Our Lady’s Message in Wisconsin: Conversion & Catechesis

September 18, 2014

On the Feast of the Immaculate Conception in 2010, at the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help located about sixteen miles northeast of Green Bay, Bishop David Ricken endorsed our country’s first Church-approved Marian apparition:

“I declare with moral certainty and in accord with the norms of the Church that the events, apparitions and locutions given to Adele Brise in October of 1859 do exhibit the substance of supernatural character, and I do hereby approve these apparitions as worthy of belief (although not obligatory) by the Christian faithful.”

Crowned M - Sacred Heart Catholic Church -  Wauzeka WI155 years ago, a lovely blond-haired lady clothed in dazzling white, with a yellow sash around her waist and a crown of stars around her head, appeared to a 28-year-old lay woman named Adele Brise. Adele asked the lady who she was and what she wanted. She answered, “I am the Queen of Heaven who prays for the conversion of sinners, and I wish you to do the same. You received Holy Communion this morning and that is well. But you must do more. Make a general confession and offer Communion for the conversion of sinners… Gather the children in this wild country and teach them what they should know for salvation…”

This was the core of Mary’s message: for sinners to be converted and for children to be catechised. Yet Adele hesitated and asked how she was to teach the young when she knew so little herself. Mary replied, “Teach them their catechism, how to sign themselves with the sign of the Cross, and how to approach the sacraments; that is what I wish you to do. Go and fear nothing, I will help you.” After Adele’s encounter, her father built a small chapel on the site and Adele went about fulfilling her entrusted mission for the rest of her life. Exactly twelve years after Mary’s message came the terrible Peshtigo Fire which still ranks as the worst fire disaster in U.S. history. By a miracle, all who fled to Mary’s shrine for refuge were saved.

Our Mother, the Church, teaches that parents are the primary educators of their children in the Faith. This means that whether our kids go to CCD or Catholic school, family is the first and foremost teacher of life’s most important lessons. But how often do we talk to our children about Jesus and Mary, or teach them about what they should know for salvation? I suspect that many feel intimidated like Adele Brise was because they think they know too little. Yet Mary reassures us that anyone can begin teaching children the simple, precious lessons that will stay with them and bless them forever. As our children grow, we also must grow in the Faith, exploring the what’s and why’s of the Church’s teachings and living them out in our lives. Catechesis without conversion is in vain.

The Virgin Mary’s message to Adele Brise remains timely for us today: Pray for the conversion of sinners… Offer Communion for the conversion of sinners… Gather the children in this wild country and teach them what they should know for salvation… Go and fear nothing, I will help you.”

Everyone Has Time to Read the Gospels

September 9, 2014

Have you ever read the four Gospels:
Matthew, Mark, Luke, & John?

A Papyrus Manuscript (P66) of the Beginning of John's Gospel.

A Papyrus Manuscript (P66) of the Beginning of John

People say that they don’t have time to read the four most important books in human history, but the truth is that everyone does. It is simply a question of our priorities.

Given the average person’s reading speed and the number of words in each book, about how long does it take to read the Gospels?

Matthew:  1 hour, 14 minutes
Mark:  46 minutes
Luke:  1 hour, 18 minutes
John:  1 hour, 3 minutes

The Four Gospels:  4 hours, 21 minutes

For comparison, you can read:

If we have had the time for any of the things above, what excuse will we have for someday appearing before the Lord Jesus without having read his Gospels? Put first things first, and take time today to begin reading his four Gospels.

Comparing Catholic Bibles

September 6, 2014

 

The Douay-Rheims

  • This was the earliest Catholic Bible in English (New Testament published in 1582; Old Testament in 1610.)
  • It pre-dates the most famous Protestant Bible, the 1611 King James Version.
  • It is a very literal translation from St. Jerome’s Latin Vulgate from 382 AD.
  • It uses archaic English words, like “thou.”

