, where the See of Holy Peter and the Chair of Truth has been set up as the light of the world, they have raised the throne of their abominable impiety, with the iniquitous design that when the Pastor has been struck, the sheep may be. 
Arise then, O invincible Prince, bring help against the attacks of the lost spirits to the people of God, and give them the victory. They venerate thee as their protector and patron; in thee holy Church glories as her defense against the malicious power of hell; to thee has God entrusted the souls of men to be established in heavenly beatitude. Oh, pray to the God of peace that He may put Satan under our feet, so far conquered that he may no longer be able to hold men in captivity and harm the Church. Offer our prayers in the sight of the Most High, so that they may quickly find mercy in the sight of the Lord; and vanquishing the dragon, the ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan, do thou again make him captive in the abyss, that he may no longer seduce the nations. Amen.
V. Behold the Cross of the Lord; be scattered ye hostile powers.
R. The Lion of the tribe of Judah has conquered, the root of David. 
V. Let Thy mercies be upon us, O Lord. 
R. As we have hoped in Thee. 
V. O Lord, hear my prayer. 
R. And let my cry come unto Thee. 
Let us pray.
O God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, we call upon Thy holy Name, and as supplicants, we implore Thy clemency, that by the intercession of Mary, ever Virgin Immaculate and our Mother, and of the glorious St. Michael the Archangel, Thou wouldst deign to help us against Satan and all the other unclean spirits who wander about the world for the injury of the human race and the ruin of souls. Amen. 

Perhaps the shorter version of this prayer is much better known. And as St. Michael is the patron of our diocese here in Toronto, I bring him forth in prayer for the protection , prudence, and love of truth; a true love of Christ for all our Bishops and Priests.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Women, We are Failing New Moms. By:C.C.

(Image from Global
It is easy to look at the feminist movement and find various ills that have actually resulted in the imprisonment and fostered a true sense of dependency in women by women. Perhaps this reality is overlooked and thus it is not explored adequately nor is it ever really known by some. The pain of this becomes quite apparent when we peer into the modern reality of motherhood and the wounds that linger there. There is this idea of being a mom as a burden one must be alleviated from opposed to a profound grace to be entered into, where we find the possibility to witness the hand of Our Lady guiding us and her mantle embracing us in love. There is incredible opportunity to know the profound sense of our potential as women in Christ.

As a young mom of two, I am baffled and disgusted by much of the mama culture out there. I see it damaging, and wounding to women, leading to isolation and a sense of victim-hood that hinders joy and a sense of thriving in these fragile and tremendously important years. 
What has become more apparent to me is the often overpowering and critical view of our mother's generation , I say this wanting to bring light to something that must be discussed lest we lose a young generation of moms to suffering and self loathing, never learning the beauty of sacrifice and their own inconceivable power as strong independant women dependent on God.
Surely many people have grown to view domestic life and motherhood as a prison, and if this is Alcatraz I'm in , I wouldn't exchange these shackles for anything in in the world!
Take into account visiting a new mom, ,or even just hearing many new moms chat about their early experiences, it is often laden with "my mom said to do this ", "my mother-inlaw told me I should do that", or "my dog's aunt's grandmother's neighbour said I'm doing this wrong" . Please for the sake of everything good in the world and the sake of true womanhood - Back OFF. 

Now perhaps that is seemingly bold. I'm also more inclined to dance to the beat of my own GOD's drum, so I did not give heed to how to's, but took the time in silence and solitude with my children to discover my own mama voice, I think it is very important for everyone to do this.
Women need empowerment and encouragement to build a confident sense of motherhood rather than it being dictated to them, often in a means that is imposing. And although it may not appear as such ,I have seen it cause tremendous confusion in many new moms and serve to deprive them of truly enjoying the experience.
I am not dismissing the reality of postpartum depression, or declaring that it is not a significant suffering needing proper help and assistance, so please be sure to intercede appropriately if one you know may be in that state.  For me it is important to bring forth the majority of cases I have seen  where women can overwhelmingly worsen the emotional state of a new mom by claiming to know all the answers or be the answer themselves. 

