Mary the Dawn

Mary the dawn, Christ the Perfect Day;
Mary the gate, Christ the Heavenly Way!
Mary the root, Christ the Mystic Vine;
Mary the grace, Christ the Sacred Wine!
Mary the wheat, Christ the Living Bread;
Mary the stem, Christ the Rose blood-red!
Mary the font, Christ the Cleansing Flood;
Mary the cup, Christ the Saving Blood!
Mary the temple, Christ the temple’s Lord;
Mary the shrine, Christ the God adored!
Mary the beacon, Christ the Haven’s Rest;
Mary the mirror, Christ the Vision Blest!
Mary the mother, Christ the mother’s Son
By all things blest while endless ages run.
Amen.

I am an adult Catholic

adult-catechism

I am an adult, committed, thinking Christian in the Roman Catholic tradition.

I am committed to Gospel living, justice, love of neighbor, and my God.

I love my Church, its history, traditions, teaching, richness, diversity, and believe it, ultimately, a force for good in the world.

I am committed to understanding, in an adult way, the issues, challenges, and problems my Church faces, and commit myself to improving the situation for her benefit.

Therefore, I believe my Church worthy of my best effort. When my brothers and sisters question why I am doing what I am doing and say they don’t understand my actions, I am happy to try and explain.

I respect ecclesial authority when that authority manifests itself in actions in harmony with Gospel values.

As an adult and aware that sin exists in the world, I am well acquainted with human failings, in myself and others, to live up to those Gospel values.

My God calls me to forgive and I do. I can recognize the distinction between justice and injustice. I can tell when injustice is rooted in institutional structures.

As a Christian, I know, because my Church teaches me so, it is my duty and obligation to resist and to try to change, with all my strength and to invoke the aid of God, those structures which result in injustice.

I cannot stand by while the weakest and most vulnerable among us are afflicted.

I seek to return my Church to its often held moral leadership in society, for the benefit of society, myself, and my neighbor.

I believe this is God’s will for me.

I am an adult Catholic.

“It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men”
-Frederick Douglas

(c) 2009, Matthew P. McCormick
All rights reserved.

Satan’s tools

There is a story about Satan selling some of his tools at a garage sale he was giving. There on tables grouped by importance were his bright, shiny but deadly trinkets.

One could find tools that made it easy to tear others down.  And for those who had big egos, there were lenses for magnifying one’s own importance, but if you looked through them the other way, you could also use the lens to belittle others.

An unusual assortment of gardening implements stood together with a guarantee to help your pride grow by leaps and bounds.  Also in prominence was the rake of scorn, the shovel of jealousy for digging a pit for your neighbor, tools of gossip and backbiting, of selfishness and apathy.

All of these were pleasing to the eye and came complete with great promises and guarantees of prosperity.  The prices, of course, were steep but a sign declared “Free Credit Extended” to all.  “Take at least one home, use it.  You don’t have to pay until later!” old Satan cried rubbing his hands in glee.

One prospective buyer was looking at all the things offered when he noticed two well-worn, non-descript tools standing in one corner.    Not being nearly as tempting as the other items, he found it curious that these two tools had price tags higher than any other.

When he asked why, Satan just laughed and said, “Well, that’s because these two are more useful to me than the others.  I can pry open and get inside a person’s heart with these when I cannot get near them with my other tools. Once I get inside, I can make people do what I choose. They are badly worn because I use them on almost everyone, since very few people know that they belong to me.”

Satan pointed to the two tools, saying, “You see, I call that one Doubt and the other Discouragement. Those will work when nothing else will.”

“I raise my eyes toward the mountains. From whence will my help come?
My help comes from the LORD, Who made heaven and earth.”  Ps 121:1-2

Love,
Matthew

Prayer to the Teenager Jesus

Jesus, you were a teenager.
You know what it’s like to struggle with identity, authority, sexuality.
You know what it’s like to want to figure it all out; what it’s like to not be sure, to live with uncertainty.
You know what it’s like to want freedom and respect.
You know what it’s like to struggle to accept responsibility.
You know what it’s like to feel and to actually be awkward and what that feels like.
You know what it’s like to be humble enough to learn from and respect Mary and Joseph.
You know what it’s like when Joseph and Mary drove You crazy, and You made them crazy, too.
You know what it’s like to work hard to make wise choices.
You know what it’s like to forgive Yourself when You don’t.
You know what it’s like to want to be liked, to be popular.
You know what it’s like to be made fun of when you’re not, because You were different.
You know what it’s like for your body to change, to suffer zits.
You know what it’s like to be embarrassed, when Your voice changes.
You know what it’s like to like someone else, and the hurt of not being liked in return.