 

The New Revised Standard Version – Catholic Edition (NRSV-CE)

  • The RSV was a translation for American readers from the original languages by thirty Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox scholars in the 1940’s & 50’s and was adapted for Catholic use in 1966.
  • It is considered a very literal & readable translation by many orthodox Catholic scholars.
  • It is often used in university or seminary courses and by important Catholic & Protestant biblical scholars.
  • The New RSV (or NRSV) was published in 1989 and has gender-neutral (or inclusive) language.

 

The New Jerusalem Bible (NJB)

  • The 1966 Jerusalem Bible was an English translation of a French Edition published by Dominican scholars in Jerusalem in 1956.
  • The 1985 New Jerusalem Bible revises the Jerusalem Bible directly from the original languages and contains inclusive language.
  • The NJB has a very literary style but is comparable in quality to the NRSV in scholarship.
  • This is the most widely used Catholic Bible in English outside of the United States.

 

The New American Bible (NAB)

  • The NAB was translated from the original languages according to the principles of the Second Vatican Council in 1970.
  • The 1980’s revised edition (the NAB-RE) restored some traditional phrasing and added inclusive language in the New Testament and Psalms.
  • The Holy See approved some use of inclusive language where the speaker or author intended a mixed audience (e.g. “brothers and sisters”, instead of the older “brethren,”) but rejected this in references to God or Christ, and to man, where the word has anthropological and theological significance.
  • Since Pentecost 2002, the revised NAB’s lectionary is the only one approved for use in U.S. English Masses, so faithful Catholics are already familiar with its readable style.

 


Translation Comparison of Matthew 18:15

Douay-Rheims:  “But if thy brother shall offend against thee, go, and rebuke him between thee and him alone. If he shall hear thee, thou shalt gain thy brother.”

NRSV-CE:  “If another member of the church sins against you, go and point out the fault when the two of you are alone. If the member listens to you, you have regained that one.”

NJB:  “If your brother does something wrong, go and have it out with him alone, between your two selves. If he listens to you, you have won back your brother.”

NAB-RE:  “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have won over your brother.”


Primarily Used Sources:

The Ungospel of Matthew 18:15-17*

September 6, 2014

(*From The Unbiblical Translation Bible)

15  “If your brother sins against you, go and tell anyone about his fault, except for him alone. He won’t listen, and the silent treatment guarantees this.

16  Instead, with one or two others (over coffee, on the phone, or during a lunch break,) testify to your grievances.

17  If they listen, then your gossip will spread through the church and (whether deserved or not) he will be treated as a telemarketer or a tax collector.”

Unpacking the Perfect Prayer

September 5, 2014

Based on CCC 2761-2865

Jesus “was praying at a certain place, and when he was finished, one of his disciples said to him, ‘Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.'” In response, the Lord entrusted to his disciples and his Church the fundamental Christian prayer, the Our Father.

St. Luke presents a brief text of five petitions, while St. Matthew gives a more developed version of seven petitions. The liturgical tradition of the Church has followed St. Matthew’s text.

Early Christians prayed the Our Father three times a day and it has always been associated with the celebration of the Lord’s Supper, the Mass.

The doxology, “For the Kingdom, and the power, and the Glory are yours, now and forever,” which follows the Our Father is not found in the most ancient Gospel texts, but it does date back to very early Church tradition.

The Our Father uses some unfamiliar, old English words: “Art” is a form of “is,” while the word “thy” means “your.” Thus, the prayer begins, “Our Father, who is in heaven, hallowed be your name…”

We pray “Our Father” rather than “My Father” because our relationship with God is not individualistic, but communion that includes our brothers and sisters as well.

Our Father above surpasses the excellence of all good fathers on earth, and He is the ideal that inferior fathers fail to embody.

Saying “Our Father who art in heaven” does not point to some spatial place far away, but speaks to His beatific majesty among us.

For the Jews, seven was a number symbolizing perfection. The Our Father consists of seven petitions. The first three mainly address God’s glory: “thy name, thy kingdom, thy will.” The last four refer to our needs: “give us, forgive us, lead us, deliver us.”

“Hallowed be thy name” We cannot make God more holy; but his name, his person, can be regarded as more sacred among us. Not only does this rule out blasphemy, but prays that all would come to a deeper personal relationship with Him.

