After 52 weekly columns we bid farewell to “Ask Alice” and say hello to “Religious Ed”


Click here to see all of Alice’s other columns

After one full year/52 weekly columns, we bid farewell to Alice and thank her for her faith, her wit, her knowledge, her love, as well as her tireless service to all our readers … and the whole Church.

Alice plans to keep up with her other ministries and church work, something that will hopefully be much easier now, without a looming, 5 AM, Thursday morning deadline.

We plan to keep all of Alice’s previous columns available for reference, on-site. See the “CATEGORY” drop down menu, on the right side of the main viewing window, or simply use the search box.

We wish Alice and her family the very best of all God’s blessings, supernatural abundance and peace, along with a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

Our new weekly Q&A columnist,
“Religious Ed”®
will begin his column
on Thursday, January 12, 2012.

“Ed” is a staunchly conservative Catholic, with many years of experience in both the “pre” and “post” Vatican II Church. Ed likes to remind people that, while God IS love, his wrath is also genuine, awesomely formidable and nothing to be marginalized or ignored!

Ed theorizes that many of the evils that God allows to exist in the world are actually divine chastisements, stemming from corruption in the Church and in the world, at large. 

One example: The rise of Islamic terrorism in the West closely coincided with the wide-spread, legalization/government promotion of abortion. If infants can’t be safe and secure inside their mother’s womb, why should anyone expect to experience security in their land?

Similarly, the rise of militant homosexuality closely coincided with the illicit establishment of the “Lavender Mafia” inside the Catholic Church, presently thought to encompass one-third to one-half of the hierarchy and priesthood, and wielding a particularly deviant homosexual influence over the bulk of Catholic seminaries.

In light of all this, the clerical sex abuse scandals were not only likely, but virtually guaranteed. Yet the church still refuses to enforce the established rules preventing homosexuals from applying to the priesthood, and the bishops generally do very little to reign in militantly homosexual priests and their parishes.

Maybe after another $2.6 billion in payouts, they’ll finally get the message. Not likely though, since it’s not their money!

Send Your Questions or Comments to Ed

This week’s Ask Alice: I’ve been looking into becoming Catholic. Some advice, please!



Send A Question To Alice

She’ll answer your Catholic questions
right here, every Thursday.

Email responses will also be provided, as time permits.

G.Y. writes: I’ve been looking into becoming Catholic, as I keep having a dream that Jesus himself is asking me to. I agree with the Bible but I’m scared I will be rejected by the church, due to having a bad past, having sinned, and lived in sin. Could you give me some advice?

Alice answers: How blessed you are that Jesus is calling you to become a Catholic! Treasure each dream of our Precious Lord, and don’t hesitate to answer Jesus’ loving call!

Throughout the Bible, God speaks to people in dreams. Samuel was a young boy when God awakened him at night:

“…Samuel was sleeping in in the temple of the Lord where the ark of God was. The Lord called to Samuel, who answered, ‘Here I am.” (1 Samuel 3:4)

There is no perfect time to change our lives. It’s never the ideal time to get married, have a baby, change careers, or move to another country. Similarly, there’s no perfect time to become a Catholic. When Jesus called his disciples, they were at work. They immediately stopped what they were doing, walked off their jobs, and left their careers, families and friends to follow Jesus.

“As they were walking along the Sea of Galilee he watched two brothers, Simon now known as peter, and his brother Andrew, casting a net into the sea. They were fishermen. He said to them, ‘Come after me and I will make you fishers of men.’ They immediately abandoned their nets and became his followers.” (Matthew 4:18-20)

Don’t worry about getting rejected. Ours is a church of sinners. Adam and Eve, our first parents, committed the original sin. Moses was a murderer, yet God called him. King David was an adulterer. Jesus expelled 7 demons from Mary Magdalene. Peter denied our Lord.

The Church will not reject you, since every priest is a shepherd, divinely commissioned to bring sinners (lost sheep) back to God.

“All men have sinned and are deprived
of the glory of God.”
(Romans 3:23)

Like you, everyone has fears and doubts about doing God’s will. Fear never comes from God, but from evil spirits who are busy trying to lure us away from the Lord, and His path of righteousness.

1) Pray for God’s guidance. Don’t wait or hesitate to answer God’s call.

2) Start going to Mass every week. Make an appointment to talk with a priest. Tell him you want to become Catholic. Do whatever he tells you. If he invites you to join RCIA, attend the classes. Even if you’re living “in sin” start attending classes, anyway. You don’t have to make an immediate commitment to be baptized. Jesus came to save sinners. That means you, me … and every person on earth.

3) Surrender to God. Don’t worry about how becoming a Catholic will change your life. God has the perfect solution to every problem you face. Simply surrender your heart to God, and let Him caress you with His loving care. God will give you all the grace you need to become Catholic.

Be assured that I am praying for you. Please let me know what happens on your faith journey.

In Christ’s Love,

Alice

*****

Doug Lawrence adds: One of the most practical benefits of being Catholic is to be able to confess one’s sins, in and through the great Sacrament of Reconciliation, no matter how bad they might be … and receive immediate, absolute assurance of God’s forgiveness, grace, and inestimable love.

That shouldn’t be surprising, since one of the very first things Jesus did after rising again from the dead, was to give the apostles (and their duly ordained successors) the power to forgive sins … something which had, until that moment … been reserved to God, alone:

As the Father hath sent me, I also send you. When he had said this, he breathed on them; and he said to them: Receive ye the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them (John 20:21-23)

Dreaming about Jesus calling you to become Catholic is totally biblical, since it was one of the things that was prophesied in the Old Testament of the Bible, and later confirmed by Saint Peter and others, in the New Testament scriptures.

I would definitely “go” with that!

 Click here to see all of Alice’s other columns

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

This week’s Ask Alice: Why do Catholics pray the Hail Mary prayer. Isn’t being a Christian all about life? Not death?



Send A Question To Alice

She’ll answer your Catholic questions
right here, every Thursday.

Email responses will also be provided, as time permits.

JH writes: Why do Catholics pray the Hail Mary prayer. Isn’t being a Christian all about life? Not death?

Alice responds: As Christians, we are called to live each day with our eyes fixed on Heaven, our true home. Jesus taught His disciples to live their earthly lives in preparation for Heaven..

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and decay destroy, and thieves break in and steal. But store up treasures in Heaven……For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.” (Matthew 6:20-21)

But the “Hail Mary” isn’t a prayer for death. Actually, it’s a beautiful prayer that proclaims and celebrates life! Only the final 5 words of this prayer mentions “the hour of our death.” This pro-life prayer invokes Mary’s help and intercession in the present moment of our life. Happily, the “Hail Mary” covers all bases, since, at some point, death will be the present moment of our life.

Listen to the precious words of life prayed to Our Heavenly Mother:

1) “Hail Mary, full of grace”- Mary is recognized for her purity, grace and perfect obedience to God.

2) “the Lord is with thee”- Mary has found favor with the Lord.

3) “blessed art thou among women”- Mary was specially chosen and sanctified by God to be the Mother of His only Son.

4) “blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus”- Blessed is Jesus, our Savior, who Mary carried in her womb.

5) “Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now”- We ask for Mary’s motherly intercession and help at the present moment in our life.

6) “and at the hour of our death”- Since Catholics believe that death is a homecoming, we pray for Mary’s intercession in leading us to our eternal life with God in Heaven.

How blessed we are to have our Mother Mary who dearly loves each of her children and is always ready and eager to intercede for us to our Father in Heaven.

In Christ’s Love,

Alice

Read: A True Story: The “Hail Mary” is a Powerful Prayer

 Click here to see all of Alice’s other columns

This week’s Ask Alice: Does the term “holy” rightly apply only to God, alone?



Send A Question To Alice

She’ll answer your Catholic questions
right here, every Thursday.

Email responses will also be provided, as time permits.

Mario asks: My Protestant friend does not think Mary deserves the title “holy”. He states only God is holy and only God can be considered holy. Is the Blessed Virgin Mary truly holy? Why in the Hail Mary prayer does it use the word “holy” (as in “Holy Mary, Mother of God, Pray for us sinners…”)?

Alice answers: The “Hail Mary” which Catholics pray, contains the exact words found in every Protestant, i.e., King James Bible!

“Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee:
blessed art thou among women.”
(Luke 1:28)

The archangel Gabriel’s greeting to Mary is the only time in the Bible that an angel praises a human being. In this Scripture verse, Gabriel proclaims that Mary has been perfected in grace. An angel is a messenger of God. Clearly, Gabriel proclaimed the message that Mary is holy because she was sinless. Also, Mary is holy because she carried, bore, and nurtured the Son of God.

“The power of the Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.” (Luke 1:35)

Doesn’t your Protestant friend consider saints and angels to be holy? According to the American Heritage Dictionary, the word “holy” means, “Belonging to, derived from, or associated with a divine power, sacred. Living according to a strict or highly moral religious or spiritual system; saintly: a holy man.”

The same dictionary defines “saint” as, ” a person who has died and gone to Heaven.” The definition for “blessed” is, “held in veneration, revered.”

