Bread of Life

BREAD OF LIFE
 this is the bread that comes down from heaven so that one may eat it and not die. (john 6: 50)
The miracle of God’s physical presence to us at every Mass is the truest testament to Christ’s love for us and His desire for each of us to have a personal relationship with Him. Jesus Christ celebrated the first Mass with His disciples at the Last Supper, the night before He died. He commanded His disciples, “Do this in remembrance of me” (Luke 22:19). The celebration of the Mass then became the main form of worship in the early Church, as a reenactment of the Last Supper, as Christ had commanded. Each and every Mass since commemorates Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross through the Holy Eucharist. Because the Mass “re-presents” (makes present) the sacrifice on Calvary, Catholics all around the world join together to be made present in Christ’s timeless sacrifice for our sins. There is something fascinating about continuing to celebrate the same Mass—instituted by Christ and practiced by the early Church—with the whole community of Catholics around the world…and in heaven.

THE REAL PRESENCE

Why does the Catholic Church believe Christ is really present in the Eucharist?
The Catholic doctrine of the Real Presence is the belief that Jesus Christ is literally, not symbolically, present in the Holy Eucharist—body, blood, soul and divinity. Catholics believe in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist because Jesus tells us this is true in the Bible:

“I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that a man may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if any one eats of this bread, he will live for ever; and the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh." The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, ‘How can this man give us his flesh to eat?’ So Jesus said to them,

"Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you; he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him” - John 6:48-56
Furthermore, the early Church Fathers either imply or directly state that the bread and wine offered in the celebration of the Lord’s Supper is really the body and blood of Jesus Christ. In other words, the doctrine of the Real Presence that Catholics believe today was believed by the earliest Christians 2,000 years ago!

This miracle of God’s physical presence to us at every Mass is the truest testament to Christ’s love for us and His desire for each of us to have a personal relationship with Him.

Monday, August 7, 2017

SELFIES AND DIVORCE IN THE DIGITAL AGE

By Bentley Hatchett II

“It may not be happy newlyweds, but a “happily divorced” couple that shouts out their divorce with a picture of themselves”

Divorce is one of the ugliest words in the English language. Its specter haunts countless marriages. For the divorced couple, it is often a constant source of stress and financial strain. It marks affected children the rest of their lives.

Divorce was not frequent in times past. In fact, the stigma of divorcing saved many a marriage that later worked out well.

The Evolving Face of Divorce

In 1917, the American divorce rate was about 1 in 1,000. Because it was a cause of great social scandal, this rate was maintained well into the twentieth century among the general population. This changed, however, with the introduction of no-fault divorce.

No-fault divorce (divorce without grounds) was first introduced into the modern world in 1917. Until that time, marriage was largely seen as an indissoluble union throughout the West. The practice really gained momentum with the outbreak of the Sexual Revolution of the sixties.

Many states—starting with California—adopted no-fault divorce at that time. Within two years of its introduction, divorce rates increased nearly six times over. Much of the stigma surrounding divorce was lessened by no-fault divorce.

At its zenith, half of all marriages ended in divorce. For some, divorce and remarriage became like trading in a car. It became an unfortunate fact of life.

This could especially be seen in members of Generation X (those born from 1961-1981). Many of these children of the baby boomers decided to opt out of the institution entirely or co-habitate. Although among those who did stably marry, they recorded the lowest rate of divorce in almost forty years.

This may be changing with the millennials.

“Shout Your Divorce”

Millennials comes from the age of the internet, smart gadgets, and social media. Many have found a tragic expression of the breakdown of marriage in a new trend called the divorce selfie. It is exactly what it sounds like.

When surfing the web, a person might come across a picture of a smiling couple with thick-rimmed glasses in front of a courthouse. It may not be happy newlyweds, but a “happily divorced” couple that shouts out their divorce with a picture of themselves on Facebook.
In an article on ATTN, Marie Frenette, a millennial divorcee notes, “We saw an article on BuzzFeed [a popular web site for millennials] about the divorce selfie and thought, ‘wow, what a positive and empowering way to deal with it. Not hiding, not feeling shame.’”

Potential Threat

The article reports on over 500 Instagram posts in which couples posted their photos under the hashtag “#DivorceSelfie.” The American Psychological Association has even encourages the “divorce selfie” as a benefit to involved children since it appears to reduce the friction between the divorcees.

Far from being a harmless fad, this trend banalizes divorce and further erodes the institution of the family. Divorce becomes something to celebrate as the two former spouses “continue separately on their life’s journey.”

Such developments are hardly surprising since it follows in the line of so many other marriage-destroying practices like contraception, abortion and similar aberrations. At the root of it all is a desire to destroy all restraint.

