Fr. Walter Ciszek on Total Self Abandonment

Fr. Walter Ciszek was ordained a Catholic priest in 1937.  Born in Pennsylvania to Polish immigrants, he was sent to eastern Poland as a missionary.  Just two years later, the Soviet Union invaded eastern Poland.  Fr. Ciszek followed the train of Poles into the Soviet Union.  He functioned clandestinely as a priest until his arrest in 1941.  Under torture he signed a confession that he was a Vatican spy.  He would spend five years in the infamous Lubyanka prison, mostly in isolation, as well as fifteen additional years in hard labor – shoveling coal onto ships, working in mines, etc.  He has written two books of his experiences: With God in Russia and He Leadeth Me.

In his second and spiritual-focused book, Fr. Ciszek recounts an episode with a Soviet/Communist interrogator – which would be common – during his latter four years in Lubyanka.  After signing the fake-dossier, Ciszek was expected to ‘cooperate’ with the communists.  The priest found himself afraid amidst spiritual desolation.  At one point he said the blackness and hopelessness overwhelmed him.  He could only see two possibilities: cooperation with the communists or execution.  For that one moment, the Jesuit had lost all hope and faith in God.  He had lost the sight of God.  He was ashamed.

What did he do?  He turned immediately to Our Lord Whom he had forgotten.  “I had to pray that He would never let me fail to remember Him and trust in Him.  I pleaded my helplessness to face the future without Him.  I told Him that my own abilities were now bankrupt and He was my only hope.”

Almost immediately Fr. Ciszek was bolstered by the thoughts of Our Lord’s Agony in the Garden.  Jesus said, “Not as I will, but as thou wilt.”  “It was total self-surrender, a stripping away of all human fears, of all (human) doubts about his own abilities to withstand the passion, of every last shred of self, including self doubt.”  He calls this realization a conversion to live a total self-abandonment to God’s Will.  He was left with peace and clarity in total trust of Our Lord rather than himself.  “No danger could threaten me, no fear could shake me, except the fear of losing sight of Him.  The future, hidden as it was, was hidden in His Will and therefore acceptable to me no matter what it might bring.” 

The interrogator recognized the change in him quickly.  There was no fear.  There was a peaceful strength.  When pushed to cooperation with the communists, particularly to return to Rome and act as a Soviet spy, the priest simply refused.  With the threat of execution, the priest peacefully abandoned himself to Our Lord.  “I think I smiled.  I knew then I had won.”

Fr. Ciszek was not put before a firing squad, but sent to Siberia to the labor camps.

What a lesson for you and me in our present day!

God bless
FRVW

Lent 2021

Lent has begun this past Wednesday, Ash Wednesday.  It is our spiritual trek to Good Friday and Easter.  What a tremendous season Lent is!  Have you decided on the prayer, penance and almsgiving that you will strive to perform in union with Our Lord’s grace?  Perhaps, it would be good to mention some possibilities.

Lent is a season of prayer, penance and almsgiving/works of charity.  This Lent we have a tremendous opportunity for prayer as we have Eucharistic Exposition/Adoration throughout the week, 24/7.  Perhaps, the fam can stop in for a visit each week.  Other ideas for prayer would be daily Mass, Stations of the Cross every Friday at 7pm (followed by Mass), Chaplet of Divine Mercy and the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary each day. 

As Lent is a season of penance it is most appropriate that all of us take advantage of the sacrament of Penance during this season.  We will have many times each week for Confession.  Please check the bulletin for the days and times .

A recent Spanish saint, St. Josemaria Escriva, once quipped, “Get used to saying ‘No’”.  Lent is a season to say, “No,” to our comforts and pleasures of this world; to say, “No,” to our selfishness, pride, laziness, attachment, etc.  Penance is one way of saying, “No,” to ourselves by denying particular physical senses of sight, taste/speech, touch/feeling, hearing, and smell.  Penance can also be said of denying interior senses of imagination, memory and intelligence.

Almsgiving/works of charity are the final piece to the puzzle of Lent as we prepare for the Greatest Work of Charity/Mercy: Jesus’ Passion and Death.  Through our self-denial during Lent – i.e. sweets, soda, coffee (tough one), TV, Facebook, etc. – we may be able to give to a charitable cause the money we have saved – i.e. House of Mercy.  Or, we may have time to perform little acts of love/mercy around the house or office or neighborhood.  The list is endless.  All of this goes without saying that we should ask Our Lord what He asks of us this Lent.  His grace will give us the intentions and resolve for works of charity.

May this Lent be a time for spiritual renewal for all of us.

God bless

FRVW

Abortion and Holy Communion

In just a few weeks, Joe Biden has been true to his word.

Joe Biden gave the following remarks on 1/22/21:

Today (1/22/21) marks the 48th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark ruling in Roe v. Wade.