Jesus, You know all these things.
You know where I’m coming from.
Help me to ask You to be my friend.
Help me to realize my friendship with You is very much like my friendship with any other teenager.
That it grows with the time we spend together.

Help me to find the time to get to know you better, Lord; to spend time with You and Your Word, especially in prayer.
Help me to know how to pray, and that it’s ok if sometimes I don’t.  You’re cool with it.
Help me to trust You, Lord.
Help me to be patient, Lord, with You, with myself, with my parents, my brothers and sisters, my friends, my teachers.
Keep me safe from all the dangers I see, hear about, or encounter at school, when I’m hanging out with my friends, or on the internet.
Help me to remember I probably really don’t completely understand how much my parents love me; and that they always do, even if they don’t always tell me directly, or especially when they’re mad at me or I’m mad at them.
Help me to understand it’s hard for my parents to put into words how much they love me, just like when it’s hard for me to put into words how I feel when I have strong emotions.
Help me to remember how much they and You love me when I’m at a party and everybody’s drinking.
Help me to remember how much they and You love me so I won’t drink and drive.
Help me to remember how much they and You love me so I won’t accept a ride when someone else has been; to call home instead for a ride, even if I’ll get in trouble, but that that’s way better by far, and someday I’ll understand why.
Help me to remember how much they and You love me when some kid wants to sell me or give me drugs in the locker room or behind school.
Help me to remember not everyone on the internet, especially someone I don’t know, really wants what’s best for me.
Help me to remember while having fun and sharing with my friends on the internet, that not absolutely everything about me must be posted, that a little mystery makes me more interesting and safer.
Give me the courage, Lord, to say “no” even when other people may not think that’s cool.
Help me to wonder and to choose what You think would be cool and to do that instead.
Help me to know that if we’re best friends and I choose to do what You think is cool, it really doesn’t matter what other people think
about me.  That’s what being best friends is all about.
Help me to know it’s not me setting the timing, but You, Lord.
Help me trust You, Lord, that You are Who everyone says You are, the best friend I could ever have.
Help me to be patient enough to allow that to happen.
I do believe that is Your will for me.

Amen.

(c) 2008, Matthew P. McCormick.  All rights reserved.

The Returning Master

“Gird your loins and light your lamps and be like servants who await their master’s return from a wedding, ready to open immediately when he comes and knocks.  Blessed are those servants whom the master finds vigilant on his arrival. 
Amen, I say to you, he will gird himself, have them recline at table, and proceed to wait on them.   And should he come in the second or third watch and find them prepared in this way, blessed are those servants. 
Be sure of this: if the master of the house had known the hour when the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into.  You also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.” 
Then Peter said, “Lord, is this parable meant for us or for everyone?” 
And Jesus replied, “Who, then, is the faithful and prudent steward whom the master will put in charge of his servants to distribute (the) food allowance at the proper time?  Blessed is that servant whom his master on arrival finds doing so.  Truly, I say to you, he will put him in charge of all his property. 
But if that servant says to himself, ‘My master is delayed in coming,’ and begins to beat the menservants and the maidservants, to eat and drink and get drunk, then that servant’s master will come on an unexpected day and at an unknown hour and will punish him severely and assign him a place with the unfaithful. 
That servant who knew his master’s will but did not make preparations nor act in accord with his will shall be beaten severely; and the servant who was ignorant of his master’s will, but acted in a way deserving of a severe beating shall be beaten only lightly. 
Much will be required of the person entrusted with much, and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more.” 
-Luke 12:35-48

Who is going to save our Church?