All of the dictionary definitions, when compared, define “holy” as a title that befits the Blessed Virgin. To call Mary, the Mother of God, holy, is not only a Catholic truth, but, also, an example of correct English word usage as well!

In Christ’s Love,

Alice

*****

Doug Lawrence adds: In a Christian context, the word “holy” literally means to be permanently set apart for God’s service.

Leviticus 27:28 Any thing that is devoted to the Lord, whether it be man, or beast, or field, shall not be sold: neither may it be redeemed. Whatsoever is once consecrated shall be holy of holies to the Lord.

“Holy” also typically denotes spiritual fidelity, and a complete absence of sin.

Catholics experience holiness in Jesus Christ, through our worthy participation in the sacraments of the church, and by our active participation in the holy sacrifice of the Mass.

The Blessed Virgin Mary experienced (and continues to experience) holiness in Jesus Christ, in a much more direct manner!

Like many of her contemporaries, Mary, the Mother of God, took a vow of holy virginity in the Temple, at a very young age. Under the Mosaic Law, Mary would remain a virgin, totally devoted to God, even after a subsequent marriage.

The relevant passages can be found in Numbers, chapter 30, where the Law of Moses specifically authorizes just such a vow.

If a woman vow any thing, and bind herself by an oath, being in her father’s house, and but yet a girl in age: if her father knew the vow that she hath promised, and the oath wherewith she hath bound her soul, and held his peace, she shall be bound by the vow: Whatsoever she promised and swore, she shall fulfil in deed. (Numbers 30:3-4)

While the mere taking of such a vow would not necessarily make a person holy, God’s election of that person, for the purpose of divine maternity, most certainly would. There’s absolutely no doubt that the Blessed Virgin Mary is one of God’s “elect”.

Talk about a “personal relationship” with God!
Of all Christians, Protestants, in particular,
ought to be able to easily understand and appreciate
this aspect of Mary’s holiness!

Divine Transformation:

On Mount Sinai, Moses was (literally) transformed after spending only 40 days with God.

And he was there with the Lord forty days and forty nights: he neither ate bread nor drank water, and he wrote upon the tables the ten words of the covenant. And when Moses came down from the Mount Sinai, he held the two tables of the testimony, and he knew not that his face was luminous from the conversation of the Lord. And Aaron and the children of Israel seeing the face of Moses, were afraid to come near. And being called by him, they returned, both Aaron and the rulers of the congregation. And after that he spoke to them, And all the children of Israel came to him: and he gave them in commandment all that he had heard of the Lord on Mount Sinai. And having done speaking, he put a veil upon his face.
(Exodus 34:28-33)

For over 30 years, Mary shared her earthly dwelling place with Jesus, who is God, in the flesh. Imagine the effect the Son of God would have on his Blessed Mother, after spending more than 30 years with her?! Note that Mary also is routinely pictured, wearing a veil!

Apostolic Testimony:

The apostles and the disciples knew Mary, and they had no doubt that she was all of these things, and more … according to the power and grace of her son, Jesus, whose human body was divinely fashioned from Mary’s sinless and holy flesh.

The angel Gabriel hailed Mary as “full of grace”. To be “full” means just that … with no room at all in her soul for sin of any kind. God made her that way. He did it for himself … but mainly,
he did it for us.

Jesus Christ … “The holy that was born of thee” … was made of Mary’s own, holy flesh. While there’s no doubt that the power of God alone made that possible, the FACT remains!

The Bible tells us that nothing unholy can enter Heaven. That’s because God dwells in Heaven, with his angels and his saints, and his personal standard of holiness is infinitely high. Would the Father disrespect his son by providing for him (during his nine months in Mary’s womb) anything less than a sinless … and less than holy … human vessel, in which to dwell? Not likely!

Would Jesus accept a woman as his mother that was anything less than holy? Absolutely not! The “mission requirements” of the Messiah demanded a holy mother who would also serve as his most faithful and trusted disciple … one who could not be “turned” by the forces of evil.

For Mary, holiness was absolutely required.
God provided it, Mary willingly cooperated,
and Yahweh’s Salvation (Jesus) was born.
Case closed!

Testimony of the Scriptures:

God makes days holy:

Exodus 12:16 The first day shall be holy and solemn, and the seventh day shall be kept with the like solemnity: you shall do no work in them, except those things that belong to eating.

God makes Israel a holy nation:

Exodus 19:6 And you shall be to me a priestly kingdom, and a holy nation. These are the words thou shalt speak to the children of Israel.

God makes men holy:

Exodus 22:31 You shall be holy men to me: the flesh that beasts have tasted of before, you shall not eat, but shall cast it to the dogs.

God makes priestly vestments holy:

Exodus 28:2 And thou shalt make a holy vesture for Aaron, thy brother, for glory and for beauty.

God makes sacrificial vessels holy (bearing graven images, no less):

Exodus 28:36 Thou shalt make also a plate of the purest gold: wherein thou shalt grave with engraver’s work, Holy to the Lord.

God makes animal sacrifices and the hands of the priests who offer them, holy:

Exodus 29:33 That it may be an atoning sacrifice, and the hands of the offerers may be sanctified. A stranger shall not eat of them, because they are holy.

God makes the altar of sacrifice holy, as well as those who serve there:

Exodus 29:37 Seven days shalt thou expiate the altar and sanctify it, and it shall be most holy. Every one, that shall touch it, shall be holy.

God makes oil holy:

Exodus 30:25 And thou shalt make the holy oil of unction, an ointment compounded after the art of the perfumer,

God makes incense holy:

Exodus 30:35-36 And thou shalt make incense compounded by the work of the perfumer, well tempered together, and pure, and most worthy of sanctification. And when thou hast beaten all into very small powder, thou shalt set of it before the tabernacle of the testimony, in the place where I will appear to thee. Most holy shall this incense be unto you.

Because we are God’s children, and he is our God, he makes us holy, through our faithful observance of his laws and precepts:

Leviticus 11:44 For I am the Lord your God. Be holy because I am holy. Defile not your souls by any creeping thing, that moveth upon the earth.

Leviticus 20:7-8 Sanctify yourselves, and be ye holy: because I am the Lord your God. Keep my precepts, and do them. I am the Lord that sanctify you.

God’s name is holy, simply because it is HIS name. Wouldn’t Mary be similarly holy simply because she is HIS (Jesus’) mother?:

Leviticus 22:32-33 Profane not my holy name, that I may be sanctified in the midst of the children of Israel. I am the Lord who sanctify you: And who brought you out of the land of Egypt, that I might be your God. I am the Lord.

Leviticus 27:28 Any thing that is devoted to the Lord, whether it be man, or beast, or field, shall not be sold: neither may it be redeemed. Whatsoever is once consecrated shall be holy of holies to the Lord.

I can quote another 387 instances just like these, from the Old and New Testaments of the Bible, where God makes various people, days, and things “holy”.

When God takes something or someone to himself and deems it “holy” … who can say otherwise?

This chapter from my book might also be of interest (link)

I hope this helps!

May God richly bless you and yours,

Doug

Click here to see all of Alice’s other columns

This week’s Ask Alice: How to find a good Catholic husband (or wife)



Send A Question To Alice

She’ll answer your Catholic questions
right here, every Thursday.

Email responses will also be provided, as time permits.

SC asks: How come I can’t find any decent, good Catholic men? Help me please. God bless.

Alice answers: You don’t need to find several good, decent Catholic MEN. You only need to find ONE good, Catholic MAN!

The best way to find Mr. Right is to:
1) pray, 2) wait, and 3) love.

1) PRAY
Ask God to send you a good man to marry. You’ve heard the expression, “a match made in Heaven?” Since God initiates ALL relationships, let Him do the heavy lifting. All you need to do is keep your heart open. Sometimes, women have trouble finding Mr. Right because they’re busy seeking a man who meets all the requirements on their checklist: doctor, black hair, blue eyes, 6′ 2″, etc.

Have no expectations. Just keep your heart open wide and let God surprise you with love! Prayer worked, since God sent my Tom to me. Also, our children prayed to find their spouses. Before writing this column, I called each of them and asked.

At our older daughter’s engagement party, Mike, her fiance said he’d been praying that God would send him the right girl to marry. “And, if possible, can she be named Heather?” he asked. God perfectly answered Mike’s prayer when he married our Heather in 2003.

“Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” (Philippians 4:6)

2) WAIT
“Be still before the Lord; wait for God…. Wait eagerly for the Lord and keep to the way.” (Psalm 37:4,34)

The biggest mistake of my single years was obsessing, instead of waiting for God to send a good man for me to marry. I fell in love with each of my boyfriends then sobbed my way through mountains of tissues every time a relationship ended.

If only I had realized
that God had a man and a plan for me!

God’s time is not our time. Relax and leave the love connection to God. When you’re not looking for Mr. Right, you’ll find him.

3) LOVE
“Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.”

Love begets love. Focus daily on loving everyone: little old ladies, toddlers, neighbors, friends, relatives, coworkers. Volunteer at a food pantry, homeless shelter, or hospital. Become a catechist. Answer phone calls at a Crisis Hotline.