In the past four years, reproductive health, including the right to choose, has been under relentless and extreme attack. We are deeply committed to making sure everyone has access to care – including reproductive health care – regardless of income, race, zip code, health insurance status, or immigration status.

The Biden-Harris Administration is committed to codifying Roe v. Wade and appointing judges that respect foundational precedents like Roe. We are also committed to ensuring that we work to eliminate maternal and infant health disparities, increase access to contraception, and support families economically so that all parents can raise their families with dignity. This commitment extends to our critical work on health outcomes around the world.

As the Biden-Harris Administration begins in this critical moment, now is the time to rededicate ourselves to ensuring that all individuals have access to the health care they need.

For Joe Biden and many others, ‘reproductive health care’ includes ‘the right to choose’ to kill an innocent, unborn baby.  You do not need to read any further about health care for everyone.  It is not true.  If you cannot provide health and care to a defenseless baby in the womb, how can you possibly think you are going to have people’s best interests in mind with anything else?!

Joe Biden also has written to the United Nations on 1/21/21 that the USA will rejoin the World Health Organization (WHO).   The WHO maintained that abortions were necessary during the pandemic.  (Joe Biden stated the same in an interview on April 28, 2020.)  In so doing, millions of US tax payer dollars will be given to Planned Parenthood International.

So, if the boyfriend who paid for the abortion comes to me and asks why he is separated from the Church and forbidden from receiving Holy Communion until the penalty is removed – which is the truth, but others who say they are Catholic seek to enshrine abortion in law and provide tax-payer funds for abortions receive Holy Communion, what am I to tell him?

God bless

FRVW

The Conversion of St. Paul

January 25th is the feast of the Conversion of St. Paul. St. Paul’s conversion is an event that should give us hope: no one is beyond Our Lord’s grace.

Before Paul’s conversion, he persecuted Christians. He was present for the stoning to death of St. Stephen, our first martyr. He arrested and imprisoned Catholics.

Then, something drastic and unexplainable (to the secular world) happened, Saul became a Christian and changed his name to Paul. Not just any Christian, the greatest missionary the world has ever seen! He was fearless in spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Inspired by God, Paul authored many of the books in the New Testament.

How did this conversion happen? In natural terms, it is unexplainable. It can only be understand in supernatural terms. How can a vehemently anti-Catholic become, not just a Catholic, but an incredible apologist for the Faith to the point of dying for Jesus Christ?!

We see in the Gospels how many times Our Lord heals someone because others ask him. For example, the centurion asks Jesus to heal his servant. Jesus heals the servant after the centurion’s faith and humility: “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof. But, only say the word and my servant will be healed.” Our Lord also heals the paralytic – spiritually and physically – when He saw the faith of his friends!

How many must have prayed for Saul’s conversion! How many offered their sufferings, that Saul inflicted, for his conversion? How many offered their deaths, perhaps St. Stephen, for Saul’s conversion?

What a lesson for you and me! Can we do similar? For the conversion of fellow Catholics who do not practice the Faith – and perhaps say they are ‘practicing Catholics’? For the conversion of fallen away family members? For non-Catholic Christians? For non-Christians living immoral lives and trying to impose such practices upon Christians?

Jesus says that some sins are only overcome through prayer AND fasting. Imagine if Catholics took Jesus at His word and began praying and fasting daily for the conversion of others, especially those who persecute Christians. The Devil has no defense! Can you think of one particular individual? Imagine if we all prayed and

fasted for one particular individual to practice and support the moral teachings of his Catholic Faith?! St. Paul would encourage us to do so!

God bless

FRVW

The Litany of St. Joseph

Lord, have mercy on us Christ, have mercy on us.

Lord, have mercy on us.

Jesus, hear us, Jesus, graciously hear us.

God the Father of heaven, have mercy on us.

God the Son, Redeemer of the World, have mercy on us.

God the Holy Spirit, have mercy on us.

Holy Trinity, one God, have mercy on us.

Holy Mary, pray for us.

St. Joseph, pray for us.

Renowned offspring of David, pray for us.

Light of Patriarchs, pray for us.

Spouse of the Mother of God, pray for us.

Chaste guardian of the Virgin, pray for us.

Foster father of the Son of God, pray for us.

Diligent protector of Christ, pray for us.

Head of the Holy Family, pray for us.

Joseph most just, pray for us.

Joseph most chaste, pray for us.

Joseph most prudent, pray for us.

Joseph most strong, pray for us.

Joseph most obedient, pray for us.

Joseph most faithful, pray for us.

Mirror of patience, pray for us.

Lover of poverty, pray for us.

Model of artisans, pray for us.

Glory of home life, pray for us.

Guardian of virgins, pray for us.

