September 2018: Olive Tree
Volume II/Issue 29/September 2018
From The Editorial Desk:
Taking Responsibility for Our Emotions: Understanding Emotions
I believe that the Scriptures are the key God has given to man to understand himself. As we turn to the bible in order to understand emotions, we will not find emotions treated as a separate subject. The Bible isn’t written that way. Rather, the Bible shares the unfolding story of God’s work with mankind, and the subject of emotions from God’s perspective is found intertwined throughout the pages of sacred script. Indeed, one does not have to read far into the Genesis account until he senses the emotion of pleasure and satisfaction on God’s part as He examines His newly formed creation. Seven times in Genesis 1, God looked at what He had done, and calls it good. Likewise, in the story of mankind, one can almost sense the emotion of loneliness that Adam must have experienced after a day of naming the animals and not finding a help meet for him. We certainly identify the negative emotions of shame on the part of Adam and Eve when they heard the voice of God coming to meet them, and Cain’s anger as his sacrifice was rejected. Emotions are a part of the human story. We all know what it is like to have a full range of feelings. We welcome some emotions such as joy or courage, and avoid others such as fear or guilt. The dictionary says that emotions are “an affective state of consciousness in which joy, sorrow, fear, hate or the like is experienced, as distinguished from cognitive and volitional states of consciousness.” In more simple terms emotions are feelings in contrast to deliberate thoughts or decisions made by the will. Each person faces the challenge of managing his emotions. From childhood to old age we have feelings, some times very powerful and seemingly out of control. In fact, at times it may seem that they have control over us.
Where do Emotions Fit in the Make up of Man?
And God created man to his own image: to the image of God he created him: male and female he created them. (Genesis 1:27)
And I will accomplish my fury, and will cause my indignation to rest upon them, and I will be comforted: and they shall know that I the Lord have spoken it in my zeal, when I shall have accomplished my indignation in them. (Psalm 7:11)
God is a spirit; and they that adore him, must adore him in spirit and in truth. (John 4:24)
Sometimes people debate whether our emotions primarily result from our spiritual makeup or from the fact we live in a mortal body. The Scriptures have the answer. First they teach us that man is made in the image of God. Next we learn that God is capable of emotions. Lastly we observe that God is a Spirit and not made of mortal flesh. Since God does not have a mortal body and yet has feelings, we can conclude that the emotions of man are a part of his soul being. The account of the Rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16 confirms that emotions belong to the soul part of man. Both men have left their bodies in death and are in the intermediate state. Lazarus is described as being “comforted” and the rich man is described as being “tormented”. This comfort and torment is felt by the soul being of each. While exterior pain or comfort is a part of their experience, the emotional or feelings of each are certainly affected. From this account we learn that we should look for the seat of emotions in the spiritual makeup of man.
Does this mean our physical condition has no part to play in our emotional state? Certainly not. Physical stresses can affect our emotions in a real way, but when the body is laid to rest in the dust of the earth, the emotions will go with the soul into the eternal state.
How do Emotions Relate to Thoughts and Moods?
Wherefore, sirs, be of good cheer; for I believe God that it shall so be, as it hath been told me. (Acts 27:25)
And [casting down every argument and opinions] that exhalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every understanding unto the obedience of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5)
The first hurdle to face regarding our feelings is that we can choose to think right even if we don’t feel positive in a situation. In the above verse in Acts, the soldiers and sailors were in a terrifying storm. After God had spoken to Paul in a dream, they were told to be cheerful in spirit, take courage, and to eat. They obeyed. In Corinthians we are told we can and shall cast down arguments and opinions that are not worthy of our consideration. Again, we would not be instructed to do this if it was an impossibility.
Rejoice in the Lord always; again, I say, rejoice. Let your [moderation] be known to all men. The Lord is nigh. Be [anxious about nothing]; but in every thing, by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your petitions be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasseth all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:4-7)
One of the basic premises of the New Testament is that our emotions will follow our thoughts and our moral choices. If we wish to have positive emotions such as peace, we need to make the choice to develop godly thought patterns. This passage in Philippians 4 is one example of this premise as it lays out a plan whose conclusion is “peace that surpasseth all understanding...” This premise is a direct contradiction of many prevailing philosophies that are circulating in today’s society and also influence religious circles. Some of these thoughts are... “I can’t help how I feel.” “I felt that way, so of course my actions were a result of my feelings.” “If I don’t like my emotions I will take something to alter my moods and make me feel differently.” We should understand that stated in a very generalized way, our thoughts produce our attitudes and our attitudes then generate our emotions and our moods. If we wish to have a long term change in our moods and emotions we will need to be ready to honestly evaluate and change our thought patterns, and bring them into the captivity of the obedience of Christ.
Is it Normal for Christians to Struggle with Emotions?
And saying: Ye men, why do ye these things? We also are mortals men [with like passions], preaching to you to be converted from these vain things, to the living God, who made the heaven, and the earth, and the sea, and all things that are in them: (Acts 14:15)
Elias was a man [subject to like passions] like unto us: and with prayer he prayed that it might not rain upon the earth, and it rained not for three years and six months. (James 5:17)
It can be common for a new Christian to struggle with the idea of having negative emotions. When one first is born again, there generally is an overwhelming flood of relief that the old sins are forgiven and washed away. With this comes an elated feeling that most of us wish would last a life time. But time passes, and sooner or later feelings will fluctuate. Is it normal for feelings to bottom out? Isn’t the Christian supposed to feel happy all the time? According to Paul’s testimony Christian and non-Christian share the same emotions. We have like passions. This means in conversion and in becoming a new man where old things pass away, our emotions are not converted. God does not automatically change the emotions common to mankind. These emotions can mature by following Biblical directives. God originally created man with the experience of only good or positive emotions. When man hearkened to Satan, he became capable of also knowing evil or bad emotions. This will not change until mankind is moved to the world where old things are passed away, and all things have become new and all tears are wiped away. The Christian has access to the Holy Spirit, and this Holy Spirit will bear witness with the Christian’s spirit, and recreate His fruit in the human life. This work is a result of our choosing to be yielded to His direction in our lives. The Christian is also directed again and again to choose certain emotions around which to build his life. In choosing these emotions, he is to reject other emotions he is tempted with. All of this represents a journey we each find ourselves involved in each and every day. May God give us wisdom as we seek to apply His Word as we endeavor to find our way with our emotions. Next Month: The Emotions of Anger, Bitterness and Rage.
God Wants A Fiat
No God does not want a car.
Mary answered the Angel Gabriel: “Ecce ancilla Domini: fiat mihi secundum verbum tuum.” This translates as: “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it done to me according to thy word.” God desires this same fiat from us, that is He wants instant and complete obedience to His holy will. Daily we pray: “Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven,” expressing our own desire for this complete conformity to the will of God.
Now we may say we desire total conformity with the Will of God, but do we live out that desire, or are we just giving God lip service. Could Jesus say of us: “Hypocrites, well hath Isaias prophesied of you, saying: This people honoureth me with their lips: but their heart is far from me”? (Matthew 15:8) How far is our heart from Jesus?
Let us examine ourselves very carefully on this point. If Jesus were to appear to us today, and ask us to make a large sacrifice, what would our answer be? Let us look in Scripture.
Let us first go to the ninth chapter of Acts: “  And Saul, as yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest,  And asked of him letters to Damascus, to the synagogues: that if he found any men and women of this way, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.  And as he went on his journey, it came to pass that he drew nigh to Damascus; and suddenly a light from heaven shined round about him.  And falling on the ground, he heard a voice saying to him: Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?  Who said: Who art thou, Lord? And he: I am Jesus whom thou persecutest. It is hard for thee to kick against the goad.  And he trembling and astonished, said: Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?”
Let us pray sincerely: “Lord, what will You have me do?” What does God want from me today? This should be the subject of our prayers and our meditations. What does God want from each and every one of us today?
Six other times, Scripture recounts Jesus calling men to the Apostolate. The fourth chapter of Saint Matthew's Gospel recounts four of these men being called: “ And Jesus walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea (for they were fishers). And he saith to them: Come ye after me, and I will make you to be fishers of men. And they immediately leaving their nets, followed him. And going on from thence, he saw other two brethren, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in a ship with Zebedee their father, mending their nets: and he called them. And they forthwith left their nets and father, and followed him.” (Matthew 4:18-22)
And Matthew 9:9: recounts: “And when Jesus passed on from hence, he saw a man sitting in the custom house, named Matthew; and he saith to him: Follow me. And he rose up and followed him.”
Notice that all followed Jesus immediately, when He called them.
Is our obedience to God's will as prompt as these or do we say by our actions to God: “God, if I have anything left at the end of the day I will give it to you.”