Resisting the Urge to Retreat

That is why it is all the more important to resist such trends and avoid the temptation to retreat in face of the latest phases of the sexual revolution. All society is engaged in a culture war and like it or not, everyone has a role to play.

Perhaps a counter-trend of posting anniversary pictures with positive commentaries on marriage would be in order. As the old saying goes, one should “fight fire with fire.”

Sunday, July 30, 2017

WHO GOES TO HEAVEN AND WHO GOES TO HELL?

How to get to Heaven:

1. Avoid evil.

2. If you have done evil, then repent.

3. Do good.

If you have knowingly chosen to commit an act that is gravely immoral, you must repent and be forgiven by God before you die. If you have never done anything truly substantially selflessly good in your life, you have committed a serious sin of omission.

The Details:

1. Avoiding Evil.

Some types of acts are always wrong, no matter what the intention, no matter what the circumstances. Other acts may or may not be wrong, depending on the intention and circumstances, especially the consequences.

Among those acts that are wrong, some acts are seriously wrong; such acts are called mortal sins. Other acts may be wrong, but not seriously wrong; such acts are called venial sins.

Only a mortal sin, chosen with full freedom of will and full knowledge of the grave immorality of the act, can condemn a person to Hell; this type of sin is called an actual mortal sin.

If you commit one or more actual mortal sins, and you never repent through the last moment of your life, then you will certainly go to Hell forever.

No matter how much good you have done in your life, if you have deliberately and knowingly done anything that is seriously wrong, without repenting before you die, you will certainly go to Hell.

2. Repentance

Do not commit any serious sins. But if you have sinned seriously, repent sincerely. True and full repentance happens not merely out of fear of Hell, but also out of love of God and neighbor. Accept true love for God and neighbor, otherwise, you will not be able to fully and sincerely repent.

Catholics (and the Orthodox) ordinarily obtain forgiveness from God in the Confessional. Other persons can obtain forgiveness by a full repentance based on the love of God and neighbor; this is called perfect contrition because it is based on the most perfect reason for repenting, true selfless spiritual love.

Why should you be allowed to enter Heaven, if you have not repented from the evil that you did on earth?

3. Good Deeds

If you have done anything that is seriously wrong, even very many things, but if you also repent fully before you die, then you will go to Heaven, but only if you have also done at least some truly good and

For an actual mortal sin of omission can be committed by refusing to choose selfless acts of goodness for other persons. If you have never loved your neighbor with a true selfless spiritual love, then you will certainly go to Hell.

Truly good deeds include sincere prayer for others, genuine worship of God, selflessly helping other human

Make certain that you have done at least some acts in your life that are substantially selflessly good. Otherwise, when you are judged by God, who is the source of all that is good, you will have no defense.

If your life has been a waste, your soul will burn in Hell forever, unless you repent and do good before you die.

You must do at least some things that are truly good and genuinely selfless in your life. This good must be substantial, not trivial, and it must not be selfish. To be more certain that you have done good, choose to do many good things. That way, if one attempt to do good fails, you will have other good deeds to show for your life.
Why should you be allowed into Heaven, if you have never done anything truly good on earth?

Atheists

People who do not believe in God may still go to Heaven, if they are sincere in their lack of belief. An atheist may commit an objectively grave sin by refusing to believe in God. But perhaps this sin is not committed with full knowledge of its grave immorality, and so the culpability is thereby reduced to a venial sin.

Such a person may enter Heaven if he has repented from any actual mortal sins in life, and if he has loved his neighbor selflessly.

But for some persons, their rejection of God or of religion is a serious sin. They know that they should believe in God or that they should practice a religion, but they refuse to do so, out of selfish or sinful reasons.

Or perhaps they do not know that they should believe in God, because they have deliberately chosen to reject even the consideration that God may exist and that religion may offer truth.

They know that if they consider, they might accept. And they know that if they accept, they must give up their sins. So they refuse to even consider God and religion. They are guilty in their deliberately chosen ignorance.

Other Religions

People who practice a religion, but who make mistakes in what they believe or do, may still go to Heaven, if they are sincere in their misunderstanding of what to believe and what to do.

But for some persons, their refusal to accept certain truths about religion is a serious sin. They know what they should believe or do, but they refuse to do so, out of selfish or sinful reasons.

Special Cases

Babies who die in the womb, or at a very young age, certainly go to Heaven, because they have done nothing evil, and because they have suffered death innocently, just as Christ suffered death innocently.

Innocent young children, who die at such a young age, go to Heaven because God loves all the little children in their innocence. The great suffering of death at a young age makes that person like Christ who suffered and died in his innocence. So those who die in the innocence of youth will certainly go to Heaven.

Severely handicapped persons, who grow up beyond childhood, are still expected to avoid evil and to do some good in their lives, according to their ability. Of those to whom less is given, less will be expected.

