Friday, September 30, 2016
William wants to go on to earn a doctorate in astrophysics. He wishes to present his theories on black holes, space-time, and gravity. However, his most important desire is to prove God exists. He says, "I want to prove to everybody that God does exist, by showing that only an outside force could be capable of forming the cosmos."
Young William is very smart indeed. At such an early age, he is convinced that God exists. Despite the claims from atheists that science disproves God, William sees the opposite. He sees that nothing in science conflicts with the idea of a God creating the universe. It was science that led me to God, so I can relate to William. I too entered college early thanks to God's gift of allowing my brain to do slightly a bit better than the "normal" brain. Ironically, William had difficulty entering kindergarten due to his response to simply questions such as, "Is gray a color?" He understood it as a shade, not a color. I recall dealing with the same judgments as a kid and even as an adult now. I sometimes do not get the simplest of things, such as a simple joke! I remember as a kid, my cousins used to asked me "what's up" and I answered "the sky." I did not understand the colloquialism behind the phrase. It can be a curse sometimes, but God creates each of us differently. My brain, just like William's, processes this world via reason and mathematics instead of emotion, as is the case with most people. In any event, this does not make anyone better than anyone else. Each one of us has our gifts. I hope to read some of William's works and theories. Hopefully, I can have him on Sacerdotus Radio or Sacerdotus Hangouts.
Monday, September 26, 2016
The debate was well organized, in my opinion. Donald Trump came out strong in the first half hour or so. He countered Hillary Clinton's points very well. However, the rest of the way, he seemed to have lost steam. Clinton spoke eloquently on the economy, jobs and racism. At times, she brushed off Trump with condescending tone. It was apparently clear that she was trying to bait him to get emotional on stage. Trump at times did get flustered, kept drinking water but never got into a shouting match like he did against Jeb Bush during the primary debates. Clinton did not get into any shouting match as well, but one could tell that she was holding back. Both candidates sighed a few times, showing frustration. On the economy, Trump did very well. He reminded everyone of the situation the nation is in and that he will be the best person to fix the problems regarding jobs and the national debt. Clinton spoke as a scripted politician and Trump did a good job calling her out on that by stating that politicians are all talk and no action. This fit his narrative well since he is billing himself as the "outsider" against career politicians.
Clinton attacked Trump for not opening up his tax returns. Trumps shot back saying that he will release them when she releases the 30,000 emails she deleted. Clinton accused Trump of hiding that he does not pay taxes. Trump shot back saying, "That makes me smart." This may have harmed him with voters who are not pleased with how the rich often get away without paying taxes. It seems Clinton set him up to say this. Clinton also went after Trump's business record attacking him for going into bankruptcy and not paying contractors. Trump responded that this was business and that he does not pay anyone who does a bad job. Clinton presented herself as having experience. Trump rebuttal saying "She's got experience but it's bad experience." This drew cheering from the crowd.
The issue of birtherism was brought up. Trump accused Clinton and a staffer of promoting the idea that Obama was not an American citizen. Clinton pushed the view that Trump's request for Obama's birth certificate was offensive to African Americans and bothered president Obama greatly. The topic was mixed with the talk on violence in cities. Trump stated that stop and frisk must be brought back. He stated that it help reduced crime in New York City dramatically. An NYPD tweet seemed to have confirmed this.
. @NYPDnews: Stop & frisk has decreased nearly 97% in NYC since '11. Crime, murder, & shootings decreased significantly during same period.— Eyewitness News (@ABC7NY) September 27, 2016
Ironically, the wall and immigration were not brought up in the debate. Clinton did jab Trump on his temperament. However, Trump stated that he had a better temperament citing Hillary's recent outburst with a reporter. Clinton said that American cannot have a president who loses it over a tweet controlling nuclear weapons. Trump replied, "That line is getting old." The debate was interesting to watch. I was expecting more of a showdown, but perhaps the candidate held back in order to see how polls responded. Not much in regards to plans were discussed. To me, the debate seemed more like a discussion. Trump did interrupt Clinton a few times which I think was uncalled for. Some in the media are spinning it saying he was trying to speak over a woman. Clinton seemed poised the well measured but obviously scripted. She did prepare for the debate, one could tell. Trump, I believe, did not prepare well enough and was left looking weak at certain instances. Lester Holt was also asking Trump more questions than Hillary, which I found unfair. He was clearly protecting Clinton. She hardly got crossed examined.
Clearly, the moderator Lester, is focusing more on Trump and sparing Clinton. #debatenight #debates #Debates2016— Sacerdotنs (@Sacerdotus) September 27, 2016
Most people on the media and social media believe Clinton won. So far, a poll I posted on Twitter shows this same view. I personally believe it was a tie. Neither candidate really stood out.
I think the #debatenight was a tie Clinton had good replies and was poised. Trump did good, but seemed lost at times. #Debates2016— Sacerdotنs (@Sacerdotus) September 27, 2016
Earlier in the day, I posted this poll which showed many believed Trump would win.
Who will win tonight's debate?— Sacerdotنs (@Sacerdotus) September 26, 2016
Sunday, September 25, 2016
In the first reading, God tells us of the complacency in Zion. The people got wealthy. They lived comfortable lives with beds of ivory, eating lambs and enjoying the high life. The people drank the best wines and anointed themselves with the best oils or perfumes. He tells them that they will be the first to go into exile and that their revelry will be done away with. Zion forgot its humble beginnings. The people of Jerusalem in Israel forgot the times they were under chains living in the desert and in poverty (Exodus 14:30). God provided for them (Exodus 16:4). They are now established in the holy land and feel they are entitled to the best the earth had to offer at the time (Exodus 16:35). We must not become like them (Psalm 106). We must not become too comfortable in this world. Unfortunately, our Catholic Church has gotten too comfortable in the world.
