Lent is upon us. Still wondering what to do for Lent? Consider this devotional. Hear from the Saints each day, as they give you Scripture to meditate on and practical advice to help you as you prepare for Easter.
This message is from God the Father, who spoke it to St. Catherine of Siena while she was in ecstasy – it is documented in the book “The Dialogue of St. Catherine of Siena”.
“And I would that you know that, more darkness and division have come into the world amongst seculars and religious and the clergy and pastors of the holy Church, through the lack of the light of justice, and the advent of the darkness of injustice, than from any other causes.”
“Neither the civil law, nor the divine law, can be kept in any degree without holy justice, because he who is not corrected, and does not correct others, becomes like a limb which putrefies, and corrupts the whole body, because the bad physician, when it had already begun to corrupt, placed ointment immediately upon it, without having first burnt the wound. So, were the prelate, or any other lord having subjects, on seeing one putrefying from the corruption of mortal sin, to apply to him the ointment of soft words of encouragement alone, without reproof, he would never cure him, but the putrefaction would rather spread to the other members, who, with him, form one body under the same pastor. But if he were a physician, good and true to those souls, as were those glorious pastors of old, he would not give salving ointment without the fire of reproof. And, were the member still to remain obstinate in his evil doing, he would cut him off from the congregation in order that he corrupt not the other members with the putrefaction of mortal sin. But they act not so today, but, in cases of evil doing, they even pretend not to see. And do you know why? The root of self-love is alive in them, wherefore they bear perverted and servile fear. Because they fear to lose their position or their temporal goods, or their prelacy, they do not correct, but act like blind ones, in that they see not the real way by which their position is to be kept. If they would only see that it is by holy justice they would be able to maintain it; but they do not, because they are deprived of light.”
This passage stood out to me in regards to administering the Sacraments. God the Father is giving St. Catherine a more perfect understanding of the application of the Sacraments through authentic Mercy.
In Matthew 9:9-13 our Lord Jesus tells the Pharisees “Go and learn the meaning of the words, I desire mercy, not sacrifice, I did not come to call the righteous but the sinners.” Yet, in the midst of this emphasis on mercy, there still seems to be a misunderstanding by many faithful in regards to what Mercy really means. And because of this confusion, what should be universal teaching has become fodder for secular news to scandalize the Church.
As an example, there has been situations in news where an actively homosexual person dies – and there is an intersection between the Corporal Work of Mercy to bury the dead, and an obligation at the same time to the Spiritual Works of Mercy to Instruct the Ignorant and Admonish the Sinner (the deceased person’s partner or family as an example). According to Our Blessed Lord’s instruction to St. Catherine, it would be right and just to BOTH bury the dead AND at the same time admonish and instruct. If we neglect the Spiritual Work of Mercy in this example situation, then we cause great scandal which could lead to the destruction of many souls – and what did it cost? We bury one dead person, but neglect hundreds whose souls may be dead. And conversely, if we only admonish without burying the dead, we have also scandalized the community – those who need God’s Mercy the most.
And to the Eucharist, Our Lord Himself? St. Paul explains (1 Corinthians 11:29) “For those who eat and drink without discerning the body of Christ eat and drink judgment on themselves”. So, we understand how important it is not to merely permit anyone to eat and drink the Body and Blood of Our Lord unworthily lest they be condemned. Although, we know we cannot judge the state of a soul aside from our own (and St. Paul says that he doesn’t even judge his own soul)! What are we to do? This is answered, again, through authentic Mercy. We don’t judge, but we admonish and instruct (works of Mercy). And then the burden of judgment is between them and God.
These are concrete examples of how Justice helps to illuminate the right application of Mercy.
The problem is that in practice we don’t do this. We are timid in admonishment for fear of offending someone. However, if we don’t admonish, then the Word of God convicts us (Ezekiel 3:17) “Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the people of Israel; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from me. When I say to a wicked person, ‘You will surely die,’ and you do not warn them or speak out to dissuade them from their evil ways in order to save their life, that wicked person will die for their sin, and I will hold you accountable for their blood. But if you do warn the wicked person and they do not turn from their wickedness or from their evil ways, they will die for their sin; but you will have saved yourself.“
Genuine Mercy is illuminated by the Cardinal Virtue of Justice – CCC 1807 – the moral virtue that consists in the constant and firm will to give their due to God and neighbor. This is why God the Father is emphasizing this to St. Catherine. Because we cannot give Mercy without the light of Justice. It isn’t merciful to apply the ointment without first having treated the wound. Justice isn’t opposed to Mercy therefore, but it illuminates it. Wherefore, Instructing the Ignorant and Admonishing the Sinner are both indeed Spiritual Works of Mercy.
