Month: November 2016

THE BIBLE SAYS TO CONFESS YOUR SINS TO ONE ANOTHER

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HOLD MY HEART UP TO THE LIGHT: PRACTICING PURITY OF HEART

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“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.” (Psalm 51:10)

The Catholic spiritual practice of Purity of Heart is one of the most important spiritual disciplines we can and should make use of.

By the practice of purity of heart we keep a very careful watch over all the thoughts being presented to our mind and over all the affections and passions being presented to our heart. By this careful watch, we almost immediately intercept and delete the thoughts and affections which violate purity of heart. Thus, as a very simple example, should I suddenly feel the desire to gossip about someone, I check out this movement of my heart, examine it, and ultimately suppress or delete it since it violates purity of heart. Or, as another example, should I suddenly feel swelling up in my heart ill-will towards a certain person, the practice of purity of heart obligates me to take a close look at this movement of my heart, and to mortify it, and to replace it with Christian charity and forgiveness. Gradually, by steadfastly and diligently practicing purity of heart, our heart becomes cleaner and cleaner. What do we want more in our lives than purity of heart?

Purity of heart is a mechanism of introspection whereby we carefully look at our thoughts and affections, even moment by moment, to place them under Christ’s law of charity. As soon as we observe that our mind or affections are tending in a sinful direction, we immediately mortify such thoughts or affections, giving them no chance of growth within our souls.   Its sort of like we’ve installed security software in our brain that immediately detects and deletes bad stuff (God’s given us the software and all we have to do is learn how to use it!!). 

Father Jacques Philippe, the well known spiritual writer, recommends the practice of purity of heart in his very worthwhile book, In the School of the Holy Spirit (see Appendix II beginning on page 70, and pages 40-42 ). But the two giants of our Catholic spiritual heritage who speak so highly of practicing purity of heart are Father Lallemant (in his classic The SpirituaDoctrine), and Father Grou (in Manual for Interior Souls). Both Fathers Lallemant and Grou were French and Jesuit.

Father Lallemant recommends the practice of purity of heart in conjunction with regular, sacramental confession. He states:

“For the oftener we confess, the more we purify ourselves, the grace proper to this sacrament being purity of conscience. Thus, every confession, besides the increase of habitual grace and of the gifts, imparts also a fresh sacramental grace, that is to say, a new title to receive from God  both actual  graces and the aids necessary for emancipating ourselves more and more from sin.”  (Father Lallemant, The Spiritual Doctrine, II,  Chapter 6, as cited in The Mystical Evolution, pages 99-100).

What an amazing purifying tool at your immediate disposal for growth in holiness: the practice of purity of heart! Its like an ongoing, perpetual examination of conscience that keeps all the junk out out of our hearts and mind. And when the junk is gone, we become, as Father Lallemant insists, more docile to the whispers of the Holy Spirit, which we previously could not hear. This is why Father Lallemant says that “purity of heart accomplishes so much” in the spiritual life.

Tom Mulcahy, M.A.

Sources: Father Lallemant, The Spiritual Doctrine...purity of heart is one of his main doctrines for growth in holiness, and he formed saints!!! Saints Isaac Jogues and Jean de Brebeuf were his students. And also Father Grou as mentioned above. Matt Maher sings, “Hold my heart up to the light” in one of his songs. That is what the practice of purity of heart is: holding our heart up to the light!

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THE BIBLICAL BASIS FOR MARY’S PERPETUAL VIRGINITY

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1.  CHURCH DOCTRINE 
That the Blessed Virgin Mary remained a virgin her entire life is a De Fide (required of the faithful) doctrine of the Catholic Church.  See Documents of Vatican II (LG57), Catechism of the Catholic Church, 499, The Mother of the Redeemer, 39 (Encyclical Letter of Pope John Paul Il, 1987), and Ludwig Ott, Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, pages 203-206.
 
2. VIRGINITY FOR THE SAKE OF THE KINGDOM
Celibacy for the sake of the Kingdom is a radical feature of Christianity, and finds its biblical mandate at Matthew 19:12. Jesus, in fact, “is described” and “sees his own self identity” as that of the “celibate bridegroom” (article by Janet Smith; see also John 3:29 and Matthew 9:15). Paul presents celibacy as a highly favored state of life for believers saying, “I wish that all were as myself am [celibate].  But each has his own special gift from God….” (1 Cor. 7:7). Paul confirms the goodness of marriage at 1 Cor. 7:38 saying, “He who marries does well,” but then adds that “he who refrains from marriage will do better.” Mary embraced both marriage and celibacy, thus exemplifying in a unique way the sublime dignity of both vocations.
 
