Love does not let a little thing like death stand in its way.

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We pray for our beloved in Purgatory so that they may enjoy the Beatific Vision and for our loved ones in Heaven in memoriam and so that they may intercede for us, just as those we love in Purgatory and Heaven pray for us.  Thus the bonds of love expressed in prayer keep us linked to those we cannot see, except in priceless memories, and who we long to be reunited with after our days in this Vale of Tears are done.

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I love this pope. He reminds me of my (now dearly departed) maiden Aunt Genevieve.

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1955 Chevy Bel Air – Proof of God’s Abiding Love?

by Doug Lawrence

My aunt Gene (Genevieve) never married, always held down a good job, and for most of her life, lived in a modest apartment, along with her two unmarried sisters.

By the time I was two years of age there was already no doubt in my mind that aunt Gene was also a good Catholic. She never failed to attend Sunday Mass – and as further proof of God’s abiding love, she actually won a a three-speed, red and white, 1955 Chevy – at the Saint John of God Church Raffle. In Chicago, during the 1950’s you couldn’t be much more publicly Catholic than that!

She was a charitable and helpful person, willing to do just about anything for anybody. She loved little babies, she loved her family and she loved her food. Gene was also a bit “quirky” – holding to her own opinions on certain things, in spite of obvious and abundant evidence to the contrary – stubbornly clinging to certain mysterious habits, rituals and personal preferences. It wasn’t always easy figuring out precisely what she meant, when she was speaking. But she was my aunt and I loved her, without qualification or exception. That’s what family is all about.

It wasn’t until several decades later, after aunt Gene had been diagnosed with a particularly fast-growing strain of lung cancer, that I would begin to understand the true depth and utter practicality of her Catholic faith.

Learning that all available treatments had failed and she would surely die very soon, Gene remained upbeat and generally unconcerned. She certainly didn’t like what the cancer had done and was continuing to do to her body, but as a woman of faith, she always knew the end would come – whatever the circumstances – and she had always relied on Jesus Christ and his Catholic Church to keep her fully prepared for that day.

She was a true daughter of the Catholic Church who fully accepted (to the very best of her ability) all that the Catholic Church practiced and proclaimed. She had for a long, long time now, been a very close friend of Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist and of his Blessed Mother, so she had absolutely nothing to fear.

Aunt Gene also found great solace in this type of traditional Catholic stuff which many today – unfortunately – think is out of date. But unless and until death itself goes out of style, I must respectfully disagree!

She told me all this the day before she died. It was a life (and faith) lesson that I will never forget. I also have little doubt that her prayers were answered – both here – and in the next life. We should all pray for similar graces.

So … how does Pope Francis remind me of my “sainted” Aunt Genevieve?

Other than the physical resemblance (they could pass for brother and sister) they’re both a bit quirky and sometimes difficult to understand; neither ever married; both had a penchant for relatively unusual, minimalist living arrangements; both made extensive use of public transportation; both are well-traveled; both worked long and hard at their chosen professions; both are by virtue of baptism, undeniably Catholic and people of faith.

As such, they are both “family” to me, a fellow Catholic and adopted child of God – so I love them, without qualification or exception.

This would remain true even if it became necessary for me to go out of my way to charitably correct, defend and/or explain occasional incongruous, irrational, embarrassing conduct or “quirky” personal opinions.

Nobody’s perfect – so who am I to judge – right?

In the end, that’s what “family” – and authentic Catholicism – is all about!

Photo: Wikipedia

A Catholic convert theologian writes about faith, love, death, God and “other stuff”

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My first glimpse of God was the love which my parents shared with one another. It was a life-giving love centered upon a common faith that despite all the challenges of living out a common life together, they could entrust themselves to one another and find a path to their salvation through one another.

The true character of this love was revealed most poignantly to me when my mother was on her deathbed, emaciated and disfigured by the effects of aggressive cancer treatment. As the options dwindled, my father became more and more desperate, trying every possible medical and spiritual avenue to avoid losing my mom.

One afternoon, as he was venting his frustrations to God before a simple wooden crucifix, he heard God interrupt his stream of thoughts almost as if he were speaking audibly: “Do you trust me?” was the simple question posed to him.

Later, closer to the time of her death, my dad was able to look down at my mother’s unconscious face, and say “I have never loved your mother more than I do right now.” It is an inestimable blessing to be able to root one’s analogical appeal to God as “Father” in that kind of experience.

Hospitality and community were also key parts of my religious formation.

