Friday, October 31, 2014

Men Will Forget There is a God

From The Life and Revelations of Anne Catherine Emmerich, we find that the saint at one time disputed with God about two points: “…that He did not convert all the big sinners, and that He punished the impenitent with everlasting pains.” She told God that she didn’t understand how He could act this way, in view of His own promises of mercy in the Scriptures.

Her resolution to this dilemma was this:

…She soon saw that God is right; for, if He did convert all sinners or if the pains of Hell were not to last forever, man would forget that there is a God.

And don’t we see the truth of that now? Our priests and bishops do not often preach about Hell, and many people believe that all of us will go to Heaven, not matter how we’ve lived our lives on earth, because of God’s great mercy. They forget about contrition and penance!

So people don’t take the teachings of the Church seriously. They don’t consider the “big” sins to be sins any more – like cohabitation, homosexual “marriage”, artificial contraception. In fact, if people don’t consider these to be sins, we can only imagine how easily they justify “small” sins like lying, cheating, even stealing.  In fact, doesn’t it seem to you that the world is a pretty amoral place these days? “Who am I do judge?”

Anne Catherine Emmerich was asking these questions and seeing these truths 200 years ago. Things have not changed much over the course of the history of the Church, have they? Fallen human nature is a given, and it’s not just the laity who are susceptible to the dangers of that fallen nature – clerics have even greater susceptibility, in a way, simply because of the office they hold, and because satan will do what he can to subvert their holy purpose and turn them into his own pawns. In other words, there will always be a crisis in the Church.

That doesn’t mean that I don’t think the current crisis is to be dismissed lightly. On the contrary, I think it is one of the worst to come along. This is largely because of the ease of acquiring information – and misinformation. Lies and heresy are spread as easily as the truth via the internet. The news of what our prelates are up to also travels the globe in an instant, and we can be scandalized or uplifted hour by hour. The world is full of confusion, and satan and his gang are in ecstasy about that.

Still, we know Who wins, don’t we?

Keep fighting the good fight.

Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

A Fall Drive

Last weekend, I made a quick trip to my favorite place to go to Mass, in order to celebrate the Feast of Christ the King. It's about a 6-hour drive from my home, which is a long way to go for Mass (I stayed overnight!), but it's such a pretty drive, I don't mind it. 

Here are a few highlights on the way there:

...And on the way back:

The view in the mirror!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Physical Explanations for Spiritual Suffering

In my last post, I mentioned Blessed Lidwina of Schiedam; the description of her physical sufferings is almost unbelievable. How does one live with various organs missing from one’s body?! This question was asked of her by others, of course.

 An article at Wikipedia notes that the symptoms exhibited by Lidwina are consonant with those of multiple sclerosis, and that if such a diagnosis may be made posthumously, that would date MS back to the 14th century (Lidwina lived from 1380 t0 1433).

I usually find myself shaking my head at such statements. Oh, I understand there might be some value in determining whether Lidwina had MS and whether or not that was the earliest appearance of it…though I can’t really think what that value might actually be. Along the same lines, I have heard people opine that the people from whom Our Lord cast out demons were actually suffering from some mental illness, and yes, Our Lord cured them, but it was disease, not demons. Hmph.

Anyway, it seems to me counterproductive to think of Lidwina’s suffering as something that is explained by a physiological disease. Surely, God had a different purpose for the merits of her suffering. The liberties sometimes taken by hagiographers notwithstanding, the symbolic nature of the things that went on in Lidwina’s body is what interests me. And is it not reasonable that God would find a vessel which could hold and expiate the horrible sins going on in the Church at that time? Not everyone is called to such a vocation, of course, and when God does call those suffering souls, He gives them what they need to carry out the task He has set for them. And He rewards them greatly, beyond human comprehension, of course.

Why do you think we don’t see people suffering this way now? Where are those heroic souls chosen by God to atone for the sins of the members of the Church? Maybe it’s because faith – true faith – is at an all-time low. Maybe it’s because in modern times (especially in the US and other “first world” countries) we are taught to seek out medical attention for the least little affliction. It has long been my theory that satan has worked long and hard to replace faith in God with faith in doctors and medicine; one of satan’s favorite tricks is to give us a “miracle drug” one year, only to allow the discovery that there are lethal side effects the next. Satan has worked to replace the notion of the salvific value of suffering with the notion that our goal should be to “stay young” as long as we can. And once we are suffering, “youth” is gone – no matter what our age might be – and we might as well be dead; who wants to suffer, anyway?! And our Church leaders haven’t been doing such a good job teaching about the good in suffering, either.

Now, I don’t mean to imply in any way that I’m good at suffering! Quite the contrary! I’m as concerned about my hang nail as the next person, and as unwilling to endure pain – or even minor discomfort – for very long! But I do know there is value in “offering it up”, if only I can remember to do that, ask for God’s help to accomplish it, and abandon myself to Divine Providence.

Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Suffering Souls and the Sins of the Church

I’ve been reading The Life and Revelations of Anne Catherine Emmerich.

As fascinating as Anne Catherine Emmerich’s story is, there is another that I find just as compelling for these times. The other saint’s story is embedded in Chapter 14 of the book, and concerns Blessed Lidwina of Schiedam.

View from retreat cabin window
First, about the physical sufferings of Blessed Anne Catherine, the author states:

From her infancy she had suffered for others; but now these sufferings assumed a more elevated, a more extended character. The wounds of the body of the Church, that is the falling off of whole dioceses, the self-will and negligence of ecclesiastics, the deplorable state of society – was all laid upon her to be expiated by varied and multiplied sufferings. Her infirmities resulted from spiritual wounds entailed upon the flock of Christ by the sins of its own members…

The author goes on to relate the story of Blessed Lidwina, who also suffered by bearing physical wounds that mirrored the spiritual ones present in the Church at the time.  Many horrible sufferings are described, including “swarms of greenish worms that generated in her spine, attacked her kidneys and devoured the lower part of her body, in which they made three large holes.” This horrific penitential ordeal was given to Lidwina, the author states, in order to make reparation for “the three-fold havoc made at the time of the great schism by freedom of opinion, immorality, and heresy”. All of Lidwina’s sufferings, it is said, were symbolic of problems in the Church, and her suffering was meant to atone for those sins.

The description goes on for pages, and it is scarcely believable that a person could remain alive with the disfigurement that was wrought on the saint’s body. In addition, she seemed to take no nourishment. In response to some women who “tormented her with questions as to the reality of her taking no nourishment”, she simply told them that if they could not understand it, “do not despise God’s wonderful operations…There is no question as to what you think of me – but do not rob God of His glory.”

Returning to the story of Anne Catherine Emmerich, we are told than her sufferings “were of the same nature and signification as Lidwina’s.”  

I find this idea of these horrific physical sufferings as symbolic of and endured in reparation for the sins of the Church as a whole to be very interesting. I am constantly noticing – as I’m sure you do – the parallels between the sins of our society and the sins running rampant in our poor Church. The homosexuality issue is one parallel – the homosexual agenda has been secret in the Church for decades, but in the secular world, homosexual behavior is now open and applauded. And sexual sins in general abound everywhere! Who will atone for those sins?! It seems we need another suffering soul to take the burden of those sins upon herself!

This all became very clear to me the other day when I felt I was experiencing a particularly intense kind of attack of the little demons that constantly come up with new ways to irritate me. Without going into detail, I will just say that I “suffered” (though infinitesimally compared to Anne Catherine Emmerich and Lidwina!) in ways that reflected some of the things going on in the Church today. It was just a little glimpse, but it made everything come into focus in terms of the interconnectedness of all of our lives, both spiritually and physically.

Well, I’m not doing a very good job of articulating what I came to understand, but I think that you can probably come to the same realization just by thinking about the examples of Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich and Blessed Lidwina.

Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me.

Monday, October 13, 2014

The Gates of Hell

For me, it started last night: a spiritual battle very different from any I have experienced before. I will spare you the details, other than to say it is intense, confusing, distracting, and full of temptations.

I just considered it my own trials and tribulations until this morning. The battle was continuing, and I mentioned it to my spiritual director. He responded, “The gates of Hell may not ‘prevail’, but someone’s opened them.”

And then what little I had read this morning of the Synod Relatio publication came to mind, and I saw very clearly that the gates have indeed been opened, and that it is really the Pope himself who opened them. So many of our prelates rallying for all the wrong things! The gate of sexual sins that was opened with the acceptance of artificial contraception by the Protestant churches in the 1930’s has been flung wide open now, with this talk of Holy Communion for the divorced-and-remarried, and the way in which homosexual behavior is being “normalized” in so-called Catholic circles by faithless bishops and cardinals.

The world is run by an obsession with sex, and those demons of sexual depravity are running rampant now, gleefully attacking and remaining sense of morality amongst our shepherds.

The good shepherds are being silenced, but they are still fighting. And we do know who wins in the end. That does not mean there won’t be a glorious battle, at the end of which we will witness the incredible victory of Our Lord.

Checking my sources again, I see headlines proclaiming that pro-family Catholics are calling the  Synod report a betrayal…and, well, it is. I see one blogger I know announcing that he will not obey the Pope in this. Well, nothing is settled yet; a synod is only a synod, after all, and this one is an “extraordinary” synod, so it’s just a blip on the chart. A big blip, yes, but still… The Holy Spirit will protect the Church from teaching error. But you see what scandal the Holy Father and the Synod are causing right now. They are at the very least implying that there will be changes in some serious doctrinal matters, and some faithful Catholics might become unfaithful because of that.