Amidst the scandals and the news that has left many of us grieving – trying to process how those we trust as the heads of the Bride of Christ, His Church, have stooped so low -, I was also rocked by some more acute personal news that our Parish School will be dropping 8th Grade Confirmation. Our oldest daughter being in 8th Grade this year has left me digging deeper on what this Sacrament really means, and if there is any significance to when one should receive it. And I would like to share my findings with you.
Now first of all, our Parish isn’t the only one that has punted this Sacrament out to the high school years and beyond. It has been general practice in our Diocese – which is one of the reasons our School felt so special when they adopted an earlier Confirmation practice.
Nevertheless, the reasoning behind our Parish’s decision is that the 8th Graders are not yet mentally mature enough to know what it means to live a fully Catholic life in the faith, and that they should gain some real-life experience before they make this leap into full initiation.
Right off the bat this didn’t sit right with me, because after-all the Sacrament itself is in aide to maturity. And secondly, taking the same stance with other Sacraments, why do we let 7 year olds recieve the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of our Lord in the Most Blessed Sacrament when they can’t even tie their own shoes let along grasp the concept of our God in the appearance of bread? But yet, they somehow are mature enough to receive this Sacrament. So what gives with Confirmation?
Here’s what I’ve come to understand –
According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church (1290), “In the first centuries Confirmation generally comprised one single celebration with Baptism…” this was done on infants. Furthermore, in CCC (1307) “For Centuries, Latin custom has indicated ‘the age of discretion’ as the reference point for receiving Confirmation. “
The age of discretion of course being around 7 years. This is around the same time we traditionally give children the Sacrament of Holy Communion (the Body of Jesus Christ). – and as noted, we allow Children to receive Jesus Christ, the King of the Universe! For many years, and for this very reason, Holy Communion wasn’t given until after Confirmation, if not given together.
In other words, for the better part of the entire Church history Confirmation has been given to children – not to young adults. And additionally – in CCC (1308): “Although Confirmation is sometimes called the ‘sacrament of Christian maturity,’ we must not confuse adult faith with the adult age of natural growth, nor forget that the baptismal grace is a grace of free, unmerited election and does not need ‘ratification’ to become effective.” And CCC (1314) “Indeed the Church desires that none of her children, even the youngest, should depart this world without having been perfected by the Holy Spirit with the gift of Christ’s fullness.”
In general, the Catholic Church doesn’t tent toward the idea of waiting. On the contrary, the caveats and exceptions in the CCC all lean toward giving the Sacrament even earlier – i.e. especially if there is danger of death as an example.
And this is because Confirmation isn’t supposed to be “the end” so to speak of our Christian development in maturity. It is merely the beginning! This Sacrament strengthen and Confirms a faith – fortifies it for battle. The Sacrament of Confirmation allows the recipient to receive the full spectrum of the Gifts of the Holy Spirit – weapons that they can use to do real battle in the Spiritual life. These are tools they absolutely need in order to have the best chance of retaining their Faith through high school and into adulthood.
Sacraments are a gift, freely given. And therefore, whether the child receiving it is ready at that moment or not, sooner or later they will be.
Although I understand pastoral concerns for the children’s readiness of the 8th graders, I just cannot agree with the thought of withholding this Grace at such a precarious point in a person’s life. How many souls could be at stake. Just as a couple might be waiting until they are “ready” to get Married…. Or a Married couple waiting to be “ready” to have children.. There is a sweet spot where readiness cannot be measured. We’re never ready to be Married, but if we are called to it, then God provides. The same is true for having children. If we waited until we were ready, then no one would ever have children. And the same is true for the Sacraments. How can we ever be ready enough to live Divine Life!? But His Grace is sufficient.
Our children need this Sacrament in order to live their Christian life to the fullest. Before high school is where this counts the most, because in high school it may be too late. Why would we wait for them to enter into high school – the time where they will be the most tempted and tried in all aspects of moral question – without first fortifying them and giving them this Grace?
I can guarantee that many children by their first year in high school will have lost any hope of being Confirmed, and for those that do get Confirmed after that first year it will have been too late in some cases of sin. (Think of these major points – who they make new friends with, after school activities, will they start to work, starting to drive, starting to date). Why would we allow them this chance at sullying their Baptismal gowns?