In the Old Testament God commanded: “The first of the fruits of thy ground thou shalt offer in the house of the Lord thy God.” (Exodus 34:26) and in the New Testament: “But seek ye first the kingdom of God and his justice, and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Luke 12:31)
Let us look at a man, who was prompted by the Holy Ghost to come to Jesus. In the 19th chapter of Saint Matthew's Gopsel (verses 16-25) we read his story. In verse 16 we read: “And behold one came and said to him: Good master, what good shall I do that I may have life everlasting?” Then Jesus questions him on his observance of the Commandments and he answered (20): “All these I have kept from my youth, what is yet wanting to me?” This man knew that God was asking more from him, which is why he came to Jesus. In the next verse we read: “Jesus saith to him: If thou wilt be perfect, go sell what thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come follow me.” Jesus is calling him to join Him and follow Him. In the next verse we read: “And when the young man had heard this word, he went away sad: for he had great possessions.” Consider this terrible choice. This man, who was an upright man, felt that God was calling him to do more. He came to Jesus, because of this. Jesus called him to a more perfect life. This poor man went away and rejected the call of Jesus. He rejected the will of God. The Fathers of the Church believe that he lost his soul. Are we acting like this rich man? Are we refusing God's call on our own lives?
Are we giving God his fiat, or are we getting in the fiat and driving away from God?
Let us give God our fiat as the Blessed Virgin Mary did and say to whatever God asks of us: “Let it be done unto me, according to Thy word.
Our Hearts Are Restless....
Let's face it, if you have not had anything to eat for a while, your mind starts to dwell on your hunger and nothing else. We focus on everything that we might want to eat: pizza . . . Chinese food . . . spaghetti . . . Mexican . . . . fast food . . . fried chicken . . . a sandwich . . . Then we finally decide what exactly we want and we fixate on our food of choice until we get it. And then finally we eat and we are satisfied. But what if you just finished eating an hour ago, and your mind still thinks about various foods. Of course, it might be the fact that we are simply being greedy and causing us to think this way. But the fact remains that as human beings we get hungry, . . . we get cravings, . . . we focus on fulfilling our desires or what we are hungry for. And it is not simply limited to food, quite frankly. Human beings get fixated on a number of desires that they would like to fill. Whether it be food, or drink, or drugs, or power, or money . . . . the list goes on and on. Our Blessed Lord sums it up perfectly when He says: "Be not anxious for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than the food, and the body than the raiment? " (St. Matthew 6:25)
As human beings we need to be fed and we also have to be clothed. But as Christians, we also have to be spiritually fed on a daily basis. People are hungry for the Word of God. They want to hear what God is saying to them. They are searching for God and may not even know it. As St. Augustine pointed out: "You have made us for Yourself and our hearts are restless until they rest in You." St. Augustine knew full well the desires of the human heart. He was restless himself as a young man but he tried to "calm" this restlessness by focusing on fulfilling many desires of his heart and mind. St. Augustine sought to fulfill his hunger with sex. He sought to fulfill his hunger with wine. He even sought to satisfy this restlessness with learning and education. In essence, St. Augustine found that he went down many avenues to satisfy his restlessness and search for happiness. And he found that each and every time he was indeed "satisfied" for a while but then his heart became "restless" again. And St. Augustine discovered a pattern each of these points in his life: he was satisfied for a time, yes, but then he wanted something else. It was not until St. Augustine gave his heart to God that he discovered his heart was "restless" no longer. Our human hearts are indeed restless. Our human minds are restless. We human beings are constantly searching for things that make us happy, for things that satisfy us. And again we find inspiration from St. Augustine when he gives us the answer to satisfying our true hunger as human beings: "So I set about to find God and found that I could not find Him until I embraced the mediator between God and man, Christ Jesus, Who is over all these things, Who was calling me and saying: 'I am the Way, the Truth and the Life . . . ."
As St. Augustine discovered in his own life, the human heart desires many things to be "satisfied." But above all these "desires" is the desire to be with God and this can only be satisfied by a relationship with Our Blessed Saviour. "Therefore take no thought, saying What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? . . . . for your Heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the Kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you." (St. Matthew 6:31-33) As human beings we will desire many things but we need to first seek and desire God. Until we discover that purpose, we will forever be restless and unsatisfied in life.
Thus, it is understandable that people who are searching for God turn to the clergy in their search for the Almighty. They want to hear inspiration. They want to learn more about God. They want to have these spiritual desires met. But in all fairness pastors, priests, ministers, bishops, etc. can only do so much in a given week. What I mean by this statement is that time is limited in what the priest or pastor can talk about in a given week. If the average church service is, say, an hour . . . an hour and a half . . . how much of that time is strictly dedicated to preaching by the priest or minister? Fifteen minutes? Twenty minutes? More? Less? As my congregation will let you know, I don't time my preaching . . . . . I just start in and see where God is leading me! But even with that, I might get twenty minutes or twenty-five minutes of preaching in on a given Sunday morning. In comparison, that is not very much time out of a given week. Think about it. Twenty-four hours in a day. Seven days in a week. By my calculation, that is One-Hundred and Sixty-Eight hours in a given week and the preacher gets fifteen, twenty-five, maybe thirty minutes of preaching out of all those hours in a week. That's not much time in comparison to the rest of the week. So that's why I say, in essence what the preacher is doing is planting the seed and leaving the rest to God.
One of my favorite Scripture passages is from First Kings. It is the passage where the Prophet Elijah is fleeing from Jezebel and we read where "(Elijah) went a day's journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper tree: and he requested for himself that he might die: and said, it is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life: for I am not better than my fathers." (I Kings 19:4)
Then Elijah laid down and went to sleep and the angel of the Lord touched Elijah and "said unto him, Arise and eat." (Verse 5) And Elijah had seen where the angel of the Lord had placed there by his head water and food for him to eat.
And then Elijah laid down again, . . . "And the angel of the Lord came again the second time, and touched him, and said, Arise and eat: because the journey is too great for thee." (Verse 7)
This is certainly one of my all-time Scripture passages. I think it is profound for a number of reasons:
First, God does indeed feed us. He feeds us through the Word of God. We Christians must be hungry for the Word of God. In our society, there are so many different types of food to choose from as we pointed out earlier: pizza . . . Chinese food . . . Mexican food . . . fast-food . . . chicken . . . seafood . . . . etc. Likewise, many people choose to get "fed" from different interests or desires: power, riches, money, fame, drugs, alcohol, etc. People make choices where they eat and how they spend their time. We, as Christians, have to make a choice as well: we have to want to be fed by the Word of God. And then make a point of studying the Word of God on a daily basis. Get in the habit of reading the Bible every day.
Secondly, God also feeds us through His Church. God does not need our help but He desires us to help Him. And as a result, He founded the Church here on earth. And the Church distributes the Sacraments to the world. And the Chief Sacrament is the Mass. Come to Mass and receive the Precious Body and Blood of Our Blessed Saviour. Our Lord loves us so much that He gives of Himself so that we can be nourished. "Arise and eat: because the journey is too great for thee!" Our Lord wants us to receive of the Sacraments of the Church as a physical and spiritual reminder that He is alive and well in the world. The Sacraments help nourish and sustain us in the long journey we call "life."
God gives us nourishment but we have to go find it. God gives us food but we have to make the effort to get it. God provides spiritual food and drink for our journey but we have to make the effort to obtain it. Get a relationship with God. Make Him the Lord and Master of your life. Get in the habit of reading the Bible on a daily basis. And take advantage of the Sacraments. The same Lord Who said: "This is My Body, This is My Blood" is the same Lord Who is awaiting for us to come and worship Him, to come and listen to Him, to come and receive Him when we come to church.
The Funny Pharmacy
A joyful mind maketh age flourishing: a sorrowful spirit drieth up the bones. - Proverbs 17:22
What were the reasons given for not attending the conclave? Or were you simply ignored?
Most simply ignored. A few wrote against the election. We know Bishop Louis Vezelis of the Thuc Carmona, Musey line wrote against the election, but do not know what he said.
N Martin Gwynne and John Daly wrote Briton's Catholic Library Letter number 7 against the pre-election book and sent copies to us. It had no substantial objections. As I recall, they wanted us to wait for Enoch and Elias to come and appoint a Pope. John Daly and Martin Gwynne have since separated. Their objections came in after the election, although they had been aware of it for months before.
A few objected that it was not the appropriate time, but gave no appropriate time. With a vacancy over ten times longer than the longest previously, we considered this could be dismissed. The second Canon of the Ecumenical Council of Loyons states in part: “Where a greater danger exists, there without doubt a fuller deliberation is necessary. How grave are the losses resulting from a prolonged vacancy, and how full of dangers it is to the Roman Church, is shown by prudent consideration of the past. Hence, a manifest reason urges us that, while we are engaged in the reformation of minor matters, we do not leave without remedy for suitable reform those things that are more dangerous.”
Kenneth Mock came with Father Patrick Henry CMRI. Mock said we should wait until a priest could be found with faculties to absolve us from any possible excommunication we had incurred for participation in the Traditionalist movement. We had publicly renounced any and all errors of this movement. When pressed, he could not find such a priest, and indeed no such priest existed. The penalties for participation in the Traditionalist Movement are reserved to the Pope, but the papacy was vacant. Canon Law also allows the Local Ordinary, that is the Bishop of our own Diocese, to absolve. However, all of these Sees were vacant. After that conversation, Mock and Henry left, saying they would pray on it. Mock left a message on the answering machine the next morning that they would not be participating.
Thomas Hemple and two of his sons, Matthew and Albert arrived late to the place of election. They had been notified well in advance and again closer to the time of the election. One would presume that people coming to such an important affair would indicate they are coming and arrive the day before as Mock and Henry did. Thomas Hemple had been working with Dr. Benjamin Franklin Dryden for years on a papal election. Attempt was made to contact Dr. Dryden, but he died before the election best we could find out.