3.  MARY, SPOUSE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
Mary is properly to be considered the spouse of the Holy Spirit since the Holy Spirit “overshadowed” her and was the formal cause of her virginal conception of Jesus (Luke 1:35). This is why her offspring, Jesus, “will be called the Son of God” (Luke 1:35), and this is also why Mary is properly called the Mother of God according to the decree of The Council of Ephesus in 431. Mary’s unique and “supernatural maternity” through the power of the Holy Spirit necessarily precludes her from intimate union with a man. Mary is a virgin because of her “undivided gift of herself” to God (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 506).
 
4.  MARY’S VOW OF VIRGINITY
The relevant verse is Luke 1:34: “How shall this be, seeing I do not know man.” These words of Mary to the Angel Gabriel at the Annunciation show that Mary did not intend to have conjugal relations with a man; otherwise, Mary surely would have known that conjugal relations with Joseph, her husband, could cause a pregnancy. Catholic theologian Stefano Manelli explains Mary’s strange response to the angel this way:
 
“Confronted by this [the angel Gabriel’s] wondrous announcement, however, the virgin finds herself embarrassed; not because of the sublime greatness of the majesty announced to her, but rather for the way in which such a maternity might be realized. The embarrassment would seem inexplicable because, on any reasonable grounds, she is precisely a woman in ideal conditions to conceive a son. She is the young spouse of Joseph – What young spouse would not be inclined to desire a beautiful son? It is obvious, therefore, and must be acknowledged that Mary’s difficulty stems from a precise commitment — vow or promise — “not to know man,” that is, to be and remain a virgin.  St. Augustine rightly says, that ‘Mary certainly would not have spoken those words If she had not vowed her virginity to Got” In fact, only by admitting Mary’s virginal consecration to God, can it be understood why she found herself facing an unsolvable dilemma: How to reconcile her virginal offering to God with the request of maternity on the part of God? How could she become a mother without betraying a promise of virginal consecration to God.” (Stefano Manelli, All Generations Shall Call Me Blessed, pages 137-140)
 
5. DID JESUS HAVE BROTHERS?

Robert Payesko comments:

“It is often alleged too that such verses as Mark 6:3, “His brethren James and Joseph, and Judas and Simon,” and Matthew 13:55- 56, “his brethren James and Joseph, and Simon and Judas,” are evidence that Jesus had brothers and sisters. What is forgotten is that the Jewish expression for brothers and sisters applies to cousins and even to people in the same tribe. Although Lot was the son of Jjraharn’s brother Aran, he is described as Abraham’s “brother” (Genesis 14:14). Similarly, Jacob is referred to as the “brother” of his uncle Laban (Genesis 29:15). Similar examples are found throughout Scripture.  In any case, in Matthew 27:56, Mark 14:40 and John 19:25, James and Joseph are described as the sons of Mary, the wife of Cleophas— thus Scripture tells us that the “brethren” James and Joseph in Matthew 13:55-56 and Mark 6:3 are not blood brothers of Jesus. If James, the bishop of Jerusalem, was truly a son of Mary it would be impossible for the doctrine of the perpetual virginity of Mary to be affirmed in the early Church Nevertheless, such ancient writers as IrenaeusPolycarp and Ignatius all taught the doctrine as an article of faith.” (Robert Payesko. The Truth about Mary, page 2-198).

Section 500 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church states:

“Against this doctrine the objection is sometimes raised that the Bible mentions brothers and sisters of Jesus. The Church has always understood these passages as not referring to other children of the Virgin Mary. In fact James and Joseph, “brothers of Jesus,” are the sons of another Mary, a disciple of Christ, whom St. Matthew significantly calls “the other Mary.” They are close relations of Jesus, according to an Old Testament expression.”
 
6. MATTHEW 1:25: “UNTIL SHE BORE A SON”
The relevant verse is sometimes translated, “he [Joseph] had no relations with her [Mary] until she bore a son, whom he named Jesus.” The New American Bible translates the verse as follows: “He had no relations with her at anytime before she bore a son, whom he named Jesus,” This verse demonstrates that Joseph did not have sexual relations with Mary before Jesus’ birth, thus establishing the doctrine of Jesus’ virginal birth, The verse does not mean that Joseph had sexual relations with Mary after Jesus was born.

