Saturday, May 25, 2013

The Beautiful Catholic Church

When one looks closely at the world, they find it is full of evil. Because it is evil, there must be laws. Laws in themselves are not sufficient unless there are penalties attached and are enforced. Even then, that is not sufficient. Now, there are security alarm companies. Still, evil prevails in this world. In the midst of all the evil prevalent in this world, there is a jewel, a diamond.

That jewel is the Catholic Church. It is a perfect diamond. In all aspects that the world is evil, the Catholic Church is glorious because all its doctrines are perfect. It might be said, “But look at all the controversies, the bad things that have occurred in the Church.” Yes, there are evil people in the Church, but the Church itself is perfect, a perfect jewel nonetheless. Its doctrines are still true. Even if some people are not faithful to the Church, nevertheless the Church is still faithful because its Head is faithful.

The world can try to change marriage and allow same sex marriage, but it cannot change the true marriage that the Church will uphold. Many denominations are conceding to the world, accepting world views, but the Catholic Church stands tall, shining like a diamond. The world sees the Catholic Church, sees its holiness, and hates it because it loves its evil ways. Therefore it attacks the Church at every opportunity. Sometimes it may be a frontal attack; sometimes, it just tries to chip away, attempting to get the Church’s members to pressure the Church to change its doctrines, to take away its holiness, its glorious shine.

Our Lord told a parable about a merchant finding a precious pearl, burying the precious pearl in a field, and then sells everything he has in order to buy the field. Many believe that our Lord was referring to the gospel. I will not disagree with that because the gospel is precious, but let’s turn it around.

The merchant is Jesus Christ. The perfect pearl He finds is the Catholic Church. He hides it in the world, and goes and sells everything He has—His life—in order to purchase that precious pearl, the Catholic Church.

Even before I became a Catholic, even when I believed Catholics were in gross error, doomed, there was always a sense of encouragement, security, whenever I saw a priest or nun. There was always a mysterious pull whenever I saw an old-style Catholic Church.

The first contact that I had with the Catholic Church was watching a sitcom called “The Flying Nun.” The convent, the nuns, living life completely for God, was alluring. And then, years later, the wonderful woman whom I would marry would be Catholic. Unbeknownst to me, God, working slowly, in mysterious ways, was making me part of that precious jewel.

Look at the world; look at the Catholic Church. The contrast is glaring. The Catholic Church shines gloriously while the world looks like a pigsty. The other denominations cannot shine as gloriously as the Catholic Church because they think they can have Christ and the pigsty also. Martin Luther said Christians were dung covered with snow, Christ’s righteousness. Many Baptists believe once you’ve “accepted Christ as your personal savior” you are saved and can’t lose your salvation. It invites “having your cake and eating it, too.” Yet, the Catholic Church says nay, standing gloriously tall. The glorious Church asks, “Why do you desire dung when you can have Christ, be like Christ in all His radiance?”

I read somewhere: “The Church, which is called ‘that Jerusalem which is above’ and ‘our mother,’ is described as the spotless spouse of the spotless lamb. It is she whom Christ ‘loved and for whom he delivered himself that he might sanctify her.’ It is she whom he unites to himself by an unbreakable alliance, and whom he constantly ‘nourishes and cherishes’.”

Because we are in the world, we often fail to see its ugliness. We are so used to it, it does not bother us. Holy Scripture constantly calls us to rejoice, commands us to rejoice, yet we really do not. We do not, cannot, because we don’t see the contrast. We must ask, ask, ask, and keep asking until the Holy Spirit shows us the shining Catholic Church. We must ask Our Lady, our Mother, to intercede for us, that we may truly see the holy Catholic Church. We must ask our patron saints to intercede for us. We must desire this. When we receive Christ in the Eucharist, let us receive Him, urging Him that He allows to really see the Catholic Church, that we may love Him in the same way He loves the Father. Until He gives us sight, we will not abhor sin, never die to sin. In other words, we will not keep His commandments, will not love Him as He loves the Father.

Although He gives us sight progressively, He will give us sight if we desire it. The more sight He gives us, the more we will desire, yearn for more. We begin more and more to take our eyes off the things of the world and turn them to the Catholic Church, the perfect image of Jesus Christ, the Head, and His Mother. T.T.