“Thy Kingdom come” We pray for the fullness of His kingdom, his kingship, and his reign on earth. The Kingdom of God has begun among us with Christ, but the evils on earth show that it has not yet come in full measure.

“Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven” Imagine if everyone on earth did His will as perfectly as the saints and angels? These first three petitions are advanced by God’s graces and our cooperation.

“Give us this day our daily bread” We need three kinds of sustenance: literal food for our survival, gracious rations for our many other human needs, and the Most Holy Eucharist for our perfection.

We pray “this day” for “our daily bread” to emphasize our constant reliance and trust.

“And forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us” Jesus tell us that if we do not forgive others from our hearts, we will not enter the Kingdom of Heaven. You can pray for your enemies, know that you are loving them as a friend.

“And lead us not into temptation” God tempts no one. The original Greek can be translated, “Do not allow us to enter into temptation,” or “Do not let us yield to temptation.” We know our weakness and should pray for protection and deliverance.

“But deliver us from evil” We pray for freedom from all evils; present, past, & future; of which Satan, the Evil One, is the primary author or instigator. Just as the listings of apostles begin with Peter and end with Judas, so the Lord’s prayer begins with Our Father and ends with evil. Our confident, loving focus is on God, but we should not be naively unaware of the enemy of our souls.

With this deeper understanding of the Lord’s Prayer, the Our Father, the perfect prayer, try praying its words slowly and meditatively for new intimacy and fruits.

“Get Behind Me” — 22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time—Year A

August 31, 2014

Gospel: Matthew 16:21-27

Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer greatly from the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed and on the third day be raised.  Then Peter took Jesus aside and began to rebuke him, “God forbid, Lord! No such thing shall ever happen to you.”  He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are an obstacle to me.  You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.”

In Hebrew, “satan” means “adversary.” Peter is not the devil, but in opposing the Father’s true will for the Messiah, Peter is acting as an adversary and an obstacle to Jesus. Earlier in Matthew’s Gospel, during the temptation in the desert, Jesus told the devil, “Get away, Satan!” Later, in describing the Last Judgment, Jesus tells the unrighteous goats on his left, “Depart from me, you accursed…” Yet to St. Peter, Jesus says, ‘You are my friend, so get behind me… Stay close to me, and follow my lead.”

“Late Have I Loved You…”

August 28, 2014

Saint Augustine in his Study by Botticelli, 1480In “The Confessions,” the first autobiography in Western history, St. Augustine of Hippo tells of his sinful youth away from the Lord prior to his conversion. In perhaps its greatest passage, Augustine pens these words to God:

“Late have I loved you, O Beauty ever ancient, ever new, late have I loved you!  You were within me, but I was outside, and it was there that I searched for you.  In my unloveliness I plunged into the lovely things which you created.  You were with me, but I was not with you.  Created things kept me from you; yet if they had not been in you they would not have been at all.  You called, you shouted, and you broke through my deafness.  You flashed, you shone, and you dispelled my blindness.  You breathed your fragrance on me; I drew in breath and now I pant for you.  I have tasted you, now I hunger and thirst for more.  You touched me, and I burned for your peace.”

Neat Things About “A Man For All Seasons”

August 21, 2014

“A Man For All Seasons” was 1966’s Academy Award winner for Best Picture, and it is my all-time favorite movie. This YouTube video I made presents a number of interesting things you never knew about this wonderful film. I invite you to watch, “like,” and “share” it.

 

Enduring Deprivation — Monday, 20th Week of Ordinary Time—Year II

August 18, 2014

Readings: Ezekiel 24:15-23, Matthew 19:16-22

The word of the LORD came to me: “Son of man, by a sudden blow I am taking away from you the delight of your eyes, but do not mourn or weep or shed any tears. Groan in silence, make no lament for the dead, bind on your turban, put your sandals on your feet, do not cover your beard, and do not eat the customary bread.” That evening my wife died, and the next morning I did as I had been commanded.

