Categories
Guest Posts Offering your suffering Revelation: Public vs. Private Sacramentals

Spiritual Advice for Chicken Little

Dear Chicken Little (AKA Henny Penny, AKA All Christians today),

I know you are screaming, “The sky is falling!  The sky is falling!”  and you have good reasons to feel this way.  In today’s world all you have to do to become sad, scared and feel hopeless, is open a newspaper, even a Catholic one.  Then when you go online and see or read of other things going on, it intensifies the feeling that there’s no way to combat those feelings because the forces of evil are so potent and so intricately woven into our culture. I bet you feel like St. Peter- you take notice of the storm and the violent waves around you and you think you are sinking.

But take heart!  If you have taken any time to listen to Pope Francis’s words, you will soon learn that he is paying attention to this horrid world we live in.  His message, that of the Gospel, is that everything will be okay. If anyone is surrounded by wolves and Judases, it’s the Holy Father! He knows this–and yet look at his sweet face radiating Joy and Love as he reaches out to your heart, mine, the unevangelized, Catholics and everyone! It’s important to keep up with what’s going on, however, balance is important, too. I’m sure you pray–but our prayers ought not be ones of desperation, but praise in spite of our affliction.

So here is a little list of spiritual advice for our “Chicken Little Moments” and what I do to help me remember this and balance all the bad news:

1.  READ ABOUT THE SAINTS:  

Find good biographies of Saints (bah for dry pieces that do not inspire but read like encyclopedia write ups; or romanticized pieces that make sainthood seem like it’s for only “the chosen ones” like Luke Skywalker instead of EVERYone). The saints were every bit as broken and human as you and I.  They suffered addictions, abuse, tendencies to lust, gluttony, messed up family, etc. None of them *liked* suffering. They all had their Agony in the Garden, Dark Night of the Soul, and Passion.

2.  WATCH MOVIES THAT INSPIRE:

  • For Greater Glory & There Be Dragons–excellent movies about true events during violent revolutions where Catholics were persecuted. We’ve been here before! It will be okay! And which is harder? The long, tedious sacrifice of the white martyrdom that takes decades to kill bodies? Or the quicker, compressed pain and violence of bloody martyrdom? Either way, martyrdom is our call and the gift of courage from the Holy Spirit is needed. And faith–faith is a gift of the Holy Spirit that we MUST pray for! It will be okay!

  • The Passion of Bernadette<–one of my favorites

  • The War of the Vendee — done by homeschooled children, lovely movie and pretty great acting for kids!

3.  READ GOOD BOOKS:

  •  “The Shadow of His Wings: The True Story of Fr. Gereon Goldmann, OFM” the amazing and 100% true story about a Seminarian being forced into the Nazi army.  I recommend it to anyone who is troubled about what’s going down here in the US (because we look an awful lot like Nazi Germany in many ways here–politically speaking with our foreign policy that promotes say, Eugenics). He is spiritually attacked. He is put into the SS because of his outstanding ability, in spite of his openly resisting the Nazi philosophy. He ends up as a POW. This isn’t a flowery book of bragging, but rather a direct autobiography with some hard realities. And it’s incredible. Read it and have hope! God is in charge–even in the midst of the enemy.

  • With God in Russia” is an autobiography of a priest who survives being a POW in Russia during WWII (the Communists were guilty of more devastation than the Nazis: 60M murdered as opposed to 10M).

  • The Miracle of Father Kapaun: Priest, Soldier, and Korean War Hero” Fr. Kapaun is given the medal of honor–by THIS president? That’s a miracle in itself. He was a POW as well.

  • The Island of the World” is one of the most heart wrenching and devastating books of Hope and Faith that I’ve ever read. He’s long winded, but he’s one of THE best Catholic authors out there IMO.

4.  LISTEN TO INSPIRING HOMILIES:

  • Audio Sancto offers anonymous homilies from good orthodox priests.

  • Sensus Traditionis offers more great homilies as well as texts of talks by subject. A webpage dedicated to the defense of the orthodox Catholic faith as well as a promotion of serious academic thought in the areas of Catholic theology and philosophy.