My friend, Lynn, met her husband, Chris, while praying in The Life Chain outside of an abortion clinic.

Help at park district programs for special needs children or adults. Volunteer at a nursing home. A 90-year-old resident might have a single grandson. Join a Bible Study group. Sing in the church choir.

Our parish liturgical musician, John, met his wife, Heidi, who sang in the choir.

You’ll meet kind, faith-filled people while doing volunteer work, since it’s kind-hearted people who give the gift of self to serve others.

Go out and socialize. Accept invitations to barbecues and parties.

Many of the best marriages are “set ups”. When your friend says, “There’s someone I’d like you to meet,” say “yes” immediately.

My college friend, Doris, introduced me to Tom. Each of our daughters met her spouse through a girlfriend.

Consider meeting a good man online. There are Catholic and Christian Singles’ websites. This summer we attended a wedding for Andrew and Lindsay, who met online. When Lindsay’s mother appeared embarrassed about her daughters’ online meeting, I assured her that my paternal grandparents, Stanley and Sophie, met through a singles’ ad in a 1913 newspaper.

SC, you’re in my prayers. Please let me know when God sends Mr. Right to you!

In Christ’s Love,

Alice

Click here to see all of Alice’s other columns

This Week’s Ask Alice: Who should Christians pray to…the Father, or Jesus?



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She’ll answer your Catholic questions
right here, every Thursday.

Email responses will also be provided, as time permits.

Aldy asks:  Who should Christians pray to…the Father, or Jesus? Why?

Alice Answers: Catholics and all Christians pray to God the Father, Jesus … God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.

Christians (followers of Christ) are Trinitarians, i.e., believers in the Blessed Trinity. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are three divine, rational “persons” who together constitute the One God of the Bible, known to Christians as the Holy Trinity.

This remains a mystery of our faith, since absolutely no human being … not the pope, cardinals, or any theologian … is capable of comprehending completely (or satisfactorily explaining) the mystery of our One, Triune God.

Scripture, tradition and personal experience teaches us to pray to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. When Catholics make the traditional sign of the cross, we address our prayers precisely that way.

During His life on earth Jesus, taught us to pray to His and our Heavenly Father. When we pray to God, our Father we, God’s children, are talking to our Dad in Heaven. God is our almighty fortress and our strength as he protects us from Satan and all earthly evils. Our loving Father provides our daily bread and all of our earthly needs. God is the giver of all gifts. He has given each of us the gift of life.

“This is how you are to pray: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread; and forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors; and do not subject us to the final test, but deliver us from the evil one.” (Matthew 6:9-10)

We pray to Jesus, God the Son, as our Divine Brother, who is also our Heavenly High Priest, and the primary mediator between us and God the Father. Because he became man and lived here on earth for some 33 years, Jesus perfectly understands all that we are feeling and suffering. The visible marks on the hands, feet, head and side of his crucified, resurrected and glorified human body remind us of this. (See John 20:27-28)

We pray to Jesus the way we talk to our brother or best friend. Most importantly, praying along with Jesus himself, the Holy Spirit, and the whole church … Catholics offer Jesus and his one time, once for all, perfect sacrifice for the sins of the world, to God the Father, every time we celebrate the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass … which is being solemnly offered up, somewhere in the world (and for the world) …
every hour of every day, every day of every week,
365 days a year.

Jesus told His disciples that he always is ready and eager to listen and help us.” “If you ask Me anything in My Name, I will do it.” (John 14:14)

We pray to the Holy Spirit for enlightenment and inspiration. When sending a get well card or letter of encouragement, we pray that the Holy Spirit will give us perfect words to write. When we are unjustly accused of wrongdoing or persecuted for practicing our faith, we pray to the Holy Spirit to give us words to speak in our defense.

“….the Spirit too comes to the aid of our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit itself intercedes with inexpressible groanings. And the one who searches hearts knows what is the intention of the Spirit, because it intercedes for the holy ones according to God’s will.” (Romans 8:26-27)

The Holy Spirit is also the official “facilitator” of every prayer … while Baptism serves to assure us of our right to a reliable and secure “connection” … so we might be absolutely certain that our prayers have truly been heard.

How blessed we are to have the Father, Son and Holy Spirit ever ready and waiting to love, assist, support and encourage us every moment of our day and night! In the Blessed Trinity, we have everything we need to live each day of our earthly journey. I can’t imagine getting through one day, or even one hour, without My awesome Father God, my loving Brother Jesus, and the inspiration and gifts of the Holy Spirit.

In Christ’s love,

Alice

*****

Doug Lawrence adds: The apparent confusion over precisely to whom we should address our prayers is the unfortunate result of the spread of limited and faulty Protestant theology, which fails to appreciate the critical reality and importance of the Sacraments … in this case, Baptism … which (among other things) serves to officially enroll us in the Church … and also makes us part of the Royal Priesthood of Believers … who, by virtue of our Baptism, have a divine right to approach God, in prayer … the Father, the Son, and/or the Holy Spirit … or approach him with and/or through other, church approved mediators … any time we like … according to the grace of Jesus Christ.

Click here to see all of Alice’s other columns

This Week’s Ask Alice: More questions about the Blessed Virgin Mary



Send A Question To Alice

She’ll answer your Catholic questions
right here, every Thursday.

Email responses will also be provided, as time permits.

Denise writes: We are doing the study of Rediscover Catholicism, by Mathew Kelly. We are discussing evangelizing. My question is, how do you explain praying to Mary, based on the Bible? My sister says we pray to her as an inter mediator to Jesus, as we would pray with a friend. My question to her was, I would not sit you down put candles in front of you, get on my knees, and pray to you. That is a sin. I can not get an answer as to who appeared to whom and on what date in history did this happen to tell us it was OK to pray to any one or thing other than the Trinity. Most of the people we mentor to are former Catholics who can not get an answer to these questions from any one. I can not seem to get an answer. Please answer this for me. (Question edited for length and editorial content.)

Alice answers: Our son, Matthew, owns an auto shop. He is an excellent, honest mechanic. My kind-hearted son often fixes cars for people in need and accepts whatever they can pay. Always, he’ll stop along the highway to assist a stranger with car trouble. With his charitable attitude, Matt is not a rich man. However, Matthew never has spent money advertising his services in the newspaper. His business has spread entirely by word of mouth.

Matthew began carrying screw drivers and wrenches to Our Lady of Peace to repair classroom desks for Mrs. Didio, his 3rd grade teacher. By age 12, strangers were knocking at our front door asking for the boy who repairs lawnmowers. As Matthew’s mom, people often approach me seeking car care from my beloved son. Frequently our phone rings as strangers request the number to Matt’s auto shop. Last week a lady ran up to me at church and exclaimed, “You have the most wonderful son! He fixes our cars all the time.” She told me that Marge, a parishioner, sent her to Matthew.

When the wine ran out during the wedding feast at Cana, waiters approached Mother Mary, who led them to her beloved Son, Jesus. If people come to me seeking Matthew, what better way is there to contact Jesus then through His and our own Dearest Mother Mary?

Have you ever brought your mother roses to honor her on YOUR birthday for giving you the gift of life? Did you ever light a scented candle when she came to visit you? Mary is our mother in faith. Like our earthly mothers, we love and honor our Heavenly Mother as well. As Catholics we believe that Mary intercedes (prays, implores, and pleads) to Jesus for us.

Our Scriptural basis for praying to Mary is found in (Luke 1:46-49):

“My soul magnifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior. For He has looked upon His handmaid’s lowliness; behold, henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.”

Mary magnifies, i.e., enlarges, increases, and clarifies the greatness of the Lord. When we pray to Mary, she points upward and leads us to her son, Jesus.

In Christ’s Love,

Alice

*****

Doug Lawrence adds: For a short but detailed overview of the how’s and why’s of Catholic Marian beliefs and practices, I suggest you read pages 107 to 117 of my on-line book, The Passion Behind the Passion. Click here to go there

If you click here you will also find a short, illustrated slide show that further explains these things.

The “bottom line” about the Blessed Virgin Mary is her “divine election” as the sinless Mother of God, the holy “Ark” who bore Jesus in her womb … the “New Eve” … who voluntarily gave her entire body and soul to God, with absolutely no reservations … for the purpose of our salvation, in Jesus Christ.

Because Mary was uniquely conceived “full of grace” according to God’s own plan, only Mary was suitable to be the Mother of God.

If that single fact is not enough to merit our respect and reverence for her, than we look further into Jewish tradition and find that the mother of the king of Israel was always tasked with being a special advocate for the people.

Unlike most other cultures, in Israel, the mother of the king is the queen. And since the traditions of the nation of Israel, under kings David and Solomon were intended to be precursors of future things, we find the angel Gabriel (in Luke 1:28) explaining all of this to Mary.

According to the Bible, Mary is/will be:

Hailed by an angel:

Has an angel …ever … before or since … ever “hailed” (greeted with praise and honor) anyone other than God himself?

Full of grace:

No one since Adam was created or conceived in a state of perfect grace.

