You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘other blogs’ tag.

If so, then run, don’t walk, to these posts by Father Z:

“I haven’t been to Confession for 10 years! I don’t know what to do!”

We do not know the day or the hour

How to confess well? I worry I am not doing a good enough job of it.

And of course:

Fr. Z’s 20 Tips for Making a Good Confession

And here’s one by Father Powell:

Making a good Lenten confession

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My friend Annette, who writes the blog Learning to Listen, recently shared a very moving and inspiring post that includes a “Depression Manifesto.”  It has inspired me to start thinking about my own life as someone who suffers the same “family curse.”

Yes, I suffer depression and anxiety.  Whenever I’ve mentioned health problems in my writing, I’ve almost always meant those, although I’ve tended not to name them.  Well, I’m naming them now.  Depression.  Anxiety–particularly social anxiety.  Sometimes a strain of obsessive-compulsive disorder that usually manifests in over-scrupulosity–to which I have referred before.

I also get painfully fixated on things in my past that I regret.  I play them and re-play them in my mind, over and over and over, to the point where I’m just about driven to despair, desperately wishing I could somehow go back and fix them, do things differently, but knowing full well that it’s impossible.  Several days ago, I was in such an agony.

But then I thought back to Annette’s post… I remembered that I was not the only one who experienced such dark moments… remembered that I am not insane…. remembered that all is not lost.

I also turned to God and asked Him what I should do.  I asked my dad too–because he has always known what to do.

And what came to me was something extremely simple:  Just go forth and live each day in such a way as will make God smile.  The past can’t be undone, but the future is still brimming over with opportunities and possibilities.  The future rushes in to every single moment, and every single moment you can choose to do something good, something loving, something beautiful… even if it can’t necessarily be seen or heard or felt by your fellow man; sometimes the greatest deeds are secret, known only to God Himself–and that is enough!  When you make God smile, you can be sure that you are having some kind of wonderful effect on something or somebody somewhere.  Just live for God and His smile!  Even if you don’t feel like smiling yourself.

I know maybe it’s a little silly, maybe even a little conceited, to think of myself making God smile.  But it gives me a goal, a prize, a purpose.  Something to keep my eyes trained on.  Something to draw me out of myself even if I feel very isolated in this world.  It dispels darkness and despair.  It fills my heart with love and tenderness, eagerness and energy.  I love Him, and don’t we always strive to bring our loved ones joy?

Anyway, I have decided that that is how I want to live my life in every little moment.

About the same time that I received St. John Berchmans as my Patron Saint for 2011, Pat McNamara posted the story of the miracle that finalized his canonization!  A stunning miracle it was!  It happened in 1866, in a tiny rural town in southern Louisiana called Grand Coteau.  The recipient of the miracle was Mary Wilson, a young Catholic convert who had entered the convent at the Academy of the Sacred heart.

Here is an excerpt from Mary’s testimony:

I do not think I had eaten an ounce of food for about forty days. During that time I had taken nothing but a little coffee or tea, which for a week before I recovered I could no longer take. And for two weeks no medicine had been administered. The doctor said it was useless to torture me more. So, he stopped giving me any. The last two days I was unable to take even a drop of water. I endured the pangs of death. My body was drawn up with pain; my hands and feet were cramped and as cold as death. All my sickness had turned to inflammation of the stomach and throat. My tongue was raw and swollen. I was not able to speak for two days. At each attempt to utter a word, the blood would gush from my mouth.

Being unable to speak, I said in my heart: “Lord, Thou Who seest how I suffer, if it be for your honor and glory and the salvation of my soul, I ask through the intercession of Blessed Berchmans a little relief and health. Otherwise give me patience to the end. I am resigned.” Then, placing the image of Blessed Berchmans on my mouth, I said: “If it be true that you can work miracles, I wish you would do something for me. If not, I will not believe in you.”

I can say without scruple of fear of offending God: I heard a voice whisper, “Open your mouth.” I did so as well as I could. I felt someone, as if put their finger on my tongue, and immediately I was relieved. I then heard a voice say in a distinct and loud tone: “Sister, you will get the desired habit. Be faithful. Have confidence. Fear not.”