Father (later Bishop) Jose Lopez-Gaston expressed interest in coming to the election. However, at the last minute he sent a letter indicating he would not come, but giving no reason. He had been ordained by Bishop Carmona.
The Pope Speaks: September 2018
Duty of Catholics to Their Fellow Catholics and the Church
Father Leonard Goffine in his work on the Ecclesiastical Year writes: “In the market-place, that is the world, they are standing idle who, however much business they attend to, do not work for God and for their own salvation; for the only necessary employment is the service of God and the working out of our salvation. There are three ways of being idle: doing nothing whatever; doing evil; doing other things than the duties of our position in life and its office require, or if this work is done without a good intention, or not from the love of God.”
Most today are idle couch potatoes. In church, they merely take up space in a pew once a week, but have no real commitment to Christianity. Let us consider the three ways we can be idle.
Doing nothing at all is the simplest, because we simply do not even begin a work. Doing evil is simply doing what we should not do. And then we can be doing the wrong things rather than what we should be doing. It is easy to get busy doing something and convince our self that we are working for God, when in fact we have the wrong intention or what is worse going about things in a way other than God wills.
“Seek ye therefore first the kingdom of God, and his justice, and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Matthew 6:33) When we get our priorities straight and act accordingly, then God will supply all of our needs. If God is not supplying our needs, it may be because we are acting outside of His will. When we say the Our Father do we truly mean: “Thy kingdom come?”
The holy Cure of Ars tells us that hearing the Word of God is more pleasing to God than receiving Holy Communion. In fact, we need to hear the Word of God in order to be properly prepared to receive Holy Communion. Without the Word of God in our lives, Holy Communion can do nothing for us.
What has happened to us is that we have become happy sitting idly on the fence, while a very few are fighting for Almighty God and His rights. We have decided not to make a decision, which is a decision itself. We will not make a true commitment to serve Almighty God and His holy Church.
Let us remember that we go to Heaven. That is, we commence the journey to heaven and go step by step closer to Almighty God. At death we merely complete the last few feet of our journey to heaven. To get to hell, all we need to do is stay where we are at or take the wrong road. For those who rely on Purgatory, remember that the road to Heaven goes through Purgatory. Let us consider that the road to heaven is a long road trip in a car. We get in the car and pull out of our driveway and leave the world behind us and head into Purgatory. Yes we can do our Purgatory here. If our car breaks down, then we wait along the side of the road waiting for the bus to come by and pick us up and take us the rest of the way home to Heaven. We will never get to heaven, if we do not get in the car, put it in gear and back out of the driveway. Don't forget your road map, Sacred Scripture. You don't want to get on the wrong road. Chart your course and get underway. A GPS God Positioning System is also useful, and you can get one of those from the Church. Also the Church has other helps along the road to Heaven.
“And Elias coming to all the people, said: How long do you halt between two sides? if the Lord be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him. And the people did not answer him a word.” (III Kings 18:21) It took a miracle to get these people off of the fence. We should not wait for a miracle. Jesus said: “An evil and adulterous generation seeketh a sign: and a sign shall not be given it, but the sign of Jonas the prophet.” (Matthew 12:39) We need to find the Church and get to work in the Church.
What is our duty as a Catholic? Is it sufficient to sit on the fence and remain idle. Is it enough to fill a pew every Sunday? The Pharisee bragged about what he did: “I fast twice in a week: I give tithes of all that I possess.” (Luke 18:12) We read that he was not justified before God.
Saint Thomas Aquinas writes: “In cases of necessity where faith is in danger, every one is bound to proclaim his faith to others, either to give good example and encouragement to the rest of the faithful, or to check the attacks of unbelievers:” If we are not in a case of necessity now, then I don't want to see one. With the Psalmist (11:2-3) we can say: “Save me, O Lord, for there is now no saint: truths are decayed from among the children of men. They have spoken vain things every one to his neighbour: with deceitful lips, and with a double heart have they spoken.”
Today, especially, we are bound to proclaim our faith in word and deed. We must at least encourage the rest of the faithful as Saint Thomas says. Therefore we must get down off of the fence and join with the Pope and those faithful to him.
Cardinal Joseph Sarto gave a speech: “In other times it was the Pope and Bishops who intervened in the defense of their children, threatened by the savage invasions of the barbarians; today it must be the children who will rise up in defense of their Father, the laity in defense of the Hierarchy.” He was soon elevated to the pinnacle of the hierarchy as Pope Pius X. Over a century ago, this saint considered that the Pope was in need of assistance. The Pope still had a college of College of Cardinals and many other assistants. Today the Pope has a very small staff, lives in an hundred twenty year old house in need of repairs, etc.
Pope Pius X also said: “Because moreover this Church is not built in the air, but does Her work in this our sublunar world, having a Supreme Head, Bishops and priests, Catholic Action is directed toward the defense of and revindication of the rights of the Roman Pontiff, who is to the Church of Jesus Christ what the head is to the body, what the foundation is to the building, for where the Pope is there is the Church. The more open the war against the Pope is the more active, the more resolute should Catholic Action be in defending and maintaining the inviolable rights of the Sovereign Pontiff.”
When we think of the Church we get confused with church buildings. Church buildings are not the Church, the Faithful are. The Pope is the shepherd of the sheepfold and should be surrounded by sheep (Bishops) and lambs (priests and people). The Church has been reduced to a handful, but we read about this in Sacred Scripture. Jesus said: “But yet the Son of man, when he cometh, shall he find, think you, faith on earth?” (Luke 18:8) Isaias says: “And they that remain of the trees of his forest shall be so few, that they shall easily be numbered, and a child shall write them down.” (Isaias 10:19)
“You are the light of the world. A city seated on a mountain cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle and put it under a bushel, but upon a candlestick, that it may shine to all that are in the house. So let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14-16) Many today are happy putting their light under a bushel basket, when all of us are called to be the light of the world. Putting our light under a buchel basket is a spiritual fire hazard.
It is time we get off of the fence and get with Jesus Christ and His Church under the Pope. Let us let our light shine before men.
Dear soul, it is a joy to write to you again. I hope that this month finds you growing in your life of prayer, even if the going might be slow. We must be prepared always for our growth to be slow, for we must learn to be genuinely patient.
Though at times we may want to make great leaps and bounds in spiritual progress, we must be reminded that great leaps and bounds are not always possible from where we stand, and furthermore are not always the will of God.
We must go slowly sometimes.
This month let us take a look at the next "decade" as it were of counsels from Evagrius on prayer. This month I think you find both challenges and consolation. So let's go!
61. If you are a theologian, you will pray truly. And if you pray truly, you are a theologian.
If we take nothing else away from our readings this month, let us take this counsel with us. It really can not be overstated. Theology is not something that is done in musty old libraries, as much as you know that I personally like musty old libraries, dear soul. No, true theology is the life of prayer. The one who prays, the pray-er, he is a theologian. So it is that a child, even of three years old, who is able to pray is a theologian far beyond the one who spends hours upon hours in theological manuals, making distinctions and definitions, who yet does not genuinely pray. Even the devils can make theological distinctions and more incisive defintions that we ever could in regard to supernatural truth, but they do not pray. If we wish genuine theology, we must undertake genuine prayer.
62. When your intellect in its great longing for God gradually withdraws from the flesh and turns away from all thoughts that have their source in your sense-perception, memory or soul-body temperament, and when it becomes full of reverence and joy, then you may conclude that you are close to the frontiers of prayer.
"Then you may conclude that you are close to the frontiers of prayer." That is, that you are coming to the place where prayer actually begins, the border of prayer. What a sobering truth, dear soul! How many of us can say of ourselves that our intellect withdraws from the flesh adn turns away from all thoughts coming from our senses, our memory, or our temperament? Though stated in but a few words, this is an extremely tall order, is it not? How many of us can even begin to say that we've made a beginning on the journey towards prayer? If we're honest, not a one of us - except maybe that three year old child who knows how to pray.
Yet, it is what we must do, if we are even to approach the land of prayer. And here then is the great struggle, dear friend. This is one facet of the great daily struggle of which the fathers tell and teach. It is the struggle to make a beginning each and every day, each hour, every moment.
We make the beginning... But how? Let us see in the next counsel....
63. The Holy Spirit, out of compassion for our weakness, comes to us even when we are impure. And if only He finds our intellect truly praying to Him, He enters it and puts to flight the whole array of thoughts and ideas circling within it, and He arouses it to a longing for spiritual prayer.
In the previous counsel we were faced with quite a tall order, dear soul: withdrawing our intellect from all things apart from God in order to begin to pray. If we are honest, we have to admit that this really can not be done by our own power. We simply lack the resolve and the strength to do so.
Fortunately, we need not go it alone. We have none other than the Holy Spirit, the Third Person of the Most Blessed Trinity, Who comes to us even in our weakness. It is by grace that we are able to overcome even ourselves. It is by grace that we are able even to pray and to make any advance in the life of prayer.