Adam foolishly squandered his grace, falling into sin and death, through Satan’s whiles.

Mary never failed. Never sinned. She always remained holy and acceptable to God, dedicated solely and eternally to him. Her perpetual virginity is one sign of that dedication.

Mary’s awesome, God given combination of perfect humility and perfect holiness made Satan absolutely powerless against her.

Blessed among women:

Mary was singled out by God to be the Mother of Jesus Christ, to be the Queen of Heaven, and to be superior to all of God’s other creation … according to God’s supernatural grace and plan.

Because of her “election” (by God himself) and her voluntary cooperation, Mary has already been supernaturally perfected in all things. (Since she carried God in her womb for nine months and lived in the same house with him for thirty years, why should that be a surprise to anyone?)

As the mother of Jesus, who is King of Kings and Lord of Lords, Mary was destined to be seated at the right hand of her divine Son, interceding for us … not as a normal human being … but as the triumphant, sinless, supernaturally perfected, awesomely powerful advocate that she now is … courtesy of her divine son, who loves us.

Because of this, Mary already presently enjoys all that we Christians can possibly hope for in Christ. Hence, she is the ONLY non-divine, supernaturally perfect human role model for every faithful Christian, according to God’s grace.

And the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of David his father: and he shall reign in the house of Jacob for ever. And of his kingdom there shall be no end:

All of these things are permanent, eternal, and preordained by God from before the foundations of the world.

Mary is firmly in the “middle” of God’s plan for our salvation … providing her own flesh and blood in order to make Jesus’ human body … from whom our salvation comes.

Mary is at once, Jesus’ first, best, and most constant disciple. One who closely cooperates with God in all these ways truly merits the term “co-redemptrix”.

The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee and the power of the Most High shall overshadow thee:

The Spirit of God hovered above the holy Ark of old, and no one dared touch it, upon pain of death. Inside the Ark were the tablets of the Law, which unfortunately, were never able to save a single soul! Mary uniquely cooperated with God’s plan in order to bring Christ into the world. Doing so, she became the Ark of the New Covenant.

Jesus Christ, God in the flesh, true God and true man, dwelled within the Blessed Virgin Mary’s holy womb, sanctifying her by his awesome presence and his grace. Those who touched her received him. And those who received Jesus received eternal life.

Which Ark then, is holier? Which is more critical to God’s plan for our salvation? Which Ark held within it the promise of divine redemption, the forgiveness of sins, and eternal life?

Behold the handmaid of the Lord: be it done to me according to thy word:

Mary’s “fiat” (yes) still resounds throughout human history. Never before or since did God ever wait for someone to say “yes” so he could save the world from their sins.

“Everything” was “riding” on the personal decision of that young Jewish maiden, who always did precisely what God had created her to do, without fail.

Luke 2:6-11  And it came to pass that when they were there, her days were accomplished that she should be delivered.  And she brought forth her first born son and wrapped him up in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger: because there was no room for them in the inn. And there were in the same country shepherds watching and keeping the night watches over their flock.  And behold an angel of the Lord stood by them and the brightness of God shone round about them: and they feared with a great fear. And the angel said to them: Fear not; for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy that shall be to all the people: For, this day is born to you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord, in the city of David.

Can anyone else, from any generation … past, present, or future … honestly claim to have done the same?

The scriptures also provide other insights into the role of the Blessed Virgin Mary:

Faithful disciple of Jesus Christ:

John 2:5  His mother saith to the waiters: Whatsoever he (Jesus) shall say to you, do ye.

John 19:25  Now there stood by the cross of Jesus, his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalen.

Acts 2:1-3  And when the days of the Pentecost were accomplished, they were all together in one place: And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a mighty wind coming: and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them parted tongues, as it were of fire: and it sat upon every one of them.

Mary Assumed into Heaven by the power of God:

(Revelation 11:19)  And the Temple of God was opened in Heaven: and the Ark of his Testament was seen in his Temple. And there were lightnings and voices and an earthquake and great hail.

Crowned as Queen of Heaven:

(Revelation 12:1)  And a great sign appeared in Heaven: A woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars.

Mother of God. Mother of the Church:

(Revelation 12:2-5)  And being with child, she cried travailing in birth: and was in pain to be delivered.  And there was seen another sign in heaven. And behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns and on his heads seven diadems. And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven and cast them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was ready to be delivered: that, when she should be delivered, he might devour her son. And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with an iron rod. And her son was taken up to God and to his throne.

Of all these things, Saint Luke explains:

Luke 1:1-4 Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a narration of the things that have been accomplished among us, According as they have delivered them unto us, who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word:

It seemed good to me also, having diligently attained to all things from the beginning, to write to thee in order, most excellent Theophilus, That thou mayest know the verity of those words in which thou hast been instructed.

In short, St. Luke gives personal testimony to the truth of all that he recorded in his Gospel. And while the Holy Spirit is rightly credited with inspiring all of the sacred scriptures, we can be sure that the Blessed Virgin Mary described the blessed events of the Annunciation, Christmas, and all the others … to him … for the Blessed Virgin Mary was most certainly the primary eye-witness to every major New Testament event … even more so than the apostles. The Bible confirms this.

The more a person studies these things (and prays on them) the more a person comes to understand the mind of the church, the mind of God, and the unique and awesome role that God envisioned for the Blessed Virgin Mary (and for us all).

And since Jesus Christ, who is God, rightly honors his mother in ways that mere mortals can only imagine… who are we to do any less? (Always remembering that worship is reserved to God, alone.)

For much more on this, I suggest you study the extensive material to be found at this site. (click here)

I hope this helps. Please write again.

God bless you,

Doug

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This Week’s Ask Alice: Precisely how does Jesus’ death serve to reconcile mankind with God?



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*** Alice is off this week – Doug is “sitting in” ***

Skeptical Christian asks: Notwithstanding the awesome power of God or the holiness of his divine son, Jesus Christ, can someone please explain precisely by what mechanism the killing of Jesus served to reconcile fallen humanity with God? Thank you.

Doug Lawrence answers: Your question is one that is rarely explained, these days. But the answer is absolutely essential for a proper understanding of the basis of the Judeo-Christian faith tradition, and especially, Catholic Christianity.

On the most basic level, Jesus Christ’s perfect sacrifice was a divine “do-over”.

Adam, the first man, miserably failed. Having failed, all his natural offspring (without exception) would be consigned to his fate … eternal slavery to Satan, sin, and death … unless and until God personally intervened, to remedy the situation.

But many ask, “Why was it necessary for God to redeem man? Couldn’t God have simply decided to forgive and forget?”

There’s simply no way a just and loving God could go along with such an evil compromise. Besides, with Satan, the “Prince of this world” … totally opposed to God … still in charge on earth … forgiving and forgetting would accomplish absolutely nothing.

Satan would first have to go. 

While Satan’s dominion was all encompassing, it was not without limits. That limit was defined by sin.

Satan held the virtually unrestricted power of death over every sinner. But regarding one with no sin, Satan had absolutely no power at all. 

Jesus Christ, the Son of God, in his divine humanity, was sinless and totally immune to the powers of hell. Satan had no right to harm the sinless Christ, in any way.

So, the moment Satan and his minions .. the Pagan Romans and the corrupt Jewish Pharisees … put Jesus to death … Satan’s dominion was crushed, everything he gained from Adam’s fall was forfeit, and his (official) power over mankind was at an end.

Once Satan was out of the way, God’s plan for the reconciliation of mankind would proceed, without further delay.

The resurrected Christ … the New Adam … would be crowned the new head of all mankind … King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

Satan would have to rely only on stealth and lies for any power he might still have.

Anyone willing to swear allegiance to Jesus Christ would be able to obtain true freedom, along with grace, peace, and forgiveness, from God … typically through baptism, and a lifetime of faithful participation in all the work, worship, sacraments and devotions of the Catholic Church.

For much more on this rather complicated subject, click here.

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This Week’s Ask Alice: Why don’t we hear more preaching at Mass about the evils of birth control and abortion?



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Rob K. asks: Why is it our clerics (bishops, priests, deacons) are so soft on birth control and ultimately, abortion?

We hardly ever, especially at weekend masses, hear any mention of the evils of birth control and abortion. Sitting in attendance are millions of Catholic women using artificial birth control, many with their spouses approval, and possibly even teen age children using contraception. Almost without exception, they all march up to receive the body and blood of Jesus.

Does the pastor or priest believe all these women are not participating in the evil of birth control? How can the continued silence on this matter be justified?

(Rob goes on to mention the lack of modest dress, along with other problems.)

Who and/or what is responsible for all this?

Alice Answers: You’ve raised 3 separate questions, which frequently are asked by other Catholics.

1) Your first question concerns priests’ homilies. Many parish priests preach eloquent, prolife homilies on a regular basis. If your priest does not, consider these suggestions. Please pray for your priest(s). After Sunday Mass shake his hand and say, “Thank you for preaching a good homily, Father. I was wondering if you could give a homily about the sacredness of life, chastity or the sanctity of marriage?” (Mention only ONE of these topics). You must be respectful and polite. No priest wants to feel that he is being commanded or manipulated into preaching about a particular issue.

