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Sunday, August 8, 2021

Monday, August 9, 2021

 

Let Freedom Ring: Freedom from Relativism

My Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,
At a word from You the devil and his minions flee in terror.
You are the source of all truth. You are the source of all strength.
By the power of your Cross and Resurrection, we beseech You, O Lord
To extend Your saving arm and to send Your holy angels
To defend us as we do battle with Satan and his demonic forces.
Exorcise, we pray, that which oppresses Your Bride, The Church,
So that within ourselves, our families, our parishes, our dioceses, and our nation
We may turn fully back to You in all fidelity and trust.
Lord, we know if You will it, it will be done.
Give us the perseverance for this mission, we pray.
Amen

Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception...pray for us
St. Joseph...pray for us
St. Michael the Archangel...pray for us
(the patron of your parish )... pray for us
(your confirmation saint)...pray for us

 
"Freedom from Relativism" by Fr. Bill Peckman

For years, I have tried to do a class with my seventh and eighth grade religion classes on some form of critical and analytical thinking. One of the first things I teach them is the difference between subjective and objective truth. I do this because they are entering a society that is more and more hostile to the concept of objective truth.

The easiest way to tell the two apart is that objective truth is something that is true on its own merit (it does not need my opinion to prove its veracity), whereas subjective truth is something that is true by my criteria (opinion). Our society has embraced relativism as a natural outgrowth of its hostility to true faith. In fact (and I say this as a former agnostic), relativism is the grand prize of godlessness: I get to decide for myself what is good and evil, moral and immoral, and right or wrong. Relativism gives me the false pretense of being my own God. It is biting into the apple at Eden.

Relativism bases itself in our emotions being more important than our rational thinking when it comes to decision making and the pursuit of truth. Since everything is subjective, truth is what I feel it is based on my own perceived emotional needs and passions. My passions and emotions are the filters through which I define my reality. So, what happens when my reality does not line up with your reality? You must be wrong and you should align yourself with my reality. If you don't, then I will call you intolerant, and if you try to express an opinion contrary to mine, then I will shout you down. Does this sound familiar?

Our society is rife with relativism. It has long trumped faith; now it trumps science and empirical evidence. If I am a male and feel that I am not, you must accept it. If I am sexually attracted to...well...anything, you must accept it. If I believe that I should get everything for free, you must give it. Progressivism is relativistic. It is why everything: every belief, every thought, and every word, must be a reflection of itself. It is the powertrain of narcissism.

Our Church has been rocked with relativism. It shows up in the cleric who has come to his own conclusion that a teaching is antiquated (say artificial birth control), and therefore ceases to discuss it or teaches contrary to it (and also in the one who believes it but lacks the intestinal fortitude to instruct his flock). It shows up in the "I am Catholic but..." attitude that CINO (Catholic In Name Only) politicians and academics like to hide behind.  They pretend they are Catholics in good standing to get your vote or your ear. I have seen it in so called "celebrity priests" who talk a good game but allow the press to go to their heads. They start thinking they are above the teachings us ordinary folk must follow, and scandal soon ensues. I still maintain that a cleric must have a high degree of relativism to prey on their flock (or allow the predation to happen), AND still even so much as touch the Blessed Sacrament, let alone say Mass. It is the food that feeds the attitude that the purpose of the Mass is "getting something out of it."

In John 14, from the Farewell Discourse, Jesus says "I am the way, the truth, and the life" (John 14:6). When preaching on this passage, I always remind people that articles matter. Jesus doesn't use the indefinite article as in "I am a way, a truth, and a life." He uses the definite article. Jesus, His teachings, and the Gospel are not just one man's opinion or an option among other possible options. His words are not co-equal with worldly or secular wisdom. Since He alone is the Second Person of the Trinity made flesh who dwelt amongst us, His words and teachings carry a unique and singular authority. By the same notion, the Church He set up, is the caretaker and keeper of the keys to that same singular truth. Because someone else (or even our own self) has come up with an alternative, does NOT make that alternative true or co-equal with the truth that is Jesus Christ.

So, what is the antidote to such a potent poison? Humility, humility, humility! In humility we see the truth. In humility we see our own paltry attempts at truth as nothing before God. In humility we bow our heads to God's wisdom and power. In humility we see truth clearly and can act rightly and justly. Since humility doesn't consider "What's in it for me?" it gives us clarity of vision and a hunger to act in truth. It helps us see relativism for the self-serving and ultimately (and eternally) self-destructive drug it is. Humility gives us the ability to move beyond ourselves and become genuinely loving.