In a sports related example…, it would be like giving a football player all the training he needs to go out and play a game, but yet withholding the pads until he gains some experience in playing. The athlete needs all of the training and the equipment in order to play the game without getting injured. A coach can’t put a player out on the field and say – when there are ready to get hit, then they can come get the helmet. They go out on the field with all the equipment already in place, whether the helmet is needed or not!
It is a mystery to my why Dioceses has done this for many years – that is to wait. It may have developed more out of a sense of availability for the Bishop to get around and perform the ceremony. It may also be a way to offer opportunities for those who are converting to the faith later in life to have that. And dare I speak the more cynical – perhaps its a way of creating more “classes” so that the customers… err… I mean candidates can register for a small fee… Praise God, as I understand it, the trend now is actually swinging back the other way. And there are other parishes and articles on line that talk to this revival of the order of the Sacraments.
Now my final point of the matter is the question on where our Catholic elementary Schools stands. If we want our schools to stand apart from the rest, then we cannot simply chase after academic prestige. That is what the schools seem to be doing. We should be offering a rigorous Religious Education, providing all the Sacraments of Initiation, raising and sending off well educated – yet more importantly – well-formed young adults. This is the gift that Catholic education can give which will distinguish us from the others. Kids get bombarded with Math homework, Science projects, English papers to write, and yet Religion is a touchy feely – basically pass or fail – class that has no deep content. I’ve never seen any children pushed to their limit to understand the Sacraments, the Virtues, the Seven Deadly Sins, Angels or any such article of our Faith. I totally understand that parents are the first educators. But that’s the case as well for all the other subjects, and we don’t use that excuse to push the burden of education for math on children. Yes, parents should know their faith, and we should pass our faith on. But as we rely on the “experts” to help them with math and science, we should as well for our Catholic faith. This is in fact the ministry of the Church to help our children learn the faith from the experts.
I encourage you all to please learn about this Great Sacrament, and urge our Schools and Dioceses to offer it earlier rather than later. Our future generation of Saints depends on this.
God bless from your family here at All Saints Museum
This is the final part of a talk I recently gave to a Youth Group. I split the talk into 3 parts – Sacraments, Sacramentals, and Relics. Check out Part 1, and Part 2, if you haven’t already. I really hope you enjoy.
This is what All Saints Museum is all about. Bringing the Saints and our Faith in a very special way to people. Our motto is “Venerating Saints of the past. Inspiring Saints of the future.”
Please say a prayer with us that talks like this will touch souls and bear much good fruit.
Also, please check out our website, and subscribe to your YoutTube Channel to stay up to date on our latest.
This is the 2nd in a 3 part talk I recently gave to a Youth Group. I split the talk into 3 parts – Sacraments, Sacramentals, and Relics. Check out Part 1, if you haven’t already. I really hope you enjoy.
Please check out our website, and subscribe to your YoutTube Channel to stay up to date on our latest.
I was blessed to be able to give a talk to a Youth Group recently. I split the talk into 3 parts – Sacraments, Sacramentals, and Relics. I really hope you enjoy.
Please check out our website, and subscribe to your YoutTube Channel to stay up to date on our latest.
Friends of All Saints Museum,
I am happy to share with you that All Saints Museum was on the Guadalupe Radio Network a couple weeks ago. Christina Cox is the host of “Catholics in the Capital”, the founder of the National Museum of Catholic Art and Library (NMCAL.org), and she is also a great friend and mentor. She interviewed me on the topic of Saints, relics, and the power of prayer.
The recording was recently made available to distribute. My piece shows up around 41 minutes into the show, but the entire program is excellent. I hope you will listen and enjoy.
Monday’s (December 4th) Gospel Reading has some incredible insight into the Communion of Saints and the Kingdom of Heaven – Reference Matthew 8:5-11.