I had not yet opened my eyes. I did not know who was by my bedside. I turned round and said aloud: “But, Mother Moran, I am well!”

Then, standing by my bedside, I saw a figure, He held in his hands a cup, and there were some lights near him, at this beautiful sight I was afraid. I closed my eyes and asked: “Is it Blessed Berchmans?” He answered:” Yes, I come by the order of God. Your sufferings are over. Fear not!” For the glory of Blessed John Berchmans, whose name be ever blessed! I deem it my duty to declare here, that from the moment of the cure I never experienced the slightest return of my former ailments.

It is exciting that this incredible story took place not too terribly far from my neck of the woods.  I will have to try to get down there for a visit!

I read at that St. John died before he could be ordained a priest.  So it is not surprising, and indeed it is wonderfully fitting, that he would obtain a miracle for another person who was facing death before entering religious life.  It’s a powerful and reassuring reminder of the bonds that exist between the Saints and us.  Let us thank and praise God for giving us the Communion of Saints!

Thanks to Mr. McNamara for sharing this story, and to the kind reader, Mr. Bertrand, who sent me a link to it!

Msgr. Charles Pope at the Archdiocese of Washington blog has recently posted some musings about the Church Militant.

The first ponders the question,  “Is the Church a Cruise Ship or a Battleship?” Apparently, for reasons I can’t understand, some folks were offended that the Church should be described with military imagery.   So Msgr. Pope followed up today with “In Defense of the Use of Military Imagery in the Church.”

Both are good reading (as all of his posts are).

I find the military metaphor glorious, exciting, and enormously inspiring.

First of all, it’s true: we are engaged in a war, whether we like it or not.  We are all born on the battlefield, and we all die on it.  It’s not a bloody war against our fellow human beings, but a spiritual war against Satan and the forces of hell.  To deny that is extremely dangerous.  To deny that plays right into the enemy’s hands.  There’s no opting out of this war.  There’s no room for pacifism or conscientious objection.  Either you fight on the side of good, or you surrender to the side of evil.

Second, it reminds me that I am a person on a mission.  I have a purpose, I have a cause, I have people and things to protect, I have people to serve, and I have a 100% guarantee that my King is the Victor.  It stirs and ignites my soul, my will, my strength, my energy.  It makes me appreciate how precious life and humanity and our fellow creatures are.  It makes me proud, in a good way, to stand side by side with angels and saints and martyrs, as well as the people all around me here and now.  It brings forth everything that is noble and disciplined, brave and virtuous in me.  It calls me–even me–to greatness.

Not greatness or significance in any worldly sense, of course.  It brings me to the greatness and significance of who I am as a child of God.  We are all His children, and His kingdom that is not of this world is ours.  Who wouldn’t fight for that?

Matthew Warner has blogged about yesterday’s March for Life at National Catholic Register and at Fallible Blogma.  He includes some great photos and video.

In his Fallible Blogma post, he points out that there was a single, solitary counter-protester somewhere along the way.  I didn’t notice her.

From Father Z:  “The Problem With Toning Down the Rhetoric – And Why We Probably Won’t Do It”

It reminded me of this Sunday’s scripture readings, and the wonderful homily our deacon gave, about the challenges and trials of the prophetic mission we all receive at baptism–and what happens when we neglect that mission.  Why, asked the deacon, is it practically taboo to speak of God in public?  Or why is there public outcry when Pres. Obama swats a fly, but silence when children are killed in the womb?  It’s because the prophets have disappeared.  Their voices have fallen silent. And those prophets are you and me.  Every single baptized Christian.

On the other hand, when we do speak out, we often find ourselves in a situation similar to that in which Lord Jesus found Himself in this Sunday’s gospel.  He was visiting His hometown, surrounded by family, friends, and neighbors, all the people He had grown up with.  And they reject Him.  They don’t believe in Him.  They scoff.

It’s not so different when some of our fellow Catholics tell us to quiet down about abortion, to stop being “single-issue” Catholics, or even to give up the pro-life movement altogether because it’s already lost.  Those who should stand with us instead stand against us.  Those with whom we already have so much common ground to share distance themselves from us.  Those who should encourage us scoff at us.