Then the people asked me, “Will you not tell us what all these things that you are doing mean for us?” I therefore spoke to the people that morning, saying to them: “Thus the word of the LORD came to me: ‘Say to the house of Israel: Thus says the Lord GOD: I will now desecrate my sanctuary, the stronghold of your pride, the delight of your eyes, the desire of your soul. …  Your turbans shall remain on your heads, your sandals on your feet. You shall not mourn or weep, but you shall rot away because of your sins and groan one to another.”

Christ and the Rich Young Ruler, by Heinrich HofmannWhat does Ezekiel in the first reading have in common with the young man in today’s gospel?

A young man approached Jesus and said, “Teacher, what good must I do to gain eternal life?” … Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” When the young man heard this statement, he went away sad, for he had many possessions.

The Lord asked the rich young man to give up something precious to him, and the Lord took away something precious from Ezekiel. What if Ezekiel had rebelled after his loss, refusing to do anything further in the Lord’s service? People sometimes react to tragic loss in this way. What if that rich young man who went away sad never changed his mind? Divine callings often entail hardship, but consider the greater loss of never fulfilling the purpose of one’s life.

Every good thing, every person or possession, has come to us from God, and his desire for us is our supreme good. Therefore, the Lord is worthy of trust, even if we are stripped of what is dearly precious to us. As the suffering Job observed,

“Naked I came forth from my mother’s womb,
and naked shall I go back there.
The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away;
blessed be the name of the LORD!”

Driving Devotions

August 17, 2014

Rearview RosaryHow can your ordinary travel bring you closer to God and greater personal holiness? Here are some Catholic devotions you and your family can practice while driving down the road:

  • When you embark, you can invoke your guardian angel to protect you on your journey.
  • When passing a Catholic Church, you can make a sign of the cross to bless yourself and honor the real presence of the Lord inside of the tabernacle.
  • When passing a cemetery, you can say a prayer for any buried there who are still in Purgatory.
  • When you hear a siren, you can pray for a safe and happy resolution to the emergency.
  • When driving alone, you can invite Jesus or Mary to sit beside you to share a prayerful conversation.

A Glorious Lady in Heaven

August 15, 2014

Like Dante’s Divine Comedy, C.S. Lewis’ The Great Divorce takes a first-person tour of Hell, Purgatory, and Heaven. Dante had a next-worldly guide in the Roman poet Virgil, while Lewis had the Scottish author George MacDonald. While on the Plains of Heaven, Lewis beholds the following (abridged) scene:

Some kind of procession was approaching us, and the light came from the persons who composed it.  First came bright Spirits, not the Spirits of men, who danced and scattered flowers. Then, on the left and right, at each side of the forest avenue, came youthful shapes, boys upon one hand, and girls upon the other. If I could remember their singing and write down the notes, no man who read that score would ever again grow sick or old. Between them went musicians; and after these a lady in whose honor all this was being done. And only partly do I remember the unbearable beauty of her face.

“Is it?…  Is it?” I whispered to my guide.

“Not at all,” said he. “It’s someone ye’ll never have heard of.  Her name on earth was Sarah Smith and she lived at Golders Green.”

“She seems to be… well, a person of particular importance?”

“Aye. She is one of the great ones.  Ye have heard that fame in this country and fame on Earth are two quite different things.”

“And who are all these young men and women on each side?”

“They are her sons and daughters.”

“She must have had a very large family, Sir.”

“Every young man or boy that met her became her son – even if it was only the boy that brought the meat to her back door. Every girl that met her was her daughter.”

“Isn’t that a bit hard on their own parents?”

“No.  There are those that steal other people’s children. But her motherhood was of a different kind. Those on whom it fell went back to their natural parents loving them more. Few men looked on her without becoming, in a certain fashion, her lovers. But it was the kind of love that made them not less true, but truer, to their own wives. It is like when you throw a stone into a pool, and the concentric waves spread out further and further. Who knows where it will end? Redeemed humanity is still young, it has hardly come to its full strength. But already there is joy enough in the little finger of a great saint such as yonder lady to waken all the dead things of the universe into life.”

