Fear

At the Incarnation of the Son of God, there is a natural emotion that is addressed in the Gospels: Fear, the aversion to a perceived danger.

The Archangel Gabriel appears to Zechariah and tells him, ‘Do not be afraid, for your prayer is heard, . . .’

After greeting Our Lady, Gabriel says to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.’

St. Joseph is told by the angel, ‘Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit; . . .’

Finally, the angel greets the shepherds, ‘Be not afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy . . . .’

As a natural emotion, fear is neutral, neither good nor evil.  Virtue or vice is based upon a person’s response to fear.  Mary is said to have been ‘troubled’ at the Archangel’s words and visit.  Granted, an Archangel is visiting her; honoring her with the greeting, ‘Hail, full of grace’; inviting her to be the Mother of God – though she had taken a vow of virginity.  If there were any natural emotion of fear in Our Lady, she quickly gives it to God, the Father in total trust of His Plan: ‘Let it be done unto me according to Thy Will.’

How often does fear lead me to mistrust Our Lord?  To forget that He is my merciful, loving, almighty Father?  How often does fear paralyze me from prayer, works of mercy and my daily duties according to my state in life?  The devil often uses fear to paralyze us, to discourage us and to disrupt our peace of soul.

We have seen a good bit of attention given to fear this year, haven’t we?!  Paralysis from receiving the sacraments; from interacting with our fellow man?  How many have used fear to control others; fear of being fined or closed?  How many addictions from discouragement?  How much despair?

Fear of losing God’s life and going to hell, can be a motivator to avoid evil.  And, yet, it seems pretty clear fear often focuses us on this life only.  When we forget God is my Loving Father, fear of sickness, of suffering, of death can be overwhelming.  Welcome to our world of 2020!

Rather than acquiescing to messages of fear from many in our secular world, may we turn to Our Lady and ask her this Advent for a deeper trust in her Son.  For, it is His Birth that brings the message of Truth: ‘Be not afraid.’

God bless

FRVW

Fr. Jacques Philippe on Difficulties

We hope everyone has a holy, joyful and safe Thanksgiving.  Thanksgiving, though some may argue, is a national holiday to give thanks to Almighty God!  It was established by George Washington to be on Thursday, November 26, 1789.  Lincoln, in 1863, changed the date to be the final Thursday of November.  Perhaps, a good custom would be to read the Thanksgiving Proclamations of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln.  They are completely focused on thanking God for His many gifts.

Over these many months Fr. Jacques Philippe’s writings and guidance have been encouraging.  I should be reading him everyday!  Perhaps, a recent thought from Interior Freedom would be helpful.

We also have to admit that difficulties, however hard they may be, bring not only disadvantages but also advantages.

The first advantage is that they prevent us from assuming exclusive ownership of our lives and our time.  They prevent us from shutting ourselves up inside our programs, our plans, our wisdom.  They liberate us from the prison of ourselves: our narrow-mindedness and narrowness of judgment.  “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts, says the Lord.” (Isaiah 55: 8-9)  The worst thing that could happen would be for everything to go exactly as we wanted it, for that would be the end of any growth.  To be able to enter little by little into God’s wisdom, infinitely more beautiful, richer, more fruitful, and more merciful than ours (cf. Romans 11: 33-36), our human wisdom needs a very thorough shake-up.  Not to destroy it, but to raise and purify it, and free it from its limitations.  It is always marked by a certain measure of selfishness and pride, and by lacks of faith and love.  Our narrow vision needs opening to God’s wisdom; we require an in-depth renewal.  Sin, by its nature, is narrowing: holiness is openness of spirit and greatness of soul. (pp. 50-51)

God bless FRVW

Fr. Jacques Philippe on God’s Will

(Interior Freedom)

When uncertain about God’s will, it is very important that we tell ourselves: ‘Even if there are aspects of God’s will that escape me, there are always others that I know for sure and can invest in without any risk, knowing that this investment always pays dividends.’ These certainties include fulfilling the duties of our state in life and practicing the essential points of every Christian vocation. There is a defect here that needs to be recognized and avoided: finding ourselves in darkness about God’s will on an important question . . . we spend so much time searching and doubting or getting discouraged, that we neglect things that are God’s will for us every day, like being faithful to prayer, maintaining trust in God, loving the people around us here and now. Lacking answers about the future, we should prepare to receive them by living today to the full.”