Notice what Evagrius says, though, in regard to the one who receives the assistance of the Holy Spirit: that it says: "if only He finds our intellect truly praying to Him". Thus, we must make the effort. We make the effort to prayer, and this effort is lifted up and purified by the presence and the action of the Holy Spirit. Notice that the purification of the intellect is not done by our own power, but we must make the effort to pray, which opens the door of the intellect so that the Holy Spirit may enter and do the work of genuine purification. We have to give God something with which to work - and that something is ourselves.
64. While all else produces thoughts, ideas, and speculations in the intellect through changes in the body, the Lord does the opposite: by entering the intellect. He fills it with whatever knowledge He wishes: and through the intellect He calms the uncontrolled impulses in the body.
Dear soul, mark well: we are not to try to find our Lord through discursive meditations or through mental wanderings. While such meditations have a great deal of currency among some people, they nevertheless open wide the doors to delusion, having forgotten the counsels of the fathers.
Here see the working of grace within the entirety of the human person. All comes under controll by the divine presence of God through sanctifying grace within the soul. Any perception we may have comes through the knowledge that is placed within us by grace through prayer. All victories are won not by our natural power, but by our working the will of God in grace.
65. Whoever loves true prayer and yet becomes angry or resentful is his own enemy. He is like a man who wants to see clearly and yet inflicts damage on his own eyes.
This can not be stated enough, especially nowadays, when it is very fashionable - and even encouraged by so-called spiritual authorities - that we disguise our own passionate and destructive anger under the color of righteous anger. Few things are more deadly to the heart and to the life of prayer.
Righteous anger may indeed be aroused, but it is never to be entertained. It is to urge us toward the good. But the passion of anger itself must be controlled and then discarded. Otherwise we will become a great danger to our own souls.
66. If you long to pray, do nothing that is opposed to prayer, so that God may draw near and be with you.
This seems obvious, doesn't it? But is it not also a truth that sometimes the most obvious things are those which need to be expressed the most often. The more ovbious they are the more easily they are forgotten.
Though the fact that - if we want to pray - we ought to place no obstacles to prayer should be taken for granted. let us be honest: Do we remember this? Or do we at every opportunity we have forget it, becoming distracted with the things of this world, with our own cares, our own thoughts, and place obstacle after obstacle in our own way?
The solution is easy, dear soul: we must remind ourselves at every opportunity to clear aside all obstacles to prayer. We can do this in a very real and practical way by each holding fast to the prayer rule which has been given to us by our spiritual fathers, and by making remembrance of the presence of our Lord a habit. Your own spiritual father will have more practical insight and suggestions for how this can be done.
67. When you are praying, do not shape within yourself any image of the Deity, and do not let your intellect be stamped with the impress of any form: but approach the Immaterial in an immaterial manner, and then you will understand.
Another tall order, dear soul! But by the grace of God it is not only possible, but it is a sure step in the life of prayer.
Here Evagrius is not expressing a type of iconoclasm, it must be said. For outward things, things of form can assuredly be of assistance, even necessity, in living the life of prayer. But we must not make an idol out of our own imaginations, our own mental conceptions, our own perceptions, our own thoughts, our own limitations, our own preconceived notions. For there there is greater danger.
In receiving the truths of the faith, even those truths which are expressed in outward form, such as the Holy Icons, we are not forming something unto ourselves, but rather we are receiving what has been passed down to us. Contrarily, we are not to shape within ourselves any image. This is an important distinction, dear soul. Receive. Do not create a new form unto yourself..
68. Be on your guard against the tricks of the demons. While you are praying purely and calmly, sometimes they suddenly bring before you some strange and alien form, making you imagine in your conceit that the Deity is there. They are trying to persuade you that the object suddenly disclosed to you is the Deity, whereas the Deity does not possess quantity and form.
This follows from the previous counsel, dear soul. Beware of so-called visions, apparitions, locutions, "mysticism." Many a soul is lost to false mysticism., many souls to this day are being drawn away from the truth. There are those who even refuse to hear the Church because some or other "message from heaven" keeps them from accepting the truth. It should be very much the other way around.
Hear the Church, receive truth from the Church, know the grace given only through the Sacred Mysteries within the Church and beware all that is novel, all that which is "strange and alien." Hold fast to the faith!
69. When the jealous demon fails to stir up our memory during prayer, he disturbs the soul-body temperament, so as to form some strange fantasy in the intellect. Since your intellect is usually preoccupied with thoughts it is easily diverted: instead of pursuing immaterial and formless knowledge, it is deceived, mistaking smoke for light.
When we allow our minds wander around, it becomes very likely to encounter those who wander about the world seeking the ruin of souls. We must train our intellect. Is it easy? Of course not. It is quite difficult indeed. But it must be done, step by step, even should it be ever so slowly. When we discover that our minds have wandered, let us simply bring them back gently to where they should be. Let fall away anything that our minds have found on their wandering, or anything that we find clinging to our minds after their wanderings. Bring the mind back to prayer, even if just to the very words of the prayers which we are saying. Bring the back, through the forms that we have received and inherited from the faith once handed on to the Apostles, so that it may progress in the grace of Almighty God, who is beyond all that is material.
70. Stand on guard and protect your intellect from thoughts while you pray. Then your intellect will complete its prayer and continue in the tranquility that is natural to it. In this way He who has compassion on the ignorant will come to you, and you will receive the blessed gift of prayer.
Let us seek out God as one who is truly actively seeking, and not simply thinking about seeking. Let us pray as one who prays and not one who is simply thinking about praying. It seems a harsh distinction, dear soul, but it is one that has to be made. Much of the modern forum in which we participate - yes, especially "online," - tends to create those who may talk a good game behind the keyboard, but simply do not live up to their own opinion of themselves. The spiritual keyboard-warrior will save no souls, not even his own, if he does not shut down the invasive thoughts swirling about him and truly seek to pray - to pray in the "tranquility that is natural" to the intellect.
The agitated intellect is in an unnatural position, dear soul. Be on guard against those thoughts which agitate, especially during prayer!
Well, we have a lot to consider this month, dear soul. Evagrius has laid down some heavy counsel for us. But if we are to be serious about the life of prayer - and the world sorely needs serious pray-ers - then let us face that counsel resolutely and with confidence. Remember: we have none less than God Himself to assist us!
Until next time, my prayers go with you. Please pray also for me, a sinner.
Evagrius the Solitary
Saints from East and West
Saints whose feasts are celebrated this month
September 17 (Byzantine) - Saints Sophia and her daughters Faith, Hope, and Charity
The Holy Martyresses Faith, Hope, and Charity were born in Italy. Their mother, Saint Sophia, was a pious Christian widow. Having named her daughters with the names of the three Christian virtues, Saint Sophia raised them up in love for the Lord Jesus Christ. Saint Sophia and her daughters did not hide their faith in Christ and they openly confessed it before everyone. The official Antiochus made denunciation about them to the emperor Adrian (117-138), who ordered that they be brought to Rome. Realising that they would be taken before the emperor, the holy virgins prayed fervently to the Lord Jesus Christ, asking that He should send them the strength not to fear impending torture and death. When the holy virgins with their mother came before the emperor, everyone present was amazed at their composure: it seemed that they had been called out to some happy festivity, rather than to torture.
Summoning the sisters in turn, Adrian urged them to offer sacrifice to the goddess Artemis. The young girls (Faith was 12, Hope was 10 and Charity was 9) remained unyielding. Then the emperor gave orders to fiercely torture them: they attempted to burn the holy virgins over an iron grating, they threw them into a red-hot oven and then into a cauldron with boiling tar, but the Lord by His Unseen Power preserved them. The youngest one, Charity, they tied to a wheel and beat at her with canes, until her body was covered all over with bloody welts. And undergoing unreported torments, the holy virgins glorified their Heavenly Bridegroom and remained steadfast in the faith. The tormentors subjected Saint Sophia to another and grievous torture: she was forced to look upon the suffering of her daughters. But she displayed adamant courage and during this whole while she urged the girls to endure the torments in the Name of the Heavenly Bridegroom. All three maidens with joy met their martyr's end. They were beheaded.
In order to intensify the inner suffering of Saint Sophia, the emperor decided to let her take up the bodies of her daughters. She placed their remains in coffins and reverently conveyed them on a wagon beyond the city and buried them on an high place. Saint Sophia sat there for three days not leaving the graves of her daughters, and finally she gave up her soul to the Lord. Believers buried her body there also. The relics of the holy martyresses since the year 777 rest in Alsace, at the church of Saint Trophimus in Eschau.
"Faith, Hope, and Charity, holy branches of noble Sophia, by grace made Greek wisdom foolishness. They have contested and won the Victory and have been crowned by Christ the Master of all." - Kontakion of St Sophia and her Three Daughters, Tone 1.