Pope Francis and Pope Benedict XVI have reminded us of this many times. Benedict XVI reminded us that we forgot our evangelization zeal. He also stated, “The world offers you comfort. But you were not made for comfort. You were made for greatness." We are not going out into the world as we should in order to preach the Gospel. Instead, we sit in our parishes and wait for people to show up on schedule. Then when they do not show up, we wonder what happened and begin to shut down parishes. Pope Francis reminds us that we have locked ourselves up in the walls of rectories and the like. We are not going out there getting the scent of the sheep, so to speak. We are not going out there reaching out to the one sheep that got away (Matthew 18:12). I say "we" because of the "pastoral sloth," as I call it, not only rests on the clergy but on all of us, religious or lay. We all have an obligation to evangelize depending on our state in life. Our Church has gotten too comfortable. We have gotten too comfortable with man-made governments. We have gotten too comfortable with the customs of societies where Mass times are altered to fit our work schedules rather than the other way around. Which is more important!? The new Zion, our Catholic Church must get out of the ivory bed and be as Jesus was who had no place to rest His head (Matthew 8:20). The beautiful Church buildings and artistic wealth the Church has is fine and dandy, but at the end, God has no need of it (Acts 7:48). He prefers having His children back (2 Chronicles 7:14). This should be our focus. If we do not evangelize, we will be left with these beautiful buildings empty and ready to be sold in order to become parking lots or apartments.
The Church must be poor, as our Holy Father Pope Francis has said numerous times. She must be a field hospital, not a Hilton hotel. Our clergy must be shepherds, not princes or lords. We must concern ourselves with evangelization, bringing souls home to God, especially our own. Blessed indeed is he who keeps the faith forever, as the responsorial Psalm tells us. He is the one who secures justice for the oppressed and feeds the hungry. We must help others, especially the stranger (Exodus 22:21-22, Hebrews 13:2). It pains me to see on Twitter and other social networks how some Protestant conservative Christians attacked the young boy in the ambulance who was rescued after an attack in Aleppo, Syria. People tweeted that the boy should have died. Others say, that his life is no concern of ours; that we have our own children to worry about. These people dare to call themselves Christians and bible-believers! How dare they!? This attitude goes against Christ (Jeremiah 22:3, Matthew 19:14)). We must care for one another whether citizen, illegal immigrant or refugee. Granted, we must do so safely and with prudence, but the help must always be there. God gives the blind sight (Luke 4:18). Raises those who are made to bow down (James 4:10). He is always there for the stranger and just. We must imitate God and be there for the pariahs of the world. We must lead by example, as the second reading tells us (Titus 2:7).
The second reading should be meditated upon by all of us, especially the clergy. The men and women of God must pursue righteousness, not their egos. They must have devotion, faith, love, patience, and gentleness. They must be a well for the faith so that others can come drink and be quenched of their thirst (Matthew 5:16). Priests must not be rude, nasty, egotistical or maniacal (1 Timothy 3). They must be humble and kind, bearing things for the sake of Christ and His priesthood (Titus 1:5-9, Proverbs 27:23). This goes for all of us as well. I mention the clergy specifically because they are the official representatives of the Church. It takes just one nasty bad-attitude priest to scare one or more from God and the Church. This is not what a priest is supposed to do. A shepherd protects the flock, not scare it. Only the wolf does that. We all must lay hold of eternal life which can only be found in Christ present in the Eucharist, the bread of life (John 6:35). A holy bishop I worked for years ago as a master of ceremony told me that a great priest is made when he is devoted to the Blessed Sacrament and Our Lady. He is 100% correct. Priests who follow this model go on to become holy men. This is also applicable to religious and the laity. We must be devoted to Christ in the Holy Eucharist and Our Lady. Next month is October, the month of the Rosary. I recommend this prayer to every Catholic. This week, we celebrated the feast day of St. Pio of Pietrelcena (read more on him here: http://www.sacerdotus.com/2014/09/padre-pio.html). This humble Franciscan Friar from the Capuchin branch of the Order of Friars minor was devoted to the Holy Eucharist and Our Lady. It is no wonder that he became a saint because of his focus on Jesus and Mary. Jesus and Mary is the reason the Catholic Church exists; the reason the Bible exists. God promised Adam and Eve that the woman will come who will bear the child who will crush the serpent's head (Genesis 3:15). It is clear that Jesus and Mary are the center of it all. In them, we restore the image of God that we are supposed to be (Genesis 1:27). We grow in grace and learn to love one another while at the same time avoiding becoming the rich man we will read about in the Gospel.
