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 News.ca)
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-- http://www.catholicmomsgroup.com/

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

To Sit and Listen. By: C.C.


"When Our Lord corrected Saint Martha, He said, "Martha, Martha, you are anxious and upset about many things..." [Lk 10:41] Note that she would not have been troubled if she had been merely diligent, but she was overly concerned and uneasy; she was hurrying about and all stirred up. Rivers that flow gently through the plains carry along large boats and rich merchandise. Rains that fall gently on open fields make them fruitful in grass and grain, while violent storms devastate fields and pastures. A job done too eagerly and hurriedly is never done well. "He who is in a hurry should go slowly,: says the proverb. We perform actions quickly enough when we do them well. Drones make more noise and work more eagerly than worker bees, but they make only wax and not honey. So also, people who hurry about with tormented anxiety and solicitude never accomplish much, nor do they do anything well." (St. Francis de Sales)
     
It seems that our Western society has been victim to a fast paced lifestyle for quite some time. There is an illusion of forward motion in many areas, but not necessarily any meaning. In a sense we are guilty of superficially grazing across many pastures of life without taking root, and without acquiring any depth. 

We seem to lack the very thing we need in order to truly live as God has called us to. In saying this, it is important to note that many of us have also fallen away from the notion of God as creator and true architect of our lives. We often run ourselves to the point of exhaustion to accomplish our goals, meet deadlines, and to complete assignments. One must consider asking themselves in response to these words from St. Francis De Sales “What would happen if I just slowed down?"

    For many this idea of slowing down may appear as laziness, lack of ambition, or a deflation of their work ethic. However, if I may suggest, in slowing down one can better assess and complete their goals with clarity of mind and peace of heart that will ultimately carry them further;not leaving them utterly exhausted. It is also in this slowing down and freeing ourselves from the constant obsession to be in motion that one may also reconnect with our Lord. As I have shared many times before it is through silence and stillness that we encounter God and can truly hear His voice.

    Choosing to slow down and live free of hurry despite what is going on around us is a very challenging task. Many come to this decision when faced with no choice at all. It is often sadly after the death of a loved one, a health matter, or technological failure that may lead us to realize our need to just stop, breathe, feel, and think.

   Naturally the pressures of life may cause us to react as St. Martha did. Just as our Lord corrected her then, He is now speaking to each one of us saying “You are anxious and upset about many things there is need of only one thing." (Luke 10:40-42) The one thing Jesus refers to is the very thing that will enable us to be like the gentle falling rain which gives life and fruit to the dry open fields. It is through slowing down that we are able to accomplish great tasks. Let us learn from St. Martha's haste and not forget that as we hurry our Lord is calling us away from our distractions and anxieties to sit and listen to Him.

   May those burdened by work, worry, and unrest find the time to slow down. Let us not fear the stillness- but rather embrace it with openness. May the Lord provide us with the clarity to see that great tasks are accomplished with great surrender. May we be inclined to prioritize our lives and our daily agendas in ways that acknowledge our need for God. 

In moments of great distraction and defeat, may we seek the face of Christ, and hear Him reminding us to sit and listen.(CC)






Sunday, August 27, 2017

The Rock of Our Faith. By:C.C.

"For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father. And so I say to you, you are Peter,and upon this rock I will build my church,and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven;and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven." Then he strictly ordered his disciples to tell no one that he was the Christ."(Matthew 16:13-19)


"In her voyage across the ocean of this world, the Church is like a great ship being pounded by the waves of life’s different stresses. Our duty is not to abandon ship but to keep her on her course." (Saint Boniface)

The Cross contains everything that we need to understand the human condition and to make sense of faith and suffering. It is through this avenue, and by no other that we can also better navigate what it means to follow and serve Christ within His Church, built upon the rock of St. Peter.
Jesus promised in today's Gospel that the netherworld would not prevail against His Church. This is consoling and also calls into question the reality of our own faith and to whom we give our obedience and following.
As life's difficulties beat against the Church there is great whiplash felt throughout. As times seem to veer progressively away from the teachings of the Church and what it is She stands for, people are perhaps more inclined to jump ship rather than stay aboard and further seek a means to keeping afloat and on course.

Understandably, there are numerous reasons why one may decide to do so. Perhaps it is a result of questions being poorly answered, or unanswered, perhaps it is ignorance to what the Catholic Church truly stands for, or rather Whose Church it  is. 

Revisiting this Gospel is humbling and at the same time inviting of a faith in Jesus Christ alone, despite what one may perceive, fear, or see the Church becoming. We are reminded to Whom it most belongs and in this is every assurance of truth. We aid in keeping the Church on course by remaining present at this moment shared in today's Gospel and obedient to the role that has been given us in faith. It is not a finite moment , it is not an empty phrase to do away with, It is an establishment of a promise , that we must take time to bear witness to, so that we can then increase our sense of the modern day challenges surrounding, and even greet them with the freshness of faith that Jesus's first disciples had.