Since severely handicapped persons suffer a great deal, it is easier for them to get into Heaven, and harder for them to end up in Hell. Anyone who suffers a great deal in their life, and who accepts that suffering innocently, becomes like Christ, who suffered and died on the Cross for us all.

Summary

If you want to go to Heaven, where you will be very happy forever and ever, then avoid evil, repent from your sins, do good in your life on earth, and be sincere in your search for religious and moral truth. Otherwise, you will abide forever in the eternal death of Hell.

by Ronald L. Conte Jr. 26 August 2006; revised on 1 March 2011

Sunday, July 23, 2017

THE IDEOLOGY OF JESUS

by Rich A. Rosendahl.

We all submit to social norms — some are helpful, some are unhelpful and even hateful.

Often, the social norms we adhere to are rooted in ideologies that have developed over time and are connected to an affinity group that we may be part of.

In other words, we are following them because people like us follow them.

For example, I am a white guy who grew up in a small town in the Midwest with a culturally Christian and conservative background.

These are just a couple of examples of potential attributes from my formative years that could affect the affinity group and subsequent social norms that I adhere to for the balance of my life.

Jesus, on the other hand, seemed to have zero concern for social norms or ideologies of those who he was supposed to be like — his affinity group. When he went against these norms he was often challenged or ridiculed and eventually even killed for his approach and ideology.

But none of that stopped him from having what sometimes seemed like a big F*** You attitude when people tried to pressure him to conform to their social norms.

So what was this ideology of his? It was the ideology of Love.
To this day, we fight the concept of Loving others, often to the death. Our affinity groups lead toward division, mistrust, and misunderstanding. While we are busy trying to conform to the social norms that make us part of our group, even if unintentionally, others are doing the same.

This creates gaps between us and others that sometimes seem insurmountable, because Loving others feels like a rejection of our own affinity group.

But the ideology of Love — the ideology of Jesus — rejects and resists the pressure to conform to social norms and affinity groups altogether by revealing the humanity that we share, the friendships that are accessible, and the remarkable things we can achieve together.

The ideology of Jesus makes room for us to be unique, including the helpful social norms we adhere to, even as it removes the need to feel threatened or fearful of the those who are uniquely different than us.

Right now, there seems to be a hell-of-a-lot of influential religious and political leaders jockeying for us to follow their ideologies — often trying to leverage what should be our affinity group to pressure us into the social norms that fit their agenda.

In the midst of all of this, I am reminded that there was a leader that came before all of them who rejected these concepts altogether, showing us how to do the same and revealing the ideology of Love.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

SADNESS

Of Sadness and Sorrow.

S. Paul says that "godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of, but the sorrow of the world worketh death." (1) So we see that sorrow may be good or bad according to the several results it produces in us.

And indeed there are more bad than good results arising from it, for the only good ones are mercy and repentance; whereas there are six evil results, namely, anguish, sloth, indignation, jealousy, envy and impatience.

The Wise Man says that "sorrow hath killed many, and there is no profit therein," (2) and that because for the two good streams which flow from the spring of sadness, there are these six which are downright evil.

The Enemy makes use of sadness to try good men with his temptations:--just as he tries to make bad men merry in their sin, so he seeks to make the good sorrowful amid their works of piety; and while making sin attractive so as to draw men to it, he strives to turn them from holiness by making it disagreeable. The Evil One delights in sadness and melancholy, because they are his own characteristics. He will be in sadness and sorrow through all Eternity, and he would fain have all others the same.
The "sorrow of the world" disturbs the heart, plunges it into anxiety, stirs up unreasonable fears, disgusts it with prayer, overwhelms and stupefies the brain, deprives the soul of wisdom, judgment, resolution and courage, weakening all its powers; in a word, it is like a hard winter, blasting all the earth's beauty, and numbing all animal life; for it deprives the soul of sweetness and power in every faculty.

Should you, my daughter, ever be attacked by this evil spirit of sadness, make use of the following remedies. "Is any among you afflicted?" says S. James, "let him pray." (3) Prayer is a sovereign remedy, it lifts the mind to God, Who is our only Joy and Consolation.

But when you pray let your words and affections, whether interior or exterior, all tend to love and trust in God. "O God of Mercy, most Loving Lord, Sweet Savior, Lord of my heart, my Joy, my Hope, my Beloved, my Bridegroom."

Vigorously resist all tendencies to melancholy, and although all you do may seem to be done coldly, wearily and indifferently, do not give in. The Enemy strives to make us languid in doing good by depression, but when he sees that we do not cease our efforts to work, and that those efforts become all the more earnest by reason of their being made in resistance to him, he leaves off troubling us.

Make use of hymns and spiritual songs; they have often frustrated the Evil One in his operations, as was the case when the evil spirit which possessed Saul was driven forth by music and psalmody.