“If any man should deny the Divine origin of the Roman Church, let it be known that no mere human institution conducted with such knavish imbecility could have lasted a fortnight.”
-author Hillaire Belloc (1870-1953)
“Who is going to save our Church? Not our bishops, not our priests and religious.  It is up to you, the people. You have the minds, the eyes, the ears to save the Church.  Your mission is to see that your priests act like priests, your bishops, like bishops,  and your religious act like religious.”
-Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, before the Knights of Columbus, June 1972
“I consider all religions equal. And by equal, I mean they’re all tied for second place behind Catholicism.”
– Stephen Colbert

“Intellectual Tasks of the New Evangelization”, 9/15-17/11, Wash, DC

by JOAN FRAWLEY DESMOND, Sr Editor, National Catholic Register, 09/21/2011
WASHINGTON — Seeking to reverse a generational breakdown in the transmission of faith, the U.S. bishops have targeted a potential ally — young theologians who have just begun to teach undergraduates at Catholic universities… 
…“The Intellectual Tasks of the New Evangelization,” a symposium held here at the Washington Court Hotel, provided a forum for 54 untenured theologians from across the country to engage with Church leaders and prominent theologians, including Archbishop J. Augustine DiNoia, secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments; John Cavadini, a top theologian at the University of Notre Dame; and Janet Smith, a moral theologian at the Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit.
In a homily that introduced a note of urgency, Cardinal Wuerl suggested that theology departments and religious-studies departments address both the needs of cradle Catholics who never learned “the essentials of the faith” and the disaffection of mainstream society, for whom “the Gospel has lost its taste, its freshness, its luster.”
Sounding a theme echoed in other presentations over the weekend, Cardinal Wuerl asked the young academics — most of whom had completed their doctorates within the past five years — to embrace their professional responsibilities as a spiritual calling, embodying the teachings they transmitted.
The symposium marked a renewed focus on the New Evangelization by Church leaders throughout the world.
“Vast horizons are opening to the announcement of the Gospel, while regions of ancient Christian tradition are called to rediscover the beauty of the faith,” stated Pope Benedict XVI in a Sunday Angelus address delivered Sept. 18.
At the symposium, Archbishop DiNoia explored related themes in an often passionate address. The work of a Catholic theologian “is not simply an academic vocation. It is an ecclesial vocation,” he stated. The task at hand required an affirmation of the “doctrinal core of the Catholic faith” and a concerted effort to address the “internal and external factors” that impede the New Evangelization.
He counseled his audience not to allow academic specialization and speculative work to lead them to ignore the fullness of the Church’s teaching.
Archbishop DiNoia, a member of the Order of Preachers, observed that St. Thomas Aquinas mastered every aspect of Catholic theology and would never have divided it up into patristics, systematic theology, bioethics and other areas of specialization.
The fragmentation of theological work has resulted in the weakening of the holistic vision and power of Revelation, he said. “You have to keep asking yourself: What does this have to do with … the central doctrines of the faith?” he said. “The part you specialize in relates to the whole.”
Archbishop DiNoia touched on the sensitive topic of episcopal oversight of theology departments at Catholic universities and colleges. While acknowledging that scholars “have an instinctive allergy with regard to any censorship of thought,” he insisted that the Church had an obligation to confront theological dissent.
Internal Secularization
He noted that the need for intervention by Church authorities has increased over time: “The more theologians are no longer reliably able to affirm what the doctrine means, the more the magisterium intervenes.”
A central obstacle to the New Evangelization, he asserted, was the “internal secularization of the Church. The enemy occupies our territory.” The steady advance of secularism has fueled doubts about the intelligibility of the faith, resulting in an “apologetic apologetics.”