Ezekiel’s Consolation — Tuesday, 19th Week of Ordinary Time—Year II

August 12, 2014

Readings: Ezekiel 2:8-3:4; Matthew 18:1-5, 10, 12-14

The Lord GOD said to me: “As for you, son of man, obey me when I speak to you: be not rebellious like this house of rebellion, but open your mouth and eat what I shall give you.” It was then I saw a hand stretched out to me, in which was a written scroll which he unrolled before me. It was covered with writing front and back, and written on it was: “Lamentation and wailing and woe!”

He said to me: “Son of man, eat what is before you; eat this scroll, then go, speak to the house of Israel.” So I opened my mouth and he gave me the scroll to eat. “Son of man,” he then said to me, “feed your belly and fill your stomach with this scroll I am giving you.” I ate it, and it was as sweet as honey in my mouth. He said: “Son of man, go now to the house of Israel, and speak my words to them.”

How can a message of “lamentation and wailing and woe” taste sweet in the prophet’s mouth? Ezekiel found the message sweet because it meant God was neither blind nor indifferent to the evils in his midst and that these evils, one way or another, would not continue forever. Either sincere conversion or painful events would soon check his people’s wickedness. This was the prophet’s consolation. Jesus says:

If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them goes astray, will he not leave the ninety-nine in the hills and go in search of the stray?

Guardian Angels by JHS MannIn the parable of the Lost Sheep, we focus on the lost sheep’s consolation while forgetting the ninety-nine’s desolation. The flock may fare just fine, but they will find the experience quite unsettling. Jesus tells us:

Whoever receives one child such as this in my name receives me.

It is not the will of your heavenly Father that one of these little ones be lost.

For forty years, the people of our land have intentionally and legally ended the lives of roughly one million unborn children annually. What would the opposite of receiving Jesus look like, if not this? Jesus warns us:

See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that their angels in heaven always look upon the face of my heavenly Father.

This represents a warning, because God’s angels are fearsome and righteous creatures. Let us earnestly pray for our country’s conversion to a culture of life. Yet we too share Ezekiel’s consolation, for one way or another, this evil in our midst will not go on forever.

Jesus in the Storm — 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time—Year A

August 11, 2014

walking-on-water-by-aivazovsky-1890I do not think that the apostles wanted to get into that boat. Jesus made them do it.

After he had fed the people, Jesus made the disciples get into a boat and precede him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds.

Why would they not want to go? Peter, Andrew, James, and John were previously fishermen working on this Sea of Galilee. They could recognize an approaching storm. The apostles did not want to be on the sea that night, but they obediently went.

[After sending away the apostles and the crowds, Jesus] went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When it was evening he was there alone. Meanwhile the boat, already a few miles offshore, was being tossed about by the waves, for the wind was against it.

Why did Jesus dismiss them without himself? Jesus wanted to be alone to pray after hearing about the killing of his relative and friend, John the Baptist. (Even Jesus needed dedicated times for prayer.) But there was another reason: Jesus wanted the apostles to experience one of the most memorable, most difficult, most amazing nights of their lives. After battling against the winds and waves from evening through the hours before dawn, the apostles were exhausted physically and emotionally. Then…

During the fourth watch of the night, he came toward them walking on the sea. When the disciples saw him walking on the sea they were terrified. “It is a ghost,” they said, and they cried out in fear. At once Jesus spoke to them, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.”

The apostles have been casting out demons with Jesus for a long time. Perhaps they fear that this angry storm has been the work of a demon who is coming toward them in visible form on the water to finally kill them. In fact, the source of their greatest fear is actually their salvation. Jesus says, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.” Jesus says, “Be not afraid,” more frequently than anything else. And it is not a suggestion, it is a command. When it feels like a the hurricane blows above, and an earthquake shakes below, and fire surrounds you, it can be difficult to hear God’s tiny whispering sound. However, the Lord is always close. People are afraid of many things: Loss and poverty, loneliness and suffering, disease and pain, dying to ourselves and dying from this life. What are you most afraid of?

After [Jesus and Peter] got into the boat, the wind died down.

Jesus says, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.” Like the Apostles, if any distress comes to you, the Lord has permitted this for your good. “Be not afraid.” Jesus comes to meet us in the storm. He does this because meeting Jesus in the storm is among the most memorable, most amazing, and most powerful experiences of our lives. As we see with Saint Peter, these difficult experiences make us more like Jesus. In everything, Jesus is near and telling us, “Be not afraid.”