— Fr. Jacques Philippe, p. 55

Poor Souls Month

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The month of November is dedicated to the ‘Poor Souls’.  Sometimes people see Purgatory as something negative, but it is far from it.  It is a place of God’s mercy and justice that is alluded to in the Scriptures.  November is the month when, in a particular way, we remember and pray for the souls in Purgatory.  November 1st is All Saints’ Day wherein we honor those in heaven.  November 2nd is All Souls’ Day when we remember and pray for those in Purgatory.  Nov. 2 begins a month-long prayer for the souls in Purgatory.

Purgatory is a place to which souls go after death to be purified of venial sins and atone for repented mortal/serious sins. (Not to be confused with marriage as one little boy did!) (We should recall that those in hell are not sorry for mortal sins.)  Those in Purgatory will go to heaven one day.  Purgatory will cease to exist at the end of this world.  A good priest I know of often says that he will turn out the lights in Purgatory!

2 Maccabees 12 recounts the story of Judas Maccabeus praying for his fallen comrades in arms.  The book, which is the Word of God, goes on to say that it was a holy and pious thought to pray for the dead.  Now, if there is only heaven and hell, how can it be a holy and pious thought to pray for the dead?  If there is no Purgatory, it is useless to pray for anyone after they die.  It is not holy and pious, but foolish.  Why?  Those in heaven are already in heaven, no prayers add to their heavenly glory.  Those in hell have chosen hell no prayers can change their condemnation.  Therefore, there must be a place where people can go wherein prayers can help them get to heaven.  This place the Church has called Purgatory.  It should not upset us that the word itself is not in the Scriptures; the teaching is clearly there.  The understanding is similar to that of  the Trinity which is clearly taught by Jesus without mentioning the word, ‘Trinity’.  The Church created the word, ‘Trinity,’ for the truth of the Triune God.

Our Lord Himself alludes to Purgatory in Matthew 12: 32 when He speaks of sins that can be forgiven in the next life, “And whoever says a word against the Son of man will be forgiven; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.”  There is no sin in heaven and sins are not forgiven in hell.  Therefore, there must be a place where sins can be forgiven.

Our prayers can help those in Purgatory to be purified so they can attain heaven sooner than if no prayers were offered.  This is why we have Masses offered for the dead throughout the year.  It is also good to keep in mind the deepest soul in Purgatory and the one who has no one to pray for him.

God bless

FRVW

Voting 2020

In just a few weeks, Americans will again have the opportunity to elect various government officials.  Our Founding Fathers were not perfect.  That said, when they founded this Democratic Republic, they established an incredible system wherein every person would have an equal vote to elect representatives to govern the country.

As Catholics, our Faith, established by Almighty God in Jesus Christ, is our guide as how to apply moral principles so as to cast a vote which is a good action rather than a bad action.  Voting is a moral action: it is either virtuous or sinful.  Some would say the Church should stay out of politics.  True and false.  When priests in various countries have tried to run for politics, the Church has told them to choose the priesthood or politics.  That said, the Church as the Moral Teacher in the world, must address and judge policies that various candidates may espouse.  What of a society that ceases to incorporate principles of Natural Law and Christian charity?  If no one has a right to life; a right to religious liberty; a right to private property?  How long can it endure?

In 2012 Pope Benedict XVI wrote a document entitled, ‘Sacramentum Caritatis’ wherein he explained there are Three Non-Negotiables that a Catholic may never compromise:

Sanctity of Life
Sanctity of Marriage
Religious Liberty

At times people wish to confuse issues related to life as all equal.  Some may say immigration, the death penalty, abortion and euthanasia are equal.  They are not.  Abortion and euthanasia are inherently evil; they can NEVER be good or allowed.  They are the deliberate killing of an innocent human being.  As a Catholic, one may never support abortion

Marriage between a man and a woman is an absolute, objective good as God established it.  So called ‘same-sex marriage’ is inherently wrong; no child can come forth from it.  You will notice that not too long ago we were told to ‘tolerate’ others’ choices.  Do they tolerate ours now?  Will they?

Religious Liberty is an absolute that may never be compromised.  Whether to live out one’s beliefs without harassment in business or in attendance at Mass, religious liberty is innate to the human person.  There are those running for public office who would require Catholic institutions to pay for abortifacient drugs for employees.

The pre-eminent issue, of course, is abortion and the right to life upon which all other rights are built.  What is a candidate’s voting record on abortion?  Even if a candidate says he/she cares about the sanctity of human life, what has been his/her actions?  One may even say he/she is a faithful Catholic.  Has he/she supported abortion?  Facts are facts.  One can easily find the answers from faithful Catholic entities – for example, National Catholic Register.  One can also just read each party’s platform.

