God is a communion of love, and we’re invited to join that communion!

How can we be one with God?

“I [Jesus] pray not only for these,
but also for those who will believe in me through their word,
so that they may all be one,
as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us,
so that they may be one, as we are one,
I in them and you in me…”  (cf John 17:20-23)

Jesus is speaking to God the Father. In this verse, we can see the communion of God. We know, since Jesus revealed it to us, that there are three persons in the one God. The term which we use to describe the three persons is the Trinity or the tri-une God.

Jesus is praying to His Father that His disciples may all be one as the Father and the Son are one. Now, the Father and the Son are one in substance, i.e. they are both the one God. Since we humans cannot become one in substance, that is, we cannot become God, how can we be one with the Son in us and the Father in the Son? We can be united in one, that is, in full communion with the Father and the Son. The Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit are a communion–a communion of love–and we can be fully united in that communion of the Trinity. That is what it is to be in heaven–united with God.

The communion of God–the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit–does not need us in the least. The Father loves the Son completely and perfectly, giving everything He is to the Son. The Son loves the Father completely and perfectly, giving everything He is to the Father. As the Father and the Son love each other perfectly, They give everything They are to each other, even their very existence, and that perfect love brought into existence is the Holy Spirit.

The tri-une God loves us so much, that He wants us to become one with the communion of God. How incredible is that?! How undeserving we are to be united with God, yet He still wants us!

The beloved disciple, Saint John, says in his first letter (4:8) that “God is love.” There was a heresy in the early days of the Church called Sabellianism, in which the existence of the three persons of God was denied. This heresy was quashed quickly and easily given the multiple references to the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit in the gospels, e.g. the baptism of Jesus in Matthew 3:16-17, Mark 1:10-11, Luke 3:22 and the commission to teach the gospel and baptize in the name of the Trinity in Matthew 28:19.  In the last century, this heresy was revived in the Pentecostal Oneness movement.

OK, back to Saint John. He said, “God is love.” If God is love, then God loves. Makes sense, right? We know that God does not change; therefore, if God loves now, He has always loved, even before the existence of the universe. If God is a lover then there must be a beloved. Before the universe existed, God was alone. If God is a lover, who was the beloved?  There must have been a “target” of that love. How can one love if there is nobody to love? The Father is the lover, the Son is the beloved, the Holy Spirit is the shared love. God is a communion of love! (And we’re invited to join that communion!) You don’t need to understand the Trinity to believe. Our pitiful, created, finite minds will never comprehend the infinite, uncreated God.

As Saint Augustine said:  Seek not to understand that you may believe, but believe that you may understand.

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Published in: on June 6, 2014 at 18:43  Leave a Comment  
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Are you a betrayer like Judas or Peter?

We have all betrayed our Lord at different times in our lives.  Some of us betray Him often; other people betray Him rarely.  But when you do sin, who do you emulate?  Judas or Peter?  Judas had deep regret for His betrayal, but what did he do?  Did he seek forgiveness?  Did he ask for mercy?  No, he went and committed suicide.  He received no forgiveness for his sin because he didn’t seek it.  God is merciful.  His ocean of mercy is greater than your sea of sin.

Now, Peter.  He denied Christ three times just as Jesus told him he would.  At the cock’s crow, Jesus looked at Peter.  Peter realized his betrayal and went and wept bitterly.  Theologians say he had a deeper conversion at that moment.  Peter was forgiven because he was open to it, unlike Judas.

So the question is, are you a betrayer like Judas or Peter?  Will you seek forgiveness and mercy while on your knees?  Or have you become distant and unbelieving of the mercy of our Lord?  Never think you cannot be forgiven.  No matter what your sin is, no matter how many times you’ve sinned, no matter how long it’s been since you’ve been to confession, you will ALWAYS be forgiven if you are truly repentant, if you truly regret your sin, if you truly mean to go and sin no more.