My brothers and sisters, we do well to cultivate humility even when such cultivation upends our lives and forces conversion. This is a good thing. We would do well to do this now before it is too late. We might be able to fool ourselves and even those around us. We might be able to bully our neighbor and shout down those who disagree with us. Be that as it may, we will not be able to defend, shout down, nor bully God into seeing our way and giving us the reward set aside for those who allowed themselves to be conformed to His image and likeness. For after saying He is the way, the truth, and the life, Jesus tells us that no one comes to the Father except through Him. We do well to listen.

 
Prayer of Reparation

My Lord and my God, we have allowed the temptation of the devil to move our hearts to not see fulfillment in Your truth. We have chased after earthly goals and trinkets as if they were more important. We have allowed self-serving and self-destructive passions to supplant obedience to You. We have expected You to be pleased with our neglect and half-heartedness. We have, at times, been a source of scandal for those searching through our sinfulness and rebellion to You. In our fear, we have allowed the ancient foe to advance. We turn to You Lord, in our sorrow and guilt, and beg Your forgiveness for our relativism. We beg for the grace of Your goodness to build up within us what You sought to build up in Your apostles in that tempest-tossed boat. We know, Lord, if You will it, it will be done. Trusting in You, we offer our prayer to You who live and reign forever and ever. Amen

 
Prayer of Exorcism

Lord God of heaven and earth, in Your power and goodness, You created all things. You set a path for us to walk on and a way to an eternal relationship. By the strength of Your arm and Word of Your mouth, cast from Your Holy Church every fearful deceit of the devil. Drive from us manifestations of the demonic that oppress us and beckon us to relativism. Still the lying tongue of the devil and his forces so that we may act freely and faithfully to Your will. Send Your holy angels to cast out all influence that the demonic entities in charge of relativism have planted in Your Church. Free us, our families, our parish, our diocese, and our country from all trickery and deceit perpetrated by the devil and his hellish legions. Trusting in Your goodness Lord, we know if You will it, it will be done, in unity with Your Son and the Holy Spirit, One God forever and ever. Amen.

 
Litany of Humility

O Jesus, meek and humble of heart,
Hear me.
From the desire of being esteemed,
Deliver me, O Jesus.
From the desire of being loved,
Deliver me, O Jesus.
From the desire of being extolled, etc.
From the desire of being honored,
From the desire of being praised,
From the desire of being preferred to others,
From the desire of being consulted,
From the desire of being approved,
From the fear of being humiliated,
From the fear of being despised,
From the fear of suffering rebukes,
From the fear of being calumniated,
From the fear of being forgotten,
From the fear of being ridiculed,
From the fear of being wronged,
From the fear of being suspected,

That others may be loved more than I,
Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be esteemed more than I,
Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That, in the opinion of the world, others may increase
and I may decrease,
Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be chosen and I set aside,
Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be praised and I go unnoticed,
Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be preferred to me in everything,
Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may become holier than I,
provided that I may become as holy as I should,
Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

 
Daily Checklist

__ Prayer for Freedom from the Devil
__ Daily reflection and prayers
__ Litany of the day
__ Pray a Rosary
__ Divine Mercy Chaplet
__ Spiritual or corporal work of mercy
__ Fast/abstain (according to level)
__ Exercise (according to level/ability)
__ Refrain from conventional media (only 1 hr. of social)
__ Examination of conscience (confession 1x this week)
 


St. Benedicta of the Cross-Islamic New Year-Book Lovers Day 

Ester, Chapter 8, Verse 17

In each and every province and in each and every city, wherever the king’s order arrived, there was merriment and joy, banqueting and feasting for the Jews. And many of the peoples of the land identified themselves as Jews, for FEAR of the Jews fell upon them.

 

So, Ester saves the Jews and now it is cool to be a Jew. So cool that in Persia there were Jewish posers. Interesting. Here we see God’s promise to those who trust that after the trial, will come rejoicing; just as after the darkness of night the sun does rise.

 

Brief Lesson[1]

 

There is no better consolation under crosses and afflictions than the thought that all the troubles of this world are not to be compared with the glory to come, and that which is at present momentary and light of our tribulation worketh for us above measure exceedingly an eternal weight of glory (n. Cor. iv. 17). And, therefore, St. Bede says: If we had to bear for a while the pains of hell, it would not appear so hard, if thereby we might merit to see Christ in His glory, and to be added to His saints.