In contrast, Blessed Pope John Paul II “muted nothing,” the archbishop said. And Pope Benedict XVI’s public witness reflects the conviction that Catholic teaching presented in its “entirety can’t fail to attract.” 
Janet Smith, a leading moral theologian and author who has emerged as a prominent exponent of Blessed John Paul II’s theology of the body, examined how his emphasis on personalism contributed to the contemporary appeal of moral-law theology. The late Holy Father focused not only on general truths, but on challenging each person to realize that they need to live in accord with the truth.
She asked her audience to take a closer look at the late Pope’s emphasis on “lived experience.” In a world that expresses a “need for community but also an internal need for intimacy,” his message resonates with young people, leading them to reassess their relationships and learn self-mastery for the good of another person. 
Examination of Conscience
She likened her students’ encounter with Blessed John Paul II’s seminal work Love and Responsibility to an “examination of conscience.” The theology of the body “establishes that man can learn from the makeup of his own body and … that man is meant to be in a loving relationship of persons” imaging the communion of the Trinity.
Smith encouraged her audience to present the countercultural truths contained in Humanae Vitae (The Regulation of Birth) in an engaging manner that would lead students to ask themselves: “Am I speaking the truth of the body with my acts?”
While Smith mined the theological legacy of a 20th-century Pope, John Cavadini, a leading American theologian who stepped down last year as the chairman of the University of Notre Dame’s theology department, focused on the enduring insights contained in ancient texts of Catholic apologetics.
Cavadini began his presentation with a quote from Contra Celsum by Origen, the leading theologian of the early Eastern Church: “Our Savior and Lord Jesus Christ was silent when false witnesses spoke against him and answered nothing when he was accused; he was convinced that all his life and actions … were better than any speech in refutation of the false witness and superior to any words that he might say in reply to the accusations.”
Painting of an Icon
Origen’s insight provides worthy guidance for advancing the New Evangelization because it “lifts apologetics far beyond mere defensive tactics and into an offensive strategy that lays out a new vista for the theological imagination,” Cavadini suggested.
“Origen’s argumentation serves not to substitute for the peculiar power of the Gospel, but to make distinctions so that the way can be cleared for the weak Christian or the non-Christian to encounter and contemplate that power” on their own. He continued. “Origen’s apology is very aptly compared to the painting of an icon which is intended, in later Greek Christianity, to mediate an encounter with the Person of Christ.”
Cavadini asked his audience to “reread and study the great classical and medieval apologetic treatises, specifically with a mind towards discerning their apologetic strategy as a useful resource for today.” The recommended texts included: “Justin Martyr’s two Apologies, the Contra Celsum of Origen, the City of God of St. Augustine [and] the Summa Contra Gentiles of Thomas Aquinas.”
In an interview during a break in the proceedings, Cardinal Wuerl described the symposium as an opportunity for “building relationships among bishops and the theological community in an atmosphere of th
eological discussion. The New Evangelization is calling for us to take a look at how we re-propose the Gospel message to people who may feel they have already heard that message and it has nothing to say to them.”
Chad Pecknold, an assistant professor of systematic theology at The Catholic University of America and the author of Christianity and Politics: A Brief Guide to the History, published in 2010, was among the invited participants who represent a new generation of theologians who are prepared to take the New Evangelization to heart.
In the wake of the Second Vatican Council, he said, during an interview, theologians sought to dislodge the doctrinal certainties that anchored the faith of their students and “open” them up to new insights.
But today, there is no longer a “sense that the Second Vatican Council constituted a break with the past. The intellectual task of the New Evangelization is to think through the continuity of evangelization.”
Read more: http://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/young-theologians-encouraged-to-confront-the-intellectual-tasks-of-the-new-/#ixzz1Z1KEBP5L

