Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Marian Eucharistic Conference Part 1: Two Pillars of Catholic Faith

We rolled into Greenville last Friday excited to go to the Marian Eucharistic conference only to hear of the terrorist attacks in Paris. But even through the numbness, I was not surprised. ISIS has been killing Christians in Syria, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and elsewhere but these events don’t make the news much. In fact, the current administration will not label this as genocide. Thud! The attack on Paris hits closer to home. This could happen here on our soil again. I only have to think back to 9/11. I pray for the people of France. France, that was once a Catholic country, home of some of my favorite saints, has abandoned its Christian roots. You cannot fight ISIS, with its ideology, with secularism. You can only fight it with the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. Fr. Mitch Pacwa, a Bible scholar, polyglot and an expert on matters of faith explains the current situation regarding Islam. Read and educate yourselves.

Saturday morning, the conference started with Holy Sacrifice of the Mass offered by Fr. Wade Menezes. This is a summary of his homily: It is the best way to begin anything, but also a response to the terror attacks. The Gospel reading was about the persistent widow and it is a parable for persistence in prayer. He focused on three virtues to increase faith: constancy (being patient and not falling into despair), long-suffering (bearing wrongs with equanimity because we have HOPE), and standing strong in times of temptations (resisting temptations makes us strong). All this through the grace of God, so frequent the Sacraments! Father Wade recounted the famous and prophetic vision of St. John Bosco in which the Church is a huge ship in rough waters. At the helm is the Holy Father and he is guiding the ship between two pillars, the larger one having atop, the Blessed Sacrament exposed and the smaller one a statue of Mary, under her title, Help of Christians (note, not just Catholic, but all Christians). The ship is being attacked by demonic forces. They hurl all sorts of things, including books (evil propaganda?). The Holy Father manages to steer the ship to safety through the two columns.
These are dangerous times. We are mired in the culture of death -- there's genocide, terrorism, suicide attacks on the global level, but on the personal level, there's abortion, euthanasia, contraception, unnatural marriage, cloning, and excessive materialism that degrades our humanity. We need to be vigilant, have a strong faith and must strive to be in the state of grace. These are times of trials and temptations, persecution but we need to live our Christian faith. And what a gift we have in our Catholic faith -- Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament and His Mother, who always points the way to Him.
Coincidentally, I came across this very politically incorrect quote from St. John Bosco but in light of the terrorist attacks, I believe him.  “It would take too long to tell you all the stories about this famous impostor (…) Mohamed’s religion consists of a monstrous mixture of Judaism, Paganism and Christianity. Mohamed propagated his religion, not through miracles or persuasive words, but through the force of arms. [It is] a religion that favors every sort of licentiousness and which, in a short time, allowed Mohamed to become the leader of a troop of brigands. Along with them he raided the countries of the East and conquered the people, not by introducing the Truth, not by miracles or prophecy; but for one reason only: to raise his sword over the heads of the conquered shouting: believe or die.”
Now before you throw rotten fruit at me, listen. The vast majority of Muslims I know have more in common with us than not. They desire the same things we do, struggle as we do, but they are followers of a man that leaves their holy book to many interpretations, which is exactly what is happening with ISIS. All we can do is to pray.

Mother Mary, help of Christians, come to our aid. Teach us to love your Son. May He reign in all our hearts.
St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle. Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray, and do thou O Prince of the Heavenly Hosts, by the power of God, thrust down into hell Satan and all the evil spirits who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls. Amen. 
Fr. Wade also gave a lecture on Being Faithful to Your Daily Duty. Briefly, it means working out your salvation through your station in life. No one is exempt from the universal call to holiness. If you are a student, study. If you are a priest, live the priestly vocation. If you are mother of eight children, care for and educate the children. But in all cases, there must be a balance between prayer, work and recreation. A good resource is Opus Dei.
He talked a great deal about mercy given that the Jubilee Year of Mercy is about to begin. God is love. But Mercy is Love's second name. We need mercy because of the reality of sin. God is more interested in our future, what we can become, than our past. If we sincerely repent, God's grace pours out on us. Confession is one of the Sacraments of Healing. If St. Augustine, a former lust-addict, fathering a child out of wedlock, can become a Doctor of the Church and an expert on moral theology (hee hee), there is hope for all the rest of us!
Everybody knows that St. Augustine gives credit to his mother, St. Monica, for his conversion. But what most people don't know is that she was an alcoholic. After a maid called her on it, she resolved never to touch drink. And at the same time, she continued praying for her son. Talk about her strength of will. All by the grace of God! We accomplish nothing by ourselves.
Faithfulness in our daily duty trains us to fight for the crown of salvation (St. Aug/St. Padre Pio).
So ask yourself how you've failed in your daily duty. For this you need good self-knowledge, otherwise you cannot grow. Know your virtues, so you can advance them. Know your vices, natural or acquired, to uproot them. Virtue breeds virtue. So does vice.
Father Wade has three personal prayers for growing in self-knowledge:
Lord, please walk beside me today. Put your arm around my shoulder and your hand over my mouth.
Dear Lord, help me to become the person my dog thinks I am.
And my favorite is the Tweety-bird prayer.
Father Wade quoted a lot of saints. Too many to do justice. So all I'll say is that when saints come onto your radar, become intimate with them. They'll have much to teach you.
I missed the second lecture he gave on Being Other-Centered because I was being anointed and prayed over in the Sacrament of Healing by Father Joseph Mary Wolfe, a most gentle priest whom I've heard on EWTN, and who works there both as an engineer and priest. Thank you Father.


Mirka Breen said...

My son, now a graduate student in Paris, lives two-minute walk from a cafe where nineteen people were mowed down last Friday. Our government officials won't even say the word "radical Islam" in the same sentence as "terrorism. " Political correctness is usually well meaning, but it can be downright dangerous when you fear to call a spade a spade.

Vijaya said...

Mirka, sending prayers for your son's safety and for all the people in France. Yeah, our admin has really dropped the ball fighting terrorism and I'm mad about that. Hugs to you.