Dr. Scott Hahn comments:

“The Greek hoes [until] does not imply that Joseph and Mary had marital relations following Jesus’ birth. This conjunction is often used (translated ‘”to” or “till”) to indicate a select period of time, without implying change in the future (2 Sam 6:23 [LXX]; Jn 9:18; 1 Tim 413). Hers Matthew emphasizes only that Joseph had no involvement in Mary’s pregnancy before Jesus’ birth.” (Scott HahnIgnatius Catholic Study Bible, Gospel of Matthew, page 18).

J. Laurericeau explains:

The semitic locution “until” makes no judgment about the future. Thus, “Michal was childless until the clay of her death” (2 Sm 6:23) [does not’t imply Michal became a mother after her death.]” (Dictionary of Mary, page 485)
 
7. MARY EXCLUSIVELY REFERRED TO IN BIBLE AS JESUS’ MOTHER
Mary is never called the mother of anyone else except Jesus in the New Testament. The Gospels refer only to Jesus as Mary’s son (the verses where Jesus is referred to as Mary’s son include John 2:1, John 19:25, and Acts 1:14). Further, as Dr. Scott Hahn points out, it is unlikely that Jesus would have entrusted Mary to the Apostle John’s care at his crucifixion if Mary had other natural sons to care for her (John 19:26-27).
 
8. LUKE 2:7 “FIRSTBORN SON”

J. Laurencaau explains:

Luke says: “Mary gave birth to her firstborn son” (2:7). This makes allusion to the legal prescriptions concerning the first male child of a family, even if there were no other children. (Dictionary of Mary, page 485)

Dr. Scott Hahn comments:

[Luke 2:7 is] a legal term linked with a son’s social standing and rights of inheritance.  It does not imply that Mary had other children after Jesus, only that she had none before him. (Scott HahnIgnatius Catholic Study Bible, Gospel of Luke, page 22)
 
9. THE CHURCH FATHERS
The Protoevangelium of James, written around A.D. 120, had as one of its principal aims to prove the perpetual virginity of Mary.  Origin (died 254) strongly defended Mary’s perpetual virginity but Tertullian (died 230), who was excommunicated, denied it.  Other early Church fathers affirming Mary’s perpetual virginity include Athanasius, Epiphanius, Jerome, Ambrose, Augustine and Cyril of Alexandria.  Reference: Mary: Ever Virgin (This Rock: February, 2002) and Ludwig Ott, Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, pages 203-206.
 
10. EARLY DOCTRINAL DEVELOPMENT
Mary referred to as “perpetual virgin” by the Fifth General Council at Constantinople in 553.  The first doctrinal formulation of this belief takes place at the Lateran Synod of 649 under Pope Martin I where Mary is called “blessed ever-virginal and Immaculate Mary.”  Reference: Ludwig Ott, Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, pages 203-206.

Tom Mulcahy, M.A.

Image: Raphael, Granduca Madonna, 1505, Public Domain, U.S.A. (per Wikipedia).

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THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY WAS NEVER AN UNWED MOTHER

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“The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.”  (Luke 1:35)

From time to time a Catholic speaker may make the innocent mistake of referring to Mary as an unwed mother. However, it is abundantly clear that the Virgin Mary was legally married to Joseph at the time she conceived Jesus (when the Annunciation took place). Thus, the Gospel of Matthew refers to Joseph as Mary’s “husband” at 1:19, and additionally the angel sent to Joseph calls Mary Joseph’s “wife” at 1:20 (as Joseph considered whether to divorce Mary). Again, at verse 1:24, Mary is called Joseph’s “wife.”

It is true that Saint Luke refers to Mary’s betrothal to Joseph at Luke 1:26, but as Dr. Scott Hahn points out in The Ignatius Catholic Study Bible, Mary’s “betrothal to Joseph was already a legally binding marriage.” This is why Joseph could not simply walk away from Mary without first getting a divorce, and because Joseph and Mary were legally married “such a betrothal could only be terminated by death or divorce [according to] Deut. 24: 1-4” (The Ignatius Catholic Bible Study, The Gospel of Matthew, page 18).