September 19 - Saint Januarius
Saint Januarius (Gennaro), a native some say of Naples, others of Benevento, was bishop of this latter city when the persecution of Diocletian broke out. Sossus, deacon of Miseno, Proculus, deacon of Pozzuoli, and Euticius and Acutius, laymen, were imprisoned at Pozzuoli by an order of the governor of Campania, before whom they had confessed their faith. Sossus by his wisdom and sanctity had earned the friendship of St Januarius, and upon the news that this servant of God and several others were fallen into the hands of the persecutors, the bishop determined to make them a visit to comfort and encourage them. He did not escape the notice of the keepers, who gave information that someone from Benevento had visited the Christian prisoners. The governor gave orders that Januarius, whom he found to be the person, should be arrested and brought before him at Nola, which was accordingly done. Festus, the bishop's deacon, and Desiderius, a lector of his church, were also taken, and had a share in the interrogatories and torments which the good bishop underwent at Nola. Some time after the governor went to Pozzuoli, and these three confessors, loaded with irons, were made to walk before his chariot to that town, where they were thrown into the same prison where the four martyrs already mentioned were detained. They had been condemned to be torn in pieces by wild beasts, and were then lying in expectation of the execution of their sentence. The day after the arrival of St Januarius and his two companions all these champions of Christ were exposed to the beasts in the amphitheatre, but none of the animals could be provoked to touch them. The people were amazed and imputed their preservation to magic, and the martyrs were condemned to be beheaded. This sentence was executed near Pozzuoli, and the martyrs were buried near that town.
The city of Naples eventually got possession of the relics of St Januarius, which in the fifth century were brought from the little church of San Gennaro near the Solfatara. During the wars of the Normans they were removed, first to Benevento, and some time after to the abbey of Monte Vergine; but in 1497 they were brought back to Naples, where he has long been honoured as principal patron.
Notwithstanding the heroic sanctity with which St Januarius conducted his life and with which he faced his martyrdom, in modern times the greater fame of St Januarius rests upon that "standing miracle" (as Baronius called it): the liquefaction of the relic of his blood which is preserved in the chapel of the treasury of the cathedral-church of Naples, a happening of which there are records for the past five hundred years. The relic consists of a dark, solid, opaque mass which half fills the small glass phial in which it is contained, the phial itself being fixed in a metal reliquary. Eighteen times a year, in connexion with the feast of the translation of the relics to Naples (Saturday before the first Sunday in May), the feast of the saint (September 19), and the anniversary of the averting of a threatened eruption of Vesuvius in 1631 (December 16), this relic is brought out and held by a priest in the presence of what is believed to be the martyr's head, exposed in a silver reliquary on the altar. Prayers are said by the people, especially as represented by a number of poor women who have a privileged position in the church and are known as the "aunts of St Januarius" (zie di San Gennaro). After a varying interval, from two minutes to an hour as a rule, the priest from time to time turning the reliquary upside down, the dark mass, hitherto solid and immovable, detaches itself from the sides of the glass, becomes liquid and reddish in colour, and sometimes froths, bubbles up, and increases in volume. This takes place not only in full view of the people but in close proximity to any accredited persons who may have been admitted to the sanctuary. The priest then announces, "The miracle has happened," Te Deum is sung, and the relic venerated by the congregation and clergy. Few, if any, alleged miracles have been examined more carefully, more often, or by people of more divergent views than this of the blood of St Januarius, and it may be safely affirmed that no expert inquirer, however rationalist in temper he may be, now denies that what is said to take place does take place. There is no trick, and there is as yet no completely satisfactory explanation (though many have been advanced, both by Catholics and others), except the explanation of miracle.
Books to feed your faith!
Saint Alphonsus recommends making a Novena prior to each of the seven major feasts of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Devout clients of Mary are all attention and fervor in celebrating the novenas, or nine days preceding her festivals; and the Blessed Virgin is all love, in dispensing innumerable and most special graces to them.
The Life and Kingdom of Jesus in Christian Souls
By St. John Eudes
Authored by Saint John Eudes, Introduction by Fulton J Sheen According to the Roman Breviary, Saint John Eudes is the author of devotion to both the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary. His two works on these two devotions are classics. However, he is also a master to the spiritual life; an unknown master. Many are familiar with the works of Saint Bonaventure, Saint Alphonsus Ligouri and Saint Louis de Montfort to name just three of the masters of the spiritual life. And yet, Saint John Eudes has a lot to contribute.
How Christ Said the First Mass
By James L. Meagher
Anyone who truly wishes to appreciate the Latin Mass and its origin in the Mass Jesus said at the Last Supper should read this book. It also becomes clear that the Jews of Jesus' time had every reason to convert, when one sees how the Mass fulfills prophecy so well. We are extremely happy to bring this excellent book back into print.
The Liturgical Year: 15 Volume set
By Dom Prosper Guéranger, OSB
This is a larger (6x9) reprint of the original. This is a fifteen volume set, which is being brought back into print for the edification of the Faithful. Anyone who wishes to appreciate the timeless Tridentine Mass and liturgy will find this set a valuable aid in that endeavor. Dom Gueranger has produced a most excellent work, which began the liturgical movement. We pray that this set of books will bring many more to a true appreciation of the Latin Mass and the Divine Office of the Catholic Church.
September is a month of contrasts and complements. This month, we're pleased to bring you a sauerbraten that requires a couple of days to prepare and a delightfully simple poundcake that's sure to please!
Prep: 15 m
Cook: 4 h
Ready In: 2d 4h 15m
3 pounds beef rump roast
2 large onions, chopped
1 cup red wine vinegar, or to taste
1 cup water
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon white sugar
10 whole cloves, or more to taste
2 bay leaves, or more to taste
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
salt and ground black pepper to taste
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
10 gingersnap cookies, crumbled
Place beef rump roast, onions, vinegar, water, 1 tablespoon salt, 1 tablespoon black pepper, sugar, cloves, and bay leaves in a large pot. Cover and refrigerate for 2 to 3 days, turning meat daily. Remove meat from marinade and pat dry with paper towels, reserving marinade.
Season flour to taste with salt and black pepper in a large bowl. Sprinkle flour mixture over beef.
Heat vegetable oil in a large Dutch oven or pot over medium heat; cook beef until brown on all sides, about 10 minutes. Pour reserved marinade over beef, cover, and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer until beef is tender, 3 1/2 to 4 hours. Remove beef to a platter and slice.
Strain solids from remaining liquid and continue cooking over medium heat. Add gingersnap cookies and simmer until gravy is thickened about 10 minutes. Serve gravy over sliced beef.
Grandmother's Pound Cake
Prep: 30 m
Cook: 1 h 10 m
Ready In: 1 h 40 m
2 cups butter
3 cups white sugar
4 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup milk
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease 3 - 8x4 inch loaf pans, then line with parchment paper. Alternately use a large bundt-style pan or pan of your choice.
In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Beat in the flour alternately with the milk, mixing just until incorporated.
Pour batter evenly into prepared loaf pans. Bake in the preheated oven for 70 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean. After removing them from the oven, immediately loosen cake edges with a knife. Allow to cool in pans for 10 minutes, then remove from the pans. Strip off the parchment paper and cool completely on wire racks.
Video sermons and instructions: Both brand new and from years past!
15th Sunday after Pentecost, 2011
Ember Sunday, 2012
Birthday of the Blessed Virgin Mary, 2014
A Lamp and Light Study of the Gospel of Matthew 10: The Conclusion
Matthew 11 John the Baptist the Doubter
VIE CATHOLIC RADIO EVENTS FOR SEPTEMBER
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Saint Basil the Great: On Creation
Upon the gathering together of the waters.
1. There are towns where the inhabitants, from dawn to eve, feast their eyes on the tricks of innumerable conjurors. They are never tired of hearing dissolute songs which cause much impurity to spring up in their souls, and they are often called happy, because they neglect the cares of business and trades useful to life, and pass the time, which is assigned to them on this earth, in idleness and pleasure. They do not know that a theatre full of impure sights is, for those who sit there, a common school of vice; that these melodious and meretricious songs insinuate themselves into men's souls, and all who hear them, eager to imitate the notes of harpers and pipers, are filled with filthiness. Some others, who are wild after horses, think they are backing their horses in their dreams; they harness their chariots, change their drivers, and even in sleep are not free from the folly of the day. And shall we, whom the Lord, the great worker of marvels, calls to the contemplation of His own works, tire of looking at them, or be slow to hear the words of the Holy Spirit? Shall we not rather stand around the vast and varied workshop of divine creation and, carried back in mind to the times of old, shall we not view all the order of creation? Heaven, poised like a dome, to quote the words of the prophet; earth, this immense mass which rests upon itself; the air around it, of a soft and fluid nature, a true and continual nourishment for all who breathe it, of such tenuity that it yields and opens at the least movement of the body, opposing no resistance to our motions, while, in a moment, it streams back to its place, behind those who cleave it; water, finally, that supplies drink for man, or may be designed for our other needs, and the marvellous gathering together of it into definite places which have been assigned to it: such is the spectacle which the words which I have just read will show you.