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Cardinal Reinhard Marx seems to have some strange ideas about God and his mercy

Unfortunately, the church is often still accused of wanting to steer people in directions they did not want to take, he continued. It would have to ask itself whether it hadn’t set the wrong priorities when proclaiming the Gospel message.

“Many older people have grown up with the idea that the church is a moral institution and that God is only a merciful God if we keep his commandments. But God doesn’t say, ‘If you’re good, then I’ll also be good to you.’ Jesus proclaims a God who says, ‘I love you — so live,’ and thus gives us the freedom to decide whether we want to accept and return his love.”

Link

Editor’s note: Yes, Marx is a Catholic Cardinal – although his thinking on sin and mercy are much more in tune with the Lutherans.

“Be a sinner and sin boldly, but believe and rejoice in Christ even more boldly.” ― Martin Luther

Does God really give us license to sin? I doubt it! And why does the Cardinal make no mention of the necessity of contrition and repentance – or are those outmoded theological concepts, as well? More importantly, we have to wonder if this an example of Pope Francis’ thinking on these matters.

How’s this for Gospel, your eminence?:

“If you love me, keep my commandments.” ― Jesus Christ

A mere fifty or sixty years ago I doubt you’d find any practicing Catholic who would say they supported gay ‘marriage’.

People are getting weary of fighting immorality on all levels because what is and isn’t moral has been warped.  Things aren’t always so black and white anymore.  Where black and white once held the bounds of moral and immoral firmly in place, they have now given way to shades of grey.

What God determined as immoral, has been redefined. Lust has become love. Marriage between a man and a woman as God defined it, as been redefined by mere man.

When lust was redefined as “love” people forgot when REAL LOVE meant.
Today’s “love” is a rip off.  A counterfeit of what real love is.

So women read “romance” novels and sigh over what they see as romantic love. While men read porn magazines and lust after the very thing that will lead them to Hell.

We are being desensitized and most of us don’t even know it.

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5 keys to better discernment

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Five general principles of discernment of God’s will that apply to all questions about it, and therefore to our question too, are the following:

  1. Always begin with data, with what we know for sure. Judge the unknown by the known, the uncertain by the certain. Adam and Eve neglected that principle in Eden and ignored God’s clear command and warning for the devil’s promised pig in a poke.
  2. Let your heart educate your mind. Let your love of God educate your reason in discerning his will. Jesus teaches this principle in John 7:17 to the Pharisees. (Would that certain Scripture scholars today would heed it!) They were asking how they could interpret his words, and he gave them the first principle of hermeneutics (the science of interpretation): “If your will were to do the will of my Father, you would understand my teaching.” The saints understand the Bible better than the theologians, because they understand its primary author, God, by loving him with their whole heart and their whole mind.
  3. Have a soft heart but a hard head. We should be “wise as serpents and harmless as doves,” sharp as a fox in thought but loyal as a dog in will and deed. Soft-heartedness does not excuse soft-headedness, and hard-headedness does not excuse hard-heartedness. In our hearts we should be “bleeding-heart liberals” and in our heads “stuck-in-the-mud conservatives.”
  4. All God’s signs should line up, by a kind of trigonometry. There are at least seven such signs: (1) Scripture, (2) church teaching, (3) human reason (which God created), (4) the appropriate situation, or circumstances (which he controls by his providence), (5) conscience, our innate sense of right and wrong, (6) our individual personal bent or desire or instincts, and (7) prayer. Test your choice by holding it up before God’s face. If one of these seven voices says no, don’t do it. If none say no, do it.
  5. Look for the fruits of the spirit, especially the first three: love, joy, and peace. If we are angry and anxious and worried, loveless and joyless and peaceless, we have no right to say we are sure of being securely in God’s will. Discernment itself should not be a stiff, brittle, anxious thing, but—since it too is part of God’s will for our lives—loving and joyful and peace-filled, more like a game than a war, more like writing love letters than taking final exams.

Read more from Peter Kreeft

Catholics are called to love the poor in a fundamentally different way than Americans.

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Christian love is not leveling of differences that results in equality. It is precisely a love of people with all their differences, and is thus an unequal love, proper to unequal people.

So we arrive back at the point. The Church loves the poor with a preferential love. The good we should desire for them is a greater good than that which we desire for others. (This is obviously connected to the lack of due goods those oppressed by poverty may have — we must desire greater and more goods for the poor than we desire for those who are already secure in material and spiritual goods.) So the first difference between the Church and the culture is that what the culture claims is a good “addition” to life, or just another way of loving, the Church claims as a priority and a love above other loves.

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Editor’s note: The big question is … should the Church rely on government money … which has many significant, anti-Catholic “strings” attached … in order to “preferentially” help the poor?