In his Apostolic Exhortation, Guardian of the Redeemer, Pope Saint John Paul II makes clear that at the time of Mary’s Annunciation Joseph and Mary were married. The Pope stated:

“Addressing Joseph through the words of the angel, God speaks to him as the husband of the Virgin of Nazareth. What took place in her through the power of the Holy Spirit also confirmed in a special way the marriage bond which already existed between Joseph and Mary. God’s messenger was clear in what he said to Joseph: “Do not fear to take Mary your wife into your home.” Hence, what had taken place earlier, namely, Joseph’s marriage to Mary, happened in accord with God’s will and was meant to endure. In her divine motherhood Mary had to continue to live as “a virgin, the wife of her husband” (cf. Lk 1:27).” (no. 18)

The Virgin Mary was never an unwed mother. It is entirely incorrect to suggest that God planned it otherwise.

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Tom Mulcahy, M.A.

Image: The lead image, Madonna and Child 2, by Bartolomeo Montagna.  According to Wikipedia,  “This image (or other media file) is in the Public Domain [U.S.A.] because its copyright has expired. However – you may not use this image for commercial purposes and you may not alter the image or remove the WikiGallery watermark.”

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JANE EYRE AND THE VIRTUE OF HEROIC PERSEVERANCE

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“Trust in God…Believe in Heaven…We were born to strive and endure.”   (From Jane Eyre, Chapter 27)

Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre is one of the greatest novels in English literature. It is, as Blackburn suggests, essentially a religious novel. It is a novel about long-suffering, painful perseverance and the graces won through the acceptance and endurance of trials and suffering. In the end the proud Mr. Rochester marries Jane Eyre, but only after being severely humbled. He tells Jane near the end of the novel that “I began to see and acknowledge the hand of God in my doom. I began to experience remorse, repentance, the wish for reconcilement to my Maker. I began sometimes to pray: very brief prayers they were but very sincere” (Chapter 37). Dear God, may we never forget to pray during our tribulations!

Galatians 5:22 lists long-suffering and patience as two of the fruits of the Holy Spirit. Father Lovasik defines these two virtues (a fruit is, in essence, a fully ripened supernatural virtue) in the following manner (using the equivalent word longanimity for long-suffering):

a. the virtue of patience: “lovingly and fully accepting the trials that Divine Goodness sees fit to let a person undergo”; and,
 
b. the virtue of longanimity: “knowing how to wait, feeling certain during trials, that God’s moment will come when He will fully aid the suffering person.”

Dear friend, it is through many trials and tribulations that we enter the Kingdom of Heaven (Acts 14:22). We need to beseech the Holy Spirit for the fruits of long-suffering and patience, and over and over again. One of the great principles of the spiritual life is simply to ask God for the virtues we need. God converted Saint Paul on the road to Damascus, and thereafter this great evangelist and apostle endured unbelievable hardships:
 
“Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false brothers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked” (2 Cor. 11:24-27)
 
Saint Peter tried to prevent Jesus from going to Calvary (Matt 16:22), but ultimately learned to embrace suffering and ended up dying on a cross himself (John 21: 18). Saint Paul reminds us that we are children of God “provided that we share [Jesus’] sufferings, so as to share his glory” (Romans 8:17). 

Let’s face it: there is an immense power of sanctification associated with suffering. And God is in the sanctification business. God will see us through to the end. He his near: “nearer to us than we are to ourselves.” Deep trust, deep prayer, and powerful perseverance is what is needed. And then, like Jane Eyre, when her dreams of happiness were being torn asunder, we will say, “God must have led me on…I was weeping wildly as I walked along my solitary way…a weakness seized me and I fell: I lay on the ground some minutes, pressing my face to the wet turf. I had some fear – or hope – that here I should die: but I was soon up: crawling forward on my hands and knees, and then again raised to my feet – as eager and as determined as ever to reach the road” (Chapter 27).

Persevere, my friend, during these difficult times which may become increasingly more difficult, for the road of redemptive suffering leads to eternal Life.

Tom Mulcahy, M.A.

Image: Portrait of Charlotte Bronte, the author of Jane Eyre, by George Richmond, as it appears at Wikipedia. The date is 1850. According to Wikipedia this work is in the Public Domain for the U.S.A., but may not be for other countries. See the Wikipedia article on Charlotte Bronte incorporated herein by reference.