5.  GO ON A MINI-RETREAT:

For me when I need a mini-retreat from the world,  I read a Michael O’Brien book. He’s one of my all time favorite authors. His fiction books show me how to carry my cross–in detail–with the most impossible situations for his protagonists. One of my favorites is “Island of the World.” Talk about the world coming crashing down around the main character who, as a child was in a beautiful Catholic community untouched by the influences of the West–and in a Catholic home, loses everything–violently, in just moments! This is based on true events of Fascists and Communists ravaging the former Yugoslavia (before it was even that) and what happened to the people there. The story line is fictional, but the history is true. He interviewed many people before writing this book. I wept through a good part of the book, because it was just so hard. It’s a testimony of the stoicism of people of faith who have stuck out the worst of conditions with their lives hanging in the balance.

6. LOOK TO HISTORY:  Remember history repeats itself:

  • It happened in Spain.

  • It happened in France (once the Church’s “Eldest Daughter”).

  • It happened in Mexico.

  • It happened in Cuba.

  • It happened in Russia.

  • It happened in the Balkans.

It will continue to happen. Remember the scene on LOTR where the Balrog is falling into the pit? He knows he’s lost and so he goes down thrashing and gnashing–and at the last moment whips his tail up to Gandalf to pull him down as he falls. This is Satan. He knows he’s lost and is on borrowed time. So he’s going to lie and cheat–even murder as he knows he can’t make us go to Hell, but he wants to make us think he can.  He can’t. They can kill my body, but cannot touch my soul. And if they do kill my body, for the sake of Christ–my soul is all the more glorified in His bloody Passion! For my Salvation and the Salvation of others! Deo Gratias!

7.  PRAY:  Going to Adoration and praying is really important in these hard times.  But you can also pray anywhere…and there are several important daily prayers that some Catholics have forgotten about, here’s a handy dandy list:

Lastly, take heart and trust in God because this the day and age and we have yet to have our crisis of faith here in terms of violent revolution. Good and bad. Bad that there’s fear. But good that we have so much history to take comfort from. And it’s okay to feel like St. Peter and feel yourself sinking but remember to stop looking down and look up because Jesus Christ, your Lord and Savior, is close by ready to calm the waters.

 

GUEST POST:  Written by Monica, mother to five beautiful children out in Texas!

Categories
Apologetics Faith Formation Offering your suffering Prayer Sacred Scripture Splendid Sundays

Splendid Sundays: Catholics and the Rapture

Today’s Mass Readings, with a reflection below.

Thirty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

Lectionary: 154

Reading 1           Wis 6:12-16

Resplendent and unfading is wisdom,
and she is readily perceived by those who love her,
and found by those who seek her.
She hastens to make herself known in anticipation of their desire;
Whoever watches for her at dawn shall not be disappointed,
for he shall find her sitting by his gate.
For taking thought of wisdom is the perfection of prudence,
and whoever for her sake keeps vigil
shall quickly be free from care;
because she makes her own rounds, seeking those worthy of her,
and graciously appears to them in the ways,
and meets them with all solicitude.

Responsorial Psalm      Ps 63:2, 3-4, 5-6, 7-8

R. (2b) My soul is thirsting for you, O Lord my God.
O God, you are my God whom I seek;
for you my flesh pines and my soul thirsts
like the earth, parched, lifeless and without water.
R. My soul is thirsting for you, O Lord my God.
Thus have I gazed toward you in the sanctuary
to see your power and your glory,
For your kindness is a greater good than life;
my lips shall glorify you.
R. My soul is thirsting for you, O Lord my God.
Thus will I bless you while I live;
lifting up my hands, I will call upon your name.
As with the riches of a banquet shall my soul be satisfied,
and with exultant lips my mouth shall praise you.
R. My soul is thirsting for you, O Lord my God.
I will remember you upon my couch,
and through the night-watches I will meditate on you:
You are my help,
and in the shadow of your wings I shout for joy.
R. My soul is thirsting for you, O Lord my God.

Reading 2      1 Thes 4:13-18

We do not want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters,
about those who have fallen asleep,
so that you may not grieve like the rest, who have no hope.
For if we believe that Jesus died and rose,
so too will God, through Jesus,
bring with him those who have fallen asleep.
Indeed, we tell you this, on the word of the Lord,
that we who are alive,
who are left until the coming of the Lord,
will surely not precede those who have fallen asleep.
For the Lord himself, with a word of command,
with the voice of an archangel and with the trumpet of God,
will come down from heaven,
and the dead in Christ will rise first.
Then we who are alive, who are left,
will be caught up together with them in the clouds
to meet the Lord in the air.
Thus we shall always be with the Lord.
Therefore, console one another with these words.

or 1 Thes 4:13-14

We do not want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters,
about those who have fallen asleep,
so that you may not grieve like the rest, who have no hope.
For if we believe that Jesus died and rose,
so too will God, through Jesus,
bring with him those who have fallen asleep.