From this fresh encounter is the means for living in the promise of Jesus for His Church. The implications that this has in all of our lives, and especially in those Holy men appointed to higher roles of leadership within the Church becomes more apparent through our own own humble obedience and daily surrender to follow Jesus, despite the poundings of criticism and counter Christ ways from our culture. 

If the ship is abandoned at the sight of any difficulty then we can be assured that our faith is not in Jesus Christ, nor is it really faith at all. Difficulty invites a renewal of understanding and trust in the Lord. We can affirm faith in the face of challenge, we can pray for the clarity in our own lives., and beg to have the courage to persevere. 

In many ways from the most subtle to the most alarmingly significant we can each play a role in helping to keep the Church on Her course, by remaining on course ourselves. Not so that we desire a following, or to be held up as an icon of some esteemed example. But so that we remain in the embrace of our Lord and seek to glorify Him in all that we do by the simplicity of faith that we live.

In the face of scandal, in the face of "fake church news" and through encountering challenges with doctrine/dogma and perhaps even some Papal decisions it is well that we are reminded of Jesus' promise and to continually entrust ourselves to God. 

The primacy of our faith and our belief in the Church must stem from our belief in Jesus Christ. As if He were before us everyday asking "But who do you say that I am?"  If our answer professes that He is the Son of God, then all things necessary for embracing the Rock of our faith become possible. (CC)

Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! 

How inscrutable are his judgments and how unsearchable his ways!
For who has known the mind of the Lord
or who has been his counselor?
Or who has given the Lord anything
that he may be repaid?
For from him and through him and for him are all things. 
To him be glory forever. Amen. (Romans 11: 33-36)



Saturday, August 26, 2017

Are You Truly Listening? By:C.C.


"Consider this great mystery. The sound of my words strikes the ears, and the Master is within! Do not suppose that any human is the teacher of another. We can Admonish by the sound of our voice; but unless there is one Who teaches on the inside, the sound we make is futile.
I, for my part, have spoken to all; but those to whom the Anointing within does not speak, those to whom the Holy Spirit within does not teach, go back untaught." (Sermon on 1 John 3, 12)

The mystery belonging to our faith and all things divine is something that perpetually calls us to renew our ideas about what it mean to believe, and why we do. We need to embrace this mystery with childlike simplicity and trust so that we may truly be attentive and receptive to the Master within. 

St. Augustine in all of the greatness we come to revere him for was primarily a humble and obedient student of divine mystery and completely surrendered to the power of our Lord's work within Him. 

It is this necessary and admirable detachment that allows for his words to pierce the ears and hearts with a resounding truth that still echos today in all of his words remaining with us, and thanks be to God that they do remain!

In the small sharing from his sermon today he captures a very important aspect about being a messenger for the Lord, and the important work of evangelization. There are many words spoken today striking many ears by the faithful. It can be overwhelming, but seeds are surely being scattered. The fruitfulness of the seeds, while much of it does depend upon the soil that they land on, does also have something to do with the vessel from which they are being thrown from, or the tongue that shares these words.

To be able to share and speak of the divine and with great conviction takes being mindful of our baseness and shared need for God's incredible mercy and grace. We can look at St.Augustine as a prime example for better understanding the reality of his own words shared here today. 

Undoubtedly, those minutely familiar with his life will see that he was not the poster child for holiness in his earlier days, nor was he an ignorant fellow in the eyes of education or learning. Truly from the lap of his mother, St. Monica, and many others who would have tried to instruct him in the ways of faith, numerous words struck his ears. At first there was little impact, he did not attend to them, nor did they initially stir up anything convincing enough for him to turn completely away from his sin, and into the fullness of faith. We do know though, how he ended. His beginning is made all the more of a powerful testament to us, a true testament of God's incredible mystery.

He speaks in his sermon here of the impact that words can have, but also he is mindful of Whom it is that must speak within, Whom it is that must work within and lead one to true transformation. The hearing and the listening leading to conversion and understanding   belongs completely to God. 

To be a witness for the Lord is to be first obedient to His precepts and live out in love the way He instructed to do so. To preach and share the good news is more about doing so reverently, than doing so with the intention of entertaining, and opening hearts. It is not our work to do that, it is the work of God alone. Many may "go back untaught" but this does not mean that the work is unimportant. 

We must pray,  to place primacy on our relationship with the Lord and to be humble vessels. Let us not pray that our words are received, but that God's grace may open hearts to hear, and eyes to see His mystery. We must recognize that we are merely instruments in God's symphony and not the conductor, or the composer. 

