Thursday, April 28, 2016

The More Things Change....

The Christian in the World

Letter To Diognetus (160-200 A.D.)

Roman Breviary: Wednesday of the Fifth Week of Easter

Christians are indistinguishable from other men either by nationality, language or customs.

They do not inhabit separate cities of their own, or speak a strange dialect, or follow some

outlandish way of life. Their teaching is not based upon reveries inspired by the curiosity of

men. Unlike some other people, they champion no purely human doctrine. With regard to

dress, food and manner of life in general, they follow the customs of whatever city they

happen to be living in, whether it is Greek or foreign.

And yet there is something extraordinary about their lives. They live in their own countries as

though they were only passing through. They play their full role as citizens, but labor under all

the disabilities of aliens. Any country can be their homeland, but for them their homeland,

wherever it may be, is a foreign country. Like others, they marry and have children, but they

do not expose them. They share their meals, but not their wives. They live in the flesh, but

they are not governed by the desires of the flesh. They pass their days upon earth, but they

are citizens of heaven. Obedient to the laws, they yet live on a level that transcends the law.

Christians love all men, but all men persecute them. Condemned because they are not

understood, they are put to death, but raised to life again. They live in poverty, but enrich

many; they are totally destitute, but possess an abundance of everything. They suffer

dishonor, but that is their glory. They are defamed, but vindicated. A blessing is their answer

to abuse, deference their response to insult. For the good they do they receive the

punishment of malefactors, but even then they rejoice, as though receiving the gift of life.

They are attacked by the Jews as aliens, they are persecuted by the Greeks, yet no one can

explain the reason for this hatred.

To speak in general terms, we may say that the Christian is to the world what the soul is to

the body. As the soul is present in every part of the body, while remaining distinct from it, so

Christians are found in all the cities of the world, but cannot be identified with the world. As

the visible body contains the invisible soul, so Christians are seen living in the world, but their

religious life remains unseen. The body hates the soul and wars against it, not because of any

injury the soul has done it, but because of the restriction the soul places on its pleasures.

Similarly, the world hates the Christians, not because they have done it any wrong, but

because they are opposed to its enjoyments.

Christians love those who hate them just as the soul loves the body and all its member

despite the body's hatred. It is by the soul, enclosed within the body, that the body is held

together, and similarly, it is by the Christians, detained in the world as in a prison, that the

world is held together. The soul, though immortal, has a mortal dwelling place; and Christians

also live for a time amidst perishable things, while awaiting the freedom from change and

decay that will be theirs in heaven. As the soul benefits from the deprivation of food and drink,

so Christians flourish under persecution. Such is the Christians lofty and divinely appointed

function'', from which he is not permitted to excuse himself.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

You're a Good Man Charlie Brown!

Brendan as Charlie Brown and Paul as Linus

Happy Watkins

The Cast

The Little Red-headed Girl

Lucy and Linus

Linus loving his blanket

Charlie Brown and Sally

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Amazing Love, Amazing Grace

So Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you; as the Father has sent Me, I also send you." And when He had said this, He breathed on them and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit. "If you forgive the sins of any, their sins have been forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they have been retained."John 20: 21-23

We heard such a wonderful homily today on this Gospel. 

Father talked about the beautiful gift that Christ instituted when He appeared to the Apostles and it really touched me, especially on this very special feast of Divine Mercy, in the Year of Mercy.

It's hard to explain the amazing Grace of the Sacrament of Confession. When Jesus breathed on the Apostles, He wasn't just telling them to go out and share His message of Mercy. He wasn't simply telling them that now that He had come, people could ask for God's forgiveness and it would be granted.
He was instituting a special, visible sign for those He loves. He was sending the Apostles out with the ability to call down the Grace of the Holy Spirit, as He did, and to absolve people of their sins, "In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit."

Sacraments are conduits of Grace, physical signs  granted to the faithful by Christ Himself. When we approach Our Lord in Confession, we pour out our penitence and He pours in so much more Grace than the measure of our sorrow. We are filled, touched and strengthened.
We don't just go to Confession to tell another person our sins and receive his blessing and counsel, we go to be touched by God Himself.

If we know we have hurt someone, and we want to show them how sorry we are, we usually try to get together, have a talk, ask forgiveness and maybe even give them a hug or a physical sign of our sincerity. Calling them on the phone or sending them an email might have to be enough if we are far away, or if we don't feel particularly close to them, but if it is someone we love and we are really sorry, we want to have a personal encounter. We want to touch them, and be touched back. The prodigal son went home. He didn't send a message saying he was sorry. He didn't say to himself, "He's my father, it's enough to be sorry. He'll forgive me." He went to his father, and he asked him to forgive him. His father hugged him, he looked at him with love, just as our Father looks at us when we ask Him for forgiveness in the Confessional. Of course He knows our heart, of course, He loves us, and of course it would be enough for Him if we just said we are sorry. But it's not enough for us. The Grace of the Sacrament is waiting there. There is the power and the joy of His presence. There is the touch from our Father that we are longing for.

I love going to Confession. There is a very tangible feeling of Joy in my heart after I have received. Yes, I have gone to Confession again and again, with the same sins on my heart and the firm resolution to amend my ways. There have been times when I was embarrassed to be confessing "that sin" again, but going regularly, and asking for the Grace to overcome it, I realize that somewhere along the line I have stopped falling in that way. I am not doing that anymore. Something else will undoubtedly rear it's ugly head, and I will battle it and by the Grace of God, I will conquer it. It's part of the universal battle that the Church Militant, here on earth, must fight everyday. I am so thankful that God gives me His armor, and His weapons against sin, in the Sacraments.

Some day we won't need the Sacraments because, having come home repentant, we will be taken in His arms, brought into the banquet and there will be great rejoicing because we were dead and are alive, we were lost, but are found.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Hello April!

Since my last post, "Hello March" featured snow, I thought I would share what April looks like at it's inception. The Weeping Cherry always blossoms before anything else in the yard and it is my symbol of "joyful Hope" that warmer weather and outdoor fun is right around the corner. The flowering Pear is getting taller and taller and is putting on a very nice show this year!