 

Trusting in God[2]

Life is filled with many difficulties and challenges that cause us to worry. Each day we are confronted with many events that may cause us to become apprehensive. What is worry? The dictionary says that when we worry, we torment ourselves with disturbing thoughts.  According to the National Institutes of Health, one in three adults has occasional insomnia, and one in ten adults has chronic sleeplessness.  Experts are concerned about the ever-increasing consumption of sleeping pills by many Americans. The remedy for worry is for all of us to trust in God. St. Augustine once said that God is closer to us than we are to ourselves. We experience God through our life of prayer.  Prayer is conversation with God. Prayer is a continual being in love because God is real.  God is personal.   No matter what might be going on in our lives, we must always pray and pray daily.  Prayer is the air that we breathe. One of the greatest challenges that we encounter is our inability to see and to listen to God.  We can be caught up in the distractions of daily life that prevent us from really encountering God. Our busy lives require refreshing times of prayer throughout the day. God is moving us away from clinging to things, people and institutions.  He is calling us to detachment, to the desert, to the journey into the night of naked faith.  He is calling us to cling to him and only him.  This journey is difficult, frightening at times and even risky.  But those who embark upon the journey will be transformed into living witnesses of the God of love. However, without a serious spiritual life, anxiety and fear will overwhelm us. If we are a people who live truly spiritual lives, we will be filled with peace and joy no matter what may be going on around us. And this is so, because we will always be able to trust God.

 St. Teresa of Avila, the famous Spanish mystic, once wrote: "Let nothing trouble you.  Let nothing frighten you.  Everything passes.  God never changes.  Patience obtains all.  Whoever has God, wants for nothing.  God alone is enough."

St. Teresa provides us profound words of wisdom for our present times.  The staggering number of prescription drugs available for the many forms of uneasiness and tension illustrates that many of our contemporaries suffer deep inner turmoil. It is true that we are experiencing profound challenges: wars, continual threats of terrorism, problems within our Catholic Church, the rapidly accelerating unraveling of moral decency in our society, an uncertain economy and the terrible wounds caused by the dismantling of family life.  Nevertheless, challenges such as these should remind us that we must always trust in God who is always with us. Trust is rooted in faith which is a gift.  If your faith is weak, ask God to give you more faith.  To do this incorporate into your lives four practices that are so basic for anyone who wants to be a serious Catholic: contemplative prayer, daily Mass or a prolonged visit before the Blessed Sacrament, daily Rosary and the frequent use of the Sacrament of Confession.  These four things will allow you to trust God and they will provide you with the interior peace that all seek. 

What are the practical steps that we can take in order to incorporate into our busy lives a serious spiritual life?

·         First of all, we need balance in our lives. When was the last time that we enjoyed dinner with family and friends, or turned off our cell phone and refrained from checking our email at every moment? Excessive work and travel, excessive involvement in sports and entertainment are tearing us apart. 

·         Secondly, a serious spiritual life requires the capacity to be alone.  It is difficult to be alone in our contemporary society.  Even when we are alone, the noise of our own worries and fears drown out the silence of God's voice.  Many people are incapable of being alone and they immediately feel an obsession to talk with someone on a cell phone or check their email. We all need moments of solitude.  Spending a quiet time before the Eucharist, reading the Scriptures during a peaceful moment at home, taking tranquil walks through the woods or along the beach all are necessary for our soul.  In order to be with God, we must develop the ability to be alone with ourselves. 

·         Thirdly, we need order in our lives. Working out daily schedules for the entire family by setting   realistic priorities and minimizing extra-curricular activities for the children are steps that we can take.  Early to bed and early to rise is a wise principle which is still valid today.

St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross[3]

A brilliant philosopher who stopped believing in God when she was fourteen, Edith Stein was so captivated by reading the autobiography of Teresa of Avila that she began a spiritual journey that led to her Baptism in 1922. Twelve years later she imitated Teresa by becoming a Carmelite, taking the name Teresa Benedicta of the Cross. Born into a prominent Jewish family in Breslau (now Wroclaw, Poland), Edith abandoned Judaism in her teens. As a student at the University of Gottingen, she became fascinated by phenomenology, an approach to philosophy. Excelling as a protege of Edmund Husserl, one of the leading phenomenologists, Edith earned a doctorate in philosophy in 1916. She continued as a university teacher until 1922 when she moved to a Dominican school in Speyer; her appointment as lecturer at the Educational Institute of Munich ended under pressure from the Nazis. After living in the Cologne Carmel (1934-1938), she moved to the Carmelite monastery in Echt, Netherlands. The Nazis occupied that country in 1940. In retaliation for being denounced by the Dutch bishops, the Nazis arrested all Dutch Jews who had become Christians. Teresa Benedicta and her sister Rosa, also a Catholic, died in a gas chamber in Auschwitz on August 9, 1942.

Things to Do:

·         In the month of August we celebrate two martyrs of Auschwitz, St. Maximilian Kolbe and St. Teresa Benedicta. We need to pray, hard and often that our world does not return to the inhumanity to man. The acceptance of euthanasia and abortion, embryonic stem cell research, IVF, are the first steps to deciding who can live or who can die. Offer a Mass, say a rosary, offer sacrifices, etc. to end abortion and other sins against mankind. Read about Auschwitz and ponder the modern gas chambers in every state of our Union and resolve to do all that you can to end the killing.