2. "And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear, and it was so." And the water which was under the heaven gathered together unto one place; "And God called the dry land earth and the gathering together of the waters called He seas." (Genesis 1:9-10) What trouble you have given me in my previous discourses by asking me why the earth was invisible, why all bodies are naturally endued with color, and why all color comes under the sense of sight. And, perhaps, my reason did not appear sufficient to you, when I said that the earth, without being naturally invisible, was so to us, because of the mass of water that entirely covered it. Hear then how Scripture explains itself. "Let the waters be gathered together, and let the dry land appear." The veil is lifted and allows the earth, hitherto invisible, to be seen. Perhaps you will ask me new questions. And first, is it not a law of nature that water flows downwards? Why, then, does Scripture refer this to the fiat of the Creator? As long as water is spread over a level surface, it does not flow; it is immovable. But when it finds any slope, immediately the foremost portion falls, then the one that follows takes its place, and that one is itself replaced by a third. Thus incessantly they flow, pressing the one on the other, and the rapidity of their course is in proportion to the mass of water that is being carried, and the declivity down which it is borne. If such is the nature of water, it was supererogatory to command it to gather into one place. It was bound, on account of its natural instability, to fall into the most hollow part of the earth and not to stop until the levelling of its surface. We see how there is nothing so level as the surface of water. Besides, they add, how did the waters receive an order to gather into one place, when we see several seas, separated from each other by the greatest distances? To the first question I reply: Since God's command, you know perfectly well the motion of water; you know that it is unsteady and unstable and falls naturally over declivities and into hollow places. But what was its nature before this command made it take its course? You do not know yourself, and you have heard from no eye-witness. Think, in reality, that a word of God makes the nature, and that this order is for the creature a direction for its future course. There was only one creation of day and night, and since that moment they have incessantly succeeded each other and divided time into equal parts.
3. "Let the waters be gathered together." It was ordered that it should be the natural property of water to flow, and in obedience to this order, the waters are never weary in their course. In speaking thus, I have only in view the flowing property of waters. Some flow of their own accord like springs and rivers, others are collected and stationary. But I speak now of flowing waters. "Let the waters be gathered together unto one place." Have you never thought, when standing near a spring which is sending forth water abundantly, Who makes this water spring from the bowels of the earth? Who forced it up? Where are the store-houses which send it forth? To what place is it hastening? How is it that it is never exhausted here, and never overflows there? All this comes from that first command; it was for the waters a signal for their course.
In all the story of the waters remember this first order, "let the waters be gathered together." To take their assigned places they were obliged to flow, and, once arrived there, to remain in their place and not to go farther. Thus in the language of Ecclesiastes, "All the waters run into the sea; yet the sea is not full." (Ecclesiastes 1:6-7) Waters flow in virtue of God's order, and the sea is enclosed in limits according to this first law, "Let the waters be gathered together unto one place." For fear the water should spread beyond its bed, and in its successive invasions cover one by one all countries, and end by flooding the whole earth, it received the order to gather unto one place. Thus we often see the furious sea raising mighty waves to the heaven, and, when once it has touched the shore, break its impetuosity in foam and retire. "Fear me not, says the Lord....which have placed the sand for the bound of the sea." (Jeremias 5:22) A grain of sand, the weakest thing possible, curbs the violence of the ocean. For what would prevent the Red Sea from invading the whole of Egypt, which lies lower, and uniting itself to the other sea which bathes its shores, were it not fettered by the fiat of the Creator? And if I say that Egypt is lower than the Red Sea, it is because experience has convinced us of it every time that an attempt has been made to join the sea of Egypt to the Indian Ocean, of which the Red Sea is a part. Thus we have renounced this enterprise, as also have the Egyptian Sesostris, who conceived the idea, and Darius the Mede who afterwards wished to carry it out.
I report this fact to make you understand the full force of the command, Let the waters be gathered unto one place; that is to say, let there be no other gathering, and, once gathered, let them not disperse.
4. To say that the waters were gathered in one place indicates that previously they were scattered in many places. The mountains, intersected by deep ravines, accumulated water in their valleys, when from every direction the waters betook themselves to the one gathering place. What vast plains, in their extent resembling wide seas, what valleys, what cavities hollowed in many different ways, at that time full of water, must have been emptied by the command of God! But we must not therefore say, that if the water covered the face of the earth, all the basins which have since received the sea were originally full. Where can the gathering of the waters have come from if the basins were already full? These basins, we reply, were only prepared at the moment when the water had to unite in a single mass. At that time the sea which is beyond Gadeira and the vast ocean, so dreaded by navigators, which surrounds the isle of Britain and western Spain, did not exist. But, all of a sudden, God created this vast space, and the mass of waters flowed in.
Now if our explanation of the creation of the world may appear contrary to experience, (because it is evident that all the waters did not flow together in one place,) many answers may be made, all obvious as soon as they are stated. Perhaps it is even ridiculous to reply to such objections. Ought they to bring forward in opposition ponds and accumulations of rain water, and think that this is enough to upset our reasonings? Evidently the chief and most complete affluence of the waters was what received the name of gathering unto one place. For wells are also gathering places for water, made by the hand of man to receive the moisture diffused in the hollow of the earth. This name of gathering does not mean any chance massing of water, but the greatest and most important one, wherein the element is shown collected together. In the same way that fire, in spite of its being divided into minute particles which are sufficient for our needs here, is spread in a mass in the æther; in the same way that air, in spite of a like minute division, has occupied the region round the earth; so also water, in spite of the small amount spread abroad everywhere, only forms one gathering together, that which separates the whole element from the rest. Without doubt the lakes as well those of the northern regions and those that are to be found in Greece, in Macedonia, in Bithynia and in Palestine, are gatherings together of waters; but here it means the greatest of all, that gathering the extent of which equals that of the earth. The first contain a great quantity of water; no one will deny this. Nevertheless no one could reasonably give them the name of seas, not even if they are like the great sea, charged with salt and sand. They instance for example, the Lacus Asphaltitis in Judæa, and the Serbonian lake which extends between Egypt and Palestine in the Arabian desert. These are lakes, and there is only one sea, as those affirm who have travelled round the earth. Although some authorities think the Hyrcanian and Caspian Seas are enclosed in their own boundaries, if we are to believe the geographers, they communicate with each other and together discharge themselves into the Great Sea. It is thus that, according to their account, the Red Sea and that beyond Gadeira only form one. Then why did God call the different masses of water seas? This is the reason; the waters flowed into one place, and their different accumulations, that is to say, the gulfs that the earth embraced in her folds, received from the Lord the name of seas: North Sea, South Sea, Eastern Sea, and Western Sea. The seas have even their own names, the Euxine, the Propontis, the Hellespont, the Ægean, the Ionian, the Sardinian, the Sicilian, the Tyrrhene, and many other names of which an exact enumeration would now be too long, and quite out of place. See why God calls the gathering together of waters seas. But let us return to the point from which the course of my argument has diverted me.
5. And God said: "Let the waters be gathered together unto one place and let the dry land appear." He did not say let the earth appear, so as not to show itself again without form, mud-like, and in combination with the water, nor yet endued with proper form and virtue. At the same time, lest we should attribute the drying of the earth to the sun, the Creator shows it to us dried before the creation of the sun. Let us follow the thought Scripture gives us. Not only the water which was covering the earth flowed off from it, but all that which had filtered into its depths withdrew in obedience to the irresistible order of the sovereign Master. And it was so. This is quite enough to show that the Creator's voice had effect: however, in several editions, there is added "And the water which was under the heavens gathered itself unto one place and the dry land was seen;" words that other interpreters have not given, and which do not appear conformable to Hebrew usage. In fact, after the assertion, "and it was so," it is superfluous to repeat exactly the same thing. In accurate copies these words are marked with an obelus, which is the sign of rejection.
"And God called the dry land earth; and the gathering together of the waters called He seas." (Genesis 1:10) Why does Scripture say above that the waters were gathered together unto one place, and that the dry earth appeared? Why does it add here the dry land appeared, and God gave it the name of earth? It is that dryness is the property which appears to characterize the nature of the subject, while the word earth is only its simple name. Just as reason is the distinctive faculty of man, and the word man serves to designate the being gifted with this faculty, so dryness is the special and peculiar quality of the earth. The element essentially dry receives therefore the name of earth, as the animal who has a neigh for a characteristic cry is called a horse. The other elements, like the earth, have received some peculiar property which distinguishes them from the rest, and makes them known for what they are. Thus water has cold for its distinguishing property; air, moisture; fire, heat. But this theory really applies only to the primitive elements of the world. The elements which contribute to the formation of bodies, and come under our senses, show us these qualities in combination, and in the whole of nature our eyes and senses can find nothing which is completely singular, simple and pure. Earth is at the same time dry and cold; water, cold and moist; air, moist and warm; fire, warm and dry. It is by the combination of their qualities that the different elements can mingle. Thanks to a common quality each of them mixes with a neighbouring element, and this natural alliance attaches it to the contrary element. For example, earth, which is at the same time dry and cold, finds in cold a relationship which unites it to water, and by the means of water unites itself to air. Water placed between the two, appears to give each a hand, and, on account of its double quality, allies itself to earth by cold and to air by moisture. Air, in its turn, takes the middle place and plays the part of a mediator between the inimical natures of water and fire, united to the first by moisture, and to the second by heat. Finally fire, of a nature at the same time warm and dry, is linked to air by warmth, and by its dryness reunites itself to the earth. And from this accord and from this mutual mixture of elements, results a circle and an harmonious choir whence each of the elements deserves its name. I have said this in order to explain why God has given to the dry land the name of earth, without however calling the earth dry. It is because dryness is not one of those qualities which the earth acquired afterwards, but one of those which constituted its essence from the beginning. Now that which causes a body to exist, is naturally antecedent to its posterior qualities and has a pre-eminence over them. It is then with reason that God chose the most ancient characteristic of the earth whereby to designate it.