May we vote as Catholics this year who are faithful to Jesus Christ in all elements of our lives.

God bless

FRVW

Welcome to Holy Trinity Fr. Bork!

Welcome to Holy Trinity Father Vincent Bork!

Fr. Bork is coming to us from St. Rita Church in Alexandria. Fr. Bork was born in Evansville, Indiana, graduated from Notre Dame University and then earned a doctorate in physics from Washington University in St. Louis. He taught at Christendom College in Front Royal before entering Mount St. Mary Seminary in Emmitsburg, Maryland.

 After his ordination to the priesthood in 1995, he served as parochial vicar of St. Michael Church in Annandale as his first assignment as a priest. He has spent the last twenty-five years at many parishes all around the diocese and we are excited to welcome him to Holy Trinity as parochial vicar.

                 Please be sure to say hello and give him a warm welcome!

Revolution and Our Lady of Fatima

1917 saw one of the bloodiest revolutions in history: the Communist Revolution in Russia. That said, communism has never limited itself to Russia. When Pope Pius XI condemned communism in the 1930s, he wrote the encyclical in Latin – for the whole world (as opposed to the two encyclicals condemning Fascism in Italy and Nazism in Germany were written in Italian and German respectively).

1917 also witnessed the apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary to three poor shepherd children in Fatima, Portugal. On July 13, 1917 Our Lady showed the children Hell. She also spoke to them of the sins and offenses against her Son that had caused World War I and would possibly lead to another war if mankind did not repent of its offenses against Jesus. To avoid impending suffering, Our Lady asked the children to spread the following message (which is relevant today):

Mary said, “To prevent this I come to ask the consecration of Russia to my Immaculate Heart and the Communion of reparation on the First Saturdays. If they listen to my requests, Russia will be converted and there will be peace. If not she will scatter her errors through the world, provoking wars and persecutions of the Church. The good will be martyrized, the Holy Father will have much to suffer, various nations will be annihilated. In the end my Immaculate Heart will triumph. The Holy Father will consecrate Russia to me, and it will be converted and a certain period of peace will be granted to the world.” (The First Saturday Communion of reparation is to receive Holy Communion on the first Saturday of each month in reparation for sins committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary.)

In other apparitions Blessed Mother asked the children to pray the Rosary for the conversion of poor sinners.

Our Lady’s promise has come true as in 1984 St. John Paul II consecrated Russia to Our Lady’s Immaculate Heart. It was soon thereafter that communism in Eastern Europe fell, beginning in Poland. The Catholic Faith is free in most of the former ‘Eastern Bloc’. Communism also fell as a political party in Russia, though there are many ‘former communists’ in power. The Catholic Faith is ‘mostly free’ to operate in Russia today.

Was there bloodshed in this Revolution of Our Lady? The Fall of Communism in Eastern Europe was, for the most part, a bloodless revolution led by Our Lady

Herself through Pope St. John Paul II. It was this pope who consecrated himself to Our Lady as a 20 year old. He loved to pray the Rosary daily. He was miraculously spared by an assassin’s bullet on May 13, 1981 – the anniversary of the first apparition of Fatima. It was this saint who was ordained a priest in secret during the communist rule of Poland. He consecrated his papacy to Our Lady. He it was who led this revolution through the Rosary, his courageous teaching and courageous action.

In the midst of an attempt to a social revolution in our country to socialism and a removal of a government ‘by the people’, may we follow Our Lady’s words to pray the Rosary daily and make sacrifices for the conversion of sinners and peace! May we learn from St. John Paul II to use the weapon of Truth in action to shine on the errors of darkness that seek acceptance of immorality as well as limit our freedoms, especially our religious liberty!

God bless

FRVW

Revolution and Education

How does a revolution occur?  What is a revolution?!  Deus Vult was the rallying cry of Catholic crusaders in the 1200s.  It means God Wills It!  Re-volt then is a turning away from someone, some power, etc.

Most of us have studied in our basic high school history classes about the bloody, violent revolutions in France from 1789-1794 – 1000s and 1000s lost their lives, many of whom were priests and nuns; Or, the communists in Russia in 1917 (and following years) – millions lost their lives; Or, the communists in China in 1948 (and following years) – tens of millions lost their lives.

There are other ways to bring about revolution.  One effective way is through education – either for the truth or against the truth.  I will come back to the Truth.  Indoctrination through education is essential to any revolution.  (Hence, the need in every revolution against Truth to stop all Catholic education.)  The above revolutions would not have amounted to much, particularly the communists, if they had not indoctrinated their youth.  How?  There are a few basic agenda items:

~ Remove God and any objective moral authority (as well as those who would teach such)

~ Remove/rewrite history and the errors of history

~ Remove parents from teaching their children

~ Teach the youth a new (and false) ‘religion/way,’ ‘truth,’ and ‘life’

Can we see similar actions in our country?