Sola fides? Are you Saved? I’m working on it. I hope so.

philippians-2-2-word-our-your-salvation-white-copy

Phil 2:12

-by Patricia May, Arkansas Catholic, 3/26/11

“Many Catholics, especially those living in the South, have heard the question posed by Protestants. Unprepared by the Church to properly answer, they often shrug off the question or walk away.

But Catholics should not only respond, they ought to engage their questioners in discussion. That’s the position of Dr. C. Colt Anderson, dean of Washington Theological Union in Washington, D.C., and the featured speaker March 10 at St. Thomas Aquinas University Parish’s third annual theology lecture.

Originally from Georgia, Anderson said he’s faced the question. He asked the audience of mostly college students to answer, “Are you saved?” “Working on it,” responded one listener. A pretty good answer, Anderson acknowledged. Better, he said, is the response: “I hope so.”

Catholic doctrine supplies the proper foundation for response, Anderson said, and Catholics should be confident answering. “We can say we have hope, strong hope (that we’re saved), but we can’t know for sure.”

To believe one is saved is to risk a potentially dangerous smugness. “If we knew for sure (that we’re saved), it could lead to spiritual self-satisfaction … the equivalent of spiritual death,” Anderson explained. That’s because God expects us to continually grow. “We’re called to grow into being like Christ.”

He continued, “Ask yourself: Am I more faithful now than I was a year ago? Do I have more hope? Am I more loving now than I was?” Catholics must constantly be increasing in faith, hope and love, Anderson said.

“It’s not enough to think kind thoughts about hungry people. We must do something for them,” he explained.

Anderson cited references from the Council of Trent, the Catholic Church’s response to the Protestant Reformation, in his explanations. “Why don’t we make the effort to engage people about what we consider (to be) important?” He challenged listeners that, if they really believe in the possibility of eternal damnation as well as Christ’s admonition to love your neighbor, “You can’t just walk away from the question.”

To show they really care, Catholics “should try to help them.” They should explain that each person is given a gift of grace from God along with the freedom to accept it (and to love and grow in that grace), or to reject it. But, “How often do we fail to share our faith?”

And what about loving all people?

“We have to love the worst people. … We should love racists … violent people … greedy people because Christ came and loved all of us,” Anderson continued.

Just as individuals have different talents and gifts, so may the graces they receive differ, Anderson said. As an example, he noted that St. Francis of Assisi called himself the worst sinner in the world. A follower disagreed, pointing out the good Francis had done. The Italian saint demurred, saying that if the worst sinner got the grace I’ve got, he would have done a better job with it.

“Good things come from God. Sins are ours, but we don’t want to give them up,” Anderson continued.

Faith alone is not enough to save us, Anderson said. The gifts of faith, hope and love reflect the triad of the Trinity, he said, and “The Scriptures are on our side.” St. James said “Faith without works is dead.”

Asked for his thoughts on purgatory, Anderson said he doesn’t know what purgatory is, but it may be a place where “unfinished business has to be dealt with.” Sins are forgiven but there may still be lasting damage from those sins that must be addressed.

“You’re given absolution from your sins but you’ve done damage. … Some effort has to be made … Unfinished business has to be dealt with before you get into heaven,” he said.

Traditionally, Catholics have been taught to pray for the dead in purgatory — until now. “We haven’t taught this generation to pray for us,” he said.

But, Anderson said he’ll pray for people he thinks may be in purgatory. After all, “It doesn’t do any harm to pray.”

last_judgment
-Michaelangelo’s “Last Judgment”, Sistine Chapel

Love,
Matthew

Jun 22 – St Thomas More, (1477-1535 AD), Martyr, Husband & Father

Hans_Holbein,_the_Younger_-_Sir_Thomas_More_-_Google_Art_Project

-by Hans Holbein the Younger, 1527

“omnium horarum homo” -a man for all seasons, referring to his wide scholarship and knowledge

Excerpts taken from “Married Saints” by John F. Link, pp 1-3; 6-15.

“…[Thomas] More is known in literary circles as one of the best authors of the Renaissance.  He was widely known as both a poet and an author…The most famous of his works was Utopia, the literary masterpiece he wrote when he was 39 years old.  Its publication opened the doors to other literary figures of his time…More hosted mainly literary figures and educators in his home; one of the things he was known for was his talents as a host.

More was born on February 7, 1477 in London, to John and Agnes More.  His mother died when he was a child and was not an influence on him.  His father, though, was.  Like his son Thomas would become, John More was a lawyer.  He attended very closely to Thomas’ personal and professional development.  Left to his own preferences, Thomas would not have become a lawyer since his preferences in school were for theology and the other liberal arts – literature, history, and philosophy.  Like many scholars of his time, he became fluent in both Latin and Greek.  In fact, he wrote Utopia in Latin for the intelligentsia of Europe.  It was translated into English after his death.

Thomas studied at Oxford from age 14 to 16, was a pre-law student in London from 16 to 18, a law student from 18-23, and admitted to the bar at 23…More also entered politics, being elected a member of Parliament at age 27 by the merchants who were his clients.  His reputation as a lawyer grew, especially his reputation for honesty and integrity.

