Last year Michael and Max went to the ME conference and I chided them for not taking notes ... but this year we all went and Michael was busy scribbling right beside me :) What joy to share this with my sweetie. But also hard because it convicted me on so many things ... thank goodness I am alive so that I can amend my life. The lines for confession were long even though there were five priests! I'll tell you right away that by Sat. afternoon I developed a rotten migraine that persisted for 3-4 days more but every minute spent at the conference was worth it given how much I learned. The speakers were brilliant, on fire, and fanned the flames of love in my heart. And to spite the devil, who didn't want me to be at this conference, I share freely with you. Warning: long post and it's only Part I. You'd best grab a cup of tea.
Fr. Casey told us the story of a Pakistani boy, about 10 yrs old, who after his confirmation, spoke about Jesus to his playmates. The mullahs were enraged and said he was proselytizing, defaming Islam, and committing blasphemy. He was sentenced to death by hanging. The Christian community prayed for justice and the boy was acquitted by a secular judge. But at the bus stop, he was shot and another family member killed. I believe he died later too. Fr. Casey said, "he is a more loyal son of the Church than I am."
Fr. Casey posed many questions:
Why do Catholics in America fail to defend the Church and her teachings?
Why are we intimidated by the secular, pagan conquest of this country, this culture of death?
Why are we concerned with offending everyone but God?
Ouch! Don't think what's happened in other countries will not happen here. Freedom isn't free. We must fight to defend the faith. Can I hear an Amen?
Persecution is coming to America. The hot button issues on which we will have to remain faithful on are defense of life and the covenant relationship of marriage. Mother Teresa said, "If abortion isn't wrong, then nothing is wrong." And we are seeing that now.
|Bellini: St. Jerome Reading|
Fr. Casey reminded us from Scripture: If God is for us, who can be against us? (Rom. 8:31) Perfect love casts out fear. (Jn. 4:18) I have been crucified with Christ (Gal 2:20).
In another lecture, he spoke about abiding ourselves in the Living Word of God. That means read the Bible, folks. We just celebrated the Feast of St. Jerome, who translated the Bible into the Latin Vulgate. He said, "Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ." I just read a great essay on him, a saint with True Grit. The Bible is divinely inspired and inerrant. Christ established the Church and the Church gave us the Bible. It took more than 300 years to compile the Sacred Books and another thousand years to divide them into chapters and verses, but what a gift to humanity. Here is a little history lesson.Deacon Harold Burke-Sivers (the Dynamic Deacon) spoke about several things with great passion -- on faith and family mostly, that charity begins at home, as does faith formation. You cannot give to your children what you don't yourself have. This is so true. If we don't practice our faith, we cannot expect our children to, and this is particularly true regarding the faith of the father. Grace flows through him to the entire family. Deacon Harold sees a lot of couples with troubled marriages. He first tells them to pray together. The problem is that marriage becomes a cross, and when they divorce, they are putting down their cross and making their kids pick it up. Jesus says to pick up your cross and carry it.
In another lecture, he encouraged us to evangelize. He talked about sowing seeds and then getting the heck out, letting the Holy Spirit water and nurture those seeds. He spoke about CS Lewis' argument about Jesus Christ. Either He is who he says He is (Jesus is God) or He is a lunatic or charlatan.
I loved what he said about God wanting to be in a covenant relationship with us, which is an exchange of persons. Contrast that with what contracts are: an exchange of goods. I think this is the first time I understood that sense of belonging. I am Yours. You are mine. It is the same with marriage. Covenant. Not contract.
Dr. Ricardo Gomez spoke about the Eucharistic miracles he investigated to debunk Catholic claims of the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, the little piece of consecrated Bread that looks and tastes like bread. Instead he was converted from unbelief to belief. Praise God! He studied consecrated Hosts that began to bleed and that were preserved. Blind forensic tests showed that the tissue was human, damaged and inflamed (presence of white blood cells) denoting *living* tissue (even though some of the tests were conducted after several years had passed). Christ's Sacred Heart bleeds for us. I do not need a miracle to believe in the True Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, but many of these Eucharistic miracles have occurred because the priest had doubts.
I am always in wonder and awe of our priests whom Christ has given the power to change ordinary bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ. Not even our Blessed Mother, who was the most perfect creature was given that power. No, it rests in the consecrated hands of the Catholic priest. Even demons know this. That's why the Catholic Church is the most despised institution in this world.
Fr. Peter Stryker shared the story of young Adele, a Belgian immigrant to WI, and her visions of Mary who instructed her to teach the Catholic faith to the children. It is the first approved Marian apparition site in the US.
Bishop Guglielmone gave his homily on humility. You all know how hard this virtue is for me to practice ... but I am getting there slowly ... through obedience. Fr. Casey reminded us what humility is not: being a doormat, wimp, lazy, mediocre, thinking less of yourself, doing little or nothing. He said to acknowledge the gifts and talents given to us by God and to use them for the greater glory of God. Ad majorem Dei gloriam. So dream big and have the confidence that God is with you. Stay tuned for Part II.
|(I swiped this picture from their website with Max serving at Mass)|