Pillar of families, pray for us.

Solace of the wretched, pray for us.

Hope of the sick, pray for us.

Patron of the dying, pray for us.

Terror of demons, pray for us.

Protector of Holy Church, pray for us.

Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, spare us, O Jesus.

Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, graciously hear us, O Jesus.

Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, have mercy on us, O Jesus.

He made him the lord of his household And prince over all his possessions.

Let us pray: O God, in your ineffable providence you were pleased to choose Blessed Joseph to be the spouse of your most holy Mother; grant, we beg you, that we may be worthy to have him for our intercessor in heaven whom on earth we venerate as our Protector: You who live and reign forever and ever.

Saint Joseph, pray for us.

2021, Year of St. Joseph

On December 8, 2020 Pope Francis declared this liturgical to be the year of St. Joseph.  It is an inspiration of the Holy Spirit to do so.  As we muddle through social and political struggles that carry over from Covid-2020, we are very aware of the workings of the demons.  Who is the ‘Terror of Demons’?  It is one of the titles of St. Joseph.  Joseph: the silent, poor, humble carpenter that Our Lord chose to be His foster-father and virginal spouse of Our Lady.  This strong man was the protector of the Holy Family.  He was given the title Protector of the Church by Pope Pius IX in 1870 as secular forces sought to kill the pope in Rome. 

Perhaps, every one of us can make a new year’s resolution to become more devoted to St. Joseph in 2021.  There are many prayers that invoke his powerful intercession – his litany is particularly beautiful.  St. Teresa of Avila, the great Carmelite mystic, said Joseph never failed her.  Mother (St.) Teresa of Calcutta often went to Joseph for various needs.

To get to know St. Joseph in a deeper way this year, not only are prayers important, but reading the insights of the saints can be helpful.  One book that has summarized prayers and insights of St. Joseph is by Fr. Don Calloway.  The book is entitled, Consecration To St. Joseph.  It is designed to be used within a thirty day preparation for consecration to St. Joseph.

The one human person who loved Jesus and Mary more than any other is St. Joseph.  As he protected the God-man and His Mother, Joseph will do the same for us this year.  We just need to do as he did and love Jesus and Mary daily!

God bless

FRVW

Epiphany

There is a conflict between Faith and Science!  Really?  Not from the angle of Faith, namely the Catholic Faith.  The Catholic Faith has no fear of science.  Why are people of science fearful of the Faith?  Ah, some will say they are not afraid of Faith.  Why not present the whole truth, history between Faith and Science then?!  Perhaps, it would be good for us to consider just a few points.

God is the creator of the spiritual and physical world.  As people of faith, there is no worry that science will discredit and/or contradict God’s existence and all His tenets.  Why should there be any conflict between the spiritual and physical world if they have the same Author?

If one does not admit God’s existence, how did matter that breaks down and vanishes exist?  The ‘pure’ evolutionist will say it was some sort of release of energy – call it a ‘Big Bang’ – that brought matter into existence and started evolution.  Hmmm.  There’s a problem rooted in the faith of the evolutionist.  Yes, I said ‘faith of the evolutionist.’  What caused the Big Bang if not a Being that exists outside of it and is not dependent any other power for existence?  What caused that release of energy?  Where did the initial matter come from that blew up?  It did not get there on its own!  Again, something outside of the material world had to have created it.  In both cases the evolutionist has faith, belief without seeing, because he believes in these things without proof!  Every evolutionist has faith, just a blind faith.  (We should not forget that the author of the Big Bang Theory was a Catholic priest, Fr. Georges Lemaitre.   He attempted to show that God could have created the universe using a Big Bang!)

But, the Catholic Church has been anti-science!  It silenced Galileo when he taught the truth of the solar system revolving around the sun rather than the earth.  Yes, there were some clerics who overreached their bounds with Galileo.  But, was it because of the subject of his teaching?  Let’s not forget who Galileo followed in his thought of a heliocentric solar system.  Copernicus taught the same roughly a century before Galileo.   He was not disciplined by the Catholic Church.  Actually, do you Copernicus’ full name?  Nicholas Copernicus.  Father Nicholas Copernicus was a Catholic priest!

For those of you who are Star Trek devotees, what is the name of the captain in the ‘Next Generation’ Star Trek?  Jean Picard?  Fictional?  He is not a fictional character totally.  He was a Catholic priest in the 1600s who developed the standard method for measuring the right ascension of a celestial object.  The ‘Picard’ mission, an orbiting solar observatory, was named after him.  Coincidence?

There have been thousands of faithful Catholics who have contributed to and been involved in science throughout the centuries.  It is dishonest and ignorant to claim otherwise.  Today, as we remember the Three Wise Men whose study of the stars led them to Jesus, God, may we be led to Jesus by our study of science.

God bless FRVW