Jesus is called the “Divine Mercy” for a reason.  Because His mercy is endless if you only go to Him and throw yourself on the mercy of our Lord.  He loves you with a love you cannot even imagine, and His desire is that you be with Him in heaven at the end of your earthly life.  If you haven’t been to confession in a long time and are afraid to go, pray and ask for the courage.  The priest is always ready to receive you.  There’s really no need to be embarrassed or frightened or nervous, even though it is human nature.  Just go to your local priest, confess–if you don’t remember how, just ask, priests are more than willing to help you–and you will be absolved of all your sins.  Those words of absolution can make you cry.  It feels as if a great weight is lifted off your shoulders.  Freedom from the slavery of sin is an amazing thing.

You have betrayed our Lord.  Now be like Peter.  Then go and sin no more.

Know the Shepherd

This is the March 30, 2014 Reflection from Give Us This Day, Daily Prayer for Today’s Catholic:

There’s a true story I love about a house party in one of the big English country houses.  Often after dinner at these parties, people give recitations, sing, and use whatever talent they have to entertain the company.  One year a famous actor was among the guests.  I’ve been told he might have been Charles Laughton.  When it came his turn to perform, he recited the Twenty-third Psalm, perhaps the most beloved psalm in the Psalter.  The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.  His rendition was magnificent, and there was much applause.  At the end of the evening someone noticed a little old great aunt dozing in the corner.  She was deaf as a post and had missed most of what was going on, but she was urged to get up and recite something.  In those days, people used to memorize a lot of poetry!  So she stood up, and in her quavery old voice she started, The Lord is my shepherd, and went on to the end of the psalm.  When she had finished there were tears in many eyes.  Later one of the guests approached the famous actor.  “You recited that psalm absolutely superbly.  It was incomparable.  So why were we so moved by that funny, little old lady?”

He replied, “I know the psalm.  She knows the shepherd.”

–Madeleine L’Engle, Glimpses of Grace:  Daily Thoughts and Reflections

Published in: on April 2, 2014 at 10:05  Leave a Comment  
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Human Reason? Church? Bah!

Are you a person who says you do not believe in human reason, rather only in the scriptures?  Well then, you believe in human reason!  If you read a passage and determine its meaning, then you have used your own reason.  And how do you know you’re right?  Certainly, there is nothing wrong with reason.  God endowed us with it.  He wants us to use it.  But how do you know you are right?

The Son of God took flesh, became one of us, His own creatures, and gave His life for our sins.  He founded a Church to continue to teach all nations with His authority (see Matthew 16:18 and 28:19).   There can be only one authority.  This Church Jesus founded assembled various writings, now universally recognized to be inspired by the Holy Spirit.  The Church that created the Holy Bible is the final authority on its interpretation.  (“Philip ran up and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet and said, ‘Do you understand what you are reading?’  He replied, ‘How can I, unless someone instructs me?'” –Acts of the Apostles 8:30-31).  Jesus founded one Church (“my Church” see Matthew 16:18), and no pretender could possibly have authority over it.

Published in: on February 28, 2014 at 00:50  Leave a Comment  
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The Importance of the Family Rosary

The following comes from the fall newsletter of Mother Miriam’s new community, Daughters of Mary, Mother of Israel’s Hope (pdf), and I thought it was appropriate for this Month of the Holy Rosary:

[F]rom the booklet “Our Glorious Faith and How To Lose It” by Fr.  Hugh Thwaites, S.J.  “It seems to me,” wrote Father Thwaites, “that a principal cause of the loss of faith is the dropping off in the practice of the family Rosary.”

Father Thwaites begins: “Without delay now, I want to talk about my theme.” (Note: Bolded type below in original.)

In Austria, after World War II, there was a complete collapse of vocations.  One year, apparently, no one at all entered the seminaries.  So the bishops held a synod, to find out how it could be that this had happened.  The conclusion they reached was that the war had so disrupted family life that the centuries-old practice of the Rosary in the home had stopped, and had just not started up again.  This is my experience, too; when the Rosary goes, the faith soon collapses.

I remember someone telling me of a friend of his, a great Catholic, the pillar of the parish, whose children had all lapsed, one after the other.  They had all fallen away from the sacraments and from attending Mass.  So I said to him, “I wouldn’t mind betting that your friend had been brought up to recite the family Rosary when he was a boy, and that his children haven’t.” The next time I saw him, he said that this was indeed true.  His friend had recited the family Rosary at home when he was a boy, and when he had got married and started his own family they all said the Rosary.  But then, one evening when they were about to start the Rosary, one of the children switched on the television, and that was that.  The custom of the family Rosary was dropped, and in due course, they gave up the practice of the faith.