2) Receiving the Body and Blood of Christ is an intimate experience between the Communicant and Jesus. We are not called by God to be Communion Cops. Only God can judge the heart. Many years ago my dear friend, Fr. Dan Cambra, M.I.C., Assistant Rector at the Shrine of Divine Mercy in Stockbridge said, “Of all the people who come to receive Holy Communion on a given Sunday there probably are some who haven’t gone to Confession in 20 years, others who don’t believe in the Real Presence, divorced Catholics remarried outside the Church, parents committing child abuse, a non-Catholic attending Mass, and someone who has stolen money from a corporate employer. There is neither a Sin Detector nor screening process available to weed out people who are in a state of mortal sin. However, if Communion was given only to people who had gone to Confession right before Mass, there still would be no one, not even me, who is worthy to receive the Body and Blood of Christ.”

Before receiving Communion we pray, “Oh Lord, I am not worthy to receive You, but only say the word and I shall be healed.”

And St. Paul reminds us, “All men have sinned and are deprived of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23)

3) Your third question addresses the Dress Code at Mass. Should the ushers tell everyone who is not well-dressed to get out of church? Would it be better for Catholic churches to have 10 pews filled with perfectly attired parishioners or 40 pews filled with worshipers wearing a variety of clothing?

On August 31, my husband and I attended the funeral of Robert Gowyrlowf, who died at age 74, after a four year battle with cancer. A parishioner at Holy Name Cathedral in Chicago for 38 years, Robert lived alone. He arranged altar flowers and served as an usher and greeter at Holy Name Masses. Called “The Cookie Man,” Robert baked and brought cookies to sick and disabled patients at the Jesse Brown Veterans’ Hospital in Chicago. As his age and illness progressed Robert’s attire wouldn’t have earned a spot on any Best-Dressed List.

In June we were attending devotions with Robert, when a member of the Rosary group approached me and asked, “Who is that man and why is he dressed that way?” Later, another member of the Rosary group approached my husband and made unkind comments about Robert’s clothing to him as well.

Robert’s funeral Mass was concelebrated by three priests and a deacon. Present were mourners in wheelchairs whom Robert had visited at Jesse Brown Hospital, homeless people who sold “Streetwise” newspapers near the church, and teens clad in grocery store uniforms whose boss had excused them from work to pay their last respects to Robert. More than 80 people filled the Cathedral to attend Mass for the kind-hearted, little man with the unusual wardrobe.

Military Chaplain Fr. Christopher Myers’ eulogy brought tears to many eyes when he said,

“Few people knew that Robert had always wanted to be a priest. The reason he never went to the seminary is because he felt he was unworthy. How wrong he was. No one is worthy to be ordained a priest, only Jesus. Robert was a good man, a holy man. I know because I’ve heard his Confessions. When Robert confessed his small sins, all I could think of was my own sinfulness.”

Who should receive Holy Communion? What is the perfect dress code for every parish? Although we can’t dictate what worshipers wear to Mass, we can make certain that we are on God’s Best Dressed List.

“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another. And over all these put on love, that is, the bond of perfection.” (Colossians 3:12-13)

Finally, please pray each day for our priests. Theirs is one of the loneliest, most difficult vocations on Earth. Every priest is called to be another Jesus in a sinful world. Do you want holy, faithful, kind-hearted priests serving at your parish? Then pray each day for your priest(s) by name. Every priest needs our prayers, love, support, and encouragement!

In Christ’s love,

Alice

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This Week’s Ask Alice: Newborn Babies and Original Sin



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T.S. writes: Why do some Christians claim that a newborn baby has sinned while other Christians claim that a newborn baby is without sin?

Alice responds: Neither Catholics nor any other Christians claim that a newborn baby has sinned through his own fault. Catholics and many Christians believe that babies are born into the world with the original sin of Adam and Eve, our first parents.

The Old Testament states, “Behold I was shapen in sin,
and in sin did my mother conceive me.”
(Psalm 51:5)

In the New Testament, St. Paul explains the situation this way: “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world and with sin death, death thus coming to all men, inasmuch as all sinned_before the law there was sin in the world, even though sin is not imputed when there is no law_ I say, from Adam to Moses death reigned, even over those who had not sinned by breaking a precept as did Adam, that type of the man to come.” (Romans 5:12-14)

Scripture and tradition teach us that Baptism is necessary for salvation. Jesus set an example for humanity by asking his cousin, John the Baptist, to baptize him (even though John’s was merely a baptism of repentance … not the actual sacrament of Christian baptism.)

“Later Jesus, coming from Galilee, appeared before John at the Jordan to be baptized by him. John tried to refuse him with the protest, ‘I should be baptized by you, yet you come to me!’ Jesus answered, ‘Give in for now. We must do this if we would fulfill all of God’s demands.’ “ (Matthew 3:13-15)

Also, Jesus told Nicodemus, “I solemnly assure you, no one can enter into God’s kingdom without being begotten of water and Spirit. Flesh begets flesh, Spirit begets spirit.” (John 3:5-6)

The Catholic Church considers age 7 to be “the age of reason.”

A 7-year-old child is (generally) considered morally responsible, able to know right from wrong. This is typically the age that children make their first Confessions, since they can understand the 10 commandments and precepts of the Church.

From birth until age 7, a child is considered morally to be an infant, according to most Christians religions, thus incapable of committing a serious sin.

It can be argued some very intelligent children can be morally responsible before age 7. However, all Christians agree that a newborn baby definitely cannot commit a sin.

In Christ’s love,

Alice

Doug Lawrence adds: From the scriptures, we know for certain that death is the universal penalty for sin.

The reverse is also true:
One who has no sin is certainly NOT liable to die.

While the theological implications of this essential concept are truly awesome, one thing can easily be determined, beyond a shadow of a doubt:

The fact that even a newly conceived infant is subject to death provides absolute proof that even innocents such as these are profoundly affected by the Original Sin of Adam and Eve, our first parents.

The scriptures also state clearly that nothing sinful can enter heaven. Hence, the traditional Catholic practice of baptizing newborn infants, with as little delay as possible.

Since the sacrament of baptism, according to the faith of the universal church, washes away all sins (including Original Sin), infuses supernatural grace into the soul, makes the baptized a living temple of the Holy Spirit, an adopted child of God, a member of the church, a citizen of heaven, and co-heir with Jesus Christ, there is absolutely no reason to wait.

Those who believe otherwise have fallen victim to destructive old heresies which may leave their souls, and the souls of all their offspring, in jeopardy.

Better to be safe … than eternally sorry!

St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas on Original Sin


This Week’s Ask Alice: Why the Vatican?



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Roy writes: Jesus wasn’t born and raised in the Vatican, so why the Vatican is your holy city?

Alice explains: Catholics recognize Rome as our holy city since it is the place where Peter, Christ’s successor and our first pope, was martyred. Peter was given the keys to the kingdom by Jesus. Catholics acknowledge Peter as the earthly head of our Church.

“And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church and the powers of hell shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 16:18-19)

Jesus instructed his apostles to preach the gospel all over the world, which meant spreading their efforts outward far past Jerusalem.

“It is not for you to know the times orasons that the Father has established by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)

The disciples felt called to travel and preach the gospel in Rome. “There we found some brothers and were urged to stay with them for seven days. And thus we came to Rome.” (Acts 28:14)

Since God is omniscient (all knowing) and exists outside of time, He certainly knew what He was doing when moving our holy city from Jerusalem to Rome. Considering that Jerusalem has been a lit firecracker in the Middle East for centuries, the Holy Spirit wisely inspired Church leaders to choose a sacred city that’s removed from the fighting fray.

From 70 to 130 A.D., Jerusalem was the scene of terrible persecution. Through the centuries Jerusalem has been conquered and ruled by Muslims. Geographically, Rome sits by itself rather than in the midst of the troubled Middle East.

In Christ’s Love,

Alice

*****

Doug Lawrence Adds:  I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase “All roads lead to Rome.”

In the early days of Christianity, that was literally true … and also, the reverse.

Rome was then the very heart of the civilized world’s system of government, commerce and industry. A network of excellent roads, coupled with easy, reliable connections by sea, made Rome the literal “center” of the earth.

With new Christian communities constantly popping up throughout the world, all of them in need of inspired, timely, and expert guidance, there was truly “no place like Rome” from which to stay in constant contact, with the Holy See of Peter effectively leading the budding church, in all things Catholic.

During the 4th century, with the rise of Emperor Constantine, who at once ended the persecutions, became a dedicated supporter of the Catholic Church, and eventually, a Catholic himself.

The wisdom behind the selection of Rome for the location of the Holy See soon became even more apparent, as the Catholic Church continued to greatly benefit from the dedicated patronage of both the Emperor Constantine and his mother, St. Helena.

The contemporary writings of the Roman historian and Catholic Bishop Eusebius, aptly chronicle those events (and more.)

Read all about that here (particularly in Books IX and X.)