In the Gospel, Jesus tells us of the rich man and Lazarus. The Church Fathers debated as to whether this was a parable or based on historical figures. They argued that in parables, Jesus never used names. However, in this case, he gives the name of Lazarus which may indicate that this poor man did exist and Jesus used his life and circumstance to tell the parable. In any event, we must understand and focus on the purpose of the parable. There was a rich man who wore purple garments and had great dinners each day. At the rich man's door was Lazarus, a leper covered with sores. This man was ignored by the rich man who left him outside desiring even the scraps that fell from the rich man's table as dogs licked his sores. The sight must have been ghastly. Eventually, the poor man Lazarus passed away. He was taken to the bosom of Abraham by the angels. Some scholars believe this bosom is a reference to purgatory. We can assume this because if the only "places" that exist outside of earth is heaven and hell, then what is this bosom of Abraham? Clearly, there is another "place" or state of being. Anyhow, the rich man eventually died as well and was taken to the netherworld or hell. There he suffered and was in torment. He looked up and saw Abraham and cried out, "Father Abraham, have pity on me." Clearly, the rich man was in hell since he had to look up to Abraham who is called "Father." Our Protestant brethren often have an issue with us calling our priests and pope "father." Clearly, this was no issue for Jesus who used the title for Abraham. Abraham is our father in faith just like the pope and our priests are (1 Corinthians 4:15).
The rich man saw Lazarus with Abraham and asked him to send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger with water in order to cool his tongue. He has some nerve! While on earth, he denied Lazarus even the crumbs from his dinner table, yet wanted Lazarus to bring him water on his finger tip! This tells us how out of touch this rich man was. However, Abraham was not having it and told him, "My child, remember that you received what was good during your lifetime while Lazarus likewise received what was bad; but now he is comforted here, where you are tormented." Then he tells the rich man that a chasm was created to prevent souls from crossing to either state (heaven, hell, purgatory). The rich man realized that after life there are consequences to what we do or not do on earth. He asks Abraham to send Lazarus to his father's house so he can warn his five brothers about hell.
Abraham tells him that they have Moses and the prophets to listen to via the Torah. However, the rich man insists that an apparition or the resurrection of a dead Lazarus would be more effective. Abraham replies that if they did not listen to Moses and the prophets, that they will not listen to anyone who will rise from the dead. These are powerful words. They remind me of atheists who will argue against you for the sake of arguing. They will not accept anything you tell them or show them in regards to God and religion. Some even will not believe unless they see an old man with a white beard sitting on a throne above the earth! St. Thomas Aquinas tells us, “To one who has faith, no explanation is necessary. To one without faith, no explanation is possible.” We must avoid getting into arguments with a contrarian fool (Proverbs 26:4-14, Proverbs 29:9). This rich man represents those with no faith and those who are lukewarm. We must not be like him. Our faith must be sincere. We have the Church, Sacred Scripture, Tradition and the Magisterium or Sacred Deposit. There is nothing more that we need. We must not pick and choose what we want to accept. As the late Cardinal John Joseph O'Connor of New York said,"The Church is not a salad bar, from which to pick and choose what pleases you." We must accept the whole meal and accept suffering just as Lazarus did. He trusted in God's words.
The rich man was not condemned to hell for being rich. What condemned him was his selfishness. He had enough to help Lazarus but did not. God gives wealth so that it may be used for good (Deuteronomy 8:18, Ecclesiastes 6:2). St. Pope John Paul II tells us, "Was the rich man condemned because he had riches because he abounded in earthly possessions because he "dressed in purple and linen and feasted splendidly every day?" No, I would say that it was not for this reason. The rich man was condemned because he did not pay attention to the other man. Because he failed to take notice of Lazarus, the person who sat at his door and who longed to eat the scraps from his table. Nowhere does Christ condemn the mere possession of earthly goods as such. Instead, he pronounces very harsh words against those who use their possessions in a selfish way, without paying attention to the needs of others. The Sermon on the Mount begins with the words: "Blessed are the poor in spirit". And at the end of the account of the Last Judgment as found in St. Matthew's Gospel, Jesus speaks the words that we all know so well: "I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink. I was away from home and you gave me no welcome, naked and you gave me no clothing. I was ill and in prison and you did not come and comfort me" (Mt 25:42–43). The parable of the rich man and Lazarus must always be present in our memory; it must form our conscience. Christ demands openness to our brothers and sisters in need—openness from the rich, the affluent, the economically advanced; openness to the poor, the underdeveloped and the disadvantaged. Christ demands an openness that is more than benign attention, more than token actions or half-hearted efforts that leave the poor as destitute as before or even more so.(Apostolic Journey to the United States of America, Holy Mass at Yankee Stadium, New York City, October 2, 1979)" We must not be selfish. If we have wealth, we should try our best to help others, especially those in dire need. This is why I am always asking readers to help me expand this ministerial work by donating at my PayPal or gofundme.com/sacerdotus so that I can reach more people and those who donate can add to their "books" the good works necessary for salvation in conjunction with faith and grace.
This book is what God will read, the book of our lives. We want the pages in the book of our lives to be added to the book of life (Daniel 12:1, Luke 10:20, Revelation 20:15, Philippians 4:3). St. Augustine tells us, "Jesus kept quiet about the rich man's name and mentioned the name of the poor man. The rich man's name was thrown around, but God kept quiet about it. The other's name was lost in silence, and God spoke it. Please do not be surprised. God just read out what was written in his book. You see, God who lives in heaven kept quiet about the rich man's name because he did not find it written in heaven. He spoke the poor man's name because he found it written there, indeed he gave instructions for it to be written there. ("Sermon 33A.4", quoted in Arthur A. Just, ed., Luke, Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2005), 261.)" Having wealth is not a bad in itself. It is how we make use of it that determines whether it is bad or not. Donating to help the poor, our parishes or helping me expand this evangelization work pleases God. This is because in giving, we show detachment from material goods. They do not control us. We do not worship it as master like last Sunday's readings warn us against. Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI tells us, "In the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, Jesus admonishes us through the image of a soul destroyed by arrogance and opulence, who has created an impassable chasm between himself and the poor man; the chasm of being trapped within material pleasures; the chasm of forgetting the other, of incapacity to love, which then becomes a burning and unquenchable thirst. (Spe Salvi, 44)" We must help others, especially the poor and less fortunate in the eyes of the world. Our riches are not secured in heaven (Matthew 19-21). We cannot take anything to heaven, not even our bodies. This is why we must make good use of our material goods by helping others. Those who give will receive (Luke 6:38). May Jesus Christ be praised!