Ref. There is a song by the Catholic singer, Mark Mallet, with lyrics, “Persevere, my friend, for the reward is eternal life.”  It should be remembered that Miss Eyre left her employment and place of residence in order to avoid a sinful relationship. She chose immense suffering rather than compromising the moral law. Father Lovasik’s definitions are in Favorite Novenas to the Holy Spirit, p.47, (Catholic Book Publishing Co.).

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THE POWER OF MUSIC TO DRAW YOU CLOSER TO GOD OR FURTHER AWAY

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There is music that moves you in the right direction. And there is music that moves you in the wrong direction. Some music is more or less neutral, and neutral means you really ain’t going anywhere.

But let me be a little more specific. There is music which clearly draws us closer to God, the source of all Goodness, and this music is very valuable. On the other hand, there is demonically influenced music which is positively harmful.

Who can deny that music has a profound influence on our emotions and feelings? Yet music runs even deeper than that: it influences our values and beliefs and the very person we become.

We have witnessed for ourselves that music has influenced significant segments of society to embrace a lower standard of sexual morality and even the use of mind altering drugs. I know people who joke about not even remembering the 1960s!

The other day my 17 year old nephew, who I still manage to occasionally beat in basketball, told me about the “27 club,” which is a group of musicians who all died at the age of 27, mostly due to drug and alcohol abuse. Members of this club include Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Kurt Cobain and Jim Morrison. Music can take us profoundly in the wrong direction; and it would be a mistake to overlook a demonic influence.

I hear about sincere Christian friends who went to the recent Rolling Stones concert. I wonder if they considered, if only for a moment, whether there was a demonic influence there that they were exposing themselves to? It is never a good thing (however unintentional) to rejoice or take pleasure in evil, or to show any sympathy for the devil. Songs that extol sexual immorality normally have a demonic influence. Do good; avoid evil. When one considers the value of rap music it is interesting to consider how many rappers have been killed in violent acts. I won’t even comment on the relationship between vile language and the demonic. And people are shocked that Pope Francis speaks so frequently about the influence of the devil!

Then there is Christian praise and worship music. Lives have been literally healed and saved by it. This is a paradigm shift worth noting: the shift from secular music to Christian praise and worship music. This paradigm shift is like a revolution in the spiritual life. Suddenly we are changed; the music we listen to is literally drawing us into God. Now we are not only listening to beautiful music – more than that we are engaging in acts of praise and worship that mold us into children of God.

Clearly there is good secular music. In fact, some of the best secular music has a quasi-religious dimension to it. But we must discern between good and evil. And this discernment involves a true assessment of how the music we listen to has helped to shape and influence the person we have become. I maintain that for Christians it is helpful, more and more, to expose ourselves primarily to Christian music.

Music is like a creation. It is a composition: a thought brought to fruition. When God created the world he rested in the complacency that all he had done was GOOD. Can we say that about the music we listen to?

Tom Mulcahy, M.A.

Image: Contemporary Christain (and Catholic) artist, Matt Maher, August 7, 2015, Wichita, Kansas by Xopheriggs. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license. Naturally, the opinions expressed in this note are exclusively those of Tom Mulcahy and no other person. My daughter tells me Matt is coming to the Detroit area on March 5, 2017 at The Palace of Auburn Hills with other artists. 

P.S.  I note that some of the contemporary secular music I sometimes hear has an introspective, angst-ridden quality to it (it feels almost like a defeated existentialism). This music seems to me to be in need of Christian hope. Jailhouse Rock is a catchy tune of low value, but when Elvis sings the Gospel hymn, Lead Me, Guide Me, the song has power to lead one safely through the valley of the shadow of death (that type of power is transformative). Since first writing this post, Prince and David Bowie have both died early.

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YOU WERE MADE FOR PRAYER!

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                                           “Pray without ceasing” (1. Thes. 5:17)

Mark these words as so true and so important that they should be engraved in your mind and in your heart and possibly even tattooed to your hand so that you don’t forget them: – the decline of supernatural life begins when you start neglecting prayer. When prayer is completely abandoned you have simply returned to “the world” for your comfort and repose. You were made for prayer, and the language of the soul is prayer. “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10).

But do we have time to “be still” and be in the presence of God, to talk to Him and to listen to Him, and to make our needs known to Him? As a flower needs water and sunshine, we need prayer. And so it is incalculably harmful to us when we consciously or unconsciously make the decision not to pray, and thus put up a barrier between ourselves and our true happiness: a personal relationship with our God and Eternal Father. Oh Holy Spirit, give me a renewed and zealous attention to prayer; give me the grace to see the incalculable power of prayer; help me to see with Saint Alphonsus de Ligouri that those who pray shall be saved (see CCC 2744).