When the Empire eventually fell, the Roman Catholic Church found itself in a unique position, charged with rebuilding modern western civilization in the image of heaven … a daunting task that was eventually accomplished with a very high degree of success … through the grace of God … and the holy, inspired work of generations of dedicated Catholic men and women.

Book Selection: How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization

It’s also interesting to note that the Jews, as a nation or people, have never accepted Jesus Christ as their Messiah … while the formerly pagan Romans … the ones who actually nailed Jesus to the cross and thrust the spear through his heart … did indeed convert … and they have remained staunchly Catholic for (at least) the last 1500 years.

All the more reason to choose Rome, rather than Jerusalem, as the headquarters of the universal church … at least, until Jesus comes again … bringing with him the “New Jerusalem”.

(Revelation 3:12)  He that shall overcome, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God: and he shall go out no more. And I will write upon him the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God, and my new name.

(Revelation 21:2)  And I, John, saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.

Besides … “Unless the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it. Unless the Lord keep the city, he watcheth in vain that keepeth it.” (Psalms 127:1)

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This Week’s Ask Alice: Free Electronic Catholic Bible Study Resources



Send A Question To Alice

She’ll answer your Catholic questions
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Email responses will also be provided, as time permits.

*** Alice is out this week. Doug Lawrence is sitting in. ***

Bill Asks: Where can I get free or cheap Bible study resources that are both easy to use and thoroughly Catholic?

Doug Lawrence Answers: Two of my favorites are E-Sword and the Holy See’s own BIBLIA CLERUS site.

E-Sword offers a large number of various Protestant Bible translations, but it also offers the renowned, Catholic, Douay-Rheims Bible, along with various commentaries and other appropriate aids.

Simply go to the E-Sword site, 1) Download the E-Sword software engine; 2) Download the desired modules; 3) Install them on your local computer; 4) Run them.

The software is easy to use and excellent for both reading and searching, by key word, or phrase.

E-Sword accepts donations, but otherwise, it’s FREE.

Click here to visit the E-Sword site

The Holy See’s Biblia Clerus site is an on-line resource, with nothing required to download … but you may download the whole thing for free, if you like.

There, you will find the Revised Standard Version – Catholic Edition, along with many types of commentaries and study tools.

This is a very “heavy-duty” software resource that will allow you to do many, many things … including studies of various church documents and related commentaries.

Click here to visit the Holy See’s Biblia Clerus Site

Some other useful Bible Study Links:

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This Week’s Ask Alice: The third secret of Fatima.



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*** Alice is out this week. Doug Lawrence is sitting in. ***

Norma Asks: What is the third secret of Fatima?

Doug Lawrence Answers: The 1917 public apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary, in Fatima, Portugal, contained a number of prophetic messages for the people of the 20th century, dealing with certain urgent and critical matters of faith and morals, war and peace, repentance and conversion, the state of modern society, and the future of the church.

Among the the messages delivered by the Blessed Virgin Mary to the three young seers, were three “secrets”.

Two of the seers soon died, with only Sister Lucia Santos surviving. Sister Lucia wrote and delivered the messages (secrets) to the then-current pope.

Two of the secrets were soon revealed and widely disseminated. The third was deliberately withheld, for unspecified reasons, by several successive popes, even though, as Sister Lucia had maintained, the Blessed Virgin Mary intended the third secret to be revealed no later than the early 1960’s.

When the third secret was not revealed on time,
a number of  “conspiracy theories” soon arose,
some of which still exist, today.

In April of 2001 (about 40 years “late”) Pope John Paul II finally got around to making the third secret public, as well as offering his own opinion (as well as that of then Cardinal Ratzinger) on what the secret may have actually meant to the church.

By that time, many Catholics (particularly traditionalists) were thoroughly dissatisfied with how the matter had been handled. Some even had concerns about the authenticity of the documents.

This link will take you to the official Vatican document which details the third secret, and explains one possible meaning, according to Pope John Paul II and our present Pope Benedict XVI.

This link will take you to another post, which details many of the various conflicting positions.

The Fatima Apparitions are probably the most significant events of their kind, in modern times. And while the church has officially approved the authenticity of the apparitions, Fatima remains classified as a “private revelation” … which no Catholic is required to accept, on faith … unless they choose to do so.

Whether or not you believe the “official version” of the third secret, as published by the Vatican, and whether or not you agree with the official Vatican “take” on it … is also totally up to you.

It’s not dogma.

Watch a video on the Fatima Apparitions and the message for our times

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This Week’s Ask Alice: What happened between the Old Testament and the New that changed God’s behavior?



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D.T. Asks: What happened between the Old Testament and the New that changed God’s behavior?

Alice Answers: In a word, “Jesus” happened!

It was the sacrificial death of His only Son, our Lord, Jesus Christ that resulted in the apparent change of God’s behavior towards mankind, from the Old Testament to the New.

God spent the entire Old Testament dealing with the originally sinful behavior of our first parents, Adam and Eve, and the inherited concupiscence, i.e., tendency to sin, of their descendents.

The result was many centuries of disobedient, sinful behavior, committed by human beings who were under the evil domination of Satan the devil … who was, in those days … the undisputed “Prince of This World”.

Refusing to obey God and lacking grace, they brought upon themselves certain divine chastisements (most notably death, which is the universal penalty for sin) as duly recorded in all 46 books of the Old Testament.

Fortunately: “In the fullness of time God sent his Son, made of a woman, made under the law: That he might redeem them who were under the law: that we might receive the adoption of sons.” (Galatians 4:4-5)

Thus, the New Testament began. The foundation of these 27 books is love personified, in the fully divine and fully human Jesus Christ … the Prince of Peace and the Holy Redeemer of all mankind.

Jesus came, not to abolish the Old Testament,
but to save mankind and fulfill all the sacred Scriptures.

Throughout his earthly life, Jesus taught us how to live and love. By his saving death, Jesus destroyed Satan’s evil dominion and satisfied the debt (owed to God alone) that we could never pay, making possible the forgiveness of sins and reopening the gates of heaven.

Most importantly, Jesus obtained the sanctifying grace that we all need, in order to obtain heaven.


At the Sermon On the Mount Jesus preached the true path to righteousness (Matthew 5:3-10). He also taught us how to pray (Matthew 6: 5-14).

When Jesus, our brother, walked on earth with His disciples, it was no longer necessary for God to appear to His people in a mysterious burning bush or a column of cloud.

The risen Jesus … the Logos … the Eternal Word … the holy, perfect and authentic image of God, who is truly God himself … finally made the primeval foolishness of “idol worship” distinctly apparent to all.

“Philip saith to him: Lord, show us the Father; and it is enough for us. Jesus saith to him: Have I been so long a time with you and have you not known me? Philip, he that seeth me seeth the Father also. How sayest thou: Show us the Father?” (John 14:8-9)

Jesus was not a military leader fighting battles for control and power. His Kingdom is not of this world (this present system of things) but of the world to come. Jesus taught His followers, by word and deed, precisely how the power of love would save souls and forever change our world, for good.

Shortly after Jesus ascended into Heaven, the Holy Spirit appeared (Acts 2: 1-13) and set the apostles’ hearts on fire with love.

With Satan’s evil dominion destroyed, heaven reopened, man’s redemption obtained, and Jesus suitably installed as the new and sinless head of all mankind … grace … not wrath … was the new order of the day … and it was typically no longer necessary to smote and smite the rebellious Israelites (or anyone else.)

In these grace-empowered New Testament times,
the final battle already won by Jesus Christ,
the Holy Spirit prefers to lovingly inspire, teach,
correct, and sanctify by indwelling human hearts and souls.

Instead of fighting wars, and thanks to the inspired evangelism of disciples like Saint Peter, Saint Paul and others, the Church of Jesus Christ sprouted up all around the world, soon to be “watered” by the blood of the martyrs.

Saint Stephen, “full of grace and fortitude” was the first of many holy men and women who would be faithful witnesses for their Christian faith, even in the face of imminent (and often gruesome) death. (Acts 6:8 and 7: 54-60)

“This is my commandment, that you love one another, as I have loved you. Greater love than this no man hath, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:12-13)

In Christ’s Love,

Alice

*****

Related links:

The “Fine Points” of Our Redemption In Jesus Christ

Sacred Art, Statuary, and Catholics

Old Testament God = Wrath. New Testament God = Love?

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This Week’s Ask Alice: The Bible – Word of God?



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Rational Asks: Why do you Christians believe the Bible is the Word of God?

Alice Answers: We Catholics and our Christian brothers and sisters believe God is the ultimate author of the Bible.

We believe that God inspired the human authors of the Bible, by the power of the Holy Spirit, to accurately write His words.

Many verses in the Bible proclaim God as the Divine Author of both the Old and New Testaments.

“All Scripture is inspired of God and is useful for teaching — for reproof, correction and training in holiness so that the man of God may be fully competent and equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16)

All Scripture is fulfilled in Christ. Jesus’ own words and deeds are recorded in Sacred Scripture.