In light of today's readings, please consider donating or becoming a regular benefactor. Donate at my PayPal or www.gofundme.com/sacerdotus. No amount is too small or too big.
Monday, September 19, 2016
If you see Ahmad Khan Rahami or know where he is, call 911 or 1800557TIPS #Elizabeth #Chelsea #catholic #apologetics pic.twitter.com/7SU066W0R2— Sacerdotنs (@Sacerdotus) September 19, 2016
Just got— Sacerdotنs (@Sacerdotus) September 19, 2016
emergency alertregarding Ahmad Khan Rahami on my cell. #chelsea #Elizabeth #catholic pic.twitter.com/DBOLePLURX
Ahmad Khan Rahami is listed by— Sacerdotنs (@Sacerdotus) September 19, 2016
FBIas armed and dangerous. #Elizabeth #ChelseaExplosion #chelsea pic.twitter.com/HjnU7FK1A7
— Sacerdotنs (@Sacerdotus) September 19, 2016
Fbi lookingfor Ahmad Khan Rahami in connection to the recent bombings. #Elizabeth #ChelseaExplosion #chelsea pic.twitter.com/Xzezo1ExYr
UPDATE: Ahmad Khan Rahami was just apprehended by Elizabeth police in New Jersey. He was spotted sleeping at the entrance of a bar. The bar owner found him and recognized him. He immediately notified the police. Police officers arrived and got into a shootout with Rahami injuring him in the leg and possibly the shoulder. The officers involved suffered injuries, but will be okay. Rahami was seen on surveillance video carrying rolling carry-on and duffel bag. He is seen leaving the pressure cookers on the scene of the explosion in Chelsea. Let us thank God for our brave police officers and FBI agents.
From mugshot to shootout: The amazingly quick capture of Ahmad Rahami https://t.co/azy8bg8dyR pic.twitter.com/iGwJpqqVib— CNN (@CNN) September 19, 2016
Sunday, September 18, 2016
In the first reading, we hear a warning to those who trample the needy and destroy the land of the poor. We see today how the greed of corporations is harming the world, especially the land of the poor. Global warming is having a huge
Living life is good, but when this means serving money and possessions, then this is not truly living life. It is slavery. We become slaves to money and material possessions. This slavery leads to conflicts with our brothers and sisters. It isolates us in society. Those who are filthy rich often get to this state by riding on the backs of those on the lower social ladder, if you will. How many times have we heard recently of banks such as Wells Fargo taking advantage of people in order to make big profits? Back in 2008 and 2009, Citi Bank and other financial institutions were caught misleading customers and offering huge amounts of credit knowing they could not repay it back, leading to huge profits. This is what the readings warns us against. We read the words of the rich who abuse the poor in order to live the "high life." God tells us that He will never forget what they have done. This tells us how strongly against this behavior God is. Taking advantage of the poor, widows and the disadvantage is frowned upon by God (Exodus 22:22-27). While Christ does encourage that one is free of possessions, this does mean that He wants people to live in unhealthy and unsafe situations.
Our newly canonized saint, Mother Teresa was often attacked as a celebrator of poverty. These bigots revealed their ignorance of what poverty is in the eyes of Christianity. The Church does not celebrate the harsh conditions the poor face. What the Church posits as right-living is detachment from material goods (Matthew 6:19-21). In other words, you can have a television, money, Galaxy Notes or I Phones, but
There are many ways we can help. Even volunteering at a soup kitchen is a great way to help the poor. I love working at St. Francis House in Boston. Meeting the homeless there, sharing a meal with them and just being their friend brings me much joy. Sometimes someone gives me a scratch card from the lottery and if I win, I use the funds to treat a homeless person to some lunch or dinner. It is just an amazing experience and a moment to grow in grace. Our acts of love and compassion are not just "works" without merit, they serve as channels of grace and human development (Romans 2:6). We must also pray for others, as the second reading tells us. Prayer is not only adoration
Lastly, in the Gospel, Jesus tells us of the dishonest steward who mismanages the master's money. We are told by Jesus not to be like this. If we mismanage what God lends to us, then we do not have a right to have anything at all. We cannot live life thinking that we can take advantage of God by serving two masters. We must serve only one: God. This is where detachment comes into play. God allows us to have material things Earth and our very own bodies are material things. However, we must choose how to use them. We must not abuse the
Please donate to help me expand this ministry www.gofundme.com/sacerdotus
Saturday, September 17, 2016
Authorities are investigating thoroughly. They have video from nearby businesses and apparently have a suspect. The NYPD is asking for any video of information you may have. Please contact them if you do!