·         Read more about Edith Stein at this site.

·         To teach the children more about this saint, discuss topics such as these at age-appropriate levels :

1.      Definition of a martyr.

2.      Discussion of the Jews as our older brothers and sisters in the Faith. In the Eucharistic Prayer I (the Roman Canon) we refer to "Abraham, our father in faith."

3.      Discussion of the call of Truth, its claim on us, despite the cost.

4.      Edith Stein's reason for taking the name "Teresa."

5.      Discussion of patron saints and what it means to our daily lives.

6.      For younger children, discuss on simpler terms ideas such as complete love of God; our daily crosses; meaning of sacrifice; and how to make small but meaningful sacrifices for God.

·         Edith Stein (St. Teresa Benedicta) was a philosopher and prolific writer. Her writings are available from ICS Publications. Of special note is her Essays on Woman.

·         Catholic Culture's library contains two writings of Edith Stein:
The Vocation of the Soul to Eternal Life, and Verses For a Pentecost Novena

·         For more about Edith Stein, see Catholic Culture's Search Engine and type "Edith Stein".

Moharram (Islamic New Year)[4]

·         Muharram (1st first month of the Islamic calendar) is the holiest month after Ramadan.  This month is most recommended by Muhammad to fast and worship in.

·         The Islamic method of dating was invented by Umar ibn Al-Khattab, a close friend of Muhammad.  He was the second Islamic Caliph (rulers) and in the year 638 he standardized the many calendars of the Arabian Peninsula.

·         The Islamic calendar is lunar cycle based and contains twelve months that make up a total of 354.36 days together.

·         There are parallels between this holiday and the day of Ashura.  Ashura commemorates what Muslims believe is Moses crossing the Red Sea to escape the oppressive Pharaoh on Ashura.  Similarly, the Islamic New Year marks Muhammad's crossing the desert between Mecca and Medina to escape the oppressive Quraish nobles.  For both observances, Muhammad recommended Muslims to fast.

·         The Islamic calendar is abbreviated A.H. or Anno Hegirae in Western languages.  The first date on the Islamic calendar, 1,1 Muharram A.H. corresponds to July 16, year 622.

Top Events and Things to Do

·         Muslim parents traditionally tell their children of Muhammad's escape from Mecca to Medina on this night.

·         Read more about Muhammad's journey from Mecca to Medina by reading his biography, The Sealed Nectar.

Book Lovers Day[5]

·         From the scent of a rare first edition book found in an old-time book collection, to a crisp, fresh book at the local supermarket, the very sight of a book can bring back memories. Reading as a child, enjoying the short stories, the long books and the ability to lose yourself in a story so powerful that at the end your asking yourself where to get the next book in the series. This is for the reader in all of us, the celebration of Book Lovers Day!

While the day’s origins may be shrouded in mystery and rumor, the books themselves are not. Started from carving on stone tablets, the book was designed to make portable the writings and drawings of those that could not carry around stone tablets. Originally it was parchment or vellum (calf skin, in case you were wondering) was bound tightly with a wooden cover. Often the wooden cover was tightly wrapped in leather to prevent the wood from getting wet and had clasps or straps to hold it shut. In the more modern age, printing capabilities made books cheaper, and easier, to print. The printing press, the typewriter, and the computer all had an effect on the market of books. But more so than most, is the upsurge in electronic devices that can be used to read on. Computers, tablets, and most cell phones now have the ability to read books, making it that much easier to carry around a small library to enjoy not matter where you are.

How to celebrate Book Lovers Day

In order to truly appreciate Book Lovers Day, one must only find a story and read it. Maybe you wish to dive into the unknown with a good mystery, or see magic in a high fantasy setting, or be enthralled in a steamy romance. The individual genre of your reading is not the big piece of this, just that you do read is. Maybe a visit to your local library is in order? After all public libraries existed even way back in the Middle Ages, but they didn’t really let many folks take books home. The librarians in those days chained books to shelves or desks in order to prevent theft of the carefully hand-written tomes. Many librarians will gladly help you find a title to read, giving a brief explanation on what it is about if they have read it, or giving it a little flip and reading about it quickly in the synopsis. But no matter your preference, if you read it at home with a cup of tea, share a book meeting with friends or go to the library and make use of the wonderful pieces on those shelves, just enjoy your reading, revel in the book and find a way to read during Book Lovers Day!

Purchase one of my books!

Daily Devotions

·         Eat waffles and Pray for the assistance of the Angels

·         Monday: Litany of Humility

·         Drops of Christ’s Blood

·         Universal Man Plan

·         Rosary



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