The Bible contains a myriad of quotations and teachings from our Lord. In addition, Jesus himself quoted passages from the Old Testament. When He was hungry and being tempted in the desert, Jesus responded to Satan,

“Scripture has it: ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but on every word that comes forth from the mouth of God.’ ” (Matthew 4:4)

While theologians contend that the Bible is the compilation of 40 men who were unknown to one another, ranging from kings to a tent maker, each wrote with a single purpose: to unite people with God, for eternity. Throughout its pages the Bible provides eye-and-ear-witness testimonies to the empowering word of God.

“For we did not follow cleverly devised tales when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty.” (2 Peter 1:16)

To believe, as Catholics do, that the Bible is the word of God is an act of faith. Faith is believing what we cannot see or hear, that which cannot be scientifically proven.

“The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever.” (Isaiah 40:8)

In Christ’s Love,

Alice

Doug Lawrence adds: In addition to faith, we Christians also have tradition and fulfilled prophecy to back up our beliefs.

TRADITION

To put it very simply, tradition is the means by which the Holy Spirit guides and inspires the People of God, from age to age.

Before the Old Testament of the Bible was written, it was faithfully preserved by means of tradition. Before the New Testament was written, the truths contained therein were preserved and disseminated, via tradition.

The entire Canon of Scripture has in a very real sense, been inspired, preserved, set down in writing, defined, confirmed, proclaimed, translated and distributed, by means of Catholic Church tradition.

Why do we say this? Simply because nowhere can we find any specific written or even verbal instructions from God, ordering anyone to write down and/or otherwise record his collective words and/or commands.

About the closest we come to this is Moses’ receipt of the Ten Commandments, in stone, and his subsequent written codification (on paper) of several hundred related statutes and ordinances, known collectively as the Mosaic Law, which was first used to help govern the Israelites throughout their desert wanderings.

We know from scripture that, for some 40 years, Moses often spoke to God, “face to face”. If Moses decided to begin writing things down … and God permitted it to be done … then it must have been OK. (Moses wrote the first 5 books of the what we Christians refer to as the Old Testament.)

Later Hebrew prophets and scribes would choose to do likewise … as would the Holy Spirit inspired leadership of the early Christian church.

This is tradition, in action!

Until the complete Bible was set to writing and finally confirmed by the Catholic Church, it was constantly preserved via oral and written tradition, with the aid of some very distinctive, practical and effective cultural accoutrements, which were part and parcel of both the Hebrew and Christian ways of life.

We know and refer to this as the Judeo-Christian Tradition.

PROPHECY

Another reason people of the Christian faith believe the Bible is the Word of God is the fact that about one third of the Bible is prophetic … accurately predicting very specific persons and events to come, often hundreds or even thousands of years in advance.

People living in our times have the unique ability to identify and correlate specific Bible prophecies with their subsequent fulfillment in what is now past human history.

Some 300 ancient yet very specific Bible prophecies (relating to the divine person-hood, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ) were perfectly fulfilled in the 4 days between Holy Thursday and Easter Sunday, alone.

Many, many more biblical prophecies have already been fulfilled, and still more are thought to apply to the future … many of those centered around the “end times” and the 2nd coming of Jesus Christ.

See:

Proof from the Bible that Jesus Christ is God

What Everybody (especially Christians) Should Know About the Bible

Catholic Prophecies for the End Times

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This Week’s Ask Alice: Generational curses



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She’ll answer your Catholic questions
right here, every Thursday.

Email responses will also be provided, as time permits.

Evonne Asks: Do generational curses exist, and how can one get them removed?

Alice Answers: The Catholic Church does not promote the concept of generational curses. Catholics and Protestants who believe in such curses usually refer to the book of Exodus as their source.

“The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for the thousandth generation, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, yet by no means clearing the guilty, but visiting the iniquity of the parents upon the children and the children’s children, to the third and fourth generation.” (Exodus 34:6-7)

To best answer your question I spoke with two priests. My Uncle, Fr. Sergius Wroblewski, a Franciscan living at Lourdes Friary, in Cedar Lake, Indiana, has performed numerous exorcisms in South Africa and the United States.

“Exorcists do talk about such curses. I, myself, have never had any experience with generational curses. The person who seems to belong to a family that has been cursed, can and should disregard it if he/she has been baptized and lives out his/her baptism. Baptism removes sin and makes one a Temple of God and the Lord’s possession. If a person is experiencing diabolical attacks, he/she should look within and clean up his/her life.”

My dear friend Fr. Walter Dziordz, a Marian of the Immaculate Conception, is the Pastor at Our Lady of Peace Catholic Church in Darien, Illinois. Fr. Walter has performed exorcisms.

“There is a book called, “Healing the Family Tree,” which seemed to develop your question as reality. My understanding, however, is that the Roman Church discounted such beliefs as generational curses as pure fiction. As such, the sheer belief in such ‘things’ is what hurts you, as opposed to anything intrinsic in the curse.”

My personal feeling about curses is similar to the opinions expressed by my Uncle and Fr. Walter. Often I’ve seen recurring family problems, such as alcoholism, spousal abuse, money demons, divorce, and depression that span three or four generations. Here’s an example:

Grandpa Will took all the money from the sale of the family farm, ignoring the needs of his 8 siblings. Thirty years later, Grandpa’s son, Johnny, took all of the inheritance money from his 3 sisters when their father died. Twenty years later, Uncle Johnny’s daughter, Kay, took her father’s house and all of his estate money from her brother Bob, leaving him homeless, and so on…………. Rather than a generational curse, Grandpa Will and his descendants influenced and led each other to sin, which persisted to the third generation.

There is much we can do to heal our the sinful roots in our family trees. The affected individuals can go to Confession, since Penance is a sacrament of exorcism. Always, there is prayer for our deceased family members and ourselves The power of prayer is miraculous! Masses can be offered for those living and deceased. Also, we can make reparations for sins committed by ourselves and our ancestors by performing acts of charity and offering our good works to God in their behalf. The benefits of our prayers and acts of mercy are twofold. Our charity provides healing for the recipients of our kindness and by loving others we are healed.

In Christ’s Love,

Alice

Doug Lawrence adds: Another reason the Catholic Church does not promote the concept of generational curses is the reality of the “Cloud of Witnesses” mentioned in the Book of Hebrews which consists of countless of our brothers, sisters, relatives and friends who have gone before us in Christ and are now in Heaven, empowered by his grace, capable of approaching the very throne of God, and personally interceding there for us.

Heaven poses absolutely no barrier
to the power of God’s love.

This, along with the sacraments and the many other benefits of membership in the Catholic Church is typically more than enough to destroy any supposed “curse” … whether real or imagined!

JP II – Reconciliation, Penance and “Sinful Structures”

Related links to earlier articles on this subject

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This Week’s Ask Alice: “3 Angels”



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She’ll answer your Catholic questions
right here, every Thursday.

Email responses will also be provided, as time permits.

Toni writes: A friend sent “3 angels” to my house through an email. My instructions were to make an altar with a candle, a white flower, an apple, and an envelope containing the names and addresses of 3 people who agreed to receive the angels after me, and my 3 wishes. I was told to light the candle for five days and talk to the angels so my wishes will come true.

But another friend told me that I’m calling up spirits, which is against the teachings of the Catholic Church. Now I am really scared! What should I do? Are the spirits really here? Are there demons in my home now? Will they not leave? Can I just ignore the actions I began as false superstition and throw away the candle or just burn it down? What should I do with my dozen white roses?

Alice responds: Sorry, Toni, but you’d better blow out that candle and burn those roses. The “3 angels” are, at best, useless superstitions and, at worst, could conjure up evil spirits in your home. The “3 angels” email was started by Irmi, a German psychic. Catholics, Protestants, Jews, and Muslims are cautioned against having any contact with psychics, mediums and spiritualists.

“Whoever sacrifices to any god, except to the Lord alone, shall be doomed” (Exodus 22:19)

The spirits invoked by psychics are usually demonic ones. At seances, demonic spirits often appear to mediums disguised as good spirits. As a fallen archangel, Satan, the Deceiver, has appeared to people in the image of saints, even the Virgin Mary. Catholics should avoid all occult practices such as Wiccan rituals, playing with Ouija boards, Tarot cards, attending a seance or visiting a psychic. Also, Catholics should not forward chain letters … be they email or postal.

What should you do with any remaining superstitious stuff at your house? You should burn the 12 roses, 3 wishes, 3 names and addresses, and the candle, then dispose of all the ashes.

Before posting my reply, I discussed your dilemma with Fr. Jerome Kish, Pastor of St. Joseph Church in Downers Grove, IL. Fr. Kish said that you should also remember to mention the “3 angels” incident during your next Confession.

Don’t be afraid, Toni. You didn’t realize what you were doing.  There will likely be no demons lingering in your home after you destroy all the associated Irmi articles. If you want to do a good deed, albeit a difficult one, please tell the friend who sent you the “3 angels” what I’ve shared with you.

It’s always wise to keep Holy Water in your house, so you can bless yourself and then sprinkle it both indoors and out, should spiritual difficulties arise. It’s also good policy to keep sacramentals (blessed sacred objects) such as rosaries, crucifixes, miraculous medals, etc. in your home.