We do think this was an intentional act. You can help your #NYPD. If you saw/heard something, please call 800-577-TIPS and/or 888-NYC-SAFE.— Commissioner O'Neill (@NYPDONeill) September 18, 2016
Anyone with any information regarding the explosion in Chelsea, please contact 800-577-TIPS—
NYPDCounterterrorism(@NYPDCT) September 18, 2016
I will update this post as I learn more details, stay tuned!
29 People have been injured, one seriously. There was a pressure cooker with wires and what looks like a taped cell phone found on 27th street and 7th Avenue The emergency service system sent texts to New Yorkers warning them to stay away from the area and their windows if they live in the area.
The FBI and NYPD have 5 men in custody at the Verrazano bridge in Brooklyn. The investigation is related to the explosions at Chelsea, but no one has been officially arrested or charged. Suspects are just being questioned.
UPDATE II: The NYPD & FBI are searching for Ahmad Khan Rahami. If you see him, call 911 or 1 (800)- 557-TIPS. Do not approach. May be armed and dangerous!
If you see Ahmad Khan Rahami or know where he is, call 911 or 1800557TIPS #Elizabeth #Chelsea #catholic #apologetics pic.twitter.com/7SU066W0R2— Sacerdotنs (@Sacerdotus) September 19, 2016
Just got emergency alert regarding Ahmad Khan Rahami on my cell. #chelsea #Elizabeth #catholic pic.twitter.com/DBOLePLURX— Sacerdotنs (@Sacerdotus) September 19, 2016
#Breaking Help us locate Ahmad Rahami for questioning related to #Chelseaexplosion https://t.co/IvaT8sZs5n— FBI New York (@NewYorkFBI) September 19, 2016
WANTED: Ahmad Khan Rahami, 28, in connection to the Chelsea explosion. Call #800577TIPS with any information. pic.twitter.com/rBDQGfXwbh— NYPD NEWS (@NYPDnews) September 19, 2016
Have info? @NewYorkFBI and NYPD are looking for Ahmad Khan Rahami. Call #800577TIPS w/info. https://t.co/jDbn5pj6kZ pic.twitter.com/B4klhABCom— NYPD NEWS (@NYPDnews) September 19, 2016
Monday, September 12, 2016
I remember the day as if it were yesterday. The sights and smells, the sounds and feels are all vivid. I was a kid and remember the day was slightly cool and sunny. There was no cloud in sight, none. New Yorkers were on their way to work, some already there. It felt like a normal day in the city. Then a plane crashes into one of the towers. At first, many thought it was a plane crash. However, the weather was just too good for a plane to crash. Technical problems were also ruled out by common sense since a pilot would not speed up a plane whose engines have failed. Like captain Sullenberger of US Airways Flight 1549, a pilot would steer clear of skyscrapers and look for a place to possibly land a failing plane. On September 11, this was clearly not the case. The trajectory and speed of the plane clearly demonstrated intention to crash the plane. September 11 will always be a date engraved in the minds and hearts of all who witnessed it, whether in person or on television.
At the time, there was no such thing as Facebook or Twitter. You Tube did not exist. Cell phones were around but were very limited. In fact, the networks were so congested on that day that phones were not working or were receiving calls from elsewhere. Cell numbers were even mixed around. One's number would show up as a different number on caller ID due to the confusion in the network. The events were indeed horrific. Planes were hijacked, people killed on them and with them. Those same planes were used as missiles of sorts by terrorists who crashed them into the World Trade Center's "Twin Towers" and the Pentagon. Another plane crashed into a field in Pennsylvania after the brave passengers thwarted the terrorist's plans to use the plane as another weapon - possibly aiming for the Capitol building or White House - by saying "Let's roll" and ambushing the terrorists. Today we are facing terrorist attacks, now with planes, but with disturbed individuals who inspired by ISIS/ISIL and taking it upon itself to attack selected targets. This year, we have seen many attacks in Paris and in our own nation. Workers at a party were killed in a party at San Bernadino and a gay club in Orlando was ambushed by a lone wolf. Terrorism seems unstoppable. Where will be the next target is on the minds of many Americans. It is a scary time to live indeed. However, we must try our best to live normal lives.
Law enforcement must be creative in their efforts to prevent terrorism. As is stands, the internet seems to be what is fueling these extremists. Social networks are often beacons of free speech. Extremists are taking advantage of this and using these outlets to promote their propaganda. In my opinion, more has to be done by social media in order to thwart these disturbed individuals. It seems that social media networks have their priorities mixed up. In 2013, my Twitter was permanently suspended after atheist trolls mass reported it. Twitter did not want to budge and left my account suspended despite proof that I did nothing. Last year, my Facebook was locked out because I used "Sacerdotus" as a name. Now just last month, Google + suspended my profile for the same reason. Yet, accounts run by terrorists remain untouched and free to tweet and post. What is wrong? What is going on? I ask myself this many times, and I am not the only one. If social media monitors terrorist accounts and is quick to remove them, I believe this will be very effective in thwarting any future attacks. September 11 should remind us that we cannot remain dormant. We must also not forget our Judeo-Christian roots as Americans.