There are two critical points that I wanted to highlight:
- When Jesus talks about Heaven in Scripture, He is always comparing it to a Wedding, a Banquet, a Vineyard with workers. It includes other people in the picture. The Image of Heaven is given to us as an activity that we participate in with other people as an integral part of this experience. In fact, if we take into consideration Christ’s admonition that “Whatever you did to the least of my brothers, you did to me” (Matt 25:40) – we can be assured that whatever activity we do with others In Heaven will by its very nature be done with Christ. It gives context to the Body of Christ that Paul talks about. When we work together for God, we are working together as one in God. In today’s reading we see Christ again demonstrate that Heaven will be realized as a banquet, in which we will be reclining with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
- This second point is a fantastic example of the role the Saints play in our lives. Here we see Jesus talking to the living (those following him) about enjoying a banquet with the departed. Of course Jesus, referring back to Moses and the burning Bush, states that “God is a God of the living” (Mark 12:27). One thing to note is that Jesus clarifies in Luke 17:21 that the Kingdom of God is among us (also reference Matt 3:2, Mark 1:15, etc.). It is here, now. Jesus doesn’t draw a distinction between Abraham, Isaac and Jacob being in the past, or in a different location even. He states that “many will come from the east and from the west (i.e. from all over), and will recline with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob at the banquet in the Kingdom of Heaven.” And he’s saying it in the context of the Centurion who showed faith by believing Jesus was God – that He had authority to simply command the healing of his servant at home. By stating that he was “not worthy”, the Centurion recognized his own place in the proper order. Jesus above him, and he above his servant (symbolic of our soul). The Centurion is an example of one who sees well with the eye of his soul the things that are invisible (remember God is the Creator of all things visible and invisible). He didn’t need to be there to witness the healing. He believed it would happen. Since the Centurion has such faith, then he is able to recline with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob – the invisible. This is Scriptural Proof that in proper faith we are able to have a relationship with the Saints in the Kingdom of Heaven here and now.
God bless, and have a wonderful Advent –
From your family at All Saints Museum
I was blessed to take stewardship of a relic of St. Homobonus recently. His relic arrived in Saint-like fashion on All Saints Day!
Saint Homobonus lived in the 12th century. He was a married layman and became a tailor and merchant, having taken over his father’s business. Therefore, he is considered the Patron Saint of business people. He died on November 13th, 1197, while attending Mass. The name Homobonus is derived from Latin homo bonus, which means “good man”. Indeed, Saint Homobonus was a good man, spending much of his wealth in helping the poor. His fellow citizens petitioned the Pope for his canonization, and he was raised to the altars as a Saint less than two years later.
Today, November 13th, we celebrate his feast day.
Saint Homobonus, Pray for us!
As All Saints Day approaches, I wanted to offer some thoughts on why we as Catholics believe in the Communion of Saints (Communio Sanctorum), and why in particular we believe that our prayers to them and friendship with them is efficacious.
There are a couple arguments against these uniquely Catholic beliefs, which I would like to address in their honor:
Why pray to the Saints if we can go directly to God?
The better question to ask is: Why has God used Angels (messengers), Prophets, and Apostles, family and friends, to relate with us throughout the entire history of human existence if He can go directly to us Himself? And the response to this is very simple…. He wants to.
This is the same response to why we work with the Saints and Angels in a similar way to communicate with God. – He wants us to.
Granted, we do go directly to God as well, and He does communicate with us directly at His discretion (like when he talked with Moses face to face Exodus 33:11). This is not a strict either / or. Our relationship with God and His family is both / and.
Sometimes we don’t know why God chooses to do things certain ways, because “His ways are higher than mine” (Isaiah 55:8-9). But even when we don’t understand, we believe that He knows what is best for us. He has our best interest in mind.
It is evident in Scripture that God wants us to work with each other and for each other. Take for instances when Jesus was still just a baby:
(Matthew 2:13) When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up”, he said, “take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt.”
God could have done things a lot different to get the Holy Family to go to Egypt. He could have sent the angel to Mary, as He had just sent the angel Gabriel to her before. Why Joseph? Or why did He use an angel? God could have talked directly to Mary (like He did with Moses). But we can see that God LOVES to use His creation in this way. He wanted Joseph to be an integral part of His Holy Family. God always uses His angels as messengers. And He always uses people in the same way. He wants us connected and working together. That’s why Saint Paul refers to us as the Body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:27). We are a Body with different members able to do different things to all help in achieving the same goal – the sanctity of our human race!
God created the earth as a reflection of what Heaven is like. And so we know that Heaven isn’t too far from earth. Family is family. Jesus is our brother through Baptism. God is our Father. We are not orphans, but Children of God. God created us to work with each other. When God made Adam, He said “It is not good for man to be alone” (Genesis 2:18). So, how we relate to our mothers and fathers, our sisters and brothers, our friends, etc. That is not different than how we should relate in Heaven to God and the Angels and Saints. But just all in their proper order.