It is well also to occupy yourself in external works, and that with as much variety as may lead us to divert the mind from the subject which oppresses it, and to cheer and kindle it, for depression generally makes us dry and cold.

Use external acts of fervor, even though they are tasteless at the time; embrace your crucifix, clasp it to your breast, kiss the Feet and Hands of your Dear Lord, raise hands and eyes to Heaven, and cry out to God in loving, trustful ejaculations: "My Beloved is mine, and I am His. (4)

A bundle of myrrh is my Well-beloved, He shall lie within my breast. Mine eyes long sore for Thy Word, O when wilt Thou comfort me! (5) O Jesus, be Thou my Savior, and my soul shall live. Who shall separate me from the Love of Christ?" (6) etc.

Moderate bodily discipline is useful in resisting depression, because it rouses the mind from dwelling on itself; and frequent Communion is specially valuable; the Bread of Life strengthens the heart and gladdens the spirits.

Lay bare all the feelings, thoughts and longings which are the result of your depression to your confessor or director, in all humility and faithfulness; seek the society of spiritually-minded people, and frequent such as far as possible while you are suffering.

And, finally, resign yourself into God's Hands, endeavoring to bear this harassing depression patiently, as a just punishment for past idle mirth. Above all, never doubt but that, after He has tried you sufficiently, God will deliver you from the trial.

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1. 2 Cor. vii. 10.

2. "Multos enim occidit tristitia, et non est utilitas in illa." Ecclus. xxx. 25.

3. S. James v. 13.

4. Cant. ii. 16.

5. Ps. cxix. 82.

6. Rom. viii 35.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

THE AMAZING POWER OF GRATITUDE IN THE SPIRITUAL LIFE

“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1 Thes. 5:18

Saint Ignatius of Loyola makes the following powerful and evocative statements about the harm lack of gratitude causes in the spiritual life. He says:

“It seems to me, in light of the divine Goodness, …that ingratitude is one of the things most worthy of detestation before our Creator and Lord, and before all creatures capable of divine and everlasting glory, out of all the evil and sins which can be imagined.

For it is the failure to recognize the good things, the graces, and the gifts received. As such, it is the cause, beginning, and origin of all evil and sins” (cited and referenced in Consoling the Heart of Jesus, page 421).

Another Saint and Doctor of the Church, Therese of Lisieux, has this to say about gratitude:

“What most attracts God’s grace is gratitude, because if we thank him for a gift, he is touched and hastens to give us ten more, and if we thank him again with the same enthusiasm, what an incalculable multiplication of graces! I have experienced this; try it yourself and you will see! My gratitude for everything he gives me is limitless, and I prove it to him in a thousand ways” (The Way of Trust And Love, p.111)
As Father Timothy Gallagher explains, Saint Ignatius of Loyola’s basic attitude toward God was one of deep gratitude. “For Ignatius then, the consciously chosen remembrance of God’s gifts is not just a moment in a spiritual day or simply a devout practice…. It is the heart itself of the way he understands God and relates to God.

The only God he ever knew from the first moment of his conversion was the God who constantly bestows gifts of grace upon us, revealing through these gifts the infinite love with which we are loved” (The Examen Prayer, p.58).

Here is a beautiful quote from one of Saint Ignatius’ early disciples (Father Diego Lainez, S.J.) which touches upon Saint Ignatius’ profound gratitude for God and His creation:

“At night Ignatius would go up on the roof of the house, with the sky there up above him. He would sit quietly, absolutely quietly. He would take his hat off and look up for a long time at the sky.

Then he would fall to his knees, bowing profoundly to God….And the tears would begin to flow down his cheeks like a stream….” (The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything, page 17).

Saint Ignatius (pictured below), truly one of the great masters of the spiritual life, recommends that we end each day with a prayer of thanksgiving to God in gratitude for the gifts and graces we have received from God throughout the day. This can be done in a very simple, two-step process (perhaps as you are lying in bed to go to sleep):

1. Close your eyes and become aware of the love with which God is looking upon you. Do this for a minute or two to place yourself in the presence of God (Gallagher, p.25).

2. In your mind review your day and note the gifts and graces God has given you, and give profound thanks to God for them (Gallagher, p. 25).

Here then, with this “Examen” prayer, you are ending your day on a very profound note of gratitude to God. Father Jacques Philippe says this about gratitude: “Here we touch on… one of the secrets of the spiritual life that also is one of the laws of happiness.

The more we cultivate gratitude and thanksgiving, the more open our hearts are to God’s action, so that we can receive life from God and be transformed and enlarged. By contrast, if we bury ourselves in discontent, permanent dissatisfaction, then our hearts close themselves insidiously against life, against

Tom Mulcahy, M.A.