On September 14, 2001, President Bush declared the day the National Day of Prayer & Remembrance. Ironically, on this date, the Catholic Church celebrates the Triumph of the Holy Cross It is also ironic that among the piles of dust, twisted steel beams and other debris, all that remained were two beams in the form of a cross. Was God telling us something? We cannot know for sure, but coincidences do not exist. Anything that happens in life has some reason or cause. To me, it is Divine Providence at work reminding us that we have strayed. American keeps straying away from her God in whom she claims to trust in her motto. We Christians are also at fault. Instead of evangelizing, we have taken upon what I call "comfortable Christianity." We have sat back in our pews believing that Christianity's roots were unmovable, so to speak. This stagnant attitude has led to the legalization of abortion, so-called same-sex marriage, laws restricting religious freedom and now the pushing of gender theory to the point that the once settled matter of who uses what bathroom is now in a state of confusion. Christians need to wake up and restore America.
Presidential candidate Donald Trump claims to want to "Make American Great Again," however, this can only be done if we put substance behind the motto "In God we Trust." As 2 Chronicles 7:14 says: "...if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land." Let us pray for the brave souls of September 11, 2001 and continue our promise: We Will Never Forget!
Sunday, September 11, 2016
In the first reading, we read of Moses "going down." This is where the famous Negro spiritual hymn "Go down Moses" derives from. God tells Moses to go down to the people of Israel. While God is giving the Commandments to Moses, the people whom He rescued via Moses are "living the vida loca," so to speak. They are doing all kinds of wild and crazy things including creating a molten calf and worshiping it (Jeremiah 7:26). This, of course, is due to the influence they received while in Egypt. We know how Egyptians used animals to depict their many gods (http://www.deniart.com/images/deities_all.jpg). The Hebrews got accustomed to this. This is why in the first commandment, God says not to make any image of anything above the heavens, on the earth or under the earth (Exodus 20:4). Some of our Protestant friends, especially Evangelicals, use this to attack Catholic images or statues.
What God is referring to here are the idols of Egypt (birds, alligators, cats etc). He is not referring to images or statues of Jesus, Mary, Angels, Saints etc. We see five chapters later in Exodus 25 that God actually commands the construction of statues depicting cherubs. Anyhow, the Hebrews are going wild and God is not too happy. He describes them as stubborn and stiff-necked (Jeremiah 7:26). We too can describe ourselves as that when we do the opposite of what God asks of us! However, God is merciful. We see this in the first reading. Moses pleads with God asking Him to turn away from His wrath against His own people. Abraham did something similar (Genesis 18:16-33). We are reminded that God is a father to His people. This is why in today's responsorial Psalm we say, "I will rise and go to my father." God is merciful and good. He will wipe out our offenses in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Smaller sins or Venial sins, get wiped out with a simple act of Contrition. After this cleansing, we are free from guilt (Psalm 51:7). Our sins are gone. However, we can sin again if we are not careful. This is why we must ask God to create a clean heart in us. A heart that loves and does not hate. A heart that celebrates and does not tear down. A heart that is merciful and not bitter. A real heart, not one of stone (Ezekiel 36:26). This can only be done when we invite the Holy Spirit into our bodies which are His temple (1 Corinthians 6:19). We must allow the Holy Spirit to fix His temple like a sacristan or altar guild society fixes up the parish church getting it ready for Mass or some other Liturgical happening.
The Holy Spirit leads us to prayer (Exodus 31:3, Romans 8:26). He gets us to open our lips and pronounce God's praises. This is the invitatory verse for Office of Readings and Morning prayer (Lauds) in the Liturgy of the Hours. I recommend that all should pray this prayer of the Church. God will strengthen you with this and all forms of prayer. In the second reading, we are reminded by St. Paul that Christ strengthens (Philippians 4:13). Christ trusted St. Paul with the ministry and trusts us as well. Whatever position or role you have in the Church is because God trusted you with it, so do not disappoint! St. Paul, as we know, was a blasphemer and persecutor. He was in effect an atheist! This passage reminds me of myself years ago as an atheist. I found religion silly. God, Churches, Holy Books, miracles etc, were to me just superstitious cultural elements people adopted to give themselves meaning. Ironically, I was not totally wrong on that assessment. What was missing was that religion is the "real McCoy," so to speak. I thought science and some philosophy was enough for the human to be a "good" human, I was wrong. We need religion, especially faith. Science, philosophy and other forms of learning remind us that "maybe we can." However, faith reminds us as Obama would say, "Yes! We Can!" Faith allows us to look beyond. It forces the senses and brain to move forward into what it cannot totally perceive nor understand at the moment.
This is why the Church tells us in the Catechism and Vatican II that faith is superior to or above reason (Gaudium Spes 36.1, CCC 159). However, this does not mean that we should push reason aside as some fundamentalist Christians do when they reject evolution and science altogether. St. Pope John Paul II in his encyclical letter, "Fides Et Ratio" writes, "Faith and reason are like two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of the truth.." We must not be like Saul or atheist me "pre-Sacerdotus" who acted out of ignorance and unbelief. Rather, we must rely on the grace of Christ Jesus in faith and put that faith into action via works that channel love and mercy. God is merciful, St. Paul reminds us. Christ came for sinners (Luke 5:32). This means all of us. This is why we must not judge others because we too have our logs wandering in our eyes that we must worry about (Matthew 7:3). We must allow ourselves to be an example for others. God does not bombard us with His wrath, though we deserve it. We are examples of His patience and Divine Mercy. This same patience and mercy we must show to others who may not be at the spiritual level they should be on (Ephesians 4:2). Jesus came to save, not to delete. We see this in the Gospel today.