In the meantime, I’m praying. Harder. That is our job. Storm Heaven.

God save us.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

God, Personal Relationships, and the Internet

The other day, I read in an article that “God doesn’t come to you through your computer”, or something like that. I can’t remember who wrote the article, or where I read it (a link someone put on Face Book, I think). The article’s author made further points about people needing real contact with people, not just the contact we get through “social media” and email and whatnot.

But is it really true? I think that God can and does come to some people through the computer – through the internet. And I believe – in fact, I know – that people develop relationships with each other through the internet, and it’s not necessarily a bad thing. I’m not saying that it’s enough, but I believe the internet has made a positive difference in the lives of faithful people who are seeking God and seeking friendship with like-minded faithful people.

To wit: I have a number of “friends I’ve never met” with whom I communicate via email. A couple of you read this blog! I’m grateful that the internet gave us the opportunity to know each other, and I do hope we might meet face-to-face some day. But if we don’t…well, we still have a friendship.

This was on Richard's blog this
morning, posted by his family.
One “friend I never met” was Richard Collins, whose blog was “Linen on the Hedgerow”. I communicated with Richard just a couple of times via comments and email, but I never met him. And I would never have even known about him if it weren’t for the internet, since he lived in the UK, which is a long, long way from here! Still, I felt like I “knew” him from his blog and our few personal notes to each other. My maiden name was Collins, and so we "related" to each other as fellow Collinses. And we also shared a fondness for limericks.

And so when I learned that Richard had cancer, I prayed for him as I would any other friend.

Richard Collins passed away this morning. And I mourn the loss of his internet presence. I feel very sad about this loss. Please pray for the repose of his soul. He knew what death meant. He knew that we need to pray for the dead. He knew his faith. He will appreciate your prayers very much.

Another example: my daughter and her adventure in meeting young single Catholic men via the internet; I wrote about this a while back. Without the internet, she would quite likely marry a man in our community who was not Catholic – because there are no young single Catholic men here! Really! Oh sure, I believe God could have arranged it so that a young Catholic man showed up and swept her off her feet. And I prayed for that for a long time. But then I just prayed that she would find a good Catholic husband. I stormed Heaven with my prayers, and the answer that came was an internet site for Catholics who wanted to meet other Catholics.  I encouraged her to sign up for it. Now she is especially interested in a young man who is likewise interested in her…and it was his mother who encouraged him to sign up for it! Lol! Will it work out? I don’t know. They will meet in person, face-to-face, next month. And they both know that they must have that face-to-face interaction in order to truly know each other. But they would likely not have met without their computers.

So…does God come to us through the computer? Hmm. With God, all things are possible. The computer is a tool. If we lowly humans can use it, I certainly think God can use it to even greater benefit to all of us.

Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me.

Sunday, October 5, 2014


Things have been stressful around home for awhile, for various reasons. I'm off to my favorite retreat place for a few days.

Even though there have been stressful things going on, it is still fall, which is my favorite time of the year. The weather has been spectacular the past few days. Here are some photos:

I got a new phone recently, and I like the camera that's on it . It has some different mode settings that seem to make a real difference in the photo quality. The "night" and the "rich tone" modes make chapel pictures turn out better:

Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me.

Friday, October 3, 2014

The Tribulation of Those Cities

This responsory seems to be oft-repeated during the Office of Matins these days:

We have heard of the tribulation of those cities, which they have suffered, and we have fainted. Fear and confusion of mind are fallen upon us. Even the mountains will not give us a refuge.
* Lord, have mercy.
V. We have sinned like our forefathers, we have done unjustly, and wrought iniquity.
R. Lord, have mercy.

Every time I read and sing it, I think of how fitting a description it is for the world today.

“Even the mountains will not give us a refuge,” it says. I can’t read that without thinking of those poor people in Iraq who fled to the mountains. Where are they now? How many have died? What is going on over there? I don’t know, and there isn’t much news, it seems. I suspect there is just as much suffering going on now as there was a few weeks ago, but it’s time to move on in the news world… and in people’s minds, too, perhaps. We live in a fast-food world, and the general mentality of society seems to suffer from attention deficit disorder.

“The tribulation of those cities” now includes this ebola outbreak, and it’s going to be affecting all of us sooner rather than later, it appears. There’s plenty of “fear and confusion” about that – certainly in my mind! (Personally, though, I am not much of a fan of the mainstream practice of medicine, and tend to rely on the Great Physician to take care of my physical needs. Still, it is concerning.)

And people have been beheaded in this country now. Wow. One “successful” attempt, and one threat, I guess, would be more a more accurate description. Of course this was in Oklahoma…not long after that Satanic black Mass took place in Oklahoma City. Yes, the evil one is finding openings in the most unexpected places.

 “We have sinned…”
Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me.