Shroud of Turin Veneration Live Stream

From Rome Reports:

The cathedral of Turin will open the reliquary that contains the Shroud of Turin, to pray for the end of the pandemic.

This is the cloth that covered Jesus’ body. It is rarely shown to pilgrims.

The prayer begins at 5 p.m. Rome time.

The last time the relic was shown was two years ago, for the Synod of Bishops on Youth.

It will be shown again at the end of 2020, in December, during a world youth meeting organized by the Taizé Community.

Godlessness Fears Truthfulness

Fake news? Says who? Extremist speech? According to who? The latest craze in secular rhetoric is to disqualify truth by labeling it as fraudulent, dishonest, cruel, or unjust.  The secular super powers who control the information are becoming the arbiters of what information is worthy of being seen, read or heard. Today, it’s political speech. Tomorrow—and this is already starting to happen—it’ll be moral speech.

The European Union has drafted a law that would force sites to remove extremist content. In an article on engadget.com, Jon Fingas writes,

“[T]he EU is drafting legislation to force Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other internet companies to delete material when law enforcement flags it as terrorist-related.”

He goes on to talk about how the law, if passed by the EU and member nations, could be a logistical nightmare for small websites who don’t have the staff or resources to respond to the ‘take-down’ mandate within the legally mandated hour of it being flagged. But he suggests that, on a positive note, “A law could [still] help by encouraging sites to think about anti-extremist strategies from the get go, but it might also create logistical headaches for sites with limited staff and tight budgets.”

While he sees some concern for worry, his worry is logistical, and not moral or ethical.  Because nowhere does the author mention the problem of a lack of credible, central authority, or the problem of authoritarian rule over free speech.  Who decides what content is “extreme” or too extreme for people to have access to it? Who decides what content is “terrorist-related”?  In a world that views the communication of certain truths as “hate speech”, or speech that does “harm” to the emotions of others, it would seem that anything could be flagged as “extremist”, based on a whim, a misunderstanding, or worse, based on personal bias.  Though the article, site, or video could be completely true, accurate, and fair, it could be taken down by Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, or others with the “authority” of this new law behind them.

There are real reasons to be worried about this trend.

The Southern Poverty Law Center, which seems to be a de facto authority and reference for which groups should be considered “extreme”, or “hate groups” labels “radical traditional Catholicism” as “extremist” and “hate groups”. Even the Department of Defense had classified Catholics and evangelicals as extremists just a few years ago.  Whether or not some traditionalist Catholic groups are actually extreme or not is irrelevant. The Southern Poverty Law Center has no credibility, competency (with regard to Catholic theology, Vatican II and so on), and therefor no authority to make that determination.  For example I don’t personally care for The Remnant, and I would personally call them extreme. But I wouldn’t call them “extremist” or a hate group, nor would I call them too extreme for the eyes and ears of the general public. I say let the public make that determination themselves.  Yet The Remnant is one of many groups that made the SPLC’s list of “extermist hate groups”.

An interesting article at the Catholic Herald discussed this same concern of Christians possibly becoming victims of the government’s crackdown on Islamism.  In truth, without an objective measurement (which the secular world intentionally never provides), it’s not at all fantastic to imagine that Catholics and Catholic groups who say abortion is wrong, that marriage is between a man and a woman, that sex is unitive, and procreative and reserved to the sacred institution of marriage, or who “injure” the emotions of others by saying that hell is real could be labeled as hate groups, or as extremists, or both.  In todays world, these basic truths of the faith are extreme, and are challenging enough in such a morally disfigured world that a person could consider them “harmful” or “hate speech”.

Another article on engadget.com today has this headline: “Jack Dorsey [CEO of Twitter] explains why Twitter is reluctant to fight fake news“.  Again, who is the authority that determines what news is “fake”?  Is it Jack Dorsey?  Is it Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook?  Why should they have this authority?  And by what standard to they determine what news is “fake” and should therefor be censored?  Would it be news that they don’t like? News that conflicts with their misunderstanding of the facts? News that opposes their political perspectives?

In 2009 the Washington Post wrote an article titled “Condoms, HIV-AIDS and Africa – The Pope Was Right“. It’s based on the research of Dr. Edward C Green; a non-religious, non-conservative researcher who had determined that the Catholic Church’s approach to AIDS (behavior change) is actually the only one proven to work. Not condoms, but Catholic truth!  Mr. Green’s conclusions are based on empirical evidence. But today I would bet that the article would be labeled as “fake news” because it bucks the system, and opposes the current narrative that condoms actually save lives?  Perhaps, being published on The Washington Post, it would get a pass (and perhaps not, given the gravity of the topic), but if a similar article were published on an independent news site or blog, it’d be sure to get flagged and blocked. The work, and conclusions of a bona fide researcher in the field would likely never be seen or heard about, because some intern at Facebook or Twitter would flag it as “fake news”, and it would be deleted, or hidden and never seen.