Never mind all the opponents we have in the secular world.  There’s more than enough opposition among us!  And it’s not because some of us need to tone it down.  It’s because too many of us care too much about feeling safe and comfy and all respectable in the eyes of the world to exercise our prophetic voices.  They may sincerely think that they are preserving some kind of peace and harmony, seeking common ground and dialogue with society.  I understand these things.  In fact, I’d be a bold-faced liar if I said I didn’t struggle with them myself.  But I do struggle, because I know that the easy, smooth, popular way is never the right way.

I think I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again.  Catholics have no safe, comfortable place in this world.  We will never be popular.  The sooner each of us realizes and accepts this, the more at one we will be as Catholics. The more we will share genuine common ground.

Speaking of which, lots of those people out there who talk so much about common ground and dialogue and tolerance would actually prefer that we Catholics vanish from society, disappear from the public square, never to be heard from again.  They want to do whatever they want, without any response from us.  Oh, I’m not suggesting they want us dead (though that has been the case before at various times and in various places), but they do want us silent.

That’s the way of the world.  No Catholic can choose that way.  It’s not an option.  It goes against everything we stand for.  It goes against the way our Lord and King took.  It goes against the way the prophets of old took.  It goes against the way all the Apostles took.  It goes against the way every single Martyr and Saint has taken.

No.  We have to take our role as prophets seriously.  Especially when it comes to the defining issue of our time, which is undisputably abortion.  The Church has consistently taught the evil of abortion.  But she has never been faced with it on this scale.  It out-scales every other social justice issue combined.   Every future generation of Catholics is going to look back at the Church of today and remember us for how we did or did not deal with the abortion issue.  They are going to judge whether we succeeded or failed… or even tried.  How do we want them to remember us?  Think about that for a moment.  If we truly represent the Culture of Life, we have to think about the future; not taking the future into consideration is a trademark of the Culture of Death.  It may sound silly or even arrogant, but I want to be thought of well by future Catholics.  Honestly, if I may say so, I wouldn’t mind being canonized!

That’s what I mean by the “defining issue of our time.”  It will define us.  It’s the great trial for us now.  The great battle right now.  The great crucible.  It’s not going away.  And it’s not going to make the secular world fond of us.  We have to take it very seriously.  We have to speak and act seriously on it.  We have to be willing to put ourselves on the line for it.  And we have to not allow ourselves be swept under carpets or hammered underground.  Not by the secular world, and not by other Catholics.

One thing that inspired my post about the Eucharist was talking with my friend Julie about how one local parish around here tries to  explain away Eucharistic Adoration.  With a form letter, no less.

Go read Julie’s post.

…to that great voice of sanity and common sense, G. K. Chesterton!

G. K. Chesterton

He was born on 29 May 1874.

Thanks to my friend Kevin B. for the reminder!  Check out some of his blogging at Santissimo Sacramento, a group blog by the seminarians of Sacramento, California.

Kevin also pointed out an excellent post there by one of his fellow seminarians about priestly celibacy and fatherhood… a subject that ought to be near and dear to the heart of all Catholics.

Found at Adam’s Ale:

And Father Z has the not-so-late-breaking news of a pro-death politician being denied Holy Communion by a bishop.

Off to read Inferno.

What is the very first step to winning any war?  Is it not simply to know that you are war?

Bishop Robert Finn of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Missouri, knows it and doesn’t hesitate to say it.  In April, he made it the theme of his address to the 2009 Gospel of Life Convention:

We are at war.
Harsh as this may sound it is true – but it is not new. This war to which I refer did not begin in just the last several months, although new battles are underway – and they bring an intensity and urgency to our efforts that may rival any time in the past.

But it is correct to acknowledge that you and I are warriors – members of the Church on earth – often called the Church Militant. Those who have gone ahead of us have already completed their earthly battles. Some make up the Church Triumphant – Saints in heaven who surround and support us still – tremendous allies in the battle for our eternal salvation; and the Church Suffering (souls in purgatory who depend on our prayers and meritorious works and suffrages).

