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