We are living in times where the culture is shaped, ruled and governed by the godless, and by godlessness.  And this world is waging war on God and His truth.  Current trends in the culture, in media and social media are creating an atmosphere where telling the truth can get you silenced, and in time perhaps even penalized.  The godless fear the truth. That has been true since the Old Testament.  But even the sinful Ninevites were wise and honest enough with themselves that they repented at the preaching of Jonah. What will become of this modern day Nineveh? Will they repent at the preaching of the Church, or will they crucify the truth, and feed the truth-tellers to the wild animals of the modern culture?  Pray!

Ave Maria, virgo fidelis!

Joy and Thanksgiving

Joy and thanksgiving seem like corny, melodramatic words. But they have a deep and rich importance in our human experience, and it’s important to grow in our understanding of them, and to express them in our life.

Thanksgiving

All good things are of God.

Every good thing. Every thing that is good in our lives is of God. It doesn’t merely come from God—but that too—it is of God. It happens because God is.

We can easily lose sight of that. It’s easy for us to be ungrateful to God for the good things in our lives, because we don’t count them as good things, we just reduce them to things that are normal to our experience. But take those “normal” things away, and you’ll see immediately just how good they are, and how fortunate and loved by God you are to have them.

What do you enjoy in your life? What is good in your life? Really think about that. Think hard, and consider the small things, not the large things. Do you enjoy sitting with your coffee in the morning? Do you enjoy a relaxing walk? When you first go outside in the morning and see that it’s going to be a beautiful day, does it delight you? Do you take a deep breath, look around you and say “Wow, what a beautiful day”? Do you enjoy moments of good conversation, or time with your family? Did anything happen to you today to make you smile or laugh, or to make you feel a little less burdened mentally or emotionally, even if just for a moment? These good things are possible only because God is. He is Goodness itself, and goodness in our lives only happens because reality proceeds from God’s very being. Whether he is directly involved (which He sometimes is) or not, goodness in our lives exists because of God.

That sunrise that delights you, the flowers that perfume the air and speckle the world around you with beauty…God did that. It’s His design. Your capacity to accept and appreciate beauty, your capacity to be intrigued, to laugh at a joke because you have a sense of humor…these are characteristics of your human person, and God created that. Your capacity to give love, and to receive love is God’s design. Your capacity to discern goodness and beauty is God’s doing.

At the end of every day, remember to give thanks to God for specific good things in your life, and for specific good things that you experienced in that day. Even if you [think you] had a bad day, you’ll find that having a spirit of thanksgiving to God for the good things in your life will change your outlook and opinion of your day, of your life, and of your own value and worth.

Joy

Joy is not a feeling. Feeling joyful is one of the fruits of being joyful, but being joyful doesn’t always mean we will feel like we’re floating on a cloud with emotional joyfulness. So what is joy? I’m not really sure 😐

Understanding joy and it’s true and deep meaning has always been a challenge for me. We hear about it in homilies, but the priest never seems to explain it. I know some things about joy, though. I know that joy is connected to a spirit of gratitude, so if you don’t have a thankful, grateful spirit, you’ll find joy almost impossible to experience. I also know that joy is not an emotion. I know that it’s an attitude of being rather than an emotion or feeling. And I know that when I am experiencing joy the most clearly (but I’m sure not exclusively) is when I receive the sacraments.

I’m joyful at the reception of the Eucharist. I’m joyful every time I come out of the confessional. These sacraments show me how much God loves me, and therefor how intrinsically lovable I am. They show me how much God values me, and by extension how I must therefor value others, since he loves them the same. And those sacraments are indispensable tools in my journey to grow in virtue and holiness; so it’s not just that they show me God’s love for me, but they also help me to love and care for what God has made in me—my soul, my person. Because without those sacraments, I would wither away.

How we are healed and made whole again when the priest recites the prayer of absolution! How we are nourished by the most holy Eucharist! How we are empowered to be a little closer, and closer, and closer to God, and how we are more, and more enabled to change our sinful natures to become more like Him! It’s just absolutely amazing! It’s amazing how no sin is above God’s mercy and no sinner is too hopeless to be nourished and refreshed by the body of Christ Himself.