Picture in your mind, the cloud of witnesses or the saints cheering us on from heaven like Yankee fans at Yankees Stadium (Hebrews 12:1). When we repent and seek God, this is like a home run that makes the crowd go wild. My own work as "Sacerdotus" tries to imitate the Good Shepherd. I try my best to go out into the deep in order to evangelize and hopefully win some souls for Christ (Luke 5:4). You reading this should do the same based on your state in life. This can be best done by being a reflection of Christ to others. We must try our best to evangelize, not only each other, but those lost out there in the world. When the pro-abortion feminist throws at you attacks against life, demonstrate the importance of all life by how you treat her. When the gay person throws a rainbow at you, use the colors to paint the image of God to them. When the Muslim or Protestant throws Holy Books at you, show them the Living Word of God, Jesus Christ reflected in your person. When the atheist throws science at you, show how nature glorifies her Lord in her beauty and design. This is how we get that lost sheep back. Do not argue your faith, share it. Do not impose your faith, invite others to it. If we do this, we shall see how God will bring that one lost sheep home.
We will feel the joy of that woman who lost a coin and finally found it. St. Ambrose tells us, "Faith is the lost coin that the woman in the Gospel seeks diligently. We read that she lit a candle and swept her house. After finding it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, inviting them to rejoice with her because she has found the coin that she had lost. The damage to the soul is great if one has lost the faith or the grace that he has gained for himself at the price of faith. Light your lamp. “Your lamp is your eye” (Mt 6:22), that is, the interior eye of the soul. Light the lamp that feeds on the oil of the spirit and shines throughout your whole house. Search for the coin, the redemption of your soul. If a person loses this, he is troubled, and if he finds it, he rejoices. (Quoted in Arthur A. Just, ed., Luke, Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2005), 245.)." It all starts with humility, mercy, love and compassion. Our newly canonized saint, Mother Teresa is an excellent model in modern times to imitate. On the 15th anniversary of the attacks on September 11, 2001, let us remember to be loving to all, merciful to all and go with compassion to get the lost sheep found in Islam and other ideologies in the world which are twisted by wicked men to do evil in God's name. May Jesus Christ be praised!
Please help me continue this work by donating at www.gofundme.com/sacerdotus
Sunday, September 4, 2016
In the first reading, we are reminded that no one can truly know God or His thoughts (Job 36:26, Romans 11:34). No one can be God's counsel because God is absolute truth. How can a created thing tell the creator what to do? Does the created know more than the creator? We who are the created live in a mortal state which is timid. Every day we worry about any little thing; where our food will come from, how to pay bills etc (Matthew 6:27). This is because we are "pressed" against the limits of time and our thoughts have adapted to that state of being. This is why our plans are "unsure," as the readings tell us. We can plan many things now, but tomorrow we can die from a disease or accident, God forbid (Proverbs 16:9). The corruptible body does burden the soul (Mark 14:38). We are held back many times because of the limits of the body. However, the reality is that we must focus on heaven above (Colossians 3:2). We do this by opening ourselves to God's grace via wisdom (Proverbs 4:6-7). Many atheists ask questions about heaven and God. "How do you know" is their favorite question. We can only offer them answers based on divine revelation (Proverbs 3:5). This is the best we can do because heaven cannot be searched out. We cannot put heaven in a laboratory, or view it with the Hubble telescope. Heaven is something we must analyze via the grace of God, not the senses (Hebrews 5:14). The senses are too limited.
Blessed Mother Teresa, now Saint Teresa of Calcutta often suffered the "dark nights." She often doubted God and heaven. Even St. Therese of Lisieux experienced this. One may wonder why? Atheism, in a sense, is part of the spiritual life. As we get closer to God, we are "blinded" by God's radiance, metaphorically speaking (Psalm 34:5). This causes the soul to get disoriented because God is too immense for it. During this disorientation, we feel that God abandoned us or may not even exist. Think of it as when you look at the Sun or something very bright. At first, we see our surroundings, then we experience temporary blindness. This blindness makes us anxious and disorients. The dark night of the soul is something similar, but not physical. We pray and nothing happens. We plan and nothing happens. At one point, we think God gave us a plan and that plan seemed to be coming to fruition, but then, things go wrong (Psalm 22, Job 21:7).
Take me for example. My Google plus account was suspended over a week ago out of nowhere. The last thing I posted was my reflections for August 21 and a Google Hangouts You Tube broadcast of me praying the morning prayer of the Liturgy of the Hours (See these video captures: 1) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J1lApp5tbp8 2) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PaG_nB_SPQ8. Trolls falsely reported my account and now Google is having an issue with my pen name "Sacerdotus." They asked me for more information on it and I provided it. To date, they have not responded nor have restored my account. Similarly, in 2013, my Twitter was falsely reported by trolls and I was permanently suspended. Also, in December 2015, Facebook locked my account after it was reported by trolls because of the name. Now, I could have panicked and said, "Why God!?" I could have said, "God abandoned me" or "maybe God really does not exist." However, I did neither. What I did was accept it and prayed. I took it as maybe God wanted me to slow down or was testing me (Jeremiah 17:10). My life as a Catholic does not consist of being "Sacerdotus," it is much more than that. God directs my life, not me. This is one of the main things we should get from this first reading. We must focus on God, trust Him, rely on wisdom to understand what is really going on and not try to be a know-it-all.