It is a grace  to be able to thrive in motherhood, and so continual glory to God for it all, but I think He is too sadly forgotten in the journey. It is also vital to empower women by affirming their capabilities and letting them set out for themselves on the task of walking this path as individuals.
We have long pressed careers and importance of academia , we have been groomed to see that as worthy work, but motherhood by society is seen as a 12 month endeavor (if you're lucky to have that as a mat leave) and then BAM sent back to the "most important"
Most times,  this is encouraged selfishly by the elder generation because they bask in the ability to child rear while their daughters return to work . I have seen alive a desire to be with ones child dismissed or not given proper attention, not because women don't yearn to be home from work, but because they don't know how, they don't know that it is worthy work , or that they are capable of it. More than this they have been so swamped by opinions and told a bunch of "how to's" that work is seen often as a means to "be oneself again" or to "come alive"
The notion that women can live this life giving vocation deadened inside is so wounding to me. It causes me great pain, and I'm sure Our Lady looks on and is there with her big maternal heart saying "Come to me, be with me, I am with you, I will guide you , just let ME mother you."
This awareness of damage done to new moms is continually affirmed as I often get calls from friends and such discussing difficulties and their experience of being torn. I am amazed at the light bulb moments that go off when I say "What works for you and your home?" "what do you feel is right?" "You are a good mother, you can do this, and find your own mama voice".

We empower women by stepping back enough to let grace step in and to let them become who God has meant them to be. We should not strive to have carbon copy mini me's of another time and place. I value tradition immensely , I think it is a healthy and necessary means of learning about the depth of our being, but in some cases, a lot of passed down theories about motherhood have stunted the growth, or rather hindered growth completely.
Imagine a child learning to ride a bike, the training wheels are put on, when they are taken off every part of you is watching and praying that child won't fall or trip, but a healthy mother recognizes that yes , they will fall, they need to fall, and I must encourage them to get back on that bike.
To overwhelm a new mother, to be all Oedipal mama on them is to forever keep training wheels on, and suddenly they come off alarmingly without warning and more suffering is had, more falling, and more pain because they were never encouraged to ride alone or get back on the bike. Worse than this they are never taught that they can.
Granted , I am rather green in the eyes of experience , but age and quantity of time does not necessarily bring forth wisdom. This is extremely necessary to note. I am secure in recognizing the greatest gift I will give to my children is their independence on a personal level and their perpetual dependency on God. My role exists to show them this alone--to Whom they most belong, and with that I trust beyond measure where they will be taken. Primarily let us remember so much of doing the right thing as moms relies upon being who we are in love, and in God, and striving to be that well!
And so, based on my very limited and biased observances here is what everyone in the female population can do to help new moms 

  • Pray for them- Before you speak, before you offer an act of help, begin in praying for them.
  • Pray for yourself-  For the clarity to know the importance of healthy detachment and avoid  the selfish need to invade the necessary boundaries of a new mother's life.
  • Accept that you don't know it all
  • Recognize some suffering and struggle as necessary grounds for virtue, but pray to discern when  help is necessary.
  • Don't take over- It's not your right, or your job.
  • Be present, but sometimes that means distantly too - help with a hot meal in the early days , but knowing healthily when to back off, or ask the new mama what type of help she actually appreciates.
  • Women don't need more stuff they need to know that they are the MORE. 
  • Encourage , encourage, encourage, affirm, affirm, affirm. 
  • And please for the sake of all things. If you know a woman who truly and desperately desires to remain home, support her prayerfully, and help her provide guidance to do so. Remind her, as I once heard Dorothy Pilarski allude to many times The mortgage can wait, the reno is unnecessary , and this time will not be forgotten and you have the fruits of  it forever.
  • A working mom is NOT a bad mom 

And please above all, have recourse to Mary, Mother of us all and the source of all goodness. (CC) 

P.S. Having a sense of healthy community is a great way to navigate the journey of motherhood. The Archdiocese of Toronto has a great Mom's Ministry active in many parish communities...for more information check out--