That is the cause of my joy. The amazing thing that happens at every altar during every mass, in every church throughout the world. The wonderful thing that takes place at every confession when the priest raises his hand over a penitent and recites the prayer of absolution which ends with “may the Lord grant you pardon and peace…” and “I absolve you of your sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit”

Be joyful and thankful to God. To the God of Heaven and earth give thanks, for his love and mercy endure forever (Psalm 136)

Ave Maria, Virgo Fidelis!

Is Bieber a Believer?

Justin Bieber has abandoned the Easter Bunny in favor of Jesus Christ this Easter.  In a post on Instagram he delivered a rather powerful message of witness to Christ and the reality of forgiveness and redemption.  But I’m not ready to throw a party and run out to buy his entire music catalogue just yet. I see a problem here.

I don’t want to be a dark cloud over a truly good thing.  So let’s acknowledge the positives first. Let’s start with what he posted

bieber-instagram

It’s a powerful message, and it’s great to hear it coming from someone like Justin Bieber, given his past, and given his influence even now.  It’s a great thing for a celebrity like Justin Bieber to say something this clearly and unapologetically Christian to a fanbase of millions of followers on Instagram. It’s a lot better than the faux-Christianity we often get from some celebrities’ social postings, which come off more like secular spiritualism or buddhism than actual Christianity.  What Justin Bieber offered here is straight-up Christianity.  So what’s the problem?  It’s Dangerously Incomplete.

God loves me where I am, how I am…

Something Justin said in his post stands out for me, because it’s the one thing that actually does sound like spiritual secularism. He says “God loves me where I am, how I am“.  While that’s technically true, it’s also dangerously misleading. God loves us all as we are, sure, but he loves the souls in hell, too. The idea that God loves us “as we are” is often construed as “God doesn’t hold us to a standard that he takes too seriously. I can modify or even invent doctrine as it suits me. I can impose onto Jesus a character of my own invention (a la hipster Jesus) and be faithful to THAT Jesus rather than the Jesus of the Gospels, who talks about judgement and justice as much as mercy and love.”

I don’t expect a new/reverted Christian to offer bulletproof theology in an Instagram post. But I would have hoped that the Catholic commentators on this story would have included it, for the benefit of their readers who may need to hear it.  So far, no one has.  Everybody seems to be throwing a party without consideration for housecleaning.  That’s how we do, in the Church. We have grown too careless in how we communicate.

…we have to be careful not to ingest poison with our orange juice.

I’m not trying to bring down a good moment.  Bieber’s post on Instagram was a good moment. His conversion/reversion is a good thing, and it’s a great thing that he’s sharing that experience with his fans in an industry that is not only very secular, but is increasingly hostile toward God and the Christian faith.  These are all good things.  But we have to be careful not to ingest poison with our orange juice.  Poison can be masked by the sweetness of orange juice. That’s how most Catholics ingest poison…it’s transmitted over something sweet.    Not all bad theology that takes root in the hearts and minds of Catholics gets to them via bad religious instruction. Oftentimes it gets to them via the transmission of small errors, conveyed over the avenue of something sweet and wonderful to ingest.

Pray for Justin Bieber’s continuing journey toward Christ. Pray for his strength and perseverance. Pray that, somewhere down the line, he even becomes Catholic.  And let’s pray for each other, brothers and sisters, because we’re all on the same journey as Justin. We may be at a different point along the road from where he is, but we’re on the same journey, and we all need grace to persevere.  God bless you all.

Go to Joseph, the Model of Real Manhood

Today is the feast day of St. Joseph!  He’s one of my favorite saints, and every man should model themselves after his example.  He was a good husband, a good father, and had a burning love and devotion for God.

We know St. Joseph was a man of tremendous righteousness and holiness, because he was chosen to be the husband of Our Blessed Mother, and the foster father of Our Lord Jesus.  God didn’t entrust his two greatest treasures (Mary and Jesus) to just anybody. He entrusted them to St. Joseph.

Joseph was the protector, provider, guardian, and head of household to Jesus and the Blessed Mother.  He was a hard worker, too. The scriptures say he was a carpenter, but in the original greek texts the word “tekton” is more than just “carpenter”.  It usually refers to a master builder who works with his hands.  So whether St. Joseph only worked with wood, or also worked with stone and metals and clay, he was surly a hard worker who labored and toiled to provide for his family’s needs.

JosephwithChildJesusJesus learned a lot from St. Joseph.  In fact he probably learned a lot about God, the scriptures, and prayer from St. Joseph, since Joseph was the spiritual leader of the family.  Finally, St. Joseph, along with the Blessed Mother, impressed upon the human character of Jesus.  So when we read the Gospels and begin to understand Jesus’ human personality, you’re seeing a personality that was formed and shaped in large part by St. Joseph.