No one knows God's mind, not even the most intelligent theologian (Romans 11:34). Saint Teresa of Calcutta and others knew this. They went through the darkness and trusted God. These saints knew they were not God's counselor, nor could they know His mind. They knew instead that God was their refuge, as we read in today's responsorial Psalm God controls all things, including our lives (Jeremiah 1:5). When we die, it is because God is calling us back: "You turn man back to dust, saying, 'Return, O Children of men'" God is beyond space and time. A thousand years is like a day which has come and gone (2 Peter 3:8). Our lives are the same. We may live until 100, but to God, our lives are just a mere second, metaphorically speaking of course. This should remind us to be humble like the readings from last week called us to be. The Psalm today reminds us of our mortality and dependency on God. We may have free will, but God has free control. We do not dictate when we are born or when we die. This is why we must ask God to "teach us to number our days aright," in other words, to teach us how to live life appropriately (Psalm 119:133).
We must ask God to be merciful to us and guide us by the hand because we do not know what we do most of the time (Luke 23:34). In one moment, we can be like a classroom of college kids sitting still observing the professor, in the next, we can be like a pre-k class running amok. We must ask God to set our paths aright and care for us; prosper the work we do in His name. We must be a "prisoner" for Christ, as St. Paul tells us in the second reading. St. Paul describes himself as a "prisoner for Christ Jesus." What does this mean? It means that he is a servant of Christ; that he has given himself completely to Christ (Galatians 2:20). The word "prisoner" has a bad connotation. We often think of it as a consequence of breaking the law. In this case, St. Paul follows the law of God and becomes the property of Christ. We too are called to this. It was what we were created for. St. Paul also says that he became the father of Onesimus who was a slave to Philemon of Colossae and bishop of Byzantium. This is why we call priests "father." They become our spiritual fathers. The reading today reminds us that we are set free from the chains of the world. Christ sets us free. We belong to Him now just like St. Paul and Onesimus. We are no longer slaves to the world. We are now brothers and sisters in Christ, the true family of God.
Finally, in the Gospel, Jesus says something we may find strange today in 2016. He says, “If anyone comes to me without hating his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple." What does He mean that we have to hate our father, mother, wife and children etc?? Before we pass judgment on Christ, let us try to understand what He means. What Christ means is that God is more important. God is more important that even our parents, siblings, children and ourselves. Is this because God is selfish? Absolutely not! Why would He create a world with families and love if He wanted it all for Himself? Since He is the creator and all things come from Him, it is logical that He is the most important. Without God, we cease to exist. This goes for our parents, siblings, children etc as well. If God stops thinking of the universe, it will cease to exist. The universe with all its glories and designs is just a mere thought of God. Jesus uses hyperbolic tones in order to make this point. We must leave all behind. We must detach ourselves from everything and everyone. This does not mean we become isolated.
Unfortunately, many cult leaders have used Jesus' words to lead their flock away from their families in order to deceive them. Jesus does not want this. Remember, we call called upon in the commandments to honor our parents (Exodus 20:12, Matthew 22:38). God cannot contradict Himself. He is truth. We have to look at what Jesus really means. We must be focused on God. This is why Jesus says that one does not construct a tower before calculating the cost. In other words, we must not decide to follow Jesus without first realizing what we must give up (Luke 9:62). St. Gregory of Nyssa tells us, "The Gospel somewhere says that a person who begins to build a tower but stops with the foundations and never completes it is ridiculous. What do we learn from this parable? We learn that we should work to bring every aspiration to a conclusion, completing the work of God by an elaborate building up of his commandments. One stone does not make a complete tower, nor does one commandment bring the perfection of the soul to its desired measure. It is necessary to both erect the foundation and, as the apostle says, "to lay upon it a foundation of gold and precious stones" (1 Cor 3:12). That is what the products of the commandments are called by the prophet when he says, "I have loved your commandment more than gold and much precious stone" (Ps 118:27). ("On Virginity, 18", quoted in Arthur A. Just, ed., Luke, Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2005), 242.)"
We must put our old selves alway. This will be hard. We must set aside all earthly concerns and focus on our spiritual well-being. St. Cyril of Alexandria stated, "Jesus says, 'He that loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me. He that loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.' By adding 'more than me,' it is plain that he permits us to love, but not more than we love him. He demands our highest affection for himself...The love of God in those who are perfect in mind has something in it superior both to the honor due to parents and to the natural affection felt for children. ("Commentary on Luke, Homily 105", quoted in Arthur A. Just, ed., Luke, Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2005), 240)" This echoes the commandment to love God with all our mind, heart, soul and strength (Matthew 22:38). By loving God, we better understand what is love because God is love (1 John 4:8). But first, we have to remove the distractions of the world. St. Bede writes, "There is a difference between renouncing all things and leaving all things. For it is the way of few perfect men to leave all things, that is, to cast behind them the cares of the world, but it is the part of all the faithful to renounce all things, that is, so to hold the things of the world instead of by them being held in the world. (Quoted in Thomas Aquinas, Catena Aurea: Commentary on the Four Gospels, Collected out of the Works of the Fathers: St. Luke, ed. John Henry Newman, vol. 3 (Oxford: John Henry Parker, 1843), 520.)" We must be in the world, but not of it.
Let us get closer to God, focus on Him and love Him above all, including our loved ones. May Jesus be praised! May St. Teresa of Calcutta pray for us and teach us how to see Jesus in everyone.
Please donate at www.gofundme.com/sacerdotus to help me expand this ministry.
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