This theological reflection courtesy of the parishioners of St Paul Catholic Church in Pensacola, Florida:

Monday, May 13, 2013

A Special Calling

It’s the mid 1970’s and the women’s movement is gaining significant traction across the country. Ms. Randall teaches the kindergarten class at Oxhead Road Elementary School in Centereach, New York (part of Suffolk County in Long Island). Theresa Perez is a student in the class. During the week, Ms. Randall has impressed upon her students that they can accomplish anything they want in life and that no one should tell them that they can’t do anything if they set their minds to it. Although her message was for everyone in her class, she especially wanted to bring this message to the little girls. You see, some folks might describe Ms. Randall as a women’s libber.

At one point after much discussion about career opportunities, the children were asked to draw a picture of what they would want to become when they grew up. Students got busy drawing pictures of an astronaut, fire fighter, police officer, doctor, judge etc. It was a fun day and the kids rightfully felt good about what they had drawn.

That night, Theresa’s Mom, Mrs. Perez went to work in her nursing job covering the 11pm – 7am night shift. Arriving home the following day after her shift, she soon received a call from Ms. Randall. “Mrs. Perez, I need you to come in for a conference. It’s about Theresa”. This didn’t seem to be very good news so Mrs. Perez quickly went over for this meeting. She wondered what kind of problems that Theresa could be having in school.

When she arrived, Ms. Randall explained to Mrs. Perez about the message that she had conveyed to each student throughout the week, particularly the girls. And she told her of the assignment. You know, to dream big and draw a picture of what they wanted to become in life. It was then that Mrs. Randall said, “Mrs. Perez, I need you to see the picture that Theresa drew. She turned in this!”Mrs. Perez looked down and saw a picture of a young woman with a protruding stomach. Ms. Randall then said, “Mrs. Perez, I have no plans to ever have children…..but if I did, I would want YOU to take care of them. “

Ms. Randall went on to explain that she had questioned Theresa about what she had drawn. Did Theresa mean that a woman couldn’t become a judge, police officer, doctor etc.?   Theresa said, “No, I know we can do these things. It’s just that I want to be just like my Mom. She has always taken care of me and is my very best friend. “

Now almost 40 years later, Theresa is Mom to two beautiful little girls of her own.  With her husband Aaron, she lives in Raleigh, North Carolina and is employed there as a Senior Financial Analyst. Theresa’s Mom is a member of St. Paul’s parish. Among her many volunteer hours, she assists at the Alpha Center which provides free services to anyone with a problem stemming from pregnancy.

When reflecting on Motherhood as a special calling, let’s bring our thoughts and prayers to the Blessed Virgin Mary. God once called upon her to fulfill a mission that was far beyond any career that we could ever imagine. Mary became blessed among women, carried and nurtured a child named Jesus who became the Savior of all mankind. In her response to Our Lord, she was strong in protecting her child yet meek (gentle) to a baby who needed so much love and attention. Mary became the physical mother to the Messiah and the spiritual mother to us all.

For all mothers and grandmothers who have inspired us to fulfill our purpose in life which includes oneness with God, Best Wishes for a Very Happy Mother’s Day!  J.G.

This theological reflection courtesy of the parishioners of St Paul Catholic Church in Pensacola, Florida:

Sunday, May 5, 2013

I wonder what my purpose is in life.

Sometimes I wonder what my purpose is in life. Let’s face it: I am extremely insignificant. Aside from my wife and children, I am non-existent to the world. Why this body is laid down in this lifetime, the world will not mourn.

It will rush to have my name removed from everything. I will soon be forgotten by all. Even those who remember me, what good does it do, unless they are praying for my soul in purgatory? Therefore, why am I even here?

In short, there is a beautiful answer: I was created—born—because I am loved by God, that I might live and never die. Being insignificant to the world does not mean that I am insignificant to God. “For consider your call, brethren; not many of you were wise according to the flesh, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth; but God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise, God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong, God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no flesh might boast in the presence of God” (1 Cor 1.26-29).

If I were President, king of a country, governor of a State, of what benefit would it be to me? No, I shall be content being insignificant, a nobody to the world yet a child of God. There is such peace just being in the Presence of our God (if you’ve seen Me, you’ve seen the Father). Oh, that He even allows me to be in His presence without striking me dead.  T.T.