By the time More reached his 40’s, he had become the most successful lawyer in England.  Because of his reputation for integrity and prudent judgment, both as a lawyer and as a judge, More’s law practice grew enormously and he became quite wealthy.  More’s reported income was 400 pounds sterling per year.  A substantial amount, considering ordinary people in London of that time lived on ten pounds sterling per year.

More’s career continued to spiral upward.  At age 46 he was elected Speaker of the House of Commons. At 52, Henry VIII appointed him Lord Chancellor of England, the highest appointed office in the country.

At 58, More refused to approve Henry’s divorce from Catherine of Aragon and remarriage to Anne Boleyn, as the Lord Chancellor, chief judge and legal authority of the nation, was required to do to make the divorce legal and the remarriage possible. Thomas was forced to resign, eventually imprisoned, and on July 6, 1535 was executed for treason by beheading.

More’s last prayer was the Miserere, Psalm 51:

“Miserere mei, Deus, secundum magnam misericordiam tuam…Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy loving kindness…”

“What does it avail to know that there is a God, which you not only believe by Faith, but also know by reason: what does it avail that you know Him if you think little of Him?”
– Saint Thomas More

“Occupy your minds with good thoughts, or the enemy will fill them with bad ones. Unoccupied, they cannot be.” -St. Thomas More

“Although I know well, Margaret, that because of my past wickedness I deserve to be abandoned by God, I cannot but trust in His merciful goodness. His grace has strengthened me until now and made me content to lose goods, land, and life as well, rather than to swear against my conscience.

God’s grace has given the king a gracious frame of mind toward me, so that as yet he has taken from me nothing but my liberty. In doing this His Majesty has done me such great good with respect to spiritual profit that I trust that among all the great benefits he has heaped so abundantly upon me I count my imprisonment the very greatest. I cannot, therefore, mistrust the grace of God.

By the merits of His bitter passion joined to mine and far surpassing in merit for me all that I can suffer myself, His bounteous goodness shall release me from the pains of purgatory and shall increase my reward in heaven besides.

I will not mistrust Him, Meg, though I shall feel myself weakening and on the verge of being overcome with fear. I shall remember how Saint Peter at a blast of wind began to sink because of his lack of faith, and I shall do as he did: call upon Christ and pray to Him for help. And then I trust He shall place His holy hand on me and in the stormy seas hold me up from drowning.

And finally, Margaret, I know this well: that without my fault He will not let me be lost.

I shall, therefore, with good hope commit myself wholly to Him. And if He permits me to perish for my faults, then I shall serve as praise for His justice. But in good faith, Meg, I trust that His tender pity shall keep my poor soul safe and make me commend His mercy.

And, therefore, my own good daughter, do not let your mind be troubled over anything that shall happen to me in this world. Nothing can come but what God wills. And I am very sure that whatever that be, however bad it may seem, it shall indeed be the best. – from a letter written by Saint Thomas More from prison to his daughter Margaret

thomasmore

Prayer to St Thomas More

St Thomas More, counselor of law and statesman of integrity, merry martyr and most human of saints: Pray that, for the glory of God and in the pursuit of His justice, I may be trustworthy with confidences, keen in study, accurate in analysis, correct in conclusion, able in argument, loyal to clients, honest with all, courteous to adversaries, ever attentive to conscience. Sit with me at my desk and listen with me to my clients’ tales. Read with me in my library and stand always beside me so that today I shall not, to win a point, lose my soul.

Pray that my family may find in me what yours found in you: friendship and courage, cheerfulness and charity, diligence in duties, counsel in adversity, patience in pain—their good servant, and God’s first.

Amen.

Love,
Matthew

Summa Catechetica, "Neque enim quaero intelligere ut credam, sed credo ut intelligam." – St Anselm, "Let your religion be less of a theory, and more of a love affair." -G.K. Chesterton, "I want a laity, not arrogant, not rash in speech, not disputatious, but men and women who know their religion, who enter into it, who know just where they stand, who know what they hold and what they do not, and who know their creed so well that they can give an account of it."- Bl John Henry Newman, "Encounter, not confrontation; attraction, not promotion; dialogue, not debate." -cf Pope Francis, "To convert someone, go and take them by the hand and guide them." -St Thomas Aquinas, OP. 1 saint ruins ALL the cynicism in Hell & on Earth.