But we are the Church on Earth – The Church Militant. We are engaged in a constant warfare with Satan, with the glamour of evil, and the lure of false truths and empty promises. If we fail to realize how constantly these forces work against us, we are more likely to fall, and even chance forfeiting God’s gift of eternal life.

He is refreshingly frank about what it means and what it costs to wage this war:

What will happen to us if we take up this war in faithfulness?
Do you really want to know? You will be hated by some powerful people. You may be rejected by those whose approval you most desire. You will be loved and supported by some and this will be a wonderful encouragement. You will be misunderstood by many – and this can be very painful. After you have suffered a little in your battle, some will tell you that you have done nothing – or that you have done it the wrong way.

Yes, if you push – others will “push back.” We should always be very careful to obey the law. But, regardless, some will threaten you with legal action, and law suits cost money and you may suffer that difficult hardship. In the end, dear friends, if we err let it be on the side of life. Life! 4000 human lives a day!

What if I suffer greatly trying to change this tragic trajectory – through prayerful, legal, peaceful means? It is in God’s hands, and you and I are warriors for the victory of life. The stakes in terms of human life are high. The stakes in terms of human souls are even higher.

Fortunately, he also gives very practical and encouraging advice on how to survive:

How do we arm ourselves for what is first and foremost a supernatural war?
First: Unless we are living in God’s life we should not go near this battle. I don’t care if you are the strongest and most brilliant and clever person on the planet. The devil – as he has shown over and over again – will turn you inside out. If you are not fortified by the sacraments – frequent confession and worthy Holy Communion – you cannot succeed in an ultimately supernatural battle. We must live – no longer ourselves – but Christ in us. Be always in the state of grace.

Pray. Be a prayer warrior. One modern day saint said when you are going out to try to change someone’s heart determine to make your effort 80 % prayer and 20% words or actions. Prayer defeats the devil. Prayer aligns us with Christ. Pray for the abortionist. Pray for the legislator. Pray for the mother (and father and other family members). Pray for the child in the womb. Pray for yourself and allow God to guide you. Pray that you will be a warrior of faithfulness and love and mercy. Remember that God often chooses the foolish to shame those who are clever.

Use the symbols and instruments of our devotion. Arm yourself with the rosary. Protect yourself with the scapular or a blessed medal. Ask for a blessing as a sign of unity in the Church in what we do: unity with the Holy Father, with your bishop, with your pastor. What I am supposed to do as bishop (teach and lead, and sanctify) I must, in turn, delegate in proper measure to my pastors. They, in turn, need you as soldiers.

Don’t worry very much about numbers. If you read the accounts of the Old Testament battles, over and over again God used a tiny misfit army to overthrow a legion 1000 times its size. In this way it is so much clearer that God is fighting the battle. We are only His instruments.

I especially like this last point about numbers. And the part about God using the foolish to shame the clever. That inspires a bit more confidence in me! ;)

Bishop Finn took up this emphasis on warfare again in responding to Debacle Day.  From an interview with The Catholic Key:

As a country we want to see an end to racial prejudice. We want a more secure peace in the world. We want sound economic justice for people. So we can’t give up on working with the administration.

But we’re fighting for our lives – literally. We are attempting to protect real unborn children by the thousands. We’re fighting for the right to exercise a rightly-formed conscientious difference with public policy. We shouldn’t underestimate the danger of dragging our feet in this effort, or taking a “wait and see” approach. If we are not ready to make a frontal attack on the protection of conscience rights, the overturning of Roe v’ Wade, and the primacy of authentic marriage, we will lose in these areas. I think the rug is already being pulled out from under us. If we sit back and allow ourselves to be lulled into a false sense of peace and cooperation in regards to these things, then we will lose these battles and, later, wonder why.

The Catholic Key Blog, by the way, is probably the best source for keeping up with this extremely active and  outspoken bishop, as well as other news and commentary.

He is definitely a man to watch!  God bless him!

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(Image from a painting at St. Catherine of Siena Parish, Metairie, Louisiana)

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