~ Has God been removed from our school systems?  Is there any objective moral authority – i.e. Natural Law – taught as a basis for moral decisions?  Locally, it is the state department of education.  Fairfax County’s gender confusion education is permitted within the Va. Dept. of Education.

~ Is there a slant in teaching subjects, particularly history, against Christianity – i.e. oversight of persecutions in Mexico (1920s), Russia (1920s-1980s), Eastern Europe (1940s-1980s), China (1950s-present), care for European Jews in World War II by the Catholic Church, etc?

~ How many of our parents are given textbooks to peruse – especially regarding family life education?  In the social engineering education in Virginia, do parents have the right to opt their kids out of gender indoctrination classes?  How many parents are seen as the primary, original and irreplaceable teachers of their children – as St. John Paul II taught so clearly?

~ What are our youth being taught?  There are no absolute truths, except perhaps in math – forget science if you can now define whether you are male or female!  God is irrelevant – if He even exists.  You can decide what is the ‘truth’ for you.  You can decide how to live your life based on your definition of truth.  EXCEPT, if your Truth – Christian morality – is deemed ‘unloving’ and ‘bigoted’ by the established rulers – could be political, educational, entertainment, etc. – you are not allowed to hold these or live according to them!

If we do not recognize these shifts, we are behind the curve by about 40 years.  The non-Christian movers in education (and entertainment) have been at work for well over 40 years to bring about a social revolution.  We could add the political.  But, the political will only last if people’s beliefs and morals have been effectively changed.

Are there good Christian people in education? Yes.  But, presently their voices – if raised – are not being heard.  How crucial it is for every family to re-commit to learning, teaching and living the Truths of Jesus Christ!  He it is Who is the Way, the Truth and the Life!  He it is Who reveals to man what it is to be man!  He it is Who has promised ‘the Truth will set you free’!

More on how the Truth, Jesus Christ, has brought about true, peaceful revolutions in recent memory – and will in the future.

God bless

FRVW

Fraternal Correction Points by Fr. Herbert F. Smith, S.J.

  1. Unless you are a model correction taker, be slow to give it.
  2. Correct like a friend and fellow sinner, not like an enemy.
  3. Knowing how you resent unjust correction, never inflict it.
  4. Harping on past faults is not correction but condemnation.
  5. Know that love wins over better than an army of accusations.
  6. Get help to correct when it is needed.
  7. Frame the correction so it will heal and not wound further.
  8. Decide first whether the person needs correction or help.
  9. Correct infrequently, and only the greater failings.
  10. Correction hurts, so don’t correct with a sledgehammer.
  11. Think how prayerfully Mary would correct, and imitate her.
  12. Put yourself in the culprit’s shoes and think about it.  You may end up congratulating him for not being worse!

St Gregory the Great

September 3rd is the feast of St. Gregory the Great who was pope from 590-604. During his reign as pope, he endured a plague in Rome. In bringing about an end to the plague he processed through Rome with the image of Our Lady of Perpetual Help. At the conclusion of the procession, he saw an angel in the sky sheathing his sword. It was at this point that he – with the angel’s cooperation – composed the ‘Regina Coeli’ prayer – ‘Queen of heaven rejoice, Alleluia! For He Whom thou didst merit to bear, Alleluia! Has risen as He said, Alleluia! Pray for us to God, Alleluia! Rejoice and be glad of Virgin Mary, Alleluia! For the Lord is truly risen, Alleluia!’

The castle over which the angel appeared is called to this day, ‘Castel San Angelo.’

As we continue to live through tumultuous times it is vital that we, as Catholics, realize and use the weapons of peace and unity that God has given us. In addition to the sacraments, it is His Mother’s Intercession!

One hundred years ago Our Lady gave the Rosary to the three children of Fatima for the world to pray as a weapon for peace. When was the last time you we prayed the Rosary? When was the last time our family prayed the Rosary?

If we want peace and unity in our country, Our Lady’s Rosary is the weapon against the Divider – the Devil. Every day, can I, can my family commit to five decades of the Rosary? Twenty minutes for God and His Mother? For the good of our nation and our families?

May we follow the example of St. Gregory the Great – and so many others – who have gone to Our Lady in trouble for her protection and intercession!

God bless

FRVW