6. "And God saw that it was good." (Genesis 1:10) Scripture does not merely wish to say that a pleasing aspect of the sea presented itself to God. It is not with eyes that the Creator views the beauty of His works. He contemplates them in His ineffable wisdom. A fair sight is the sea all bright in a settled calm; fair too, when, ruffled by a light breeze of wind, its surface shows tints of purple and azure — when, instead of lashing with violence the neighbouring shores, it seems to kiss them with peaceful caresses. However, it is not in this that Scripture makes God find the goodness and charm of the sea. Here it is the purpose of the work which makes the goodness.
In the first place sea water is the source of all the moisture of the earth. It filters through imperceptible conduits, as is proved by the subterranean openings and caves whither its waves penetrate; it is received in oblique and sinuous canals; then, driven out by the wind, it rises to the surface of the earth, and breaks it, having become drinkable and free from its bitterness by this long percolation. Often, moved by the same cause, it springs even from mines that it has crossed, deriving warmth from them, and rises boiling, and bursts forth of a burning heat, as may be seen in islands and on the sea coast; even inland in certain places, in the neighbourhood of rivers, to compare little things with great, almost the same phenomena occur. To what do these words tend? To prove that the earth is all undermined with invisible conduits, where the water travels everywhere underground from the sources of the sea.
7. Thus, in the eyes of God, the sea is good, because it makes the under current of moisture in the depths of the earth. It is good again, because from all sides it receives the rivers without exceeding its limits. It is good, because it is the origin and source of the waters in the air. Warmed by the rays of the sun, it escapes in vapour, is attracted into the high regions of the air, and is there cooled on account of its rising high above the refraction of the rays from the ground, and, the shade of the clouds adding to this refrigeration, it is changed into rain and fattens the earth. If people are incredulous, let them look at caldrons on the fire, which, though full of water, are often left empty because all the water is boiled and resolved into vapour. Sailors, too, boil even sea water, collecting the vapour in sponges, to quench their thirst in pressing need.
Finally the sea is good in the eyes of God, because it girdles the isles, of which it forms at the same time the rampart and the beauty, because it brings together the most distant parts of the earth, and facilitates the inter-communication of mariners. By this means it gives us the boon of general information, supplies the merchant with his wealth, and easily provides for the necessities of life, allowing the rich to export their superfluities, and blessing the poor with the supply of what they lack.
But whence do I perceive the goodness of the Ocean, as it appeared in the eyes of the Creator? If the Ocean is good and worthy of praise before God, how much more beautiful is the assembly of a Church like this, where the voices of men, of children, and of women, arise in our prayers to God mingling and resounding like the waves which beat upon the shore. This Church also enjoys a profound calm, and malicious spirits cannot trouble it with the breath of heresy. Deserve, then, the approbation of the Lord by remaining faithful to such good guidance, in our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom be glory and power for ever and ever. Amen.
A Description of the Church; The Sheep of God
The Church is "also called the flock of the sheep of Christ, of which He is the door and the shepherd."- Catechism of the Council of Trent
But he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out. And when he hath let out his own sheep, he goeth before them: and the sheep follow him, because they know his voice. John 10:2-4
I am the good shepherd; and I know mine, and mine know me. John 10:14
Why does God call us sheep?
Before you jump to the conclusion that I am saying Christians are "brainless" sheep, read this post completely.
Why does He call us SHEEP? (The Bible makes reference to sheep no less than 220 times). A few of the more notable passages that come to mind are the 23rd Psalm ( Or in your douay rheims it is Psalms 22), Isaias/ Isaiah. 53:6 and John 10.
There are many references to His People being sheep. So why not something more powerful, like a ram or horse? Why not something more graceful and valued, like a prized bird? Well, God chose to use the word sheep to identify His followers, as we are "His sheep." Our shepherd, Jesus, is leading the way, so let's look at the facts about sheep-the nature of sheep.
Sheep aren’t intelligent.
Sheep are not known to be smart or cunning animals when it comes to safety; rather, they are susceptible and tend to wander away from the protection of the shepherd. Compared to the wisdom of God, all knowing, all loving, human intelligence doesn't compare.
For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. (1 Corinthians 3:19).
People tend to wander away from God, from everything that is right and holy.
Sheep respond to the shepherd's voice.
The voice of the shepherd brings comfort and security to the sheep. Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice: and I know them, and they follow me. ” (John 10:27 ).
Sheep are Directionless - Sheep get lost easily.
Individual sheep easily wander away from the flock while they graze. When even one sheep goes astray, the shepherd goes after it and restores it to the flock. As Isaias/Isaiah 53:6 indicates, “All we like sheep have gone astray, every one hath turned aside into his own way:” If a sheep wanders off from the rest of the herd, it will have a hard, if not impossible time, finding its way back. They have no sense of direction. So it is with those outside the Lord, there is simply no sense of spiritual direction in their lives. They cannot find their way to the Lord by themselves.
Sheep are weak and need a shepherd
People are spiritually weak and need the Shepherd. In a human's unsaved, deprived mind, you will find that humans are always weak, foolish and ignorant. That is why they always need the shepherd to care for them. Sheep need someone to protect them. Ever seen a “Beware of Sheep” sign posted on someone’s gate? Have you ever seen a wide-eyed animal fleeing for its life from a bleating lamb? Never! Sheep aren’t dangerous they’re virtually defenseless. All they can do is freeze in their tracks, or at best run. Without claws, sharp teeth, speed, or a resounding roar to make predators think twice before pouncing, sheep are easy prey. They can’t scamper up a tree, camouflage their color, or even swim. When they sense danger, the poor, timid sheep panic. Jesus disciples must have shuddered with fear when He told them, “Behold I send you as sheep in the midst of wolves.” (Matt.10:16a). A sheep’s best defense is to stay close to the shepherd and remain with the herd. The same is true with us, isn’t it? When we’re out of fellowship with God and isolated from other Christians, we’re most vulnerable. We need the Shepherd’s wisdom and strength to survive, as well as the comfort and encouragement of our brothers and sisters in Christ.
Sheep become restless.
There are two major reasons why sheep become restless: hunger and bugs. Hunger: Sheep can graze peacefully for hours, but they become restless when food is scarce. Spiritual hunger occurs when the word of God is lacking. The Bible tells us that the Good Shepherd, “He hath set me in a place of pasture. He hath brought me up, on the water of refreshment:” (Psalm 22:2 Douay Rheims).
A well fed sheep will not quickly feed at a stranger's hand, but hungry sheep will eat anything. (Stay full on God’s word). Bugs: There is in the Middle East a bug that torments sheep by landing and nesting on their heads. If the bug remains undetected by the shepherd, it will multiply and eventually blind the sheep. Shepherds in the Middle East routinely rub olive oil on sheeps' heads to prevent the bug from landing on them, thereby eliminating the problem. In Scripture, the devil is called Beelzebub (the lord of the flies). In the Spirit realm, therefore, bugs are symbolic of demons. The anointing of the Holy Spirit protects us from being harassed by demons.
A Sheep is a Personal, a Prized and a Precious Possession
This sheep belonged to the shepherd, he had paid a personal price to own it and wasn't going to stand idly by while it was lost. (Illustration. The price Jesus paid for the sheep - Illustration. Calvary )
Or know you not, that your members are the temple of the Holy Ghost, who is in you, whom you have from God; and you are not your own? For you are bought with a great price. Glorify and bear God in your body. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
This sheep may have been no different from any other ordinary sheep, but it was special to the shepherd. To him, it was a prized possession. - To this shepherd, there were no big sheep and little sheep. Every sheep he had was precious in his eyes. So it is with the Lord. He loves all His sheep equally.
Sheep need plenty of water.
In the Bible regions, the shepherds had to get their sheep to water very regularly. As Christians, we need the living water of the Holy Spirit continually. We cannot go without it. John 7:38 says: "He that believeth in me, as the scripture saith, Out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water." ; In dry spells they may not go to get water. They will mob round a tree in a dry paddock or an empty water trough until they die of thirst. They need someone to lead them beside still water. People are often helpless, easily intimidated and will head away from help when it is offered. They need a shepherd to guide them.
Sheep follow the voice of their own Shepherd (no other shepherd).
The Bible says the sheep know the voice of the shepherd. They are not without understanding! They follow the One whom they know. You may never have a complete understanding of your circumstances with all the answers to the questions of life, but you will understand the love of God and the importance of following the Lord to the green pastures and living water. The shepherd is at the front of the sheep and leads the sheep. The sheep know their shepherd, the sound of his voice and follow him. This is also the way that the sheep are separated into separate herds after grazing or sleeping together. The shepherd calls the sheep and they come. They need no markings to distinguish them - all they need is the sound of the shepherd's voice.
Sheep can not get up on their own.
If they fall down (“cast down”), they must have a shepherd to lift them up or they will die. 'Cast down' sheep. . . .This is an old English shepherd's term for a sheep that has turned over on its back and cannot get up again by itself. A 'cast' sheep is a very pathetic sight. Lying on its back, its feet in the air, it flays away frantically struggling to stand up, without success.
Sheep must be sheared for its own good.