We have a different relationship with our dads as we do with our brothers. And the same is true with God and the Saints. I would never worship a Saint. I only worship and praise God. But Jesus wants us to have relationships with His family, His mother Mary, His friends the Saints. God wants us to know the Angels also. They are given to us by God for our help(Matthew 18:10). All of these things God has given to us to work together in order to Glorify Him through Christ Jesus.
Once a person dies, how can we communicate with them since they cannot hear us?
We believe that death does not separate us from our family and friends in Christ. On the contrary, we believe that when we die in a state of Grace and friendship with God, then our ability to pray for each other only increases!
Saint Paul says (Romans 8:38) “For I am convinced that neither death nor life… will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” As humans, we are both body and soul. When we die, our soul still exists. Only our physical body is gone, but the “person” is still alive. Especially for those who have died in the Grace and friendship of God. So when Jesus said, “the Kingdom of God is among you”, He is saying that if we order our lives in Christ now, then this is how Heaven is.
Additionally, Jesus admonishes the Pharisees when He tells them “He is not the God of the dead, but of the living” speaking of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (Mark 12:27). So we know that the Saints in Heaven are living in this same way.
In all of this, our greatest desire is to Love God. This is the first and greatest Command – “Love the Lord your God with all your heart”. If we accept Christ and what he did for us (the Cross), and we do our best to Love Him, then really everything else falls into place. “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God, and His righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you”. (Matthew 6:33)
Meditating on the Transfiguration of Jesus (Mark 9, Matthew 17, and Luke 9). This is where we can see the meaning of Jesus being God and man. Because He brings Heaven to earth for our benefit. This was His primary mediation. Jesus takes His best friends, Peter, James and John, with Him up a mountain. Then Jesus is transfigured before them, and His clothes became dazzling white, and He was with Moses and Elijah talking with them. It is like God introducing His Old Testament friends to His New Testament friends. Moses and Elijah represent the Law and the Prophets. Moses brought the Law (the Commandments) and Elijah was one of the greatest Prophets (even John the Baptist came in the spirit of Elijah). So these two figures represent together the Love of God – because Jesus says the Law and the Prophets hang on the Love of God. When Jesus was asked what the Greatest Command was He replied “’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’This is the first and greatest commandment.And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
So we see that in Loving God with all our hearts, just as He commands, it is a fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets (Moses and Elijah). The Transfiguration, therefore, was a demonstration of the Kingdom of God, the union of earth and Heaven. The Law and the Prophets meeting the New Church. You could think of the Transfiguration as God lifting the veil a little, to give us a peak at what He sees. Heaven is where are hearts are – (Matthew 6) “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also”. And although Moses and Elijah had lived long ago, they were still alive in Christ, and fulfilling their mission through the Love of God.
Jesus told us to pray – “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven”. This is what Jesus meant, that in the Love of God, the Kingdom and the Will of God will be done on earth just like in Heaven.
As members of the Body of Christ, the Saints still actively participate in helping us to make it to Heaven with them! Our relationship with God is much more complete and better when we work with His friends. Jesus comes closer to us, the closer we are to His friends. . Jesus is the Bride-Groom and we are His Bride. The Saints are the wedding guests. If we truly love our Lord Jesus, then it is important to know and love His friends.
So I hope that this helps to explain why we pray to the Saints. If I pray to the Saints, it is only in addition to my prayers to God. I love God with all my heart. I am relating to them like I would with my brother and sister. I love my dad more and differently than my siblings. I treat my dad differently – with more respect, etc. But I know he would be hurt if I didn’t have a relationship with my other family members also. Together we make my dad even happier… sometimes. Haha! Sometimes we cause more trouble together also. But everything has its time. Sometimes I do just think of God and pray only to Him. (Alone time with my Father). But when it is appropriate, God sees it as a beautiful thing to have me thinking of Moses and Elijah, or St. Francis and St. Therese. Sometimes it helps to talk with them also. And just like you and me writing each other. That leads me to think of God more, and in new ways. To the Glory of God through Christ!
Therefore, I want to urge you to consider saying a prayer to the Saints this All Saints Day. They are sure to bring you closer to Our Lord Jesus. May His Kingdom come, and His Will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven. Amen!
Happy All Saints Day.
-Your Family in Christ at All Saints Museum