Therefore, we must be committed to prayer.  It is akin to spiritual suicide not to pray. Prayer should be the very foundation of our lives as we grow closer and closer to God. And if we are in need of a certain virtue, say, for example, patience, or chastity, or the grace to pray better, we must relentlessly ask God for this grace in prayer. “Ask and it will be given to you”(Matt. 7:7).

Why is prayer so important, other than it being the very basis of your loving relationship with God? Here are two reasons:

1. Prayer directs our attention away from the passing things of this world (that so distract us) and toward God: in Whom all our happiness consists. Prayer, then, is a profound remedy against worldliness, since it augments our union with God.

2. In God’s Providential direction of the universe He has ordained that we should pray to Him, and He continually gives us actual graces to pray when we would rather not.

Father Hardon comments:

“And what is the primary source of grace that we always have at our disposal? It is prayer. ***  Why? Because part of the divine plan, which is what providence means, is that we should obtain many of the things we need only by asking God to grant them.” [Thus], “we have no choice; either we pray or we do not get the divine light and strength we need.”

I know that there are good reasons for not missing American Idol, or Hannity, or the Lions, or the 10 PM news, or playing that video game upon which relies the world’s safety from terrorism, but rest assured that it is a great mismanagement of our time to neglect prayer. Oh Happy Day when we understand this!

Tom Mulcahy, M.A.

Sources: I am relying primarily on Father Weiss. On Page 83 of The Christian Life by the German Dominican, Father Albert M. Weiss, he talks about how “the decline of the supernatural life begins…with…the neglect of prayer.”
He explains that this loss can only be “renewed” by a “zealous attention to prayer.” On page 80 he talks about the “incalculable…power of prayer.” On Page 81 he discusses how prayer withdraws us from the world and “turns [us] wholly to God.” You can see, then, that I have used these words of Father Weiss in several places in this note. Are you looking for a remarkable spiritual book?: get his book! I am not picking on any particular TV show, but I am suggesting that television and other electronic media often distract us from prayer (which should be a priority).

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HISTORY POINTS TO THE AMAZING EUCHARIST!

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“…amazement should always fill the Church assembled for the celebration of the Eucharist. I would like to rekindle this Eucharistic “amazement” (from Ecclesia de Eucharistia, by Saint Pope John Paul II)

LOOK AT HISTORY!

“Look at history. (This is the single clearest reason why I became a Catholic: because I looked at history.) Not a single Christian in the world for 1000 years doubted or denied the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. The 11th- century heretic Berengar of Tours was the first, and there were no others until the 16th century, except the heretical Waldensians and Albigensians. The Albigensians were the most hated and feared heretics in the history of Christendom, and they were totally wiped out either by plague, persecution, birth dearth, or repentance.

The center of Christian worship until the Reformation was always the Eucharist, not the sermon, as it is for Protestants. The Eucharist was never omitted, as it usually is for Protestants. Any pre-Reformation Christian would see a church service without the Eucharist as something like marriage without sex.

Now comes the supreme irony. What is it that the Eucharist provides? The very thing Protestant evangelicals cherish the most: the Real Presence of Christ and our real union with Christ, “accepting the Lord Jesus Christ as your personal Savior” in the most real, total, complete, personal, concrete, and intimate way!” ( from the book Jesus-Shock, pp. 106-107, by Peter Kreeft).

Peter Kreeft, a well known Catholic convert and author, teaches philosophy at Boston College.

Tom Mulcahy, M.A.

Image: The Last Supper by Vicente Juan Masip, circa 1562, Prado Museum (Public Domain, U.S.A.)

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THE FOUR GREAT HOMAGES OF EUCHARISTIC ADORATION

st_peter_julian_eymard

“There is nothing greater or holier we can do on earth than [Eucharistic] adoration” (Saint Peter Julian Eymard, pictured above)

We are looking at the teaching of a great Eucharistic Saint, Saint Peter Julian Eymard, the founder of the Blessed Sacrament Fathers. He died in 1868 and was canonized in 1962. He lived a life of intense Eucharistic adoration.