(We don’t like when “bad” things happen to us, but we must trust that it is for our own good). Whenever a shepherd finds that a sheep was cast down because it had too long and heavy a fleece, he soon took swift steps to remedy the situation. In short order he would shear it clean and so forestall the danger of having the ewe lose her life. This was not always a pleasant process. Sheep do not really enjoy being sheared and it represents some hard work for the shepherd, but it must be done. Actually when it is all over both sheep and owner are relieved. There is no longer the threat of being cast down, while for the sheep there is the pleasure of being set free from a hot, heavy coat. Often the fleece is clogged with filthy manure, mud, burrs, sticks and ticks. What a relief to be rid of it all!
Sheep must be lead to grass/just as the Holy Spirit leads us to what we need/God.
If left to themselves they will graze in the same place until all the grass is gone. A good shepherd leads them to the best places to graze to keep them healthy.
"He hath led me on the paths of justice, for his own name's sake." Psalms 22:3 Douay Rheims
Sheep remain dirty until someone cleans them.
Sheepskin is full of an oil called lanolin. Lanolin comes through the skin and coats the wool. It conditions the wool so that the animal will stay warm in cold weather, but the oily wool is one of the most effective dirt-catching devices known to man. Every time a sheep lies down, grass, dirt, burrs, dust, and everything imaginable clings to its coat. Sheep are huge walking Velcro strips. 1
And when the Son of man shall come in his majesty, and all the angels with him, then shall he sit upon the seat of his majesty. And all nations shall be gathered together before him, and he shall separate them one from another, as the shepherd separateth the sheep from the goats:Matthew 25:31-32
The sheep in this passage are the righteous and the goats are the wicked and God separates them at this general judgment. We have discussed the attributes and characteristics of sheep already, but what about the attributes and characteristics of goats?
Goats are capricious. They are impulsive and unpredictable, devious and contrary.
If they are not poking their heads through fences, they may be standing on their hind legs, stretching for those tender leaves just out of reach. Goats are never content with what they have.
They are experts in opening gates and squeezing through small gaps because they hate to be confined. Fences that will handle sheep, cattle, and horses will not hold goats. They will work tirelessly to spring themselves from any situation they deem inhibiting.
Consequently, goats are not very good followers.
"Gregarious behavior" is a term that refers to the flocking or herding instinct which is found strongly in sheep, cattle, and horses. Again, this quality is rather weak in goats; they prefer leading or going off on their own. Meat packers use this instinct in sheep and goats to their advantage. They will train an old goat, appropriately called a "Judas," to lead sheep to the pens for slaughter. A well-trained Judas will lead group after group of sheep to the slaughter all day long. 2
Goats also possess a stubborn streak.
A friend once tried to move a goat in a certain direction. He grabbed it by the horns and pushed and pulled and tugged. No matter how or in what direction he tried to move the goat, it resisted. He could not budge it one inch. Then, when he let go, it just trotted off—in the direction the goat wanted to go in!
Another friend grew up on a farm and has a long experience with goats. As a youth he and his brother and sister more or less turned some goats into pets. Once, after the big noon meal, his mother took the kids down the road to their grandfather's house. Knowing they would not be gone very long, his mother decided not to clear the table. When they returned home, though, they found the biggest of the goats standing right in the middle of the table, amidst all the dishes and leftovers. The screen door had been no match for Billy!
One night before they had electricity installed in their house, his mother picked up a lamp and went to a back bedroom. Moments later the family heard her screaming, "Someone's in there!" Grabbing his gun, his father went to confront the intruder. Instead of a burglar, he found the same goat in the bed—under the covers!—with only his eyes peering out! Goats are intelligent and playful but impulsive, unpredictable, and devious.
By now, a goat's characteristics should be clear. They are not evil, but some of their traits could be deadly—spiritually—if found in a Christian. What would we call a Christian who is unpredictable? A goat! Or one who thinks he is above it all? A goat! Or one who independently does his own thing? A goat! What would we call a Christian who wants to take over, has trouble functioning in a group, and does not want to be led? A goat!
A sheep follows its Shepherd, peacefully moving forward with the flock. He is content to be led because he has faith in Him. A sheep responds to his Shepherd's voice and goes where He directs.
A goat follows only its own lead, creating disunity when he comes in contact with others in the flock. Because of his independent nature, he often finds himself in contention with the Shepherd for leadership of the flock, leading some astray. A goat often eats things sheep would avoid because they have no value and cause sickness. 3
These are serious spiritual characteristics. The Church should identify with the sheep. My question to you is this; at the day of the General Judgment, who will you be identified with the Sheep/Church who God allows to enter into life eternal? Or the Goats/The Wicked who are cast into the Lake of Fire?
They profess that they know God: but in their works they deny him; being abominable, and incredulous, and to every good work reprobate. Titus 1:16
What Are Visible Signs Of An Angry Spirit?
Signals of an inner struggle with wrath
Anger is hard to hide. A person who struggles with unresolved anger and wrath will demonstrate a variety of behaviors that indicate his inner battle. Even though an angry person might deny having a “problem” with anger, those closest to him or her—spouse, children, and coworkers—will attest to seeing the evidences of anger in his or her behavior.
As you read the following list, consider your own life and discern if you often demonstrate a wrathful spirit.
Anger causes a person to become irritated with situations and circumstances that would not bother him otherwise.
Anger reduces tolerance for the weaknesses and limitations of others. An angry person often demands an instant response to his instructions, and he becomes upset if his instructions are not understood and applied.
- Raised Voice
Angry impatience is usually expressed by a harsh, loud voice.
- Glaring Eyes
Anger affects the facial features and empowers a penetrating glare, pronounced frown, furrowed brows, tense facial muscles, flushed complexion, prominent veins, and enlarged pupils.
- Hurtful Words
An angry heart will spew out unkind words of complaint, hatred, ridicule, and rejection.
- Explosive Actions
Anger puts extra force into simple actions like closing a door or setting something down. Haphazardly throwing things or pushing things around often indicates unresolved anger.
- Relational Breakdown
An angry person will usually close his heart to those who offend or hurt him. This rejection is demonstrated by silence, poor eye contact, or avoidance.
- Attitudes of Superiority
Wounded pride can stir up contentious anger that motivates a person to challenge the opinions, ideas, or instructions of others, especially of those in authority.
- Physical Tension
Anger causes the jaw muscles to tighten, which brings great pressure on the teeth when they come together and leads to clenching or grinding one’s teeth. Anger also causes a more rapid heartbeat, thus requiring more oxygen through heavy breathing. Anger’s release of adrenaline causes the heart to pump faster and veins to become enlarged.
Wrath and bitterness are not pleasing to God, and the presence of anger should serve as an alarm that something is wrong. Feelings of anger should lead us to respond to a situation or offense with wisdom and forgiveness, so that we do not develop an angry, vengeful spirit.
"Be angry, and sin not. Let not the sun go down upon your anger. Give not place to the devil.....And grieve not the holy Spirit of God: whereby you are sealed unto the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, and anger, and indignation, and clamour, and blasphemy, be put away from you, with all malice. And be ye kind one to another; merciful, forgiving one another, even as God hath forgiven you in Christ." (Ephesians 4:26–27, 30–32)
Church Fathers thoughts on anger
A brother asked Abba Isidore the priest, "Why are the demons so frightened of you?" The old man said to him, "Because, ever since the day I began practicing ascesis, I have striven to prevent anger from reaching my lips. (The Desert Fathers)
Do not befoul your intellect by clinging to thoughts filled with anger and sensual desire. Otherwise you will lose your capacity for pure prayer and fall victim to the demon of listlessness. (St. Maximos the Confessor,First Century on Love no.49)
For nothing is more grievous than wrath and fierce anger. This renders men both puffed up and servile, by the former making them ridiculous, by the other hateful; and bringing in opposite vices, pride and flattery, at the same time. But if we will cut off the greediness of this passion, we shall be both lowly with exactness, and exalted with safety. For in our bodies too all distempers arise from excess; and when the elements thereof leave their proper limits, and go on beyond moderation, then all these countless diseases are generated, and grievous kinds of death. Somewhat of the same kind one may see take place with respect to the soul likewise (St. John Chrysostom Homilies on the Gospel of Matthew)
My children, desire to purify your hearts from envy and from anger with each other, lest death should overcome you, and you will be counted among the murderers. For whosoever hates his brother, kills a soul. (Abba Anthony the Great.)
Pray for the Holy Father! Pray with the Holy Father!
- Your prayers are asked this month and every month for the intentions of the Holy Father, Pope Michael.
- Be sure to keep the new foundation of St. Helen Catholic Mission in your prayers. Why not go on over to the site now and see what they have to offer and how you might be able to help!
- Your prayers are asked for Frater Francis Dominic as he completes the last of his studies and preparation before his Priestly Ordination.
- Pray for those outside the Church and those who do not know God, that they may see the light of grace and be led safely home to the refuge of the Holy Catholic Church.
- As always, we also ask that you pray for yourself! Never forget your own state of soul. God is calling you to His service in His love. We know that our Lord can count on you to answer.
- We are all praying especially for you, too. May you correspond with every grace of God!
- In what other needs or intentions may we pray for you? Let us know!
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