After this life, that one unrebuked action will be seen to have affected the eternity of many people.  God sent His Mother to Fatima to tell us that we had to say the Rosary every day.   There were no other prayers She asked us to say.  Accordingly, we should do what She asked.

A layman I met once who did not say his Rosary told me that he read the breviary every day.  That is fine.  It is what priests have to do.  It is the prayer of the Church.  So in a way it is better than the Rosary.  But it is not what Our Lady asked for.  She asked for the Rosary.  If a mother sends her child to the shop for a bottle of milk, and he comes back instead with ice cream, is she pleased? In a way, ice cream is better than milk, but it is not what she asked for.

In that most holy home at Nazareth, do you think that Our Lady had to ask for anything twice? If we want in any way to be like Jesus, we must do what His Mother asks.  If we do not, can we expect things to go right? We cannot with impunity disobey the Mother of God.  She knows better than we the dangers of this spiritual warfare.  She sees more clearly than we do the dangers that beset us.  She warns us: You must say your Rosary every day.

If the garage mechanic warns you that your car needs repairing or else it will break down, surely you would heed that warning.  If the gas gauge warns you that you need more gas, do you do nothing about it? And if Our Lady comes to Fatima and tells us, not just once but six times, that we must say the Rosary every day, do we disregard that warning? If we do, we have only ourselves to blame when we find that our children have lapsed from the faith.

I know that Fatima is only a private revelation, but nevertheless the Church has endorsed it, and that makes it rash for us to disregard it.  If the Church informs us that Our Lady really did come to Fatima and tell us these things, then we must harken to her words.  It really seems to me that those Catholics who do not take Fatima seriously and say the Rosary every day in their homes are very akin to the Jews who laughed at Jeremiah.  If God sends us His prophets and we do not take them seriously–well, we have the whole of the Old Testament to tell us what happens as a result.  But at Fatima, God sent us, not His prophets, but His Immaculate Mother.

So I think that the abandonment of the family Rosary is a main reason why so many Catholics have lost the faith.  It seems to me that the Church of the future is going to consist solely of those families who have been faithful to the Rosary.  But there will be vast numbers of people whose families used to be Catholic.

In my work of going round visiting homes, I have seen this conclusion borne out time and again.  Homes can be transformed by starting the recitation of the daily Rosary.  I remember a woman telling me that she could not thank me enough for having nagged her into starting it; it had united her family as never before.  And I remember another home where I called.  There was a strange tension there: the children were silent and the wife seemed withdrawn, but the husband was willing to start the family Rosary.  When I called back again a couple of months later, the atmosphere was quite different.  The children were chatty and the wife was friendly, and the husband walked down the road with me afterwards and said how amazing it was that the home was so much happier.

One reason, I think, why the daily Rosary makes for a happy home, is this.  From what some possessed people have said, and from what some of the saints have said, it seems certain that demons fear the Rosary.  It makes their hair stand on end, so to speak.  Holy water certainly drives them out, but they come back again.  The daily Rosary drives them out and keeps them out.  It is rather like living in an old house where there are mice everywhere.  The only way to get rid of them is to bring cats.  If you get a couple of cats, after a week or two there simply will not be any more mice.  Mice fear the very smell of cats.  And in a home where the Rosary is said every day, after a time the demons realize they are impotent in front of Our Lady, and go elsewhere.

This must be one reason why, as they say, “the family that prays together stays together.” In that home, utterly free of evil spirits, there is an atmosphere one does not find outside.  In a demon‑infested city like London, where I live, such a home is an oasis of God’s grace, and people find a comfort and peace there which they enjoy greatly.  We human beings are not meant to live in the company of demons, but with God and with the angels and saints in heaven.

So, as I see it, in this effort we are making to keep the faith and pass it on, the practice of the Rosary is absolutely indispensable.  Whatever else a person may do, even though they go to Mass every day, they still need to say the Rosary in their home.  It is the medicine our Mother has told us to take, to keep our faith strong and healthy.

Try to say the Rosary everyday and please Our Lady of Fatima, Our Lady of the Rosary.