Joseph was a man so holy, so good, so righteous, and he had such a burning love for God, for Our Lady, and for Jesus. I can only imagine what kind of an amazing man St. Joseph was (is), but when I contemplate him, I marvel at what God has made.

I’d like to share this short little prayer to St. Joseph. It is traditionally intended to be said after the Rosary, that’s why it starts off with “…having implored the help of thy thrice-holy Spouse”.  But it isn’t required to be said after a Rosary.  I think it’s a great prayer, and I think it’ll help you to build your own relationship with St. Joseph. He’s a powerful intercessor. Pray to him. Ask for his intercession.  Don’t ignore him. Put him to work. He likes to work.

To thee, O blessed Joseph, do we have recourse in our tribulation, and, having implored the help of thy thrice-holy Spouse, we confidently invoke thy patronage also. By that charity wherewith thou wast united to the immaculate Virgin Mother of God, and by that fatherly affection with which thou didst embrace the Child Jesus, we beseech thee and we humbly pray, that thou wouldst look graciously upon the inheritance which Jesus Christ hath purchased by His Blood, and assist us in our needs by thy power and strength. Most watchful guardian of the Holy Family, protect the chosen people of Jesus Christ; keep far from us, most loving father, all blight of error and corruption: mercifully assist us from Heaven, most mighty defender, in this our conflict with the powers of darkness; and, even as of old thou didst rescue the Child Jesus from the supreme peril of His life, so now defend God’s Holy Church from the snares of the enemy and from all adversity; keep us one and all under thy continual protection, that we may be supported by thine example and thine assistance, may be enabled to lead a holy life, die a happy death and come at last to the possession of everlasting blessedness in Heaven. Amen.

You Need God’s Mercy. Ask for it!

Maybe you’re not a Church-goer. Maybe you just never find the time, or you don’t think it’s too important. Maybe you believe in God, but not in religion.  There are a bunch of reasons why you might be someone who’s asleep on Sundays while others are at mass.  But I want you to know something, and I give this to you not out of judgement, but out of love for you.

God believes in you. God believes in the religion he established. God is all over you, day and night, with total interest in you, and in everything you do in your day.  God sees you, and He knows you. He knows everything that’s good, and bad about you.  And one of the things He knows about you that you may be in denial of is that you’re a sinner.  We all are.  And I’m giving you this wisdom as one sinner to another sinner.

Sin is terrible. Whether we want to believe it or not, God sees it as it is, and knows it to be true. Sin is terrible.  So as sinners we can’t afford to be indifferent to God, the Father of mercy.  We can’t afford to be indifferent to Jesus Christ, the just Judge.  We need God’s mercy, in abundance. Fortunately for us God is eager to give us his mercy.  But we have to ask for it.  Ask him for it every day, because you need it.

“…from God’s perspective, this little act is substantial”

You can start off simpler than you think, no matter how long it’s been since you’ve been to Church or prayed.  Here’s something you can do that’s so simple it can almost seem insignificant. But from God’s perspective, this little act is substantial.

Go to a Church. Light a candle.  Now, while looking at a crucifix, or at the Tabernacle, bless yourself, and say “My Jesus, have mercy on me, a sinner”.

That’s it.

Stay a while, or leave right after you say that prayer. That’s up to you (and the holy Spirit).  But make this little act of reparation at every opportunity that you get (when passing a Church during your day, for example), and you’ll be on your way to getting right with God.  Ask God for mercy. Ask him, and ask him, and ask him. Ten times a day. A hundred. Ask him. We need his mercy

If you’ve ever said to yourself “One of these days I really should get back to church”, then stand by, and be ready. Because before long, after saying that brief littler prayer for a while, you’ll be back in church going to mass, and you’ll even be back in the confessional.   Not because you’ll be compelled by guilt, but because you’ll feel drawn to it by grace.  You’ll thirst for it, as Christ thirsted for you from the cross, and still thirsts for you right now…literally at this very moment.

A couple of parting words. The best way to  make that act of reparation is exactly as I wrote it. At a Church, after lighting a candle, and looking at/meditating on the crucifix or tabernacle.  Modify it if you need to. Any plea for God’s mercy is heard in Heaven. But making a little sacrifice of some kind (paying a buck to light a candle, for example), and being in the presence of the Holy (being at church) does make the prayer a little more effective.

Okay. Now go find Jesus, and make friends.  I love you.

Ave Maria, virgo fidelis!