In his book, A Eucharistic Handbook, Saint Eymard discusses the “four great homages of Eucharistic adoration, the spirit of which should animate and quicken the entire life of an adorer of the most Blessed Sacrament” (p.167). These four homages, which will be briefly elaborated on by way of condensed quotes from Father Eymard below, are: Adoration, Thanksgiving, Reparation, and the Eucharistic Apostolate of Prayer.

1. ADORATION

“The Object of Eucharistic adoration is the divine Person of our Lord Jesus Christ, present in the Blessed Sacrament. There is nothing greater or holier we can do on earth than this adoration. Eucharistic adoration is the greatest of actions. To adore is to share the life of the saints in heaven who never cease to praise, bless, and adore the goodness, the love, the glory, the power, and the divinity of the Lamb immolated for the love of men and the glory of God the Father. Eucharistic adoration is the holiest of actions…the perfect exercise of all the virtues [including Faith in the hidden Jesus veiled in the Sacred host, the Piety of self-annihilation before Jesus, Love of God, and Charity by praying for your neighbor in adoration]. To adore well we must, above all, talk to our Lord; He will answer us. Everybody can talk to our Lord” (pp. 177-78, 81, In the Light of the Monstrance, as edited).

2. THANKSGIVING

“Every gift calls for Thanksgiving; and the greater the gift, the greater also gratitude should be. The Holy Eucharist is the Savior’s Gift of gifts. It is the greatest of all His marvels, the sacramental glorification of all the mysteries of His life. In the presence of so much goodness on the part of Jesus Christ, what should not be the gratitude of the heart of man, who sees himself as the end of the Eucharist! What thanksgiving can measure up to such a gift? What love can repay so much love?” (Handbook, pp.158-59, as edited).

3. REPARATION

“[This] is first of all a reparation of honor made to Jesus Christ for the ingratitude and the outrages directed to Him in His Sacrament of love; it is also the satisfaction of mercy, pleading for the forgiveness of sinners. The soul should make an act of solemn reparation to this divine Victim; from a sentiment of joy your heart must turn to sadness, to the deepest sorrows on considering the ingratitude, the indifference, the impiety of most men towards the Eucharistic Savior. This is your mission, adorers: to weep at the feet of Jesus despised by His own friends, crucified in many hearts, abandoned in so many places. Your mission is to beg forgiveness for the guilty, to ransom them from divine mercy, to become victims of propitiation with the Savior Jesus” (taken from Handbook, p. 160 and In the Light of the Monstrance, pp.188-89, as edited).

4. THE EUCHARISTIC APOSTOLATE OF PRAYER

“Not everybody can preach Jesus Christ by word of mouth, but every adorer has the mission of Mary at the feet of Jesus: the apostolic mission of prayer, of Eucharistic prayer at the foot of the throne of grace and mercy. Eucharistic prayer has a excellence all its own; it goes straight to the Heart of God like a flaming dart; the adorer prays through Jesus Christ and unites himself to our Lord’s role as Intercessor with the Father and divine Advocate for His redeeemed brethren. Pray that the light of truth of Jesus Christ may enlighten all men. Pray for Jesus’ Kingdom of holiness in His faithful, His religious, His priests. Pray for the Sovereign Pontiff. Pray for the powers of the world. Pray for the poor souls that suffer in Purgatory. Thus adorers at the foot of the Most Blessed sacrament carry on a universal and perpetual mission of prayer, and thus render to God [along with their adoration, thanksgiving and reparation] the most perfect homage He can receive from a creature” (In the Light of the Monstrance, pp. 189-191).

Conclusion: When we go to Eucharistic adoration, we can keep these four essential homages in mind, namely, adoration, thanksgiving, reparation, and petitionary prayer. Utilizing these four great acts of homage, recommended by a great Eucharistic saint, Father Eymard, will increase our love for Jesus and greatly assist our neighbor. We will discover, like Father Eymard, that “our Lord in the Blessed sacrament is the unchanging way to holiness.”

Tom Mulcahy, M.A.

Image Attribution: The image of Saint Peter Julian Eymard processing with the Monstrance appears at Wikipedia and is by Bendi07. It is entitled, The Apostle of the Eucharist. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license. It is dated Feb. 28, 2016. The Wikipedia article is incorporated herein by reference.

Ref. The quotes above from Saint Peter Julian Eymard are edited and condensed. For the full and complete discussion of Saint Peter Julian Eymard on these matters, which is much greater in length, see In the Light of the Monstrance and A Eucharistic Handbook (both by Emmanuel Publications).

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