Three Crosses Line Break

No creo que los apóstoles querían entrar en ese barco. Jesús les hizo hacerlo.

En aquel tiempo, inmediatamente después de la multiplicación de los panes, Jesús hizo que sus discípulos subieran a la barca y se dirigieran a la otra orilla, mientras Él despedía a la gente.

¿Por qué ellos no quieran ir? Pedro, Andrés, Santiago y Juan eran anteriormente los pescadores que trabajan en este mar de Galilea. Podían reconocer una tormenta que se aproxima. Los apóstoles no quieren estar en el mar esa noche, pero obedientemente se fueron.

Después de despedirla, [Jesús] subió al monte a solas para orar. Llegada la noche, estaba él solo allí. Entre tanto, la barca iba ya muy lejos de la costa y las olas la sacudían, porque el viento era contrario.

¿Por qué Jesús despedirlos sin él? Jesús quería estar a solas para orar después de enterarse de el asesinato de su pariente y amigo, Juan el Bautista. (Incluso Jesús necesitaba tiempos dedicados para la oración.) Pero había otra razón: Jesús quería que los apóstoles de experimentar una de las más memorables, más difíciles, más increíbles noches de sus vidas. Después de luchar contra los vientos y las olas de la noche a través de las horas antes del amanecer, los apóstoles estaban exhaustos física y emocionalmente. Entonces…

A la madrugada, Jesús fue hacia ellos, caminando sobre el agua. Los discípulos, al verlo andar sobre el agua, se espantaron y decían: “¡Es un fantasma!” Y daban gritos de terror. Pero Jesús les dijo enseguida: “Tranquilícense y no teman. Soy yo”.

Los apóstoles han sido echando fuera demonios con Jesús durante mucho tiempo. Tal vez tienen miedo de que esta tormenta enojado ha sido obra de un demonio que ahora viene hacia ellos en forma visible en el agua para finalmente matarlos.  De hecho, la fuente de su miedo más grande es en realidad su salvación. Jesús dice: “Tranquilícense y no teman. Soy yo”.

Jesús dice: “No temas,” con más frecuencia que cualquier otra cosa. Y no es una sugerencia, es una orden.  Cuando parece que un huracán sopla encima, y un terremoto sacude a continuación, y el fuego le rodea, puede ser difícil de oír el murmullo de una bias suave. Sin embargo, el Señor siempre está cerca. La gente tiene miedo de muchas cosas: la pérdida y la pobreza, la soledad y el sufrimiento, la enfermedad y el dolor, muriendo a nosotros mismos y muriendo algún día. ¿Qué es lo que más miedo?

En cuanto [Jesús y Pedro] subieron a la barca, el viento se calmó.

Jesús viene para encontrarnos en la tormenta. Él hace esto porque un encuentro con Jesús en la tormenta es una de las experiencias más sorprendentes, más memorables y más poderosos de nuestras vidas.  Como vemos con San Pedro, estas experiencias difíciles nos hacen más como Jesús. En todo, Jesús está cerca, y nos diciendo, “Tranquilícense y no teman.”

Pope Paul VI Has Died

August 6, 2014

Thus begins my new blog presenting the day-to-day happenings in the papacy of His Holiness, Pope John Paul I.

The First Principle and Foundation

July 31, 2014

Man is created to praise, reverence, and serve God our Lord, and by this means to save his soul.

And the other things on the face of the earth are created for man and that they may help him in prosecuting the end for which he is created.

From this it follows that man is to use them as much as they help him on to his end, and ought to rid himself of them so far as they hinder him as to it.

For this it is necessary to make ourselves indifferent to all created things in all that is allowed to the choice of our free will and is not prohibited to it; so that, on our part, we want not health rather than sickness, riches rather than poverty, honor rather than dishonor, long rather than short life, and so in all the rest; desiring and choosing only what is most conducive for us to the end for which we are created.

-St. Ignatius of Loyola, Spiritual Exercises #23


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