Gospel           Mt 25:1-13

Jesus told his disciples this parable:
“The kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins
who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom.
Five of them were foolish and five were wise.
The foolish ones, when taking their lamps,
brought no oil with them,
but the wise brought flasks of oil with their lamps.
Since the bridegroom was long delayed,
they all became drowsy and fell asleep.
At midnight, there was a cry,
‘Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’
Then all those virgins got up and trimmed their lamps.
The foolish ones said to the wise,
‘Give us some of your oil,
for our lamps are going out.’
But the wise ones replied,
‘No, for there may not be enough for us and you.
Go instead to the merchants and buy some for yourselves.’
While they went off to buy it,
the bridegroom came
and those who were ready went into the wedding feast with him.
Then the door was locked.
Afterwards the other virgins came and said,
‘Lord, Lord, open the door for us!’
But he said in reply,
‘Amen, I say to you, I do not know you.’
Therefore, stay awake,
for you know neither the day nor the hour.”

Reflection

Assumption of the Holy Virgin, Peter Paul Rubens 1626

This has been quite a year for end of times predictions.  For some of us, this is the first time we’ve been old enough (or at least aware enough) to observe the degree to which some groups of Christians believe “the rapture” will come in our lifetime.  It may feel like a new phenomenon, however there have literally been people in every generation since Jesus’s First Coming who believed that they would be the ones to receive the honor of being assumed into Heaven before death.

Catholics believe in a “rapture” too, as it is quite clear in the Bible and in Apostolic Teaching.  Whenever Christ returns, those among “the elect” in the Church Militant will be assumed body and soul into Heaven just like the Blessed Virgin.  However, there are two places of distinction between the Catholic view of the end of times (eschatology) and the view of those Christians who devised this year’s billboards.

 

Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ on behalf of his body, which is the church…

St. Paul, Colossians 1:24

The first distinction deals with the placement of the “tribulation”; will it be before or after the “rapture”?  Scripture clearly describes a period of great suffering at the end of times.  Some Christians believe that the none of God’s faithful will have to endure the tribulation, and instead they will be raptured before hand such that only the non elect will be left behind to endure the reign of Satan.  However, Catholic theology embraces the role of redemptive suffering and does not shy away from Christians enduring great, great suffering.  We have a 2000 year history filled with saints who endured amazing persecution and martyrdom all for the Truth and the Glory of God.  We fully expect that during the tribulation we will remain here to minister to those who will fall into despair, we will remain to continue spreading the Gospel.  Thankfully, our Lord has already provided mercy for us during this time of tribulation, as Jesus consoles, “And if those days had not been shortened, no one would be saved; but for the sake of the elect they will be shortened.” (Matthew 24:22)  God clearly knows that His faithful can sustain a tribulation, but He also has recognized their limitations by shortening the time period of desolating abomination.

The second distinction between those in the imminent end of times “camp” (did you catch the joke?), is that we truly heed the words of Jesus:

* Therefore, stay awake! For you do not know on which day you Lord will come. Matt 24:42
* So too, you also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come. Matt 24:44
* But of that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son,
but the Father alone.
Matt 24:36
* Stay awake, for you know neither the day nor the hour. Matt 25:13

We are commanded to be prepared for Christ’s seconding coming as if it is is to happen in our lifetime, however, even Jesus was too humble to boast when it would be!  Now, don’t get this text wrong, it is not denying the oneness of the Trinity, it is however demonstrating the humility of Jesus’s human nature, a humility we would do well to imitate.  If even Jesus is to be so humble about when He will return, how then, if we are to follow His example, can we boast any approximation for His return?  This is exalting one’s self and knowledge above the example set by Jesus!

So, in the meantime let us be among the five virgins with oil in their lamps, ready for our Master at any time!  Let our souls thirst for our God, and let us bless Him while we live!  Let us stay awake, waiting for Wisdom at dawn, by His gate!  For whenever His coming may be, whether it be tomorrow or many generations from now, we will be basking in His glory, body and soul forever!

Disclaimer: This post was finished early and scheduled to automatically post on Sunday. The third commandment was not broken in the creation of this edition of Splendid Sundays =D.