As a baptized Catholic, you are marked with the sign of your faith. You belong to God, so you need not fear anything or anybody.

“As for you, every hair of your head has been counted; so do not be afraid of anything.” (Matthew 10:30-31)

In Christ’s Love,

Alice

Useful info about real angels (submitted by Doria2)

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This Week’s Ask Alice: The One, True Church?



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She’ll answer your Catholic questions
right here, every Thursday.

Email responses will also be provided, as time permits.

Alice is on vacation this week. Doug Lawrence is “sitting in”.

Fred W. Asks: The Catholic Church claims to be the one, true church, founded by Jesus Christ, infallibly guided by the Holy Spirit. In light of the history of almost constant Catholic church corruption, especially the recent, widespread child abuse scandal, why should anyone believe that to be true?

Doug Lawrence Responds: This is a very timely question, reflecting a quite normal level of concern and dismay, not only for Catholics, but also the public, at large.

First, the good news: Jesus Christ did indeed personally found the Catholic Church. He did it very shortly after his resurrection, while he still walked the earth, in his glorified and risen body, after all power and authority had been given to him, on earth and in heaven.

Jesus endowed his universal (Catholic) Church with much of that same power and authority, for the purpose of our salvation.

Jesus never founded any other church, and he never authorized or empowered any other person or group.

So … like it or not … we’re “stuck” with the Catholic Church, until the end of time. 

We also know that Jesus had originally chosen twelve apostles, trained twelve and blessed twelve … yet he somehow ended up with only eleven.

One of them … Judas … turned out to be a “devil”. Judas accomplished most of his dirty deeds in secret, and so have our present day, abusive clergy!

If Jesus Christ, who is God, found it expedient to accept a rate of attrition/failure that’s slightly more than 8 percent, should anyone … even his church … practically expect to do much better?   

Studies point to an actual abuse rate of much less than half the 8 percent “Judas factor”. This is not to make light of the matter of clergy abuse … or any type of sinful behavior. It is simply looking at the world as it really is … a corrupt system of things that even God has (so far) not seen fit to fully restore.

Of course, those who so loudly proclaimed the “New Pentecost” of Vatican II … and who subsequently tore down virtually everything the Catholic Church had spent the last 1900 years building up … also share much of the blame, since that ridiculous attitude left the Church with virtually no defense against the liberal/modernist onslaught and all the grievous errors that sprung from it.

Such is the price of revolution, even for the Catholic Church.

Yet despite all the human corruption and malfeasance, including all the recent, post-Vatican II anomalies … the Catholic Church has done a miraculous job of preserving the authentic dogmas of the Christian faith, and it remains always available to celebrate the Mass and dispense the sacraments, in order to help sanctify the People of God, according to his grace.

Rather than attempting to make excuses … or even fix blame … the best thing any Catholic can do is learn the authentic Catholic faith … so that no lay person, teacher, politician, deacon, priest, bishop or pope … can ever again hope to get away with betraying Jesus Christ, his Church, or the faithful.

For that, a personal course of regular prayer and study, coupled with full, faithful participation in all of the work, worship, sacraments and devotions of the Catholic Church is highly recommended.

There is no better way to keep the Catholic Church … and one’s own eternal soul … in good order!

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This Week’s Ask Alice: What the Bible (and the Catholic Church) teaches about abortion.



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She’ll answer your Catholic questions
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Rob Asks: What are the strongest Bible verses condemning abortion?

Alice Responds: Some of the strongest Bible passages condemning abortion present evidence that life begins in the womb.

A beautiful Pro Life witness was proclaimed by Elizabeth, in the New Testament, when her pregnant cousin, the Virgin Mary, came to visit.

Elizabeth clearly felt the movement of John (the Baptist) … her yet to be born son … in response to the awesome presence of the Holy Spirit:

“Thereupon Mary set out, preceding into the hill country to a town of Judah, where she entered Zechariah’s house and greeted Elizabeth. It happened, when Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, that the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.” (Luke 41:39-41)

Here are more Scripture verses to help change the hearts and minds of people who tolerate abortion:

“For you formed me in my inmost being. You knit me together in my mother’s womb….My frame wasn’t hidden from you., when I was made in secret, woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my body. In your book they were written, the days that you ordained for me, when as yet there were none of them.” (Psalm 139:13, 15-16)

“Didn’t He who made me in the womb make him? Didn’t one fashion us in the womb?” (Job 31:15)

“Your hands shaped me and made me. Will you now turn and destroy me? Remember that you molded me like clay. Will you now turn me to dust again?” (Job 10:2, 8-9)

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you. Before you came out of the womb I sanctified you.” (Jeremiah 1:4-5)

“Cursed is he who takes a bribe to kill an innocent person.. All the people shall say, ‘Amen.’ “ (Deuteronomy 27:25)

Throughout history, the saints have taught us invaluable lessons about the sanctity of life. The maternal heroism of St. Gianna Beretta Molla (1922-1962) serves an an inspiration to all Pro Lifers.


Gianna was a pediatric physician and devoted mother of three children. During the second month of her fourth pregnancy, doctors discovered a fibroma on Gianna’s uterus.

Physicians offered her three choices: 1) an abortion to save her life and allow her to have more children; 2) a complete hysterectomy to preserve her life, but end the unborn child’s life; 3) removal of only the fibroma, with potential further complications.

Insisting that her unborn baby must be saved, Gianna chose the removal of only the fibroma. On April 21, 1962, Good Friday, Gianna’s delivered her fourth child, Gianna Emmanuela, by Caesarean section. In great pain, Gianna died seven days after giving birth, from septic peritonitis.

She was canonized on May 16, 2004. Her husband Pietro and the daughter she saved, Gianna Emmanuela, were both present at the ceremony.

In Christ’s Love,

Alice

Doug Lawrence adds: Abortion has always been abhorrent to those of the authentic Jewish and Christian faith traditions.

Probably the best, most specific, written proof of this can be found in this excerpt from chapter 2 of the earliest known, most widely circulated, extra-biblical teachings of the apostles – known as “The Didache” – dated to 100 AD – about 300 years before the Canon of Sacred Scripture was officially compiled and certified:

…you shall not practice magic, you shall not practice witchcraft, you shall not murder a child by abortion
nor kill that which is begotten.

The Didache, for a number of reasons, is still very much worth reading, for any Christian … since at the time it was written, the Christian Church was already being identified as “Catholic”.

Some 500 years later, Muslims and the Koran came out firmly against abortion and infanticide.

Only in later times was this totally consistent reverence and respect for life attacked and weakened by the false teachings of various apostates … and in turn … by their lethal, politically motivated spawn.

Daughter of St. Gianna visits U.S. church that bears her mother’s name

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This Week’s Ask Alice: Life can be tough, but we Catholics have lots of help.



Send A Question To Alice

She’ll answer your Catholic questions
right here, every Thursday.

Email responses will also be provided, as time permits.

Heather writes: When you choose to follow Jesus with all of your being life will not get easier for you, but in some cases harder. The reason I say this is because Satan does not like it when you follow Jesus. Satan never liked us humans to begin with.

Alice responds: Your insights are correct. As we grow closer to God, Satan tosses some hand grenades into our path that challenge us to detour from the path of righteousness. Please realize that Satan has been practicing his vicious, malicious tactics on good men and women for centuries.

Consider the righteous Jacob. As a young man, Satan successfully tempted Jacob to snatch his older brother, Esau’s, birthright, with help from the twins’ mother, Rebekah. Although he succumbed to Satan’s snare, God still loved Jacob. Twenty years later, Jacob stayed up all night wrestling with an angel, who struck Jacob’s hip socket. (Genesis 32: 24-26)

Why does our Heavenly Father allow his good children to struggle with spirits? In a recent homily, Fr. Jerome Kish, Pastor of St. Joseph Parish in Downers Grove, IL explained, “Why did Jacob wrestle with an angel? Aren’t angels supposed to help people? The angelic wrestling match was a grace from God, so Jacob could grow in faith. All of us struggle with spirits and demons during our lives. God allows us to struggle, so we can grow strong spiritually.”

St. Paul was another good man who was no stranger to struggles with Satan.

“As to the extraordinary revelation in order that I might not become conceited I was given a thorn in the flesh, an angel of Satan to beat me and keep me from getting proud. Three times I begged the Lord that this might leave me. He said to me,

‘My grace is enough for you, for in weakness power reaches perfection’……….Therefore I am content with weakness, with mistreatment, with distress, with persecutions and difficulties for the sake of Christ: for when I am powerless, it is then that I am strong.”
(2 Corinthians12:7-9,10)

The downside of drawing closer to God is that our spiritual growth enrages Satan to increasingly taunt and tempt us as he sees his influence waning. But we must remember that the battle for our salvation already has been won by Jesus’ death on the cross.

We will win every wrestling match with Satan by looking up and remaining focused on God. To insure our victory over evil, we have our Mother Mary accompanied by scores of angels and saints in the Body of Christ who stand ready to respond to our every call for Heavenly help.

In Christ’s love,

Alice

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