May we renew ourselves daily to be taught by our Lord, to sit at His feet always recognizing the need to be perpetually fed and filled with His love. May we then go forth ministering to those in the active vineyard of Christ for God's glory, sent by His grace alone. (CC)


Friday, August 25, 2017

Fasting, Fish, and Phones By: C.C.


Fasting seems to be a lost concept. I am not suggesting that it doesn't exist anymore at all, but truly it does not seem to be spoken about enough anymore. Fasting is needed as many of us are entrenched in a "want world" and self gratified society. 

What comes from fasting is a much needed detachment from things, and ordering of our passions, and ultimately an avenue that welcomes a much necessary closeness to God. 

It is not easy, nor should it be. It is a radical way of attuning ourselves to living more presently in the presence of our Lord and purifying ourselves. It liberates us from the temporal things, albeit not without much enduring.

Most Catholics are perhaps more traditionally familiar with fasting from meat on Fridays, many still do practice this within their homes. But often fish Fridays can take on an even more gluttonous reality than a fast would suggest. For example, being Italian-Canadian extremely rich and battered calamari fritti is surely a beloved favorite of a Friday fish menu, but is perhaps even more lavish in indulgence than my breaded chicken. Therefore the heart of my fast is not pure in it's intention nor sacrificial. I'm sure it would be an interesting thing to dialogue about. 

When we talk about fasting we are talking about a sacrifice, and not something that is easy or enjoyable for us. It should shed us, and prune us, and unearth some of the vices that we battle with. It can be a tremendous and necessary helper as we strive to live a life of virtue. As our western world progressively climbs toward more consumption, more indulgence, and more self gratification, a fitting and crucial response by the faithful at the face of all of this is much needed temperance and self denial. 

I am not trying to foster a population of "sour faced saints" of sorts, but to help cultivate the recovering of encountering true joy and true peace belonging to a heart completely abandoned to God. To be mindful of sacrifice is an authentic aspect of following Christ. To be present enough to encounter His presence, even in the face of others, means that we must be willing to unplug ourselves quite literally from time to time.

In our world today there is a lot of talk  about the prominence of social media and technology and a complete loss of strong/healthy human interactions and attentiveness to people. Last night on Twitter I was reading a thread regarding this very concept and it invited further reflection. I also had the privilege of chatting with Arleen Spenceley for my humble podcast some time ago and she brilliantly shared even more on this subject (which will be posted in the near future).

We are consumed by screens locked in everywhere we go. How much we boast about free wifi in some locations at coffee shops and such, only to see people out for coffee, which is arguably a lovely pastime, now sitting across from one another tweeting, chatting, and youtubing away with everyone but the person before them. We are seemingly more connected, but truly people are starving for more genuine connections and authentic friendships.

While our social media can be implored for some good, no doubt. It is a refreshing idea to think of implementing a fast from phones. To limit use within the day and do so drastically. Perhaps even choosing one day completely to shut down. Detachment should not belong solely to time away in retreat, or the feeling that you need to have an excuse of sorts to not answer your phone. Simply select time and be obedient to it to be unplugged. 

I remember well my first ever retreat I shut my phone down as soon as I had text home about my safe arrival and off I went phone free.  I can't begin tell you how many times I looked for my phone almost shamefully on numerous occasions desiring to check it and did not. I had to work up to a sense of peace with the idea that it was not there. It was extremely liberating, but also more concerning to me was my dependency upon this device. 

Eventually, and not too long into retreat that instinct faded and I was absorbed in the most important. Yes, the environment was obviously more favorable in some ways of having this occur, but here I am amidst the daily grind of things and I can recognize that there is a dependency still lingering for sure; a habitual reliance upon a device that I think can be purified, and even must be purified if I am to be present to the most important within my day.

I can not boast of having a TV in our home and this is a wonderful thing. That itself seems to be a heroic endeavor in today's world, so I have absolutely no idea what is hip or happening in TV land, and I couldn't care less to be quite frank, but more than this I have come to see that though the absence of TV is profound, my phone can very well make up for lost time, time that many lose in front of the tube. 

And so, I am challenging myself, and even maybe some of you out there to fast from phones as you would fast by eating fish. It can be as structured or unstructured as you would like. You may choose to simply shut down completely for a day, a morning/ afternoon whatever, or to limit your use of what you use your phone for. 

I am officially launching the phone fast challenge and to be attentive to how this deepens your self awareness, and also your relationship with God. 

I am not expecting there to be magnificent Moses mountain top type of elaborate enlightening, but there will be growth, there will be clarity. I am joining in this too.My phone is off, and has been for the entire morning. (CC)